Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: I rise today knowing that all honourable
senators will join me in offering our continuing support to the people of Great
Britain and in sending our sympathies to those who have lost loved ones or
suffered injuries in the bombings that occurred in London on July 7.
I stand before you as a Muslim Canadian. Canada has given my family and me
asylum and has given my community and me a place to practice our faith and to
participate fully in society. We proudly say that we are Canadian. Through
marriage, I am also a British citizen. I was in London on July 7 while on my way
to Sudan when these heinous acts were committed against innocent and
unsuspecting civilians. The bombs exploded in places that I know well and
frequented during my time as a university student in London. When I heard of the
attacks, my thoughts turned immediately to my daughter who was working in London
at the time. Though I knew it was unlikely that she was anywhere near where the
attacks took place, as a parent I was overtaken at the thought of losing her.
Like many around me, throughout London and across the world, my thoughts turned
to my friends and family, and I hoped that they would be alright. However, the
truth is that those who were injured and killed are also my family and friends
in a larger sense. The attacks have caused great pain for all of us.
Canadians are deeply concerned with any act of terrorism. We feel the pain
felt by all those who feel its effects as if it is our own. Four acts of
terrorism stand out in the minds of many Canadians. The first is the bombing of
Air India Flight 182, for which, sadly, Canadians of Indian origin are still
thirsting for answers. The second is the attacks on Pennsylvania, Washington and
New York on September 11, 2001, which we mourn collectively as a nation. The
third is the attacks on the people of Madrid, Spain and now, the fourth, the
bombings in London. Many have argued that it is religion, especially Islam that
provided the motivation for the attacks. Some have said that there are two faces
of Islam: peaceful and war-like. As a Muslim and Canadian who believes in
harmony and mutual respect, I must reject this characterization. To quote my
spiritual leader, the Aga Khan:
This just represents a very, very small minority of the world's Muslim
population. Also, these people are primarily driven by political and not
religious motives. It would be wrong to consider them representative of Islam.
The Western world has to take a close look to see which forces are in play in
order to differentiate between belief and things that have nothing to do with
We as Muslims could also ask the same things: like what's happening in
Northern Ireland. If I as a Muslim came to you and were to say: What's
happening in Northern Ireland reflects Catholic and Protestant beliefs, then
would you say: you're uneducated.
In a joint statement, 22 of Britain's most respected Muslim Imams and
scholars condemned the bombings. They said:
We are firmly of the view that these killings have absolutely no sanction
in Islam, nor is there any justification whatsoever in our noble religion for
such evil actions. It is our understanding that those who carried out the
bombings in London should in no sense be regarded as martyrs.
If ever there was a time to build an integrated community where all are
equal, it is now. I urge our government to seek answers to ease the pain of all
those who have suffered from acts of terrorism and to launch a public inquiry
into the Air India bombing to heal the wounds of the Indo-Canadian community.
Honourable senators, the attacks on innocent Londoners shocked the world.
Canadians of all backgrounds are standing shoulder to shoulder with their
British brothers and sisters in resisting terrorism and refusing to succumb to
fear. Canadian Muslims want it on the record that these attacks have not been
and should never be carried out in their name or in the name of their faith.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, on Canada Day, July
1, I attended the events on Parliament Hill with my daughter, whose son was part
of the ceremonial guard. It was a hot day so we decided to come inside, to the
Senate chamber, to cool off. We came face to face with dozens of Canadians from
a variety of ethnic backgrounds who were exiting the red chamber and being
treated to cake and other refreshments. By chance, I met the Usher of the Black
Rod, Terrance Christopher, and asked him what was going on. Colonel Christopher
had sat in my Senate seat during the events. With obvious joy and pride, he
indicated that the Governor General had suggested conducting the swearing-in
ceremony of 50 new Canadians in this chamber.
I considered that an absolutely magnificent initiative, heartily supported by
the Speaker, the Usher of the Black Rod and the staff. I decided that such an
innovative use of this chamber for these ceremonies could be brought more to the
fore. As we look toward the next decade and realize the changing demographics,
immigration to Canada might triple over that time because of the need to
youthful and capable approach across the country to meet the challenges of the
future. What an excellent initiative and what a fine use of this chamber to
introduce new Canadians and give them both the citizenship and the
responsibilities of being Canadians.
I will end by saying that the presence of the Governor General in this
chamber among us, or opportunities to have her here, should be looked upon as a
positive use of the chamber, one that will bring more presence and perhaps
attract more positive interest in this chamber.
I am well aware that the Governor General would normally have to be invited,
and I certainly do not want to start Cromwell's concerns about the Crown
bringing in the loyal artillery company to throw us out at gunpoint. However, I
do believe that innovative uses of this chamber in the advancement of our
citizenry should be considered and that her presence should be all the more
Bravo to all concerned on this trend-setting initiative. I hope that in the
future new Canadians from different parts of the country may be invited to this
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, Bernard Lord is
refusing to sign on to Ottawa's child care scheme. That situation is
unacceptable. This agreement would allocate approximately $110 million to start
building New Brunswick's child care system over the next five years; and Premier
Bernard Lord is putting the future development of the children of New Brunswick
It is my firm conviction that Premier Lord should recognize that the people
of New Brunswick want their provincial government to sign the agreement, so that
the $109.9 million in child-care funding offered by the federal government can
start flowing to our children. In my opinion, the children of New Brunswick
should enjoy the same advantages as those in other provinces when it comes to
The daycare situation in New Brunswick is deplorable. In 2003-04, New
Brunswick had only 11,897 places in regulated daycare centres, which covers
scarcely 11 per cent of the demand. Because of this, most children are entrusted
to care services that are never inspected and not required to implement a
development program. Both parents work outside the home in 75 per cent of New
If the province wants to meet these additional needs, it must sign an
agreement with the federal government and develop a five-year action plan that
will lead us toward a system of quality childcare services. These agreements are
flexible and tailored to the realities of people in all regions of the country,
in both rural and urban communities. Alberta, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and
Labrador, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have already signed agreements.
It is now clear that the only obstacle to reaching an agreement is a lack of
desire on the part of the Lord government to ensure the viability of a true
universally accessible early childhood care program.
The people can easily see that Bernard Lord simply wants access to federal
money that he can spend however he wants. The same applied to the gas-tax
sharing agreements, intended for cities and communities. Premier Lord is trying
to spend money as he pleases without being tied by the principles that underlie
it. This manipulation is now a customary practice with his government.
Bernard Lord refused to listen to the people of New Brunswick on automobile
insurance, and now he is not listening to the people of New Brunswick who want
an enhanced early childhood care services system.
New Brunswick already has in place the programs required by the federal
agreement, which means Premier Lord recognizes that such programs are valuable,
which means he has no excuse. His real excuse is nothing but his own
pig-headedness, which is leading to the political posturing of the emperor who
had no clothes, as far as our children are concerned.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, a few weeks ago I had the
privilege of participating in the Canadian Forces Army Parliamentary Program. I
was in Petawawa embedded with the 2 Combat Engineering Regiment, which was part
of several hundred Canadian Forces members training for deployment to
Afghanistan. The deployment is scheduled for some time in the next two to three
weeks, although I believe some have already left.
This four-and-one-half day experience was an eye-opener for me. I met dozens
of men and women who are some of the most dedicated and committed Canadians I
have ever known. I was most impressed with the level of their skill, their
professionalism and their understanding of their mission and mandate. All of
them are ready and willing to face the risks associated with their job.
They are keenly aware of the enormous responsibilities they have undertaken
and recognize the value of their contribution to protecting the lives of
innocent men, women and children in some far-off land. The duty to defend
democratic values and to protect basic rights for those who are oppressed is
strongly embraced by our soldiers.
I need not remind honourable senators that the part of the world to which
these soldiers are being assigned is a very dangerous area and the risks these
men and women will face are serious indeed. Yet, I never once encountered a
soldier who wavered or who was hesitant. I now know better why our soldiers are
so respected and praised by the UN and by military people all over the world.
Later this summer, honourable senators, I will be joining these same soldiers
in Afghanistan to complete this unique experience. After my return, I will give
a full report of my involvement in this program. In the meantime, I extend my
heartfelt thanks to all the soldiers for their patience and friendship in
Most of all, I extend our gratitude to all Canadian Forces members for making
us proud of our Canadian contribution to world peace. A very special thanks must
go to the soldiers' families for their sacrifices and unwavering support.
Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, yesterday there was much talk
about the Charter, equality rights and marriage. I rise today simply to remind
us that equality rights in marriage and divorce are not yet available to Indian
women on reserves. They do not have the same rights as every other Canadian
woman does at the time of divorce, and no government has fixed it in the last
two decades at least.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, Vancouver's container
truck drivers have been staging a work stoppage since June 27, stalling the
movement of more than $200 million of goods through the Vancouver waterfront
every week. Everything from export items like pulp, special crops originating on
the Prairies, perishable goods and import items destined for retail department
stores in Canada are affected by the strike.
Just last week, honourable senators, Vince Reddy, a facilitator jointly
appointed by the federal and provincial governments, stated that the parties
were too far apart for meaningful talks to continue. On July 15, Captain Gordon
Houston, President of the Vancouver Port Authority, stated that Ottawa might be
able to use the Canadian Transportation Act to order the truck drivers back to
In view of the fact that the current dispute is causing major problems not
only in the Vancouver trade corridor, the Export Development Corporation has
downgraded Canada's growth prospects for 2005.
Given Captain Houston's comments, I hope the Leader of the Government in the
Senate will take a leadership initiative, which I am sure he will, in dealing
with this serious problem that is facing all of Canada.
Hon. George J. Furey, Chair of the Standing Committee on Internal
Economy, Budgets and Administration, presented the following report:
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has
the honour to present its
Your Committee recommends that the following funds be released for fiscal
year 2005-2006 and that the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be
empowered to travel to the United Kingdom and Scotland for the purpose of its
study of the Estimates:
National Finance (Legislation)
Professional and Other Services
Transportation and Communications
(includes funds for fact-finding mission)
GEORGE J. FUREY
The Hon. the Speaker: When shall this report be taken into
On motion of Senator Furey, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule
58(1)(g), report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, with leave of the Senate, I move:
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate of November 2, 2004, when the
Senate sits today, Wednesday, July 20, 2005, it continue its proceedings
beyond 4 p.m. and follow the normal adjournment procedure according to Rule
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: We were consulted and we agree.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I give notice that
on Friday next, July 22, 2005, I will move:
That the following resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism which was adopted
unanimously at the 14th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Association,
in which Canada participated in Washington on July 5, 2005, be referred to the
Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights for consideration and that the
committee table its final report no later than February 16, 2006.
RESOLUTION ON COMBATING ANTI-SEMITISM
Recalling the resolutions on anti-Semitism by the OSCE Parliamentary
Assembly, which were unanimously passed at the annual meetings in Berlin in
2002, in Rotterdam in 2003 and in Edinburgh in 2004,
1. Referring to the commitments made by the participating states emerging
from the OSCE conferences in Vienna (June 2003), Berlin (April 2004) and
Brussels (September 2004) regarding legal, political and educational efforts
to fight anti-Semitism, ensuring "that Jews in the OSCE region can live their
lives free of discrimination, harassment and violence",
2. Welcoming the convening of the Conference on Anti-Semitism and on Other
Forms of Intolerance in Cordoba, Spain in June 2005,
3. Commending the appointment and continuing role of the three Personal
Representatives of the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE on Combating
Anti-Semitism, on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims,
and on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also focusing on
Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other
Religions, reflecting the distinct role of each in addressing these separate
issues in the OSCE region,
4. Reaffirming the view expressed in earlier resolutions that anti-Semitism
constitutes a threat to fundamental human rights and to democratic values and
hence to the security in the OSCE region,
5. Emphasizing the importance of permanent monitoring mechanisms of
incidents of anti-Semitism at a national level, as well as the need for public
condemnations, energetic police work and vigorous prosecutions,
The Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE:
6. Urges OSCE participating states to adopt national uniform definitions
for monitoring and collecting information about anti-Semitism and hate crimes
along the lines of the January 2005 EUMC Working Definition of Anti-Semitism
and to familiarize officials, civil servants and others working in the public
sphere with these definitions so that incidents can be quickly identified and
7. Recommends that OSCE participating states establish national data
collection and monitoring mechanisms and improve information-sharing among
national government authorities, local officials, and civil society
representatives, as well as exchange data and best practices with other OSCE
8. Urges OSCE participating states to publicize data on anti-Semitic
incidents in a timely manner as well as report the information to the OSCE
Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR);
9. Recommends that ODIHR publicize its data on anti-Semitic crimes and
hate crimes on a regular basis, highlight best practices, as well as initiate
programs with a particular focus in the areas of police, law enforcement, and
10. Calls upon national governments to allot adequate resources to the
monitoring of anti-Semitism, including the appointment of national
ombudspersons or special representatives;
11. Emphasizes the need to broaden the involvement of civil society
representatives in the collection, analysis and publication of data on
anti-Semitism and related violence;
12. Calls on the national delegations of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to
ensure that regular debates on the subject of anti-Semitism are conducted in
their parliaments and furthermore to support public awareness campaigns on the
threat to democracy posed by acts of anti-Semitic hatred, detailing best
practices to combat this threat;
13. Calls on the national delegations of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to
submit written reports at the 2006 Annual Session on the activities of their
parliaments with regard to combating anti-Semitism;
14. Calls on the OSCE participating states to develop educational material
and teacher training methods to counter contemporary forms of anti-Semitism,
as well as update programs on Holocaust education;
15. Urges both the national parliaments and governments of OSCE
participating states to review their national laws;
16. Urges the OSCE participating states to improve security at Jewish sites
and other locations that are potential targets of anti-Semitic attacks in
coordination with the representatives of these communities.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, notwithstanding rule
57(2) and pursuant to rule 56, I give notice that later this day:
I shall call the attention of the Senate to the following Resolution on the
OSCE Mediterranean Dimension, adopted unanimously at the 14th Annual Session
of the OSCE Parliamentary Association which took place in Washington on July
RESOLUTION ON THE OSCE MEDITERRANEAN DIMENSION
1. Recognizing that the OSCE maintains special relations with six
Mediterranean Partners for Cooperation: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan,
Morocco, and Tunisia,
2. Highlighting the increasing attention attributed to the Mediterranean
Dimension within the OSCE PA, as reflected in the Parliamentary Conference on
the Mediterranean held in Madrid, October 2002, the First Forum on the
Mediterranean held in Rome, September 2003, the Second Forum on the
Mediterranean held in Rhodes, September 2004, and the Third Forum on the
Mediterranean scheduled for Sveti Stefan, October 2005,
3. Recalling that the Helsinki Final Act states that "security in Europe is
to be considered in the broader context of world security and is closely
linked with security in the Mediterranean as a whole, and that accordingly the
process of improving security should not be confined to Europe but should
extend to other parts of the world, in particular to the Mediterranean area,"
4. Recalling the importance of tolerance and non discrimination underscored
by the participants in the OSCE Seminar on addressing threats to security in
the Twenty-first Century, held in November 2004 in Sharm El Sheik,
5. Recognizing the importance of the combat against intolerance and
discrimination as an important component in the dialogue between the OSCE and
its Mediterranean Partners,
6. Emphasizing the importance of trade and economic relations as a
pacifying factor within the Mediterranean region, as reflected in the
Edinburgh Resolution on Economic Cooperation in the OSCE Mediterranean
7. Emphasizing the importance of mutually shared transparency and trust as
principles governing the relations between the OSCE and the Mediterranean
8. Emphasizing that unresolved conflicts constitute permanent security
threats in the region, which hamper prospects for sustained peace and
9. Pointing to the need to achieve a just and lasting peace for the
conflict between Palestine and Israel,
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
10. Stresses the importance of the cooperation between the OSCE
participating states and the Mediterranean Partners for Cooperation to address
the current global threats to security;
11. Encourages the OSCE participating states and the Mediterranean Partners
for Cooperation to promote the principles of non-violence, tolerance, mutual
understanding and respect for cultural diversity;
12. Stresses that the OSCE participating states and the Mediterranean
Partners for Cooperation initiate an active dialogue on the growing challenge
13. Recommends the OSCE contribute to a more positive perception of
migration flows by supporting the integration of immigrants in countries of
14. Welcomes the appointment of the three Chairman Personal Representatives
on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other
Religions, on Combating anti-Semitism, and on Combating Intolerance and
Discrimination against Muslims;
15. Encourages the resolution of conflicts in the Mediterranean using
cooperative strategies when practicable;
16. Urges all OSCE participating states to cooperate with the Mediterranean
Partners on dealing with both "soft" threats to security, such as poverty,
disease and environmental degradation as well as "hard" threats such as
terrorism and weapons of mass destruction;
17. Calls upon the OSCE participating Sates and the Mediterranean Partners
to promote the knowledge of different cultures and religions as a prerequisite
for successful cooperation;
18. Calls upon the OSCE participating states and the Mediterranean Partners
to use education as a vehicle to create tolerance in the next generation;
19. Welcomes the creation in 2005 of a free trade area between Egypt,
Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco, and the extension of free trade between such
countries and the European Union by 2010, as established in the 2004 Agadir
20. Welcomes the creation of qualifying industrial zones between Israel,
Jordan and Egypt as a model for promoting peace and development in the greater
21. Calls upon the OSCE to grant the Palestinian National Authority
Observer status, following its request in November 2004 to be made a
Mediterranean Partner for Cooperation, in order to enable it to become
familiar with the OSCE and assimilate its commitments;
22 Urges the Mediterranean Partners to work with the Arab League to rescind
the trade boycott of the state of Israel, as the Mediterranean Partners begin
their accession negotiations with the World Trade Organization (WTO);
23. Recommends further participation by parliamentarians from the
Mediterranean Partners for Cooperation in the election observation activities
of the OSCE PA;
24. Recommends that the OSCE develops relations with other states in the
Mediterranean basin, including Libya and Lebanon;
25. Encourages the active participation by parliamentarians from both the
OSCE participating states and the Mediterranean Partners in the Third OSCE
Parliamentary Assembly Forum on the Mediterranean scheduled in Sveti Stefan,
Serbia and Montenegro, in October 2005.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I have two bundles of
petitions with the original signatures of 4,078 citizens, which was presented to
me this morning for tabling today. The petitioners express their concern with
the same-sex marriage legislation. These petitions come to us from the Greater
Toronto Area. Even though Bill C-38 was adopted last evening, the petitioners
requested that these petitions be tabled with the Senate.
This petition to the Senate of Canada expresses the petitioners' strong
opposition to Bill C-38, which they believe will change the traditional
definition of marriage. The petitioners insisted that there be a full debate.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting a delayed response to an oral question
raised in the Senate by Senator Keon on June 28, 2005, concerning the debates on
the public and private delivery of services proposed by the Canadian Medical
(Response to question raised by Hon. Wilbert J. Keon on June 28, 2005)
The Honourable Senator Keon had inquired why the Minister of Health
believes that it is 'wrong' for the Canadian Medical Association to discuss
the issue of private care at its own conference, in light of the Supreme Court
of Canada decision in the Chaoulli and Zeliotis v. A.G. Quebec and A.G. Canada
case, which was decided on June 9, 2005. The Supreme Court of Canada's
decision is an important decision.
The government supports a strong publicly funded health care system. As the
legislation at issue in this case is provincial in nature, the Supreme Court
of Canada decision does not have any immediate impact on the federal health
insurance legislation, the Canada Health Act. This act remains valid
federal legislation. The court's ruling does not affect the Government of
Canada's unwavering commitment to a universal, publicly funded health care
system, one where Canadians have reasonable access to health care services on
the basis of need, not the ability to pay.
The Supreme Court of Canada decision highlights the need to accelerate the
work that needs to be done on wait times and reaffirms the urgency of
following through on the commitments made by all first ministers in September
2004 in the Ten-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care. This plan includes
additional federal government investment in health care of $41 billion over
the next ten years. Included in this investment is $5.5 billion over ten
years, beginning in 2004-05, for the Wait Times Reduction Fund which will
augment existing provincial and territorial investments and assist
jurisdictions in their diverse initiatives to reduce wait times.
As mentioned, there is already a large component of private care in Canada,
for example, physicians remain, for the most part, independent providers
almost entirely paid for by the public sector, but with significant freedom in
the way they organize their practices. The Canada Health Act requires
that all medically necessary insured health services be covered by provincial
and territorial health insurance plans. The Canada Health Act applies
to insured health services whether they are delivered in public or private
The Canada Health Act requires that medically necessary physician
and hospital services be covered by provincial/ territorial publicly funded
health insurance plans. Access to insured services on the basis of medical
need, and not the ability to pay, has always been the cornerstone of Canada's
health care system. That being said, provinces and territories have the
primary responsibility for the organization of health care. Provinces and
territories determine what physician and hospital services are medically
necessary and therefore insured under their health care insurance plan, in
consultation with health professionals. As long as such decisions are made in
a manner that is consistent with the requirements of the comprehensiveness
criterion of the Canada Health Act, this raises no concerns from a
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to draw your
attention to the presence in the gallery of Richard Logan, our former mace
bearer, and also some guests of Senator Dyck: Dr. Betsy McGregor, of Industry
Canada, Life Sciences Branch, with three summer students — Lisa Huang, Laura
Gover and Sara Moores.
On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Losier-Cool, for the third reading of Bill
C-23, An Act to establish the Department of Human Resources and Skills
Development and to amend and repeal certain related Acts.
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Losier-Cool, for the third reading of Bill
C-22, An Act to establish the Department of Social Development and to amend
and repeal certain related Acts.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Eggleton, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Jaffer, for the third reading of Bill C-48,
An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, the Senate committee hearings
on Bill C-48 were held over a period of one day, symbolizing the government's
disdain for Parliament, starkly revealed in a budget bill so aptly described by
Senator Murray as an abomination and another blow to parliamentary control of
the public purse. Furthermore, it was defended at committee by the parliamentary
secretary rather than by the minister responsible.
I am sorry to say that Mr. Goodale from Saskatchewan was that minister; a man
who has run for office in our province innumerable times, only to be absent for
a bill that belittles the very parliamentary office he so often sought. In our
province Mr. Diefenbaker taught us to have reverence for Parliament and all its
traditions. Mr. Goodale was obviously not mindful.
It was ironic that it was senators, all parliamentarians and a parliamentary
secretary from the House of Commons who sat at a committee table passing a bill
that devastates Parliament's ability to do its primary job, which is to protect
the public purse, dangerously delegating its responsibilities to an executive
that has so little respect for the institution that it did not send a
As time passes and the precedent of what we did takes hold, it will be the
names of the senators who supported this incursion on the public purse that
history will record as being responsible for the demeaning of the public process
of budget making and the spending of people's money.
A further irony was added to that day when it was a bureaucrat, not a
parliamentarian but former Deputy Minister of Finance Stanley Hartt, who came to
the defence of Parliament and their obligations. Here is some of what Mr. Hartt
had to say in his remarks to the committee:
...senators should be alarmed at the precedent that Bill C-48 sets for the
manner in which legislators are invited to use or, in this case, I think, fail
to use the traditional power of Parliament to control public spending. These
powers were hard won. We did not shed any blood in this country over them, but
our forbears in Britain, whose parliamentary system we inherited, did. The
supremacy of Parliament on spending matters is a very valuable tradition that
we should not be so casual about.
It was the defence of this act that was truly remarkable. Senator Eggleton,
the sponsor of this bill, used the argument in committee that "the
Conservatives made me do it," because we had said that we would not cause an
election over the budget presented. Later, when we called for an election, that
is what caused the government to provoke this gluttonous spending and this
unseemly bill. "It was self-preservation," he said, although not using these
words, but the intent was clear. "Since you are not our friends, we had to go
out and buy new ones with the taxpayers' money," best paraphrases the
He forgets to add that Mr. Harper and the members of our party, on hearing
the testimony and confessions of thieves, fraudsters and corrupted Liberal Party
officials at the Gomery inquiry believed, and we still do, that the Liberal
Party has lost the moral right to govern.
While I am on the subject of Senator Eggleton's version of events, let me
turn to what he said on affordable housing yesterday, where he implied that I
gave a false version of testimony by Minister Fontana. Since Senator Eggleton is
a proponent of full citations of testimony, he will be pleased to hear what I
have to say. In talking about me, he said:
He quoted the minister, the Honourable Joe Fontana, as saying that
originally our government committed to spending $1.5 billion over five years,
which was reiterated by Minister Goodale following the tabling of Budget 2005.
Remember, he is quoting me. Then he said:
Senator Tkachuk said that there was $1.5 billion allocated in the budget
over five years. They took that $1.5 billion, made it $1.6 billion and said
that, instead of spending it over five years, they would spend it over two
Well, that may be what I said, but it is also what Mr. Fontana said. He said:
C-48 has now accelerated that commitment to two years.
He was speaking of the $1.5 billion.
Further, Senator Eggleton advised me to go out and read the later testimony
of Mr. Fontana, so I did. I wondered in committee, when we brought this up, why
the Liberals did not read the full testimony into the record at committee. I was
waiting for them to do it because we were accusing them of this in committee. I
will quote from that testimony, beginning with the section that Senator Eggleton
urged me to read but which he quoted selectively. Mr. Fontana said:
About a year and a half ago, we said in our platform, "...assisted housing
by providing a further $1 billion to $1.5 billion over the next five years.
The speech from the throne committed to renewing existing programs such as
affordable housing, residential rehabilitation, and support of communities.
In the budget speech, we did say: Accordingly, when our Municipal and
Rural, and Strategic and Border infrastructure programs are due to expire in
the normal course over the next several years, it is our clear intention to
renew and extend them into the future. The same is true for our housing
The day after the budget...
— and I am still quoting Mr. Fontana, Senator Eggleton will be pleased to
...the Minister of Finance indicated that as soon as we get that initial
amount spent, in the future we will invest an additional $1.5 billion in
housing issues in the country.
That is what he said the day after the budget, before the deal was made with
He goes on to say:
I think it's consistent with our commitments from the budget speech as well
as our throne speech.
Senator Eggleton: Still not in the budget.
Senator Tkachuk: Keep in mind that the Minister of Finance was sitting
next to Mr. Fontana and did not interject to correct him, so I will put my
version of events up against Senator Eggleton's any time.
Senator Eggleton: You lose.
Senator Tkachuk: For now, let Canadians decide who is right. As for
me, the only thing to conclude from this is that either the money was in the
budget, in which case the NDP gained nothing, the money was going to be in the
budget, in which case the NDP again gained nothing, or the money was being
promised but was never going to be delivered, just like Bill C-48, in which case
the NDP was lied to, but they know that now.
Honourable senators, allow me to get a few more facts straight on what
Senator Eggleton said in his remarks last night when he suggested that there was
no greater detail in Bill C-43 than in Bill C-48.
Let us start with $1 billion for an innovative clean fund to stimulate
cost-effective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Exactly
where in Bill C-43 will we find an appropriation for the billion-dollar sum?
Actually, we will not. It is not in this bill. Bill C-43 sets out the
legislative framework for the Canadian Emissions Reductions Incentive Agency —
now there is a handle for you — which is being set up as a departmental Crown
corporation to run the clean fund. Bill C-43 does not simply say the government
may set or buy a corporation for purposes of the clean fund, quite the contrary.
In Part 13 of Bill C-43, the Senate was provided with a detailed text creating a
separate statute to administer the agency, complete with a definition, the
object of the corporation, the corporate governance structure, a listing of the
powers of the agency, a requirement to table a corporate plan and an annual
report in Parliament, the designation of the Auditor General as the auditor and
a listing of the agency in the Access to Information Act.
What do we get for the corporations to be created by Bill C-48? Absolutely
nothing, other than a clause that says the government may create one. There are
certain one-time payments to specific organizations in Bill C-43, but here we
are told who the recipients were. Bill C-48 gives us no information on the
ultimate recipients of this $4.5 billion, nor does it spell out any terms and
conditions for payment or set out any rules governing the new corporations to be
Before I was distracted by what Senator Eggleton said, I was talking about
the government's moral right to govern.
For three days in the spring, the government lost control of Parliament. It
had a duty to resign and go to the people. It did not do so. It behaved in the
same way that party officials confessed to behaving at the Gomery inquiry. It
bought a member by bribing her with a cabinet post, tried to bribe another
member, and the result is that it is now a Liberal cabinet minister and the
Prime Minister's chief of staff who are being investigated by the RCMP.
They then bribed another political party in the House of Commons. While
Liberals may say that Bill C-48 reflects their priorities, that rings hollow,
for their priorities were reflected in their budget. These are the priorities of
Listening to the tapes that Mr. Grewal presented, one cringes at the absence
of any shred of moral relevance as criminal acts are discussed with sly
references, a kind of verbal wink, more akin to bad guys in movies talking on
the telephone and attempting to hide their base motives for fear of telephone
taps — that from a cabinet minister and the Chief of Staff to the Prime
Compare the words of Stanley Hartt, former Chief of Staff to then Prime
Minister Brian Mulroney, in committee on Bill C-48 and Bill C-38 with those of
Mr. Murphy discussing how past deals were rewarded.
I wonder whether the Canadian people would have been proud of the discussions
that took place in the hotel room between the Liberals and the NDP. The sleaze
that oozed out of that room and under the door resulted in $4.5 billion in
spending, with the Liberal attitude to it being best represented by the words of
a Liberal senator in committee:
I have not had an opportunity to see the agreement between the NDP and the
government. I looked at the bill and cannot help but think that either the NDP
is truly naive or the government is truly clever.
With friends like these, honourable senators, there may have only been social
intercourse in that room, but many of us out West would have used the vernacular
of that adjective to describe what happened to the NDP and to the poor taxpayers
There are those in the press who are rather enamoured of the machinations of
the Liberal Prime Minister, a kind of beguiling leadership — you can look it up
— a crafty Machiavellian, this Mr. Martin. The press thinks this is how politics
is done. Not too many weeks ago, those same newspapers were saying that the
Liberals had no choice but to resign.
The Liberals then justify their behaviour: "We all do it." It does not
matter what party is in power. "This is how we all behave." How dare they?
There is no revulsion at their behaviour as long as it serves their
self-interest. We on this side of the Senate say it is time that we cleaned up
this place, threw those sellers of favours out of town and jailed those crooks,
because Canadians deserve better than that; they should be able to expect better
of political parties.
Our minority report lays out the classic view of parliamentary governance
that we on this side believe in and expect to institute when we win the next
election. We talk about the need for transparency and accountability. We talk
about the need for Parliament to play a role in holding the government
accountable, especially when it comes to the budget bill and taxpayers' money.
We talk about democracy.
For some time, Paul Martin has billed himself as the champion of democratic
reform. What we failed to appreciate is that when he was talking about reform,
he was referring to closing down the system rather than opening it up.
It is true that a person's essential character is sometimes revealed when
they face hard times. Bill C-48 is evidence of Mr. Martin's character, a man who
deals in expediencies and will go to any lengths to hold on to power, the
parliamentary system be damned.
Then again, what harm is there in making a deal if you know you intend to
break it? That is what they did to the NDP. It is a double-cross and a breach of
the agreement. No, I did not say that; the NDP Finance critic said that last
week when she learned, through our hearings, that the $4.5 billion would not
begin to flow until sometime late next year, or maybe 2007 — or not at all if
there is no surplus beyond $2 billion. Perhaps the NDP got what it deserved
because, in making this deal, the NDP also showed wilful disregard for its
fiduciary responsibility to the people of Canada. The time for lobbying for
special interests is before the budget, not after.
Now they are crying foul. NDP Finance critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis is saying
things like the more distance the Liberals can put between the NDP budget and
the actual expenditure, the more it is to their political advantage, and the
more work we have to do to remind Canadians just how this happened.
That is rich. In one breath, the NDP colludes with the government in a budget
bill that does an end run around parliamentary oversight, and then in the next
breath it seeks to appeal to Canadians to fix the mess into which the NDP has
got itself and us, the taxpayers.
It seems that it will be up to the members of the Conservative Party to
protect the NDP from itself. It will be up to us because we are the only ones
who are protecting Canadians and taxpayers from the Liberal Party and the
Liberal government. It is only the Conservative Party. The New Democratic Party
gave up on that process when it made this deal with the Liberal Party of Canada
and with Paul Martin. Now it is crying that it was lied to, it was misinformed,
that it will not get the money. The NDP has to go to the Canadian people and
say, "Make sure that you tell them to do what they promised us they would do."
Senator Mercer: How do the polls do?
Senator Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I ask you to oppose this bill.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I admit to being somewhat
confused over Bill C-48, and I thank Honourable Senator Tkachuk for raising the
issue of the NDP involvement in that bill. Looking at the newspapers on the
weekend, the headline I saw was, "NDP cries foul over budget deal with
Liberals." It reads that the Liberal critic, John McKay, Parliamentary
Secretary to Finance Minister Goodale, told the Senate Finance Committee that
the $4.5 billion budget money would not be doled out until the summer of 2006.
However, as we all know, and as Senator Tkachuk also pointed out, finance critic
Judy Wasylycia-Leis indicated that the NDP in the other place was expecting
that the money would materialize sometime this fall.
Senator Eggleton's introduction to third reading also mentioned timing. There
seems to be conflicting pieces of information as to when the money will actually
start to flow. Certainly, the NDP in the other place was under the impression
that an agreement had been struck that the money would start to flow this fall.
It makes sense if you look at the bill. Clause (1), subsection (1) talks about
the fiscal year 2005-06, which would indicate that that could happen at any
moment. If we are not to start spending the money this year, why then do we have
a clause dealing with this year? It is a little confusing, and I would like
clarification on the timing.
The last time I spoke, I said that Bill C-48 contained items that were
"motherhood" issues that we all think of as being important, namely, things
such as affordable housing, increased money for training and post-secondary
education, and increased foreign aid. In the appendix to the committee report on
Bill C-48, they were called "fine sounding objectives."
Now the Liberal government is trying to claim credit solely for Bill C-48. In
fact, as my honourable colleague Senator Tkachuk has said, perhaps there has
been a little bit of a double-cross in that suddenly the money that we thought
was going to flow will not flow.
We all know, and certainly I as an academic at a university and a professor
know, that ideas are important. They are the engine that drives our society. In
an academic circle it is well known that if you have an idea you do not attempt
to claim credit for it because if you do and it is not your idea, that is
considered intellectual theft. I would not want to claim credit for something
that is not mine, and I do not expect the Liberal government to claim credit for
something that is not theirs because then they could be accused of, and perhaps
found guilty of, intellectual theft.
At any rate, no idea, no matter how good it is, can stand on its own. We all
know, and certainly those in the scientific community know, you could have a
brilliant idea, but it will go nowhere unless you have the right people to carry
it out, and unless you have the right process for implementation. Honourable
senators on this side have talked about the process of implementation. There
must be the correct process. You can have a great idea but it will not
necessarily work out.
Bill C-48 contains money that will go to very good issues. If that bill is
not properly managed, then it will fail.
Let me give you another scenario. Let us say it is so badly carried out by
the Liberals that it fails. Then they will have egg all over their face. In that
case, will they still claim credit for Bill C-48, or will they say the NDP made
them do it?
My question then revolves around the timing. When will this happen? To
continue with what Senator Tkachuk was saying as well, perhaps the NDP in the
other place would have been wiser had they actually insisted upon a continuing
relationship in a minority government, not only to institute Bill C-48, but also
to ensure that there was a continuing involvement: to ensure that the bill is
properly implemented so that it will lead to success. By a partnership they will
have success. If they fight against each other, perhaps the bill will not
succeed. They could blame each other and say who was naive and who was not, who
was duped and who was double-crossed and so on, but the relationship perhaps
would have been better had it continued to make sure the money went to the
places in a process the NDP envisioned.
If this issue was part of the Liberal government intentions, then it should
have been in the original bill. It was not. They do not seem to have the
conviction to carry it out. The NDP in the other place in good faith thought it
could be carried out, and perhaps now are left with blind faith, hoping that the
Liberal government will manage to carry it out on their own and make it
Hon. Art Eggleton: The honourable senator has raised the matter of
whether this agreement stands as it was made. In the preamble to my question, I
would indicate that yes, it does. There is no change in the understanding from
the understanding that was reached between the government and the New Democratic
The honourable senator is aware, I assume, that the basis of the agreement is
to allocate the $4.5 billion after a $2 billion surplus has been reached. In
fact, we do not know that the surplus has been reached at this point in time.
This is unplanned surplus. When it is reached, then the government, the finance
minister, is in a position to start considering allocations. The absolute timing
of whether there is a $2 billion surplus is not known until the end of the
fiscal year, which is the end of next March. Indeed, the books are not closed
and verified as to the surplus position until the following August.
While the Minister of Finance can start the allocation even before, if he is
sure about the $2 billion, it is the $2 billion threshold that has to be met.
The agreement says that it could be done in either one of the two following
fiscal years. In effect, the agreement is being adhered to. Is that not so?
Senator Dyck: Honourable senators, part of the communication process
here has to do with the timing of the surplus. As I understand it, the NDP in
the other place understood that the surplus would be determined by the estimates
this fall, not the final estimates. From the briefing notes I have, that is the
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I would like to join in
the debate on Bill C-48, to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain
payments. As has already been indicated, the intent of the bill is to allow the
federal government to spend up to $4.5 billion in specific purposes over the
next two fiscal years. This new spending is to be allocated in four ways,
already outlined in this chamber: $1.6 billion for affordable housing; $1.5
billion for post-secondary education and training; $900 million for the
environment, including public transit and energy-efficient retrofit; and $500
million for foreign aid.
Bill C-48 was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance,
which, as you know, I chair. Our committee examined the legislation very
carefully and received evidence from a wide range of witnesses, including the
Honourable John McKay, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance, and
officials from the Department of Finance; Charles-Antoine St-Jean, the
Comptroller General of Canada, and his colleague, John Morgan; officials from
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, and representatives from both the
C.D. Howe Institute and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.
Honourable senators will recall that during the debate on second reading I
expressed a number of concerns on Bill C-48. On the one hand, I stressed that
the bill contains no explanation of the mechanisms for spending. On the other
hand, I also pointed out that the proposed legislation offers little provision
for adequate parliamentary oversight. Moreover, I indicated that the bill does
not provide sound accountability mechanisms. I also expressed the concern that
Bill C-48 raises issues related to fiscal responsibility.
I must admit, honourable senators, that one day's set of hearings devoted to
Bill C-48 by the National Finance Committee did not calm my fears. Numerous
witnesses shared the view that Bill C-48 is highly problematic. There was a
lengthy list of reasons. I would like to quote Stanley Hartt, who eloquently
As a former Deputy Minister of Finance, I find it troublesome to see
Parliament commit, for whatever reason, even contingently, significant
portions of surpluses yet unearned.... Prudence and Parliamentary practice
should dictate that the House and the Senate appropriate moneys when programs
have been thought through and developed, when program parameters exist that
can be set before the legislators whose control of the public purse is
paramount and who are entitled to know what spending they are actually
approving, and not merely be required to rely on a list of fine-sounding
Honourable senators, I will now summarize the concerns raised in the
committee hearings on Bill C-48. Witnesses told our committee that Bill C-48
focuses almost exclusively on money and leaves out important details on the
nature of expenditure. While the legislation provides the level of funding to be
allocated among the four general areas of spending that I have already
enumerated, it does not describe a mechanism that spells out how investment will
be made in each area. Will it supplement existing measures or will new programs
need to be put in place? We do not know from Bill C-48. Which departments,
agencies, foundations or other entities will be responsible for administering
those funds? Bill C-48 does not provide any answer to these basic and
Moreover, the bill does not set out what it intends to accomplish. Witnesses
before our National Finance Committee insisted on the fact that no objectives or
goals are defined and no outcomes are articulated. It will be difficult to
assess whether Bill C-48 will result in good value for money. Maybe that is what
our Auditor General, Sheila Fraser, will have to investigate. In other words,
honourable senators, we are asked to vote on legislation worth $4.5 billion with
no information as to how it is to be delivered, to whom it is to be provided,
which department will manage the funds and which specific purpose it is to
serve. Parliamentarians are given no information whatsoever to help us make an
informed decision. Perhaps more importantly, witnesses indicated that Bill C-48
is disconnected from the usual priority-setting process of budget-making. In
this perspective, Finn Poschmann from the C.D. Howe institute stated:
Bill C-48 arrived from outside the budget process so it was completely
severed from the trade-offs normally involved in budget making. Budgets are
intended to reflect the balance of competing priorities that policy making and
politics are supposed to produce. Bill C-48 is a footnote to that process.
Simply put, this bill does not have the kind of details that a budget bill
usually has. Normally, when a bill is debated in either House of Parliament,
there is more understanding about where the money is going than there is in this
case. With Bill C-48, there is no detail about any of the programs. It is left
entirely up to the government.
Honourable senators, Bill C-48 is another way in which authority is given by
Parliament to the government to appropriate and spend funds. This bill
constitutes legislated spending authority. More precisely, clause 1(1) provides
that, "the Minister of Finance may, in respect of the fiscal year 2005-06, make
payments out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund." That is the authority that
provides statutory appropriation with one limitation — the amount, which is
determined based on the surplus. The maximum is $4.5 billion and the individual
limits are contained in clause 1(2).
During the hearings, Mr. Peter Devries, from the Department of Finance, told
Bill C-48 gives the government authorization to make the payments to the
entities that have been set up....The government will not be going back to
Parliament for authority to spend that money. Bill C-48 gives the authority to
spend that money.
As such, it will allow the Minister of Finance to decide whether to spend the
proposed amount of money. In my view, this is almost a blank cheque to the
government for spending in four areas that are barely defined at all.
The fact is that the government of the day retains a tremendous amount of
discretionary power over how the money is allocated under this bill. The $4.5
billion is also discretionary as to when it will be spent. It could all be spent
in the first year out of surplus, or the second year, or some combination
thereof; or it could not be spent at all in the event that there is no surplus
beyond the $2 billion.
Perhaps more importantly, the government also has the authority to propose
other spending legislation that would eliminate the room for spending under this
bill. If I were the NDP, I would be concerned about that. Bill C-48 is not
binding and contains an element of open-endedness. If the surplus is greater
than $2 billion, nothing in this bill would prevent the federal government from
spending the money in any way it chooses. There are no formal restrictions in
Bill C-48. In other words, honourable senators, the threshold of $2 billion
could be raised. Over and above that, there might be $1 billion or $2 billion,
but there is nothing in Bill C-48 that says that the additional $1 billion or $2
billion over the threshold of $2 billion must be spent in accordance with the
four targeted provisions of this bill.
Honourable senators, there has never been a bill like this one in Parliament.
It is an unprecedented assault on parliamentary control of the public purse.
What if the government comes back in the fall with another two-page bill asking
Parliament to vote, let us say, $15 billion for six categories of spending? Is
that the precedent, and is this the way we want to go in Canada? Stanley Hartt
raised this concern when he told the committee:
Senators should be alarmed at the precedent that Bill C-48 sets for the
manner in which legislators are invited to use or, in this case, I think, to
fail to use, the traditional power of Parliament to control public
spending....The supremacy of Parliament on spending matters is a very valuable
tradition that we should not be so casual about.
Charles-Antoine St-Jean, the Comptroller General of Canada, reassured the
committee that, prior to payments being made, the terms and conditions will
require approval by the Treasury Board. These terms and conditions will detail
more specific program parameters along with appropriate levels of audit,
evaluation, reporting and accountability provisions. His office will review such
proposals prior to their submission to Treasury Board. He also indicated that,
subsequent to Treasury Board approval, funding agreements will then be signed
with the recipients outlining the terms and conditions for the payments and
their dependency on the condition of the fiscal surplus. Mr. St-Jean also
stressed that the various estimates documents and the Public Accounts of Canada
will highlight the responsible ministers and departments, the recipients and the
details on how these funds are intended to be used and, subsequently, how they
have been used.
This leads to my concern that parliamentarians will obtain information on the
detail of all the spending proposed under Bill C-48 only post facto. As
such, we are asked only to rubber stamp the proposed legislation. This is not
the way that budgets are supposed to be made. Parliamentary input into the
budget-making process has been clearly lacking.
Honourable senators, Bill C-48 is unique in that it is the first time that
spending authority would be provided that is subject to there being a minimum
fiscal surplus. The money will not exist unless there is a surplus. The spending
initiatives will not take place unless there is a surplus of at least $2
billion. Is this an appropriate way for the government to manage its future
The Comptroller General of Canada told the committee that Bill C-48
represents a "prudent approach to fiscal management" in that such fiscal
dividends would be authorized only to the extent that there is a $2 billion
surplus in the next two years. Mr. St-Jean also believes that Bill C-48 provides
more lead time to determine the specific management frameworks concerning the
A number of witnesses before our committee did not share his views. One of
them even argued that Bill C-48 is somewhat "a mortgage on future surpluses."
Other witnesses insisted on the fact that the proposed legislation does not
contain any clear measures for government accountability. Through Bill C-48, the
federal government seeks authority to spend $4.5 billion without a plan and
without offering Parliament the necessary information as to what the executive
can be held accountable for. As Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Finance, I am concerned about that.
Another major flaw in the bill is its lack of regard for good governance.
David Stewart-Patterson, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Council for
Chief Executives, told the committee the following:
Bill C-48 is a post-dated blank cheque.
I cannot express it any better than that, honourable senators.
Bill C-48 is a post-dated blank cheque. It gives a future cabinet authority
to spend all this money in any way it sees fit, including new programs,
agreements with other governments, grants and contributions, and even setting
up new crown corporations. At a time when Canadians are calling for greater
transparency and greater accountability in the use of public funds, this bill
shifts more than $4.5 billion behind closed doors. It will allow the
government of the day to make political decisions about where and how to spend
this money without the need to come back for further Parliamentary approval.
It may not expand the risk of return to financial deficits, but I would argue
that it increases rather than decreases the democratic deficit.
Honourable senators, I am also concerned that Bill C-48 may be raising false
expectations. It will be for the government to determine the precise allocation
of those funds within the limits set out in the bill. There is, however, no
obligation to spend the money on those four areas. Because there is nothing
mandatory in this bill, this could raise false hopes for potential recipients
such as low-income students, people living on social housing, Aboriginal
Canadians and so forth. If the money is available but may not be used, does this
not raise false hopes? What is prudent about that? If the surplus is not there,
some people will be disappointed. Even if there is a surplus, it may not be used
for their needs.
A number of witnesses also suggested that the proposed legislation will make
it very difficult to continue on a path of debt reduction and tax relief that is
so critical to ensuring economic prosperity. Honourable senators are aware that
usually any unanticipated surplus at the end of the fiscal year is automatically
directed to debt reduction. Over the next two fiscal years, a good part of any
surplus may be used to fund the new spending initiatives contained in this bill.
The pace of debt reduction might, therefore, be slower than in the past.
Mr. Sam Boutziouvis from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives cautioned
that Bill C-48 may limit the federal government's fiscal flexibility. He warned:
...this bill will reduce the government's fiscal flexibility and we need
greater flexibility moving ahead. With respect to the debt pay down, we have
been highly supportive of the government's fiscal parameters over the past
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Oliver, I am sorry to interrupt, but
your time has expired.
Senator Oliver: Could I ask for another three or four minutes?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Five minutes.
The Hon. the Speaker: An additional five minutes. Is it agreed,
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Oliver: Continuing to quote the official from the Canadian
Council of Chief Executives, who says the government might lose its flexibility
under Bill C-48:
In fact, we have argued strenuously since 1994-95 that we needed to balance
the books. The government's fiscal parameters have been budget balance,
contingency of $3 billion to the debt and, recently, the target of debt to GDP
ratio of 25 per cent. These excellent fiscal parameters, in our view, have
served the Canadian people well over the past decade. Bill C-48 arguably would
affect those fiscal parameters.
In conclusion, honourable senators, Bill C-48, as it is currently drafted,
raises numerous concerns related to the lack of accountability and most of all a
lack of opportunity for parliamentarians such as us to exercise oversight. It
also mitigates long-term planning that is necessary for fiscally responsible
government and creates uncertainty with respect to debt and tax reduction.
There are many problems with Bill C-48. In particular, we need to ask
ourselves whether this bill sets a dangerous precedent for Canada, as it
provides the federal government with the authority and the flexibility to spend,
as it sees fit and without parliamentary scrutiny, up to $4.5 billion in the
next two years without requisite transparency or accountability.
The failure of important concepts of transparency and accountability,
parliamentary oversight and systemic payment mechanisms must not be allowed to
Hon.Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, the most alarming thing about Bill C-48 is that we are
asked to vote $4.5 billion before we are told how the funds are to be spent.
Senator Kinsella: That is innovative.
Senator Stratton: As Mr. Finn Poschmann of the C.D. Howe Institute put
it, quite succinctly:
This legislation asks Parliament to pre-authorize contingent spending on a
bunch of nice things and a player to be named later.
Senator Munson: That is not bad.
Senator Stratton: I thought so.
The way we are asked to vote spending authority through this bill stands out
in stark contrast to the supply process. A clear example of this is the funding
for foreign aid, a term that can include significant amounts of military aid.
The government is free to spend $500 million to fight famine in Africa, but it
is also free to spend it on military aid to Zimbabwe, where driving people from
their homes is the preferred way to cut urban poverty.
Usually spending requests come to Parliament in one of two ways. The first is
through a budget bill for which we can turn to the Budget Plan for detailed
information. The second is through the estimates, where we are given extensive
information before we vote the money.
Honourable senators, most of Canada's foreign aid budget is delivered through
the Canadian International Development Agency, or CIDA. The information that we
receive from CIDA through the estimates process stands in stark contrast to Bill
On page 3 of CIDA's Report on Plans and Priorities, there is a signed letter
from the Minister of International Cooperation. It tells us that this report to
Parliament "outlines our priorities and program of work and the result we
expect to achieve." We are not simply told, "$2.8 billion for foreign aid."
Rather, we are given extensive information telling us, for example, that $1.4
billion is for specific geographic programs in Third World nations and that $292
million will be for partnerships with international organizations. We are told
that CIDA will provide $65 million in grants to aid former Soviet Bloc countries
in their transition, and we can ask how much longer we will be funding this
transition. We know that $2 million will be spent on programming against hunger,
and we can then debate whether this is sufficient. We can question the officials
as to how they arrived at the levels of expenditure for each program operated by
the agency, and we can expect to be given answers.
We are given the reasons for the various programs that operate within the
agency and expected outcomes. For example, we are told that the private sector
development plan program seeks to strengthen support for rural entrepreneurs,
supporting private sector development that contributes to equitable economic
growth. We are told that it will spend $130 million on salaries and $58 million
on professional and special services, so we can question them not only on the
size of the payroll but as to why they are hiring so many consultants. In other
words, we are given the information that we will need to hold the government
In this bill, $500 million for foreign aid is the only information we have.
There are no details as to how the funds will be delivered or how the projects
or programs are to be funded. We do not know what agreements the government
plans to enter into with the new or existing private sector partners or whether
the funds will flow through a new and as yet undefined foundation. We do not
know how or when Parliament will be informed once the government decides how the
money is to be spent, or whether Parliament will even formally be advised in
advance as to how the information will flow through press releases to the media,
as an example. We have not been given any measurable outcomes.
Indeed, to provide but another example, the money for housing is being
promoted as a way to reduce the number of homeless Canadians. The government has
not told us how many homeless people will actually be housed by this
expenditure. In the interests of accountability, should there not be a
measurable outcome attached to the money for housing?
A letter sent by Jack Layton to his supporters on April 27, the day after the
original agreement in principle, stated that the deal contained:
...$1.5 billion to reduce the cost of post secondary education for students
and their families via an agreement with the provinces and territories; and
better training for workers through the E.I. system.
Is the government planning to deliver the additional funds for training
through the EI system? If so, will it impact on the EI break-even premium? We do
not know. If not through the EI system, then how will it be delivered? We do not
know. If this had been a part of the original fiscal plan, it would have been
spelled out in the Report on Plans and Priorities for Human Resources and Skills
Usually when we vote money, we also know which minister is responsible for
ensuring that the funds are properly spent, but this is not the case with Bill
C-48. Will the foreign aid dollars be under the direction of the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, or the Minister of International Cooperation, or the Minister
of Defence, or the Minister of Finance, or, for that matter, the Prime Minister,
where it could be used to launch the "international sponsorship fund."
Senator LeBreton: Why not?
Senator Stratton: While $50 million for a plaque in the presidential
palace in Nigeria or Bhutan might sound far-fetched, if you do not define how
the money is to be spent, anything is possible. Will the funding for the
environment be under the Minister of the Environment, or the Minister of State
for Infrastructure and Communities, or the Minister of Labour and Housing, or
some combination of ministers; which is it to be?
Mr. Peter Devries, Director General, Deputy Minister's Office, Department of
Finance Canada, told the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance:
These are statutory programs, Mr. Chair, and because of the authority set
out in the bill, the programs set out become statutory payments.
Honourable senators, on page 1-30 of this year's Main Estimates, we are told
that the statutory authorities are:
Those that Parliament has approved through other legislation that sets out
both the purpose of the expenditures and the terms and conditions under which
they may be made. Statutory spending is included in the Estimates for
It is hardly reassuring to be told that this is statutory spending and, even
then, there is far less legislative guidance than is normal for a statutory
item. Old Age Security is statutory. We know in advance who is eligible for what
level of benefits. Payments to provinces for equalization and health care are
statutory and are paid in accordance to a formula enshrined in law. Employment
insurance is statutory. The basic eligibility and benefit rules are set out in
law, with limited scope for fine tuning. The Prime Minister cannot, on his own,
authorize a doubling of benefits for CSL crew members laid off during the winter
shutdown of the St. Lawrence Seaway. He would have to ask Parliament to change
Honourable senators, we have no guidance and no direction beyond broadly
worded categories, such as foreign aid. We will not know in advance how the
funds are to be spent unless the government tells us, at their convenience.
Mr. Devries also told the committee that:
These funding arrangements would have to be in place prior to March 31. We
have to establish the liability with respect to each of those two fiscal years
during the fiscal years in question. We cannot do it after the fact.
In other words, the government will have to know before March 31 who is
getting the money. The funding agreements would have to be in place.
Mr. Devries also told the committee that Parliament would be provided with
details "in the first Supplementary Estimates of 2006-07, which would be tabled
in around November, as per tradition." Allow me to make a few observations
First, the November 2006-07 supplementary estimates will be tabled more than
six months after the end of the fiscal year and one to two months after the
books have been closed. The money will have been spent. Mr. Devries told us that
the government would be issuing cheques in September or October 2006. The same
is true if the money were reported through the fall Departmental Performance
Reports — the money will have been spent and we may not be given a chance to
scrutinize the details in advance.
Second, the supplementary estimates deal only with the current fiscal year
and do not provide updated figures for the previous fiscal year. By the nature
of this bill, these payments, likely made in the fall, will be, for accounting
purposes, last year's money.
Allow me to provide an illustration. The February 2003 budget provided
several one-time payments, most of which were to be booked to the outgoing
2002-03 fiscal year and a couple of which were to be booked to the incoming
2003-04 fiscal year. That fall, there were no updates to any statutory programs
in the November Supplementary Estimates (A). There is no clear legal requirement
that this be done. There was an update when we got to the March 2004
Supplementary Estimates (B) for that year's statutory spending, but not for any
spending that was booked to the previous year.
Indeed, we looked carefully to see if the backdated spending from Budget 2003
was reported in this way. The $600 million to Canada Health Infoway, the $25
million for the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, the $70 million
for the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the $500 million for the
Canadian Foundation for Innovation were not in the supplementary estimates.
However, the funding that Budget 2003 said would be booked to the incoming
2003-04 fiscal year was included, as the estimates were updating Parliament of
the estimated costs in that fiscal year of a statutory item, which would be
All of the money authorized through Bill C-48 is to be backdated when the
cheques are cut in the fall. We will be looking with interest to see if Treasury
Board changes the format and structure of the supplementary estimates to include
statutory items pertaining to a previous year.
As well, honourable senators will note that there is somewhat more precision
than in the past when the year-end funds were disposed of. The 2003 budget did
not say $705 million for health but, rather, it outlined the specific amounts to
be provided to three specific foundations.
We may have problems with the accountability of these foundations, but at
least we know what we were voting on and we know the mandate of those
foundations. However, this is all a red herring. Even if we are given this
information in the supplementary estimates, it will be after the fact and not
The government has held out the prospect that we might receive the
information before the fall. Mr. John Morgan, Acting Assistant Comptroller
General, told the Finance Committee:
It is not inconceivable that in the 2006-07 Reports on Plans and Priorities
for the respective departments they would be able to include what has come
about in terms of these negotiations and their respective direction. I believe
there would be some opportunity to look at these documents as part of the
estimates process. As we indicated earlier, these are statutory disbursements,
but they are reported in the estimates and are subject to the scrutiny of
Honourable senators may want to keep two things in mind about this. First,
with the election promised for next spring, we may not see the Reports on Plans
and Priorities until the fall because they cannot be tabled when Parliament is
not sitting. The cheques may be cashed by then. Second, the words "not
inconceivable" can also mean "not guaranteed" or "remotely possible." It is
not inconceivable that I will hit a hole-in-one the next time I golf.
Honourable senators, there would appear to be no operational barriers to
Parliament being given this information well in advance of the spending. What we
lack is a legal requirement that this be done and a formal mechanism for their
The issue is not the Treasury Board's internal checks and balances, even
though those same internal controls allowed the sponsorship program to continue
for several years until the government was caught. The issue is Parliament's
right to scrutinize spending in advance of those funds leaving the Consolidated
As Mr. Hartt told the committee:
Senator Eggleton pointed out twice to previous witnesses that Parliament
has oversight in the sense that after the fiscal year end, as it is becoming
clear whether there is any money and what it might be spent on, they can call
people in and ask for explanations. That is a kind of oversight, but it is not
the kind of oversight that I traditionally associate with the parliamentary
control over the spending power.
In other words, the money is blown; now, we are going to be told...
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Stratton, I am sorry to interrupt but
your 15 minutes have expired.
Senator Stratton: I request a minute.
The Hon. the Speaker: You have five minutes, it appears, Senator
Senator Stratton: I will take less.
I will begin that sentence again.
In other words, the money is blown; now we are going to be told, because
people are nice and they will show up and sit in this chair, how it was blown.
Honourable senators, before it spends the money, the government should come
back to Parliament with information similar to that in the estimates. If the
government were willing to do so, this could be done as early as in the spring.
Further, if this kind of advance spending authority with incomplete
information is to become the norm — the government senators in committee were
making a virtue of this — then let us retain some limited ability to scrutinize
the spending before the cheques are cut.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, earlier in the debate,
Senator Tkachuk quoted me accurately as having described this bill as an
abomination. A few days after I made that remark at the committee, the word,
with my name attached to it, leapt out at me from a headline in The Hill
I recall the word from my less-than-perfect attendance at scripture class
when I was a student at St. Francis Xavier University half a century ago, but I
thought since I had resurrected it to such effect that I should go back and
confirm its meaning.
I looked in the Oxford Dictionary and the definition of abomination is
"thing that causes disgust or hatred"; and then two examples are given. One is "the Pharisees regarded Gentiles as an abomination to God"; and the other is,
"a Calvinist abomination of indulgences."
Neither Senator Tkachuk nor I would want to be associated with either of
those sentiments, and therefore I may want to find an appropriate synonym when
dealing with this bill. As for God, I do not think we should bother him about
Bill C-48. He might be inclined to respond that he has heard enough from the
Senate this week.
Now, let me say that the bill is an affront to Parliament, and that I am
dismayed that such a bill should be before us. It should never have gotten this
far. The House of Commons should have turned it back and told the government to
do it right.
Let me say to Senator Dyck and Senator Eggleton that the confusion that
supposedly exists about the Liberal-NDP agreement, and the sense of betrayal
that is so manifestly felt by the New Democrats, could all have been avoided —
though not perhaps in the way that Senator Dyck has suggested — by following due
process. The government could have brought in a budget bill with the kind of
documentary support that is normal for budget bills.
There is no rush about this; that is obvious. The government has not changed
its position in the past few days, even under some pressure from the NDP. It is
obvious that they will not make up their minds to spend any of this money before
the fall of 2006. That is the position of the government; so what was the hurry
about bringing in this generality of a bill with no detail as to how the money
will be spent?
What is saddest about this to me is that Parliament continues to cooperate in
its own marginalization. In the last few years, we have had two retroactive tax
bills that were without precedent and that broke even the government's own
guidelines about retroactive tax bills. In one case, the government reneged on a
consent to judgment that the Crown had made with some school boards in Quebec
and reversed it. In the second case, a definition in the Income Tax Act was
changed retroactive to 1988.
Now we have Bill C-48. Bill C-48, as someone said, is a blank and post-dated
cheque. The Department of Finance is running the government. The Department of
Finance is running the country and not doing a very good job of it. Who but the
Department of Finance was responsible for the bad faith negotiations that took
place with the province of New Brunswick in recent weeks? I understand from the
media that Senator Kinsella intends to move an amendment to this bill on this
subject, and good for him.
I do not believe that the people who went to negotiate with New Brunswick on
behalf of the Government of Canada went in with bad faith. I do not believe that
the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who expressed a week or so ago his
interest in seeing a successful outcome to these negotiations, was dealing with
us in bad faith; but what happened?
What happened is that the Department of Finance at a given moment walked in
and brought down the hammer and said we will have none of this; it would be a
bad precedent to offer any financial assistance to New Brunswick for the
rehabilitation of the Point Lepreau nuclear plant. Never mind that for years the
Government of Canada has bent itself out of shape trying to flog that technology
to all kinds of regimes overseas, some of them dubious. Never mind that the
Government of Canada, several generations ago, brought Quebec and Ontario into
the nuclear power field on generous terms. Never mind that with New Brunswick
itself, when their turn came in 1974-75, they lent us half the money. I say
"us" because I was there on the New Brunswick side of the table on those days.
All this is for naught, because the Department of Finance at a given point says,
no, it will not be done.
When I was growing up and following major league baseball, the New York
Yankees were such a powerhouse, winning World Series after World Series, that
the cry used to go up every now and then in the sports pages and elsewhere to
break up the Yankees, meaning spread the talent around so there would be a more
competitive environment in major league baseball.
I have come to the conclusion that that is what should happen to the
Department of Finance. The Department of Finance should be broken up. It is
clear that there is nobody — no agency, no power in the government — to say to
them, nay. Privy Council Office seems powerless; the Department of Justice,
which normally would restrain them in the use of such things as retroactive law,
has become a cipher in recent years. The checks and balances that used to exist
in the cabinet system no longer seem to apply.
I am not certain how you would break up the Department of Finance, but there
are experts in public administration who could help us with this. I note that
the government has appointed Professor Donald Savoie of New Brunswick, Professor
Ted Hodgetts, who literally wrote the book on public administration in Canada,
Professor Ned Franks and various others to look into changes to the public
I think these people ought to take under consideration the Department of
Finance. They have, in my opinion, a malign influence on public policy, and even
allowing for the fact that management of public finances has to be a central
element in public policy, they have a disproportionate influence on the public
policy choices that are put before the government.
I think it is time to consider this: Dozens of government reorganizations
have taken place in the past 40 or 50 years. There has been an upheaval in the
public administration. With a single small exception, that being the creation of
the Treasury Board as a separate portfolio in the early 1960s, the Department of
Finance is the one department that has never been touched by any of these
reorganizations. I think the time has come to revisit the Department of Finance
and break it up into manageable, accountable, responsible pieces that will have
some responsibility and some sense of how parliamentary democracy should work,
which is not present at the moment.
I do not want to impugn individuals in the Department of Finance. There are,
as I have indicated, some very talented people in that department. The problem
may be that too many of them are located there. From a purely human point of
view, it was somewhat reassuring to observe the discomfort of some of the
Department of Finance witnesses who appeared before the Standing Senate
Committee on National Finance on Bill C-48. If ever I saw witnesses who wished
they were elsewhere, it was some of the witnesses from the Department of
Finance. The parliamentary secretary could do no more than say that Aboriginal
housing was a good thing, the environment was a good thing, and all these other
fields were good. He contented himself with that and — hats off to him — he did
not venture to give a very reasoned or, indeed, any kind of defence for the
process that was involved.
The two officials from the Department of Finance said, as I think Senator
Tkachuk and certainly Senator Stratton referred to, that this is statutory
spending like any other. We know what statutory spending is. It is old age
pensions, equalization payments and that sort of thing. This is not statutory
spending except in the narrowest and most technical legal sense.
The testimony of the other witness, the Comptroller General of Canada, Mr.
St-Jean, was referred to earlier by Senator Oliver. His idea was that if one
really thought about it, this was somewhat prudent of the government, because
now we would know what the government might spend its money on if there is a
surplus. However, we have a list of fields and no detail. There is not the kind
of documentation that normally accompanies a budget bill.
Speaking of prudence, a witness from the C.D. Howe Institute who appeared
before the House of Commons committee did the arithmetic and found that, over
the last eight years, the government had racked up $45 billion in unanticipated
revenue — that is, revenues were $45 billion higher than had been forecast in
their budgets — and $9 billion of unanticipated savings from lower-than-expected
interest rates. That comes to $54 billion, of which $35 billion went out in
unanticipated program spending at the end of the year. There is something wrong
with this picture. This is not prudent management of our financial affairs, not
by a long shot.
Honourable senators, while "abomination" might have been too apocalyptic
and scriptural a description, I think you know how I feel about this bill. It
should be sent back. There is plenty of time. It should be sent back and the
government should be told to do it right.
I look forward to hearing Senator Kinsella, and I hope I will be able to
support the amendment that he proposes with regard to the Point Lepreau nuclear
plant in New Brunswick.
Hon. Madeleine Plamondon: Honourable senators, if this bill is adopted
and there is an early election, would the new government be bound by the bill?
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, if I were leading the new
Senator Plamondon: If it is the law, is any new government not bound
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, I was thinking about the way in
which the bill was drafted. I have made the point that the Department of Finance
could have done so much better in terms of detail, because there are programs to
which this money could have been directed.
It is my surmise that they have deliberately drafted this bill in such a way
that will give them as much wiggle room as possible. A simple-minded person
would think that this $4.5 billion, if it materializes, will be $4.5 billion to
be spent in addition to existing commitments. However, in the way that they have
drafted this bill, they can use that $4.5 billion to pay for commitments that
they have already made. The one thing the Department of Finance is very good at
is imaginative and innovative drafting, so this will happen. Already we are told
that an agreement of some kind that was made between the federal government and
the Government of Ontario some time ago relating to a number of things will be
partly paid for out of this $4.5 billion, if it materializes.
Could the present government or some succeeding government that would be
elected some months hence simply ignore this bill and move on? My answer is,
yes, they could.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, Senator Murray is talking
about breaking the Department of Finance into different components. It is my
experience in government that every time government departments are broken up,
new departments and bureaucracies are spawned and new ministries are developed.
Is Senator Murray proposing larger government?
Senator Murray: Not necessarily, honourable senators. My friend has
been witness, as have I, to quite a few of those reorganizations. Some of them,
such as the merger of the departments of trade and external affairs in 1983,
have been undone some years later. When I first came here, there was a
department of citizenship and immigration. In the intervening years, I do not
know how many iterations there have been of that. There has been manpower and
immigration, employment and immigration, and so on. Within the past year or so,
the Department of Citizenship and Immigration has been recreated.
The Department of Finance could be broken up without necessarily expanding
the overall federal bureaucracy, and it would be good to have it broken up into
several parts with several specialties. We would have a better system of checks
and balances within the general area of financial and fiscal policy, rather than
one behemoth such as the present Department of Finance is with a
disproportionate influence on public policy. I would like to see serious
consideration given to that by some of the professors I have named. In any case,
perhaps it is something that the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance
might like to look into in due course.
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, not being quite as iconoclastic
as Senator Murray — and I use that word very advisedly, as it means to shatter
icons — I will support this bill, but I will do so with grave reservations.
All budget speeches, and all budget bills, are political instruments. This
bill, however, is exceptionally so in its origin, a minority government's
lifeline; its brevity, approximately 400 words, and its vagueness, both in the
conditions it sets down for spending only surpluses in excess of $2 billion, and
its lack of detail on the spending of $4.5 billion, about which you have heard
very eloquent speeches.
The brevity of parliamentary inquiry in terms of this bill is also
exceptional: Three committee meetings in a single day in the other place, two
meetings in a single day by our own Standing Senate Committee on National
Finance. It belies a statement from the first Liberal Red Book Creating
Opportunity, which says:
Our governmental structure contains elaborate systems to hold Parliament
accountable for the management of public monies, but no equivalent scrutiny
for Parliament's management of the public environmental trust.
With this bill, those elaborate systems are breaking down, through no fault
of the committees that are charged with inquiring into the government's spending
plans. They cannot probe details of plans that do not exist. As Senator Kinsella
The dearth of detail means that we are being asked to approve discretionary
spending in the amount of $4.5 billion, with only a general idea of the broad
areas to which the additional spending is supposed to be devoted.
Rather than a plan, we have a pledge from the government that says,
essentially, "If we overtax by $8.5 billion, we will give $4.5 billion to
worthy causes, the environment, education, affordable housing and foreign aid."
There is little doubt that they will overtax. Last year, for example, they
initially announced a modest surplus of $1.9 billion. That swelled to $14
billion by budget time, and then to $19 billion, according to the Minister of
Finance's own fiscal performance review. I do not know if "overtax" is the
right word, but you get my drift.
Of the $900 million to be spent on the environment, there is little that we
know. Here is the little that we know: The bill tells us that the spending will
include public transit and energy efficient retrofits for low-income housing.
The Minister of the Environment describes it as "the icing on the cake" of
Bill C-43, which he suggests is the greenest budget since Confederation. That
leaves it to the Minister of State for Infrastructure to claim $800 million for
public transit, and to suggest that it is money that cities and communities
across Canada are now counting on, in addition to the money from the gas tax.
In effect, this bill says: If we take too much in taxes, we will give some of
it to the provinces so that they can give it to the cities, so that they can
decide how to spend it on public transit. Or it may flow directly to the
municipalities, as our committee was told — fiscal imbalance writ large.
There is another, better way, as that very first Red Book articulated. It
...although Canada promises to fight climate change, federal policies and
funding continue to favour private transportation over public transit, and
energy use over energy conservation.
The first Red Book solution? Here it is:
A Liberal government will establish a framework in which environmental and
economic policy signals point the same way. Our first task will be to conduct
a comprehensive baseline study of federal taxes, grants and subsidies in order
to identify barriers and disincentives to sound environmental practices.
In the budget plan that laid out the measures in the companion bill, Bill
C-43, we now have, 12 years later, A Framework for Evaluation of
Environmental Tax Proposals. It was released for discussion purposes and has
drawn surprisingly little attention. Perhaps it is not surprising. The
government is at least 25 years behind the thinking and actions of governments
in many other countries on this issue. It is way behind the thinking of
academics and institutions, such as the National Roundtable on the Environment
and Economy, a government appointed body. It has long ignored the pleadings of
such "special interest groups" as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities,
Transport 2000 and the Green Budget Coalition.
Consider one example: For more than a decade, those groups called for a
simple change to federal tax policy that would put public transit on an equal
footing with cars. It would give employers a tax deduction when they give
employees public transit passes, just as employers can now deduct the cost of
company cars and trucks and give tax-free parking to employees. A 2001 study by
Transport Concepts showed a tax exemption for transit passes would cost the
government up to $12 million in the first year, rising to $150 million by 2010.
The resulting reduction in road repairs, congestion and environmental costs
could yield, they said, a net economic benefit of $188 million annually.
This is just one example of a whole range of economic instruments, some of
which were suggested in our Environment Committee report, instruments such as
tax shifting, incentives, or the removal of subsidies that the government could
have been using and could still use to better the environment. It could also
look at rebates, fee-bates, demand-side management and liability instruments —
powerful instruments within the grasp of the federal government. Instead, we
have a government locked into other policies.
This bill tells us that there is no longer a shortage of money with which to
address some of our major environmental problems, but there is an attention
deficit and a reluctance to use the tools at the government's disposal. On
economic instruments for environmental solutions, the government is the caboose
on the freight train of progress.
In any event, the Minister of the Environment has noted that Canada is the
sole G8 country, and one of the few OECD countries, that does not have a
national policy for urban transit. He might also have noted that the OECD has
said that Canada needs to increase the use of economic instruments to reinforce
the polluter-pays principle. One can only hope that the framework released in
the budget plan is a kick-start in that direction.
The first Liberal Red Book that I cited earlier made another sage observation
and implied pledge. I must remind honourable senators that Paul Martin was one
of the co-authors. At least, I believe he was.
We want to promote, not hinder, the research, development, and
implementation of clean and energy-efficient technologies; renewable energy
use; the sustainable management of renewable resources; and the protection of
In essence, science and engineering for the long-term environmental benefit;
science and engineering in the public interest. I raise this because, once
again, Canada's senior-most scientists are blowing the whistle on our national
research strategy that they say rewards those with the strongest business ties,
among them John Polanyi, the Nobel Prize winner. Their rebuke of the
government's co-funding policy, which requires matching grants from other
sources, was published in the prestigious international journal Science.
By eschewing scientific excellence as the primary consideration, co-funded
programs imperil scientific credibility.
What sparked this renewed outcry from 40 scientists working at Canada's top
research universities was the most recent national competition for Genome Canada
funding. Some 30 of the 120 funding proposals were culled without any review at
all. Of the remainder, almost one-third were eliminated by a panel of
accountants, "based on ambiguous financial criteria and without any
consideration of scientific merit." Perceived financial suitability of the
co-funding source appears to be the prime criteria. That is putting it politely.
I have been raising this matter for a long time, since John Polanyi, the
University of Toronto Nobel laureate chemist in 1999, expressed the fear that
the federal emphasis on commercialization of research could give industry a
stranglehold, and David Schindler, Canada's pre-eminent limnologist — a water
scientist — told how he and others were locked out of federal research funds by
the policy that came into effect in 1997. It meant that scientists could no
longer do applied research solely in the public interest.
Many years ago, it was deficit-reduction and the attendant cutbacks in
research funding that drove many of our best minds from Canada. As the Budget
Plan notes and our top researchers acknowledge, the government has made a
substantial investment in recent years to restore those funds. By fiscal year
ending 2007, the increased funding for university-based research will reach a
nine-year cumulative total of more than $11 billion. Budget 2005 gives an
additional $810 million this year and for the next five years. How much of that
will be allocated to science in the public interest? That is the $4 billion
The first Liberal Red Book of 1993 did get it right on many of the
environmental fronts. Ironically, the passages I cited were directly under the
heading "Keeping Canada's Promises." With this bill and Bill C-43, the Red
Book promises of 12 years ago are still not met.
The stated ends of this bill, namely, additional funds for environment,
education, affordable housing and foreign aid, are laudable. Are the ways and
means the wisest? I would hope that once officials have devised their plans,
they will return to the parliamentary committees for scrutiny. I hope they will
not simply give Parliament a post facto view through the supplementary
estimates, and I would hope that in formulating these plans, they would keep in
mind some of the alternatives that I have mentioned.
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, I am pleased to join
third reading debate on Bill C-48, which, as all honourable senators know, is
entitled "An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain
payments." It is better known to most Canadians, of course, as the "NDP budget
bill," or the bill that made Jack Layton the real finance minister of this
I had originally intended to speak at second reading but hoped that through
the committee hearings on the bill most of my concerns would have been
addressed. Surprise, surprise, they were not. In fact, after reviewing the
committee hearings, I am even more concerned.
Many of the issues have been dealt with very ably, I might say, in the
speeches of my colleagues, Senators Tkachuk, Oliver, Stratton and Murray.
I was interested in the remarks of Senator Spivak, as I always am, although I
wish she had not removed the suspense. If one had listened to her speech, one
would have laid almost any money on the fact that she would have voted
vociferously against this bill, but she gave away the secret before launching
into her speech. We all knew that notwithstanding her impeccable logic, she
would vote for the bill, or so she says, but there is still hope. Perhaps I can
change her mind.
This is a rather extraordinary bill because in only two little pages, it
authorizes expenditures of nearly $4.5 billion. That works out to an average of
$2.25 billion per page.
The Liberals and the New Democrats from the other place unabashedly declared
that this was a legitimate bill. Furthermore, the Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister of Finance and the Auditor General of Canada defended this bill before
the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, describing it as an
appropriate and predictable way to allocate budgetary surpluses.
At one time — apparently this is no longer the case — a distinction was made
between budgets and budget bills and other parliamentary or legislative duties
by basing the expenditures on the estimates. At one time, budgets were drawn up
in secret, and the Minister of Finance resigned if even the tiniest budget
detail was leaked.
Budgets were based on months of financial calculations, arrived at by the
gnomes, soon to be divided, in finance, working overtime on their advocacy to
determine the financial room available to the government.
New shoes were traditionally acquired by the Minister of Finance to present
the budget, and of course, silly me, there was a time when the Minister of
Finance was actually consulted or, perhaps, even in the room when a budget was
prepared. However, evidence before our Senate committee indicated that the
government's witness, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance,
was not even consulted until the deal was done.
On all of these fronts, the coalition between the NDP and the Liberals has
broken new ground. The myriad budget documents that accompany the presentation
of this budget and budget bills were missing because they were non-existent. It
is hard in the other place to table the napkin on which the budget was evidently
developed. A request was made for it before our committee, but, surprise,
surprise, nothing was forthcoming.
Budget secrecy sort of disappeared over time with Mr. Martin's budget trial
balloons. Even that was eclipsed here as the details of this budget were
negotiated in public by the Leader of the New Democratic Party and by the Prime
The financial data on which this budget was based is also difficult to
discern. In February, when what we will call the "real budget" was presented,
we were told that it represented the government's financial priorities,
priorities that had been developed with great care, thought and consideration,
and that these priorities could not, under any circumstances, be changed. In
fact, it was the Minister of Finance himself who stated:
You can't, after the fact, begin to cherry pick: "We'll throw that out and
we'll put that in, we'll stir this around and mix it all up again." That's
not the way you maintain a coherent fiscal framework.
If you engage in that exercise, it is an absolute, sure formula for the
creation of a deficit.
This might lead one to believe that budgets are difficult to change once they
are presented. In fact, after presentation of the first budget in February, we
on this side asked for military spending to be front-end loaded so that matters
of pressing concern could be addressed. We were rebuffed. We were told the
budget established spending priorities and no money was left to either change or
adjust the government's priorities. That was the government's story when the
Minister of Finance was in control. As we know, that control evaporated in the
Prime Minister's game of survival. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I
guess the finance minister was the first one voted off the NDP-Liberal budgetary
Without the involvement of the finance minister, and unburdened by the tried
and true traditions and conventions of former budgets, Mr. Layton went to work
with the Prime Minister to readjust the priorities of this government to reflect
the new priorities of this government, as distorted by the NDP.
All of this exercise produced the rather remarkable piece of legislation that
is before us today. It is remarkable on a number of fronts. It is remarkable for
the priorities it leaves out: farmers, seniors, forestry workers, fishermen,
corporations which create the jobs that drive the economy and Canada's Armed
Forces. Of the $4.5 billion which were magically found, that money could have
been used to revamp the funding for Canada's Armed Forces. This is not a bill or
a budget that represents the priorities of a broad cross-section of Canadians.
The matters put in and the matters left out all signal that a desperate
government was prepared to change its own budget and its own priorities, to
threaten balanced budgets in the future and to abandon its claim to sound,
fiscal management, all for the votes. That is the sole motivating reason.
This bill is remarkable for more than its drafting and priorities. It is
truly remarkable for the framework it establishes for future spending. Money
will only flow under this budget bill if the surplus remains above $2 billion.
This revelation by the Parliamentary Secretary to the finance minister in our
finance committee, as well as his candid comments that the money, if it ever
flowed, would not be before the end of the next fiscal year, 2006, seems to have
caught our friends in the NDP off guard. All of this, of course, makes for
interesting political theatre.
Will the NDP, now realizing how deceived they were, back away from their
relentless support of this government, or will their leader decide he has a new
set of priorities which he can sell to the Liberals so that both parties can
avoid an election? Honourable senators, is this not what Bill C-48 is all about,
avoiding judgment by Canadian people? There are no details as to what plans have
been developed or will be developed for the disbursement of these funds. All we
have are those four vague categories: education, housing, environment and
The best part of all this, or perhaps the worst, depending on your
perspective, is that it will be up to cabinet by Order-in-Council to determine
the purposes for these payments. Canadians will have no idea of the specific
matters on which this money is to be spent until cabinet decides. In other
words, there is no budgetary plan. In some instances, money will flow to
departments or agencies that the Auditor General has criticized for their
ineffectiveness and inefficiency in the delivery of existing programs.
We in the Senate have just presented a detailed and widely applauded report
on improving productivity in Canada. Some of the main features of that report
are tax cuts and methods to encourage investment in innovation in Canada. There
is nothing in this bill that will improve our competitiveness or productivity as
a nation. The deal expressly provoked corporate tax cuts which were part of the
February budgets and contained in the first draft of Bill C-43. We are told that
they will be reintroduced at a later date but, again, who knows for sure? I
guess we will have to wait until we have word from the finance minister, whoever
that may be at that time.
Honourable senators, this bill establishes dangerous precedents. At our
finance committee, Stanley Hartt cautioned the government about committing
tomorrow's surpluses to today's priorities. He explained that usually surpluses
are allocated to debt or divided equally among the debt, enhancing existing
programs and creating new programs. He explained that since Bill C-48 was
conceived, we have had a Supreme Court decision dealing with the urgency to
address health-care waiting lists in this country. He asked: Should wait times
not be a priority for surplus allocation?
Much time was spent in committee by witnesses who explained that Parliament
had, through this bill, abdicated its hard-fought control over government
spending. There will be no opportunity for Parliament to review programs
established under this bill and the resources allocated until after the money is
spent. Again Mr. Hartt pointed out:
First, senators should be alarmed at the precedent that Bill C-48 sets for
the manner in which legislators are invited to use or, in this case, I think,
fail to use, the traditional power of Parliament to control public spending.
Those powers were hard-won. We did not shed any blood in this country over
this control, but our forbears in Britain, whose parliamentary system we
inherited, did. The supremacy of Parliament on spending matters is a very
valuable tradition; we should not be casual about this tradition.
I take it from Senator Murray's remarks that he agrees with that sentiment.
I agree that power and authority, which were once the hallmark of
parliamentary democracy, should not be so lightly set aside. In addition,
honourable senators, this bill gives cabinet the power to establish corporations
or foundations into which money from this bill would flow. Then these bodies,
far from the light that can be shone on government spending by Parliament, would
develop programs, set priorities, and kick the money out the door. This sounds
eerily like what happened to initiate the Adscam scandal: money allocation to a
small group of unaccountable government supporters deciding on how taxpayers'
money should be spent.
Honourable senators, this bill represents the triumph of crass political
survival over sound fiscal policy. Imagine a spending authorizing bill that sets
no objectives and no goals, except to spend the money. The bill even runs
against the government's vaunted expenditure review process designed, so they
say, to save taxpayers' money. We really have here $4.5 billion of pre-authorized contingent spending thrown together in a two-page bill to save the
life of the Liberal government. That is what the rush was all about, as Senator
Murray well knows. That was the reason for Bill C-48.
Honourable senators, we can all count and we all know that this bill will
become law. My only hope, which is shared by all Conservative senators, is that
history will not repeat itself the next time Mr. Layton and the Prime Minister
sit down together to spend the taxpayers' money.
Honourable senators, this is not a piece of legislation that deserves our
support. The precedents are simply too troubling to ignore. These new practices
cannot be encouraged by this chamber and by anybody concerned with the health of
our parliamentary system. We should send it back, as Senator Murray suggested,
to the other place, for, after all, as he too suggested, there is no great rush.
The money will not flow, if it ever does, until the fall of 2006. In the
interests of good government in this country, I cannot for the life of me see
how this bill could commend support from any honourable senator, and certainly I
cannot support it.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
An Hon. Senator: Question!
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau: Honourable senators, I did not attend the
committee meetings that were held last week. I wish I had, but judging from what
I have heard from some of our colleagues today, I get the flavour of what
happened at committee. I do not think anything that happened in committee would
change our minds.
I was not sure how to approach the bill. I had a chance to listen to Senator
Tkachuk's speech at second reading in which he described foreign governments'
attempts to promote fiscal accountability in their various countries, and how
parliamentarians in these countries could look to other countries for guidance.
Senator Tkachuk referred to the countries that were looking for increased
accountability, and they were Pakistan, Africa and Kazakhstan. This led me to
reflect on how others might perceive the political culture in Canada regarding
the current government's approach to spending, social programs and economic
Those who have travelled abroad on parliamentary delegations will be aware
that delegates are usually given a briefing by foreign affairs officials prior
to visiting the country of destination. This is to familiarize them with the
political, social and fiscal culture of the country to be visited so they do not
embarrass themselves when they visit those countries. One can imagine how the
foreign experts of Kazakhstan might brief their parliamentarians for a planned
visit to Canada. It might go something like this. We can picture the foreign
affairs official advising his Kazakhstan parliamentarians. They would be told
that the Prime Minister of Canada is a well-known rock star groupie. In fact, he
invited the Irish rock star Bono as the main speaker at his installation as
party leader to set the tone for Canada's foreign aid policy. This was the
installation of the seven Spanish angels. Delegates might consider reading the
lyrics of Bono's songs to determine Canada's foreign policy. However, it should
be noted that the Liberals cut $9 billion from the foreign aid budget, bringing
our foreign aid spending to levels that have not been seen since 1965.
In spite of Paul Martin's cuts to foreign aid, it should be noted that Bono,
the great friend of the Prime Minister, still thinks that Martin has a great
butt. I am not making this up. This was in the newspapers, by the way.
In the mid-1990s, the Liberal government made massive cuts to Canada's health
care system, resulting in exceptionally long waiting lines. In a recent opinion,
the Supreme Court determined that people were suffering and dying due to wait
times for medical procedures. As a result, the Supreme Court issued a ruling
upholding the right to private medicine.
The Prime Minister's response that there would be no two-tier health care
would indicate that he is prepared to disregard the court's ruling on this issue
of an individual's right to medical care, but yet has simultaneously been
legislating same-sex marriage as a Charter right. As he said, a right is a right
and is not subject to cherry picking. On the one hand, he supports fully the
right to same-sex marriage, but on the other hand, he does not support the right
to having access to proper medical care.
Yes, delegates from Kazakhstan, you have heard me correctly, the Prime
Minister decides to cherry pick rights as he sees fit.
On this subject, delegates to Canada should be aware that after the Supreme
Court ruling on access to private medical care, the federal Minister of Health
told the Canadian Medical Association to butt out of the health care debate.
On the national defence front, the Liberal government made massive cuts to
the military in the mid-1990s. It is so bad that, recently, soldiers testing
their fighting skills in an urban exercise had to rent local commercial
paintball equipment because they could not get the proper army gear. Senator
Forrestall is aware of this story. It was quite prominent in some of our
Atlantic Canadian newspapers.
On the issue of loyalty, the Prime Minister had the predisposition to ignore
loyal, long-serving party members in favour of plucking members from the other
parties and placing them directly into cabinet. Delegates from Kazakhstan might
meet some of them in their trip to Canada. Those would be Stronach, Dosanjh and
Brison. It has been said that the ruling party has a welcome mat with lots of
nice fluffy fur for newcomers, while long-serving party members stay in the
The Prime Minister likes to talk about eliminating the deficit and free votes
on issues of principle. However, he recently fired a cabinet minister who voted
according to the wishes of his constituents on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Senators who visit Quebec will want to know that the most successful reality
television show in the province in the past few months was an inquiry into
Liberal corruption, kickbacks and the waste of hundreds of millions of
taxpayers' dollars for which no one yet wants to take any responsibility.
Senators should also be aware that government lawyers have asked the inquiry
commissioner to exonerate the current and former Prime Ministers for any
wrongdoing in the scandal.
For those who might want to secure a work visa for Canada, be sure to
volunteer for the Minister of Immigration during an election campaign or
consider getting a job as a stripper.
On the social front, the federal government is trying to put together a
national daycare system. The file is being handled by an old White guy — with
apologies to all old White guys in this chamber, which I happen to be — who has
no idea what the program will cost. The program will benefit only those who
choose to leave their children in the care of government-approved providers.
Parents are not considered qualified for the job. Furthermore, there is no
provision for rural regions where such schemes are not practical.
The Senate is currently debating a $4.5 billion budget prepared by the
socialist party and a high profile union leader on the back of a hotel napkin.
This is a two-page document, a blank cheque which authorizes the cabinet to
spend on the environment, training programs and housing for Aboriginals and
increased foreign aid spending.
An Hon. Senator: That could be —
Senator Comeau: The great orator from the back row has decided to add
his two cents. I hope we will hear his speech later.
Senator Kinsella: That is the new foghorn from Atlantic Canada.
Senator Comeau: Yes, the new foghorn from Atlantic Canada, replacing
all the lighthouses that Senator Forrestall wanted to save.
An Hon. Senator: Do you want to do the speech?
Senator Mercer: Not that one!
Senator Comeau: Similar to daycare and the Adscam file in Quebec, the
HRDC boondoggle and firearms legislation, there is no plan and no measurable
objective, simply a blank cheque. The finance minister's credibility took a
direct hit in this back room deal. Senator Tkachuk will be quite aware that this
is a man who traded on his integrity and his great province. This gentleman was
left out of the budget preparation package, which has probably damaged his
reputation for the rest of his career. What an end to a career.
The government measures its performance by the amount of money it spends, yet
imagine if it planned and prioritized spending? The Firearm Registry's $2
billion price tag could well have been measured against other worthwhile
Senator LeBreton: Like MRIs.
Senator Comeau: Yes, like MRIs, for example, and programs to combat
the root cause of violence or drug abuse, to stop family violence, to stop
social housing, to reduce long medical care wait lines, and the list goes on.
Yesterday, I mentioned that the government had laid off one of the finest and
most respected fisheries researchers in Newfoundland, Professor George Rose. He
is most renowned in Atlantic Canada for his research on the future of the
northern cod. He was laid off to save a few bucks. This is the kind of spending
priority we see from this government.
I am still giving a briefing to the Kazakhstan parliamentarians, so I should
not be going off track like this.
Senator LeBreton: They probably left for home by now.
Senator Comeau: On the environment, the government has rejected
targeting smog and real pollutants in favour of buying hot air credits from
countries with far worse environmental records than Canada. It is interesting to
note the comments of the leading heads of the business community on the issue of
Canada's economy. They point to what they refer to as "disturbing signals." To
use a phrase that Senator Murray might use, I think it is an abomination, but
perhaps that word is a little too strong. The business community talks about
run-away growth in public spending, a tax structure that is biased against
investment, a fragmented, costly and overly complex regulatory structure,
lagging productivity, a poor record of attracting foreign investment, declining
levels of public trust in both government and business, and a need for focused
leadership — in political terms, a nation adrift. There is a need to look beyond
reactionary policies and short-term thinking.
The current government has benefited from the initiatives of the previous
governments on such items as free trade, NAFTA, the GST and deregulation. All
the initiatives that they had promised to rip up and do away with, they decided
to keep — probably with good results as well. They eliminated the deficit by
gutting the military, medicare and by cutting spending on the environment and
fisheries. In addition, they are receiving massive revenues from EI premiums and
uncompetitive personal income tax rates. It is no wonder that public trust is at
an all-time low, and this bill adds to it.
As parliamentarians, we would suggest that the parliamentarians of Kazakhstan
might wish to look to Canada's current government as a lesson in how not to
govern. Kazakh parliamentarians know that only budgets with plans and priorities
that have been properly evaluated and accounted for should be the norm. Thus, I
would suggest to the people of Kazakhstan that they might wish to look elsewhere
for a model of government accountability.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
I join with other senators in agreeing with what Senator Comeau has just said,
and I want to share something with him.
The other day, I was looking at the website of the Government of Canada when
I came across a definition of the "federal budget."
The federal budget is a statement of planned revenues and spending for a
fiscal year that sets out priorities for government programs.
Clearly, based on what Senator Comeau and others have said thus far, this
bill fails to meet the definition of the government on all accounts. First, it
deals with unplanned revenues. The definition on the website says that "the
federal budget is a statement of planned revenues." Second, the spending it
purports to allocate will actually fall within the next fiscal year. Finally,
this bill talks about spending that might be allocated. If I were a member of
the NDP, I would keep my wish bones intact, my horseshoes well polished and my
fingers continually crossed. That spending will clearly not occur in the near
future and probably will not occur at all.
Finally, the bill does not set out any priorities for government programs,
notwithstanding its enumeration of a few general areas. Indeed, honourable
senators, if this excuse for spending legislation is to be accepted, a future
budget bill presented by this government with their allies now might simply
replicate the wording contained herein by substituting the amount of $178
billion and adding to the list of various expenditures.
As has been clearly indicated in the debate so far, the underlying flaw to
which the attention of all honourable senators has been drawn is the complete
absence of detail in the bill. Simply because it is possible to draft a bill in
this manner does not make it proper. How can Parliament fulfil its
constitutional role if there is no information on which to make an informed
I like the advice given by Senator Murray, that this chamber should not
accept this budget but should send it back and that a proper one should be
brought forward, but this chamber unfortunately is not doing the kinds of things
that the Fathers of Confederation had intended for it. Some have harkened back
to the days before the advent of responsible government, when the nobility of
England and Europe imposed taxes on their people more or less as they thought
fit, often without a great deal of planning beyond the hope and intention that
the funds would more than meet all of the expenses and allow the nobility, and
this is almost a tautology, to live like kings. Any surplus money raised could
readily be squandered, and often was, because there was no one to gainsay what
was being done.
The whole institution of Parliament is supposed to have put a change to that
model. A parliamentary system that is predicated on the power of the purse is
one that keeps the country free and operating as a parliamentary democracy, but
there is a condition to that, and that is that the two chambers of the bicameral
Parliament take their jobs and responsibilities seriously. When presented with
something like this, as Senator Murray correctly pointed out, we should reject
it and send it back so the government can bring something forward that is more
in keeping with the government's own definition as to what constitutes a federal
It is the ability of Parliament, it is the ability of this chamber, to demand
that proper explanations of proposed expenditures be provided in advance, and to
be able to effectively question whether value for money is being obtained. That
is the hallmark of accountable government. By failing to provide the kind of
detailed information required for effective decision-making, the government is
asking us, as a branch of Parliament, to relinquish our role as guardian of the
public purse and simply turn that task over to the bureaucracy and the good
graces of the government.
This view conforms to the testimony of the Comptroller General of Canada
before our National Finance Committee, as has been alluded to in this debate..
His concern, of course, was focused almost entirely on whether or not there
might be appropriate controls, should Parliament approve the bill, not on
whether or not approval itself was appropriate.
It is interesting to note that the June 1, 2004, news release announcing his
appointment indicated that one of his functions would be to "review and sign
off on policy proposals to ensure that expenditure plans are sound." I doubt
that the Comptroller General could sign off on the proposal as it now stands
before us at this time. His testimony made it clear that he would be relying on
subsequent details as to how the money might be spent and that those plans would
receive an appropriate review.
It is not clear why Parliament is being cut out of the process and why we in
this chamber and our colleagues in the other place are to be denied an
opportunity to assess the proposals before hand rather than ex post facto.
Honourable senators will recall the ongoing inquiry of Commissioner Gomery into
spending, which theoretically was well considered, properly assessed and
appropriately delivered through civil service mechanisms. Are we now to wait to
see whether a significant proportion of the proposed spending on affordable
housing will be devoted to providing every Liberal and NDP riding president with
a new house valued at not less than $1 million? I think that it is clear that
this is not a plan being contemplated by the government, but the dearth of
information supplied in relation to the bill leaves the door open. Why would you
want to expose yourselves? It leaves the door open to throwing money at almost
any project within the scope of government operations. There is no check, and
there is no balance.
When an early summer election was in the wind this spring, the government
ministers went out in a virtual orgy of spending announcements, leaving the
shelves barren. Bill C-48, with its complete absence of controls, direction or
planning is perhaps no more than a restocking of the larder to enable ministers
to embark on a new series of announcements in January.
Honourable senators, no doubt there are many existing worthwhile projects and
programs that could benefit from an infusion of additional money. By way of
example, I draw the attention of honourable senators to one particular project
in my own province of New Brunswick, namely the refurbishment of the Point
Lepreau generating station. Constructed in 1985 with federal assistance, Point
Lepreau has one CANDU 6 nuclear reactor capable of generating 635-megawatts of
electricity. It currently supplies about 30 per cent of the electricity consumed
by the province. The Point Lepreau facility has the first CANDU 6 licensed for
operation in Canada. Given relatively stable fuel costs, the plant is able to
provide a reliable supply of economical electricity. Refurbishing the reactor
will extend the station's life to the year 2032.
Unfortunately, refurbishing a nuclear reactor is very expensive, so much so
that it might actually be more economical in the short-term to pay the costs of
decommissioning the reactor and building a new power plant that burns either
coal or natural gas. Needless to say, taking that option would run counter to
the federal government's Kyoto commitment to reduce greenhouse gas production in
In this context, I note that there were months of hints by various Liberal
parliamentarians that the federal government would participate financially in
refurbishing the Point Lepreau generating facility. When an election appeared to
be in the offing, the Prime Minister was quoted by the Saint John Telegraph-Journal as saying,
"I do not want to preclude any discussions, but I think
there are many options. I think what we have got to do is to look at what is the
right option and then move with it." Apparently the right option for the
federal Liberal government is simply to stand aside and leave it entirely to the
Province of New Brunswick to bear the full cost.
While energy falls within the jurisdiction of provincial governments, that
has not prevented the federal government from exercising its influence in the
past. It was just two weeks ago that the federal government announced funding to
help build ethanol plants in Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba. There has been
federal assistance for the oil sands plants and, of course, there was the
initial federal assistance for building the Point Lepreau nuclear reactor in the
first place, as alluded to earlier this afternoon by Senator Murray.
Federal assistance appears to be available for energy projects of all kinds
across the country. New Brunswick should not accept the lame excuses being
proffered. This is a significant issue for the entire province of New Brunswick
and has been the subject of ongoing discussions. The fact that the federal
government unilaterally decided not to participate, and did not even have the
common courtesy to directly inform the provincial government of that decision,
is not at issue.
What is important is that this bill allocates a large quantity of money
without specifying what programs or projects should be supported. It is clear
that the refurbishing of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station is an
important project to New Brunswick, and that doing so will help keep greenhouse
gas emissions down, a matter on which the federal government has given a clear
Although I am sure there are many worthwhile programs and projects that
Canadians might also support, rather than leave it to the government and the
bureaucracy to make that choice, I propose that Parliament take that decision
directly and that an allocation be made for this worthwhile project.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Accordingly, I move,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Comeau:
That Bill C-48 be not now read a third time but that it be amended in
clause 2, by replacing lines 29 to 32 on page 1, with the following:
"(a) an amount not exceeding $900 million, for the environment,
(i) a sum of six hundred and fifty million dollars for public transit
and for an energy-efficient retrofit program for low-income housing, and
(ii) a sum of two hundred and fifty million dollars for the purpose of
providing funding towards the refurbishment of the Point Lepreau nuclear
The Hon. the Speaker: Are there senators who wish to speak to the
motion in amendment?
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I
thank senators opposite for their arguments, which are, understandably, based on
parliamentary concerns. I would like to address a comment to Senator Murray. In
the definition of "abomination," would the honourable senator agree that the
defeat of a minority government would be an abomination? I recall, of course, an
event in the past with which Senator Murray was associated.
Honourable senators, the government has been clear. In Bill C-48, we are
dealing with a parliamentary arrangement between the government and the New
Democratic Party. The government presented its budgetary Bill C-43, which passed
Parliament. The arrangement with the New Democratic Party was in accord with the
federal government's priorities. Senators have heard repeatedly the four
priority categories contained in Bill C-48. In his excellent and specific
address at second reading and at third reading, as well as his comments on the
testimony and questions in the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance,
Senator Eggleton covered those topics, so I will not repeat them.
It has to be understood that the political arrangement is in accordance with
the government's overall priorities that were set out well before Bill C-48 was
tabled in the House of Commons. They were set out in the Speech from the Throne,
in specific government programs and in the objectives of Bill C-43.
The New Democratic Party thought that, while the program areas were the
correct areas, the government had additional funds that could be invested in
these program areas. It asked the government, clearly and specifically, to
enhance the spending in those four program areas. Thereby, an agreement was
concluded, honourable senators, on terms that the government had laid down for
managing the financial affairs of this country. The government has said
repeatedly that it is fundamentally committed to not running a deficit again. We
have had eight surplus budgets, which, of course, the Conservative Party has
never been able to experience, but I will come back to that point later.
Honourable senators, the world admires the management of the Canadian
economy. The government is the best economic manager of any G8 country. That is
the record of the Liberal government. Today, Canada's economy inspires
confidence. Canadians are investing and the government is creating jobs and
advancing the interests of individual Canadians.
Bill C-48 will advance those interests but on conditions that have been laid
down by the Liberal government. Honourable senators are aware of the key
condition: that in fiscal 2005-06 and in fiscal 2006-07, there be a minimum of
$2 billion surplus funds from which payments can be made to the programs
contained in Bill C-48. As I said in response to questions from Senator Oliver a
few days ago, it cannot be a matter of confusion because the government has made
the point repeatedly. Someone who is confused about when the government is
prepared to begin spending wants to be confused.
Honourable senators, the New Democratic Party may well want to see funds
spent in this fiscal year. It would be to their political advantage if they
could claim that certain monies were spent by the Government of Canada because
the NDP had arranged it. The Minister of Finance has always had that discretion.
However, there is no basis for acting upon that discretion unless it is clear
that the economy continue to perform as it has been performing, that the
analytical data demonstrate that the surplus will be earned this fiscal year and
under no threat of being reversed.
Let me come back to the issue that all of the Conservative senators have
dealt with, and that is the question of accountability and transparency. Of
course, these are highly desirable public policy objectives.
It has to be understood, honourable senators, and it has not been explained
here in the way I would like to now explain it, that it is a new experience for
the Conservative Party to try to get its mind around a surplus, and how to deal
with a surplus. The old rule was if you had a surplus at the end of a fiscal
year, it went fully to pay down debt. You will recall Senator Eggleton
mentioning in his contribution that Canada proceeded from a GDP-to-debt ratio of
70 per cent in 1993 down to the low 40s at this time. Our target, as Senator
Eggleton has said, is a GDP ratio of 25 per cent.
Senator Stratton: If you did nothing, it would be achieved on its own.
Senator Austin: That is our target. If we mismanage, Senator Stratton,
it will start going up again, just in the way that the Conservative Party
mismanaged and made it go up double while Mr. Mulroney was Prime Minister.
Honourable senators, let me come to the point. We must develop new
methodology to deal with allocating surpluses that we do not want to use to pay
down debt. This bill, as the Comptroller General and the officials of the
Department of Finance said, is a bill that moves out and stakes that new ground.
We are not saying that this is a perfect bill. We are not saying that every
part of the proposal here is finely shaped and never needs review. What we are
saying is that this is a bill for which Parliament will have every opportunity
to hold the government to account. There is no question; whether it is
pre-account or post-account, Parliament will have its say.
If government does not do what it needs to do and should do, then I am sure
that senators on both sides will want to hold the government to account. In the
meantime, let us not be panicked by the worst-case worriers from whom we have
heard this afternoon who are not used to the kind of economic management that
I want to turn now to the amendment that is proposed by Senator Kinsella. I
have said in this chamber that I am sympathetic to the development of nuclear
energy in Canada. I have long been a supporter of the CANDU program, and of
nuclear energy as a bridge fuel between the carbon fuels that we are using and
the future needs of our energy in Canada.
The Point Lepreau project was an experimental project. As has been said by
Senator Murray and Senator Kinsella, the federal government encouraged New
Brunswick to build this plant and to operate it. It has now reached the end of
its natural operating life and needs to be refurbished.
Honourable senators, discussions have gone on in that context; and at this
stage, those discussions are not proceeding to the satisfaction of New
Brunswick. I can understand that. All of us can understand that.
Senator Kinsella has said — correctly — that the production of power in the
province of New Brunswick and every other province is the responsibility of the
province. I cannot imagine, for example, the Province of Quebec inviting the
federal government into its policy and operating management. We have heard from
that side repeatedly to respect the provincial jurisdiction.
Honourable senators, it is an issue that is ongoing and I hope, quite
frankly, that there will be an effective resolution by negotiation. However, I
have to say that that issue can have nothing to do with this bill. That is an
issue that is off the agenda of Bill C-48.
We have here, as I said, an agreement between the Government of Canada, which
is represented at the moment, thankfully, by the Liberal Party, and the New
Democratic Party. This bill is the result of that agreement and it cannot be
varied on the part of the Government of Canada without being seen to break faith
with the New Democratic Party. Let us be clear: Any government that breaks its
agreement loses its moral authority. That has been said, and it deserves to be
What I want to do, honourable senators, is to advise you of the view of the
New Democratic Party as expressed in a letter sent by Jack Layton, MP, Toronto
Danforth, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, to the Prime Minister,
under date of June 9, 2005.
Senator Tkachuk: "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Senator Austin: He said:
Dear Prime Minister,
Media accounts suggest the Federal Government is considering providing $200
million to the Government of New Brunswick to help finance the $1.4 billion
refurbishment of the Point Lepreau Nuclear Power plant.
I urge you instead to direct all federal money being considered for New
Brunswick's energy supply towards energy efficiency and green power
development in New Brunswick. This would maximize the job creation potential
in New Brunswick, keep energy costs down for New Brunswick and meet Canada's
Kyoto obligations. As well, the focus on green power would help northern New
Brunswick, which is suffering from 20 per cent unemployment due to, amongst
other things, the closing of the fisheries, because Chaleur Bay has huge
potential for generating wind energy.
A September 2002 decision by the New Brunswick Board of Commissioners of
Public Utilities concluded that "the refurbishment of Point Lepreau, as
outlined in the evidence, is not in the public interest" and recommended that
New Brunswick Power not proceed with that refurbishment.
An April 2004 report commissioned by the New Brunswick Government noted the
refurbishment would cost $1.4 billion, not the $935 million first predicted,
and would generate 450 person years of work, while maintaining 600 to 700
permanent jobs. Should the federal government invest $200 million, this would
be equivalent to creating 63 person years of refurbishment work to maintain
600 to 700 jobs.
In contrast, the Atlantic Canada Energy Coalition has developed an
alternative energy plan that produces the same 640 megawatts of power as Point
Lepreau at a cost of $630 million, or less than half the $1.4 billion amount
needed to refurbish Point Lepreau.
This alternative plan would likely create many more jobs for the people of
New Brunswick. For example, the plan calls for developing 220 megawatts of
wind energy at a cost of $375 million. A 2001 Canadian Wind Energy Association
report notes that every $1 million invested in wind energy creates eight
full-time equivalent jobs. Installing wind power alone would therefore create
3,000 new jobs, almost seven times as many jobs as the Point Lepreau
refurbishment. (This is in line with international studies which show that per
dollar invested, wind power creates five times as many jobs as nuclear power.)
The alternative plan also calls for $140 million to be spent on energy
efficiency and fuel switching. The International Council for Local
Environmental Initiatives calculates that energy retrofit programs create at
least 70 direct and indirect jobs for every $1 million invested. A very modest
$10 million annual investment would therefore generate another 700 jobs per
year, equal to the number of jobs at Point Lepreau. The advantage of energy
retrofit jobs is that they are spread across the province in every community.
Not only is the alternative plan a greater job creator and cheaper than
refurbishing Point Lepreau, it is by far environmentally superior. As you
know, generating nuclear power creates highly radioactive byproducts which are
expensive to handle and contain. A recent report by the Nuclear Waste
Management Organization, Choosing A Way Forward, notes the cost of
handling and containment to be at minimum $24 billion.
In contrast, green power is a completely renewable resource that leaves no
radioactive by-product and is therefore effectively pollution free.
I'm sure you will agree that investing $200 million to create thousands of
green jobs spread across all parts of New Brunswick providing energy efficient
and green power is much wiser than investing $200 million to create 63 jobs
for a non-renewable power source that produces radioactive waste in just one
part of New Brunswick.
And to make sure that this is a win-win for everyone living in New
Brunswick, I'm sure you will also agree that a Just Transition fund for any
affected energy workers and communities be part of the funding plan.
Green energy makes environmental and economic sense. That's why the Federal
NDP has been advocating shifting federal government subsidies away from
non-renewable energy sources towards renewable sources.
New Brunswick has incredible potential for energy efficiency and green
power. The Atlantic Canada Energy Coalition has suggested how it can be
If the Federal Government is serious about its Kyoto commitments and its
commitment to job creation in hard hit areas like northern New Brunswick, then
the time to act is now. Ensure all federal dollars go towards green energy and
help the Province of New Brunswick move on to a path of sustainability and
green job creation.
Jack Layton, MP (Toronto—Danforth)
Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada
Senator St. Germain: Deep down, you are NDP, too!
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Austin: I read the letter so that honourable senators would
know the NDP position with respect to the Point Lepreau project. I do not accept
that position on behalf of the government. At this time, we are proceeding on a
different track with respect to Point Lepreau.
Senator LeBreton: Sounds like a lot of wind to me.
Senator Austin: The key point here is, to repeat the topic sentence:
We have an agreement with the NDP, and the NDP will not agree to the
refurbishment of Point Lepreau out of the $4.5 billion. If the refurbishment is
to take place, it will take place on another budget item.
Honourable senators, this is a good bill. It advances the targets of the
Liberal government. We are happy to be associated with the New Democratic Party
in advancing these targets, which Senator Eggleton —
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Some Hon. Senators: More, more!
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I ask for order. I am
having difficulty determining whether it is Senator Austin speaking or another
senator. Senator Austin has the floor and I would like to hear him, so I ask for
Senator Austin: Thank you, Your Honour. I appreciate that you would
like to hear me. I know there are some on the other side who would not, but that
is their problem.
Honourable senators, Bill C-48 advances the Liberal government's policy
objectives in the areas that Senator Eggleton has laid out. We are happy to be
associated in these objectives with the New Democratic Party. I urge all
honourable senators to recognize that Bill C-48 does advance the public interest
very solidly, and we ask senators to support this bill.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Kinsella: Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate
kindly table the document signed by Mr. Layton?
Senator Austin: I have read the letter into the record, and I will be
happy to table it as well.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, I rise to address the
amendment of my colleague from New Brunswick. He happens to be the Leader of the
Opposition, but he also happens to be a fellow New Brunswicker. Indeed, we both
spent a long time in Fredericton.
I will address only the basis on which Senator Kinsella believed he could put
forward this amendment. Fundamentally, electrical generation is a provincial
responsibility. The Government of New Brunswick and Premier Lord have known for
a number of years that the Point Lepreau nuclear plant will have to be
decommissioned and shut down soon or refurbished. Either option will cost
hundreds of millions of dollars. Many New Brunswickers wonder why the Lord
government has waited at least three years to make a decision on the future of
During that time, New Brunswick Power, with the approval of Premier Lord,
undertook a refit of the Colson Cove thermal plant that burns expensive oil in
order to make it possible for that plant to burn a much cheaper ore emulsion
fuel to be purchased from Venezuela. The rationale for this refit to burn
cheaper Venezuelan fuel was to accrue the savings to undertake the Point Lepreau
refurbishment. However, neither NB Power nor the Lord government got a signed
contract with Venezuela, and the ore emulsion deal fell through. The botched
deal, through continuing higher fuel costs, capital investments and legal fees,
has cost the taxpayers of New Brunswick $1.4 billion; coincidentally, the same
amount required to pay for the Point Lepreau refurbishment.
It is interesting to note that the Lord government shut down a legislative
committee mandated to review the ore emulsion scandal, and just last month
Premier Lord ruled against extending the term of the New Brunswick Auditor
General for a few months in order to allow him to complete his findings into the
ore emulsion fiasco.
Honourable senators, Premier Lord has put himself in the bind he is publicly
claiming to be in today. Due to this inept management, New Brunswickers have
seen their power rates increase three times in a little over one year.
It is my understanding that Premier Lord first approached the Government of
Canada in January of this year, and the government has had regular discussions
in good faith on both sides with the New Brunswick government in an attempt to
identify opportunities unique to the Point Lepreau situation that would not
create a precedent for every other aging nuclear plant in Canada. Even so, it
was not until May that any concrete proposal was put on the table by the
Province of New Brunswick.
After giving the request careful consideration, the Government of Canada has
concluded that there is nothing unique about the situation at Point Lepreau to
set it apart from a number of other nuclear plants. It decided not to set a
precedent in this area of provincial jurisdiction that could lead to billions of
dollars of call on the federal treasury.
Although it should be mentioned that Atomic Energy of Canada Limited is
prepared, within its mandate, to assist NB Power if the decision is made to
refurbish Point Lepreau, it should also be mentioned that the Government of
Canada is assisting New Brunswick directly through an additional $326 million in
equalization over the next two years and an additional $73 million this year
alone for health care.
The government is also positioned to deliver key investments in child care
and gas tax rebates to municipalities. The government is also working with
Regional Minister Andy Scott on a project entitled, "People Building New
Brunswick, A Human Resource Strategy to Address New Brunswick's Declining
In summary, honourable senators, if the refurbishment makes sense then the
Lord government should make that decision and commence negotiations with Atomic
Energy of Canada Limited and/or Bruce Power and others. The premier of New
Brunswick and his cabinet must assume their responsibility for a secure energy
future for our province and they should stop trying to lay the blame somewhere
else, anywhere else.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators on the other side are also good
Senator Tkachuk: That is what the honourable senator is doing.
Senator Bryden: If the refurbishing of Point Lepreau makes sense, if
it is the right thing to do, then responsible government should get on with it.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: No senator rising, I ask honourable senators if
they are ready for the question to be put on the amendment to Bill C-48 by
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Those honourable senators in favour of the
motion in amendment will please say "yea."
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker: Those honourable senators opposed to the motion
in amendment will please say "nay."
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker: I believe the "nays" have it.
And two honourable senators having risen:
The Hon. the Speaker: Is there an agreement on the bell?
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Fifteen minutes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Order, please. The vote will take place at 4:55.
Call in the senators.
Motion in amendment negatived on the following division:
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
The Hon. the Speaker: We will now resume debate on the main motion.
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: The question is being called. I will put the
It was moved by the Honourable Senator Eggleton, seconded by the Honourable
Senator Jaffer, that this bill be read the third time.
All those in favour of the motion, please say "yea."
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker: All those opposed to the motion, please say
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker: I believe the "yeas" have it.
And two honourable senators having risen:
The Hon. the Speaker: Call in the senators. Is there an agreement on
the bell? Is it agreed that we vote now?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed on the following
That, pursuant to rule 39, not more than a further six hours of debate be
allocated for the consideration of the third reading stage of Bill C-48, An
Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments;
That when debate comes to an end or when the time provided for the debate
has expired, the Speaker shall interrupt, if required, any proceedings then
before the Senate and put forthwith and successively every question necessary
to dispose of the third reading stage of the said Bill; and
That any recorded vote or votes on the said question shall be taken in
accordance with rule 39(4).
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I would ask that this motion be withdrawn. It is obviously null and
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Cochrane, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Andreychuk, for the third reading of Bill S-12,
concerning personal watercraft in navigable waters.—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, I move third reading of the
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Plamondon, do you wish to speak?
Hon. Madeleine Plamondon: I do not wish to speak. I wish to say
"stand," and I said it before the question. I am asking that the item stand.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Spivak or other honourable senators are
entitled to request that this motion be adjourned, which makes it subject to a
vote. I am not sure whether or not that is the will of the house. Shall this
motion stand, honourable senators?
Some Hon. Senators: Stand.
Senator Plamondon: I say "stand"; therefore, no vote is taken. I
should like to have time to prepare to speak.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Stratton, seconded
by the Honourable Senator LeBreton, for the second reading of Bill S-20, An
Act to provide for increased transparency and objectivity in the selection of
suitable individuals to be named to certain high public positions.—(Subject-matter
referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
on February 2, 2005)
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, this item has reached day 15, but it is an item that has been referred
to committee but not yet dealt with, but it does have to stand in its place on
the Order Paper. I ask that it stand in its place on the Order Paper, and that
if we need to, we reset the clock.
Hon. Terry Stratton (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I think this is
the third time for a rewind on this bill. I would ask the chair of Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs when she might expect to
put this bill to the committee. She does not have to respond to me now, but I
would appreciate an answer when we come back.
The Hon. the Speaker: In the meantime, honourable senators, is it
agreed that this return to day zero?
Resuming debate on the consideration of the twelfth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, entitled: Borderline
Insecure, tabled in the Senate on June 14, 2005.—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Colin Kenny: Honourable senators, I would like to take this
opportunity to briefly respond to certain points raised Monday evening by
Senator Maheu regarding the twelfth report of our committee. In her remarks,
Senator Maheu stated the following:
I realize the report was tabled on Tuesday, June 19 and only delivered to
my office the next day, not looked at and certainly not debated. However,
honourable senators know that the results of committee work in either chamber
are first tabled and often followed by a comprehensive statement of the
contents of a report, and only then does such a report become the subject of a
news release or a news conference ....
Senator Maheu went on to say:
To alter the course of this presumed sequence of events is to be in
contempt of Parliament and of the Canadian people. This is clear and beyond
debate. Why was the usual and expected procedure not followed? Why was there
this haste? Why was there the patent disregard to those of us not on the
Again, I continue to quote Senator Maheu:
To table a committee report suggests future debate. On the contrary, to
unveil a committee report outside of the parliamentary context and in an ex
cathedra fashion might imply that such a report is now beyond the Senate,
or already approved by the Senate, perhaps never needing or requiring at all
any Senate approval. Such procedure is the very absence of procedure. Clearly,
it is a contemptuous act.
That is the end of the quotation of Senator Maheu's remarks.
Honourable senators, I want to assure you that our committee followed to the
letter all of the rules and practices in respect of tabling our twelfth report.
Our report was tabled on June 14, not June 19, as claimed by Senator Maheu.
Marleau and Montpetit on page 884 state: "Committee reports must be presented to
the House before they can be released."
The report was not released to the public until after I tabled it in the
Senate chamber on the afternoon of June 14. Once it was laid on the table, it
became a public document. Requests for copies of the report were made to the
journals office that afternoon following its tabling, and they were provided.
Copies were also sent to all senators' offices. I myself did not speak to the
media until several hours after the tabling when I was called by them with
questions about the content of the tabled document, and our press conference was
scheduled for the next morning.
Clearly, there was no contempt shown to the Senate and the procedure we
followed, which is, indeed, the normal procedure followed by all Senate
committees when tabling their reports.
With regard to Senator Maheu's comment, "To table a committee report
suggests future debate," I wish to remind the senator of rule 97(3) of the
Rules of the Senate, which states:
A report which by its own terms is for the information only of the Senate
shall be laid on the Table but may on motion be placed on the Orders of the
Day for future consideration.
The twelfth report of our committee was tabled in the Senate pursuant to this
rule. I was not obliged to ask that it be placed on the Orders of the Day, but
given its importance in furthering public policy debate on security matters, I
did so, at the time of tabling, and asked the Speaker that it be placed on the
Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Our report, therefore, was clearly unveiled within the parliamentary context
and according to our practices and procedures.
With these comments, I wanted to set the record straight concerning the
process we followed, and I would now like to move adjournment of the debate and
request the balance of my time be reserved so that I may comment on the
substance of the report at a later meeting.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton, for Senator Andreychuk, pursuant to notice of
July 18, 2005, moved:
That, pursuant to rule 95(3)(a), the Standing Senate Committee on Human
Rights be authorized to meet on Monday, September 19, 2005, Monday, September
26, 2005 and Monday, October 3, 2005, even though the Senate may then be
adjourned for a period exceeding one week.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are you ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, we will now revert to
Government Notices of Motions.
Hon. Bill Rompkey (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I move that we suspend the sitting to the call of the chair pending
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before we do that, might I
dispose of a ruling that was requested yesterday with respect to the use of
lists by the chair? Following that, or a vote on that if one is called for, we
would then suspend to the call of the chair and this will be disposed of.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, yesterday, during debate on
third reading of Bill C-38, a point of order was raised by Senator Corbin, who
objected to the practice of using lists as a guide for the Speaker to recognize
senators who have indicated an interest in participating in debate. The senator
made reference to several rules of the Senate which make it clear what senators
must do when they wish to speak in debate. Senator Cools also joined in on the
point of order. In her view, the use of lists is "one of those creeping
practices in place that have the effect of eroding the individual rights of
senators." Following these brief interventions, I suggested that I would look
into the matter and report back to the chamber with a ruling.
Having reviewed some parliamentary authorities and considered the merits of
the point of order, I should like to explain to the Senate the purpose of using
these lists, which are supplied to me by the leadership of both sides, the
government and the opposition. There is nothing really new in using such lists.
It is part of the established, albeit informal, practice of facilitating the
conduct of business. There is also nothing binding about these lists. They serve
simply as an aid to help me, as Speaker, to be aware of who in the Senate has
expressed an intention to speak in a debate. In practice, these lists are
flexible and discretionary. Their purpose is to assist the flow of proceedings
without depriving any senator of the right to join in debate.
The use of such lists is not unique to the Senate. Speakers' lists are used
elsewhere. At page 505 of Marleau and Montpetit, there is a statement confirming
the use of lists in the other place. This recently published authority states
that, "Although the Whips of the various parties each provide the Chair with a
list of Members wishing to speak, these lists are used as a guide." References
in the 23rd edition of Erskine May, at pages 428 and 521, make it clear lists
are used to assist in the arrangement of debate in both the Lords and the
Commons. In fact, in the United Kingdom House of Commons, one acknowledged
benefit of the use of lists, in accordance with the practices followed there, is
to allow the Speaker "a means of distributing the available time as equitably
as possible between the various sections of opinion..." Honourable senators
will be aware that I do this frequently myself with respect to Question Period,
when I advise the house of the number of senators who have indicated a desire to
ask a question when only a few minutes remain in the time allotted to this
With respect to an issue raised by Senator Corbin, the use of Speaker's lists
is not contrary to the Rules of the Senate of Canada, specifically those
rules mentioned by the senator that stipulate how a senator is to seek
recognition in debate. It must be noted that some senators do not, at times,
seem to know where they fall in the order of speaking, and so have not always
been recognized if other senators stand to participate in the debate.
Let me repeat, honourable senators: These lists are informal aids that are
intended to facilitate the conduct of business. They are not solicited by me as
the Speaker. They are provided voluntarily by those responsible for house
business and, sometimes, independent senators. These lists are not binding, nor
do they in any way limit the right of any senator to participate in debate. That
this is so was evident even as we proceeded to debate Bill C-38, following the
point of order. I had already mentioned the sequence that I had cited, based on
a list given to me, and that was immediately adjusted to accommodate an
intervention from another senator.
Whether a parliamentary chamber has 700, 300 or, like ours, just 100 members,
speaker's lists are useful. They are neither rigid nor binding, but flexible and
discretionary. These lists do nothing to adversely impact the rights or
opportunities of any senator to engage in debate.
If there is any limitation, it may be that the lists emanating from the
government and opposition leadership do not take into account the independent
senators, of which there are now 11. While the use of the list does not keep the
independent senators from speaking in debate, their contribution to the
composition of the list might reinforce the idea of balance and completeness.
This is a matter, I suggest, that might be reviewed at some point by the
Speaker's Advisory Committee.
Whatever is done, I will continue to exercise vigilance in recognizing
senators rising in their places, whether or not they have previously indicated
their intention to speak. As we saw last evening, senators are often prompted to
participate as they become engaged in the exchanges of a healthy and vigorous
debate which often occurs in this chamber.
Honourable senators, for the reasons that I have explained, I rule that there
is no point of order in this case.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, we are now adjourned to the
call of the chair. For what length of time shall we ring the bells? For five
minutes? I expect it will be close to six o'clock, honourable senators, before
the bells ring. In any event, please listen for the bells. We are now adjourned
to the call of the chair and I shall leave the chair until immediately prior to
the bells ringing.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the following
communications had been received:
July 20, 2005
I have the honour to inform you that The Right Honourable Beverley
McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, signified royal
assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the schedule to this
letter on the 20th day of July, 2005, at 4:56 p.m.
Secretary to the Governor General
The Honourable The Speaker of the Senate Ottawa
Bills Assented to Wednesday, July 20, 2005:
An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other
vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act (Bill C-2, Chapter 32, 2005)
An Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil
purposes (Bill C-38, Chapter 33, 2005)
An Act to establish the Department of Human Resources and Skills
Development and to amend and repeal certain related Acts (Bill C-23,
Chapter 34, 2005)
An Act to establish the Department of Social Development and to amend and
repeal certain related Acts (Bill C-22, Chapter 35, 2005)
July 20, 2005
I have the honour to inform you that The Honourable Morris Fish, Judge of
the Supreme Court of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to
the bill listed in the schedule to this letter on the 20th day of July, 2005,
at 5:42 p.m.
Secretary to the Governor General
The Speaker of the Senate
Bill Assented to Wednesday, July 20, 2005:
An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments (Bill
C-48, Chapter 36, 2005)
Hon. Jack Austin (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am
sure all senators will agree that we should not adjourn without thanking the
table officers, the Senate staff and administration, the pages and all those
people who make this chamber work. We thank them both for their services
throughout the year but, in particular, in this extended session from June 27.
I wish all of our colleagues a good holiday and a good rest. We will see you
on September 27.
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate in the sentiments that he
has expressed. I am reminded of one of my more favourite inscriptions to be
found on the buildings in Rome. In Rome there are all kinds of inscriptions on
all kinds of buildings. One says that time be tempered by time. In that sense,
we say to the table officers and all those in the Senate who support us in this
work that we shall try to temper the times in less tempestuous ways in the
future so that your own summer holidays are not so interrupted. We know the
sacrifices that have been made. We who sit here as senators are not unmindful of
the interruptions in your summer plans this extended session has caused, and we
The Hon. the Speaker: I join with the Leader of the Government in the
Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in thanking those who serve us so well
here and, in particular, in the circumstances of this summer. Thank you very