The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the following
communication had been received:
May 11, 2006
I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean,
Governor General of Canada, will proceed to the Senate Chamber today, the 11th
day of May, 2006, at 4:30 p.m., for the purpose of giving Royal Assent to
certain bills of law.
Deputy Secretary, Policy, Program and
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, whilst I am on my feet, I
wish to draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the gallery
of His Excellency the former President of Tanzania and also former High
Commissioner to Canada, Mr. Benjamin Moapa, accompanied by Mr. Ombeni Sefue,
Tanzanian High Commissioner to Canada. They are guests of the Honourable Senator
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, good news has arrived in
the announcement of Minister Jim Prentice in the House of Commons yesterday. He
stated that a final Indian residential school settlement agreement has been
approved by all the parties.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Sibbeston: Minister Prentice is referring to the churches, the
legal representatives of former students, the Assembly of First Nations, other
Aboriginal organizations and, of course, the federal government.
I commend the Conservative government and Mr. Prentice, in particular, for
bringing this agreement to its final conclusion. I know that Grand Chief Phil
Fontaine has made it his goal and objective to initiate the process and to work
with the two governments to reach a final agreement. Former Justice Iacobucci
has also had an important hand in initially studying the issue, then bringing
all parties together to work toward a final solution.
There is still one step to go. The court jurisdictions throughout our country
must give final approval, but I believe that is a formality.
The government has announced that elders can also apply immediately for
initial payments of $8,000. The website has a simple three-page application form
that elderly people can fill out. My office is helping people in this process.
Some of my colleagues may still be wondering what is this all about. Why is
there a $2.1-billion settlement, and why is there a need for the federal
government to deal with the issue of Indian residential schools in our country?
The Catholic and Anglican Churches were the first to provide residential
schools as early as the 1820s. The first government involvement in residential
schools was in 1884. There were 130 residential schools in every province and
territory except Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Most of these residential schools closed in the mid-1970s and the last one
was in 1996. Tens of thousands of Aboriginal people have gone through these
residential schools. Today, it is estimated that there are 80,000 former
students still alive and the average age is 60.
In the Northwest Territories, where I come from, the residential school that
I went to, the Sacred Heart School, was started by the oblates and the Grey Nuns
in 1858. We have had residential schools in our part of the country for about
In 1949, when I was six years old, my mother sent me to residential school. I
stayed there for six years. I have cousins and friends who were there for 10
years without going home. This was very traumatic and difficult.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I too wish to compliment
the government and Minister Prentice for the excellent work that has been done
in dealing with this file. However, we would be remiss if we did not pay tribute
to the former administration, the Liberal government, who did a tremendous
amount of work on this particular file.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator St. Germain: I rise today not only to thank the government and
the administrations that have dealt with this file, but also to pay tribute to
Senator Sibbeston, who spent a significant number of his younger years in one of
these facilities. He paid the price. He shared those experiences with me in a
confidential way, and I can see the price he has paid.
I think we owe Senator Sibbeston and others a thank you for the patience they
have shown the Canadian government and the Canadian people while waiting for
We thank you. We pay tribute to you and all the others, Senator Sibbeston.
Hopefully, we will never have to witness anything like this again in our
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I want to draw the
attention of the Senate to a very productive meeting that senators attended on
the forty-seventh annual meeting of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary
Group, held May 5 to 8 in Charleston, South Carolina. I was the co-chair of the
meeting and seven senators from this chamber were also in attendance. I want to
thank the interim co-chair, Jason Kenney, MP who did a superb job as the acting
In my view, honourable senators, this was one of the most productive meetings
we have ever had. I want to thank, on the record, our American hosts, co-chairs
Senator Mike Crapo and Representative Don Manzullo and, specifically,
Representative Henry Brown from the congressional district in which Charleston
is located. We had a fascinating and productive meeting, and the hospitality was
Our group agreed to press for an active agenda on over 18 substantive
resolutions. The delegates agreed to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
and to developing a comprehensive approach to a North American energy strategy
and developing an energy plan. Our goal is that within a decade, under the North
American Free Trade Agreement, the partners will be self-sufficient in
renewable and non-renewable energy.
The delegates agreed to develop a long-term settlement dispute mechanism
applicable to softwood lumber, and to develop additional bilateral and
multilateral free trade agreements on a joint basis. The delegates also agreed
to undertake with the Mexican government a comprehensive study of pharmaceutical
drug research, pricing, margins, marketing, et cetera. Next, the group agreed to
preserve and augment the manufacturing on both sides of the border, with a
special bilateral study on productivity in the automotive industry. We agreed to
take a look at the proposed impact of export controls — and this is an important
one for us — on high-tech products to Canada and the United States, and I will
be pursuing that with our representative, Ambassador Wilson, in Washington.
We also agreed to develop a comprehensive strategy with respect to the threat
of avian influenza and to work on a comprehensive environmental strategy
encompassing the border, especially the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway and
Devils Lake. Finally, but not in conclusion, we agreed to get both governments
to work on a comprehensive strategy designed to address the growing problem of
methamphetamines, which are used in communities of both nations and are a
serious new drug problem.
I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate our colleague, Senator
Angus, who acted as co-chair of one of the most contentious committees. He did a
superb job in bringing both sides together. I want to commend him and thank all
honourable senators for participating in this most productive and important
These resolutions are merely resolutions unless the Senate and our colleagues
in the United States implement them — which they have undertaken to do in both
houses. These are far-reaching resolutions that impact us all. I hope this
Senate and this chamber will take the leadership in that role.
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, as you have heard, I, too,
would like to say a few words about the forty-seventh annual meeting of the
Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group, which met in Charleston last
I had the privilege of co-chairing Group C with Republican Congressman Mark
Souder of Indiana. The group was loosely entitled Bilateral Co-operation on
Transborder, Environmental and Other Issues. It included the following:
safeguarding our shared natural resources and improving our air and water
quality; making our streets safe, cross-border small arms smuggling; crystal
meth; securing hemispheric energy resources and production; oil, gas,
electricity and uranium supply, demand and infrastructure; and ensuring an
adequate, secure border, which was a euphemism for the Western Hemisphere Travel
The WHTI consumed the vast part of the Group C meeting of four and one-half
hours and stimulated highly animated and controversial discussion. The
legislation, as honourable senators know, has passed the U.S. Congress and is
now approaching the prescribed implementation date of December 31, 2006. We
heard from experts from the Department of State and the Department of Homeland
Security about the process for implementation. All delegates of all parties,
including the Canadian representatives, except for some senior Republicans,
expressed great concern about the potential for economic and tourism dislocation
on both sides of the border. It could amount to billions of dollars per year on
both sides of the border if the implementation were to take place as scheduled
without key changes.
Some delegates referred to the implementation of this legislation as a slow
train wreck waiting to happen. The Canadian Ambassador to the United States has
stated publicly that when he raised the issue at the White House, he was told
that it was not up for discussion. The problem was that the leading Republicans
present, although they shared these concerns, were unable to use words such as
"delay the implementation" and "amend the document." Our challenge was to
find a compromise and to bring some public focus in a constructive way to the
The following resolution was unanimously agreed upon, having been arrived at
in our committee at the last moment after four hours of discussion. It states:
Delegates recognize that the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is
a matter of considerable debate on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border for
various reasons, including its potential for substantial negative economic
impact. Delegates also recognize, however, that the Initiative continues to
move forward toward implementation. During animated discussions, delegates
also recognized that the final details about how this border security measure
would be implemented are still being considered by the U.S. Departments of
State and Homeland Security. It is the consensus of delegates that the process
of implementation of the WHTI warrants closer examination by both nations to
ensure that it is effective, efficient and user-friendly before it is
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my home province of
Prince Edward Island has tremendous potential for wind-generated electricity,
and we are currently in the process of developing this wind power potential.
Indeed, we have one of the best wind resources in the country, so much so that
in the periods of low Island consumption, we could export our extra wind power.
Given that Prince Edward Island currently imports about 90 per cent of its
electricity from New Brunswick, wind power has the ability to decrease greatly
the province's reliance on imported electricity.
On November 18, 2005, the Governments of Canada and Prince Edward Island
jointly announced a collaborative project to upgrade the electricity
transmission system between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, which would
add a new power cable between the two provinces. The cable would be placed
inside the Confederation Bridge in a utility corridor specifically designed and
built for this purpose.
The new cable would allow our province considerable flexibility. Not only
would we be capable of exporting our extra wind power but also we would be able
to import energy. In addition, a new cable would provide security of electrical
supply in the event that the two existing submarine cables fail.
This project was to be the first in our province under the national
Partnership Fund, a major initiative of Canada's Climate Change Plan, announced
as part of the 2005 budget. The project, which would help Prince Edward Island
maximize its renewable energy resources, was expected to cost approximately $60
million overall. The federal government's share of the funding was estimated to
be $30 million.
Now the Conservative government has cancelled the Partnership Fund, which
means that my province will not receive the $30 million from this fund for the
new power cable announced last fall.
This cable is a much needed investment for P.E.I. and will provide enormous
benefits for Islanders now and in the future. I call on the federal Conservative
government to do the right thing and honour last November's announcement of $30
million towards this worthwhile project.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 28(4) and
with leave of the Senate I would like to table a document entitled, National
Awareness Day Proclamation for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic
Hon. J. Trevor Eyton: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 104 of the
Rules of the Senate, I have the honour to present the first report of the
Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. This report outlines
the expenses incurred by the committee during the First Session of the
Thirty-eighth Parliament and contains an order of reference.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
The Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations has the honour
to present its
Your Committee reports that in relation to its permanent reference, section
19 of the Statutory Instruments Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. S-22, the Committee was
previously empowered "to study the means by which Parliament can better
oversee the government regulatory process and in particular to enquire into
and report upon:
1. the appropriate principles and practices to be observed
(a) in the drafting of powers enabling delegates of Parliament
to make subordinate laws;
(b) in the enactment of statutory instruments;
(c) in the use of executive regulation — including delegated
powers and subordinate laws;
and the manner in which Parliamentary control should be effected in
respect of the same;
2. the role, functions and powers of the Standing Joint Committee for the
Scrutiny of Regulations."
Your Committee recommends that the same order of reference together with
the evidence adduced thereon during previous sessions be again referred to it.
Your Committee informs both Houses of Parliament that the criteria it will
use for the review and scrutiny of statutory instruments are the following:
Whether any Regulation or other statutory instrument within its terms of
reference, in the judgement of the Committee:
1. is not authorized by the terms of the enabling legislation or has not
complied with any condition set forth in the legislation;
2. is not in conformity with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
or the Canadian Bill of Rights;
3. purports to have retroactive effect without express authority having
been provided for in the enabling legislation;
4. imposes a charge on the public revenues or requires payment to be made
to the Crown or to any other authority, or prescribes the amount of any such
charge or payment, without express authority having been provided for in the
5. imposes a fine, imprisonment or other penalty without express
authority having been provided for in the enabling legislation;
6. tends directly or indirectly to exclude the jurisdiction of the courts
without express authority having been provided for in the enabling
7. has not complied with the Statutory Instruments Act with
respect to transmission, registration or publication;
8. appears for any reason to infringe the rule of law;
9. trespasses unduly on rights and liberties;
10. makes the rights and liberties of the person unduly dependent on
administrative discretion or is not consistent with the rules of natural
11. makes some unusual or unexpected use of the powers conferred by the
12. amounts to the exercise of a substantive legislative power properly
the subject of direct parliamentary enactment;
13. is defective in its drafting or for any other reason requires
elucidation as to its form or purport.
Your Committee recommends that its quorum be fixed at 4 members, provided
that both Houses are represented whenever a vote, resolution or other decision
is taken, and that the Joint Chairmen be authorized to hold meetings to
receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof so long as 3 members are
present, provided that both Houses are represented; and, that the Committee
have power to engage the services of such expert staff, and such stenographic
and clerical staff as may be required.
Your Committee further recommends to the Senate that it be empowered to sit
during sittings and adjournments of the Senate.
Your Committee, which was also authorized by the Senate to incur expenses
in connection with its permanent reference relating to the review and scrutiny
of statutory instruments, reports, pursuant to Rule 104 of the Rules of the
Senate, that the expenses of the Committee (Senate portion) during the
First Session of the Thirty-eighth Parliament were as follows:
Professional and Other Services
Transport and Communications
All Other Expenses
A copy of the relevant Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence (Issue No. 1,
First Session, Thirty-ninth Parliament) is tabled in the House of Commons.
JOHN TREVOR EYTON
The Hon. the Speaker: When shall this report be taken into
On motion of Senator Eyton, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I shall move:
That pursuant to rule 95(3), for the remainder of this session, the
Standing Senate Committees on Human Rights, Official Languages, and National
Security and Defence be authorized to meet at their approved meeting times as
determined by the Government and Opposition Whips on any Monday which
immediately precedes a Tuesday when the Senate is scheduled to sit, even
though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding a week.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table,
in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation respecting the
annual visit by the co-chairs of the Canada-China Legislative Association to the
People's Republic of China, held in Beijing, Guangzhou, Hainan Island and Hong
Kong, from March 22 to April 1, 2006.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule
23(6), I have the honour to table in the Senate, in both official languages, the
report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation of the Canada-U.S.
Inter-parliamentary Group respecting its participation in the National Governors
Association Healthy America Forum and Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. from
February 25 to 28, 2006.
Hon. Jean Lapointe: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the
next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the papers and evidence received and taken on Bill S-11, An Act to
amend the Criminal Code (lottery schemes), by the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs during the First Session of the Thirty-eighth
Parliament be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology for its study on Bill S-211, An Act to amend the
Criminal Code (lottery schemes).
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the
next sitting of the Senate I will move:
That the Senate of Canada implore President Vladimir Putin, President of
Russia, to use his good offices to shed light on the whereabouts of Raoul
Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who was responsible for saving the lives of
thousands of people from Nazi death camps. He was allegedly seized by the
Soviet Union army on June 17, 1945, and has not been seen or heard from since.
Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next
sitting of the Senate, I shall move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be authorized to
examine and report on issues relating to the federal government's new and
evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans;
That the papers and evidence received and taken and the work accomplished
by the Committee on the subject during the First Session of the Thirty-eighth
Parliament be referred to the Committee; and
That the Committee submit its final report to the Senate no later than
Friday, June 29, 2007.
Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. I will begin by expressing my own
appreciation for the finalization of the Indian residential schools compensation
question. As Senator St. Germain has said, this has been a work in progress for
It has been difficult, and I do extend my appreciation to the government for
concluding the matter and putting an important chapter of Canada's history with
the Aboriginal community behind us.
I wonder whether that step would lead me to some optimism with respect to the
Kelowna accord. In the reply to the Speech from the Throne, I asked the
government to become a good second-look government. I hope the government will
take a second look at its position with respect to the Kelowna accord.
I wish to inform this house that Premier Gordon Campbell of British Columbia
has, in the British Columbia legislature, taken a strong position in defence of
the Kelowna accord, which he described as "an extraordinary national
commitment" by Ottawa and the provinces to improve the lives of Aboriginal
Canadians. In addressing the legislature last week, he also described the
Kelowna accord as "a compact to restore trust that must be honoured by the
Crown." All sides of the B.C. legislature rose to applaud Premier Campbell for
his address and his refusal to let the Kelowna accord die.
On May 9, 2006, the Assembly of First Nations called for a continuation of
the Kelowna process and asked Prime Minister Harper to meet with them to resolve
the impasse over the Kelowna accord. I wish to ask the leader if this request
has been considered and whether Prime Minister Harper is prepared to meet the
Assembly of First Nations with respect to the Kelowna accord.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for his question. I, too, am very pleased that the
residential school issue has finally been resolved, and I congratulate those who
were involved in the process.
With regard to the Kelowna accord, I am well aware of the unanimous motion
from the legislature in British Columbia. As the honourable senator would know,
our then critic on Indian and Northern Affairs, now Minister Jim Prentice,
attended the meetings in Kelowna, and he met with all of the leaders, including
many new, young leaders who are coming forward in the Aboriginal community.
We took specific budgetary measures in the announcement of the budget to
begin addressing some of the very serious concerns. As honourable senators will
also know, Minister Prentice has been supportive of the objectives of the
Kelowna accord, although no monies were made available in the fiscal framework.
Minister Prentice and the Prime Minister are working on these issues. These
are serious issues, and we are treating them seriously, but I cannot state
definitively when they will meet with the leaders of the Aboriginal community. I
will certainly endeavour to find out if such a meeting is in the works and
report to Senator Austin.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I am concerned as to whether the
government is treating the issue of the Kelowna accord seriously, as the
minister has said. For example, last Monday, the Honourable Jim Prentice,
Minister of Indian Affairs, described the Kelowna accord as just an "empty
promise" of the former Liberal government. The Friday previous, Jason Kenney,
the Prime Minister's Parliamentary Secretary called Kelowna "an eleventh-hour
pre-election press release."
The Honourable Monte Solberg, now the Immigration Minister, during the 2006
election, called the Kelowna accord "a deal scratched out on the back of a
The fact is, honourable senators, that the Kelowna accord was the result of
two years of negotiations among the parties, and the most significant building
of trust between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in the history of
I hope that the minister will also take into account that this government did
not mention Aboriginal issues in its Speech from the Throne. This government did
not mention Aboriginal issues in the budget address or in the budget papers.
This government has not continued the Cabinet Committee on Aboriginal Affairs
from the previous government, which gave specific focus to resolving Aboriginal
I put that on the record, honourable senators, because it does raise a
concern that this government will not seize the opportunity to bring about the
partnership between the Government of Canada, the provinces and the Aboriginal
peoples created by the Kelowna accord.
I ask the minister to provide this chamber with an outline by way of a
delayed answer of the positive steps that the government is taking to address
the social and economic issues of the Aboriginal community.
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for his question. I
will certainly, as he suggests, provide all of that information in a delayed
The honourable senator referred to the comments of Minister Prentice and
Parliamentary Secretary Jason Kenney. I think I responded to that question in my
first answer to him. It does not take away from Minister Prentice's overall
support for the intent and the goals of the Kelowna accord. However, the fact
is, and it does not change, that there were statements made without any
inclusion in the fiscal framework. I did mention to honourable senators the
measures that were taken, and I keep repeating that it is our first budget in
our first session of Parliament. We have been here a little over three months.
Honourable senators will note that there have been quite a number of
Aboriginal leaders, an example being Patrick Brazeau, the National Chief of the
Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, who indicated: "We're very pleased with the
The President of ITK, Canada's national Inuit organization, has expressed
support for the funding set aside for Aboriginal housing. He said, "This is the
most we have gotten from the federal budget." Mr. Kusugak stated that he is
reassured by the government's commitment to meet the targets agreed upon in the
Grand Council Chief Beaucage of the Anishinabek Nation said that he is
excited to see our government's commitment to compensate the residential school
I am aware of several meetings Minister Jim Prentice has had thus far with
many people in the Aboriginal community. He is working very hard, and I will be
very happy to speak to him and ask him to prepare a summary of his negotiations
and work thus far in this area.
Senator Austin: The minister refers to the fact that the funds set out
in the Kelowna accord are not in the fiscal framework, but I would like to
remind her and this chamber that the agreement for the Kelowna accord took place
three days before the defeat of the Martin government. It was the intention of
the Martin government, as the then-Minister of Finance, Mr. Goodale, said, to
provide for the federal government's role in the program. The fact that it was
not of importance to the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party or the
Bloc Québécois is another story.
Will the minister encourage the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on
Aboriginal Peoples and the members of her party opposite to invite the national
chief, Phil Fontaine, and the regional chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations
to come before the committee expeditiously in order to hear their presentations
on the Kelowna accord?
Senator LeBreton: I thank Senator Austin for that question.
The fact that the Kelowna accord was signed three days before the defeat of
the government has been noted. The subject matter requires immediate attention.
Unfortunately, the Kelowna accord is like so many other things that the previous
government jammed into the last few weeks when it realized that its defeat was
imminent, and I cannot accept that the NDP, Bloc Québécois or the Conservatives
are responsible for things that the government did not do until the last moment.
With regard to the chair of the Aboriginal Committee, honourable senators
will know that he is a strong voice for Aboriginal and Metis people. I am
certain that at the appropriate time all of these people will be invited to the
committee to be heard. We will not have to tell him; he can certainly act on his
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: My question is for the Leader of the
Government in the Senate. Her government has given over $1 billion of our
Canadian forest industry's hard-earned money to the U.S. forest industry to do
product research and development and global market development. The government
has removed from the current budget the $1.5 billion package that was announced
last November for the Canadian forest industry.
What amount of money will the government provide the Canadian forest industry
to do product research and development and to compete with the U.S. forest
industry for new global markets?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
not being a trade negotiator or a financial analyst, I will take most of that
question as notice.
Most honourable senators will agree that putting the softwood lumber issue
behind us has created stability for the provinces. The agreement represents a
deal that is good for Canadians, lumber companies, workers and communities. The
appropriate officials and the minister are consulting closely with the provinces
and the territories on how we can work together to move this industry forward.
Senator Ringuette: The reality is that there are still nine months of
discussions left before there will be an official ratification of the deal.
The reason the government will not be able to help our Canadian forest
industry is that within that proposed deal are provisions that prohibit the
Government of Canada from helping our own forest industry.
Will the minister table in this house that proposed deal and refer it to our
own Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce to be reviewed?
Senator LeBreton: I will put that request to the appropriate officials
in the government.
Senator Ringuette: This is a matter of many, many jobs, and many
businesses in Canada that need to survive. I ask the Leader of the Government
again: Will the Leader of the Government table this deal, or is she afraid that
she will again be accused of bullying the stakeholders?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, when we started this process in
the Senate, I tried to communicate to senators on both sides that shouting at
each other and dictating one's own views are not what the Canadian public expect
Senator Ringuette: We expect openness. We want that document open.
Senator LeBreton: I again point out to the honourable senators: We
were elected on January 23. We were sworn in on February 6. As I sat in this
chamber when the honourable senator was sitting on the government side, I do not
remember her ever insisting that her government resolve the softwood lumber
dispute or, in fact, deal with the smaller industries.
Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Minister of Public Works and Government Services. Like my colleagues, I would
like to congratulate the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Mr.
Michael Fortier, on his appointment.
In her annual report, the Commissioner of Official Languages gave the mark of
"poor" to the Department of Public Works and Government Services. This
department had the third highest number of complaints among federal
institutions. In reaction to the commissioner's report, Minister Fortier said,
and I quote:
As a francophone, I am not pleased to see the mark is rather less than
spectacular. There is no doubt I will make the effort necessary to improve our
marks significantly by the next report card.
The minister's reaction in this regard is encouraging. How, specifically,
does the minister plan to proceed to improve the application of the Official
Languages Act in his department? Does the minister have a plan of action or
implementation, particularly in the light of Bill S-3?
Hon. Michael Fortier (Minister of Public Works and Government Services):
Honourable senators, I thank the senator for her question and words of welcome.
She quoted me, and so I learn another lesson today. We can quote newspaper
articles in this chamber, but not responses to questions from colleagues in the
Your question is a very good one. Indeed, specific measures will be taken. I
am studying the report with my officials at the moment. The first measure will
be as follows. First and foremost, it has been a very long time since this
department has been headed by a bilingual minister.
You will understand the commissioner is delighted a minister can speak French
with employees and hear their briefings in French, something that has not been
the case for many years in this department.
Leadership will therefore start at the highest level, and I guarantee there
will be improvements by the next report card.
Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question.
I am confident that, given the minister's leadership and commitment with respect
to improving linguistic duality in his department, there will be real progress.
Could we then ask the minister to provide us with a written action plan for
implementing Bill S-3 as soon as it becomes available?
Senator Fortier: Honourable senators, the minister does not have to
provide written reports. The minister appears before committees. I am very new
to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and I would be pleased to appear before
committees. I will study the report with my senior officials and look at areas
for improvement, of which there are certain to be many. As you know, the report
reflects an era before my time, an era during which the party you represent was
Once I have examined the report, we will develop an action plan, just like
all of the other action plans I have developed for the department as part of my
other responsibilities as Minister of Public Works and Government Services.
Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, I was talking about the future of
Bill S-3 and the new responsibilities that both Houses of Parliament have
committed to. Each department must now submit an action plan to fulfill the
commitments in Bill S-3.
Senator Ringuette: That is new.
Senator Fortier: Honourable senators, if we are required to submit a
plan, we will, of course.
Hon. Willie Adams: Honourable senators, at one time the government
promised that in the future more jobs would be available for Aboriginal people.
My concern goes back to committee hearings where we received a promise that
in the future any hiring in the government in Ottawa or across Canada would be
open to all. Young Aboriginal people today have a better education than their
parents. I believe it is important that the hiring policies of government
departments include Aboriginal peoples.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator. I remember his representations before committees of the
Senate about Aboriginal languages.
As I think he has acknowledged, we have a Minister of Indian Affairs and
Northern Development now, in the person of the Honourable Jim Prentice, who is
probably the best-qualified person that this country has seen for some
considerable time. As the honourable senator knows, Minister Prentice, before he
got into politics, worked in the areas of Indian land claims and northern
He is knowledgeable and sympathetic. I think that anyone who watched him
yesterday when he made the announcement on the residential schools issue —
anyone especially from the Aboriginal community — will know that in Minister
Prentice they indeed have a good advocate and friend.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, in what can only be
described as a bewildering lack of leadership, this government's environmental
policy seems to be drifting aimlessly.
On the one hand, we know that the government has cancelled its commitment to
the Kyoto program and replaced it with literally nothing. Now we find that the
minister responsible for cancelling the Kyoto plan will fly to Germany to chair
the international Kyoto meeting. She does not really want to chair it because
she will only stay for the first day of a two-week meeting.
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate please tell us whether
Canada is in or out of Kyoto? If we are out of it, has the minister taken the
courtesy of sending to our international partners some formal notification that
Canada will not participate?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for his question. It was not this government that took Canada
out of Kyoto; it was the previous government that failed to live up to the Kyoto
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator LeBreton: Minister Rona Ambrose has never attacked the goals
and aims of Kyoto; she simply stated the obvious: Under the previous government,
emissions had increased rather than decreased. If honourable senators saw the
news last night, they will know that the situation is even worse than we
In terms of our ongoing responsibilities to the environment and our role in
the global community, Minister Ambrose will be attending the conference in
Senator Mitchell: There is a direct correlation between how little the
government has to do with its own policy areas and how much it talks about the
past and other governments.
What kind of message is sent to the international community when this
government's minister, a person who has betrayed the Kyoto program and wanted
nothing to do with it, insists on going for one of 14 days to manage that
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I do not accept the premise
that somehow or other there is no plan regarding the issue of greenhouse gases,
global warming and Kyoto. This is a serious problem.
The problem is that the previous government did not live up to its
commitments. Having come to that stark realization, there is no point in the
current government proceeding with or accepting what the previous government
did. It simply did not live up to the commitments, and the situation is now much
In terms of the environment, we have a minister who has been working very
hard on this issue. I know that we will come up with a very good made-in-Canada
plan. We will continue to help shape global dialogue on long-term international
cooperation on climate change in a way that advances our country's interests and
delivers meaningful results for Canadians.
As the President of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change for 2006, Canada will work with other countries to
help advance a more transformative long-term approach to tackling climate
change. We will be open to other options for regional and international
collaboration regarding reducing greenhouse gas and emissions.
I look forward to the Minister of the Environment presenting the plan to the
House of Commons and also to this chamber when it is in place.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting the delayed answer to a question
raised in the Senate on April 25, 2006 by the Honourable Senator Gerry St.
Germain regarding the farm income crisis, disaster relief and the program to
support alternative crops.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Gerry St. Germain on April 25, 2006)
The government is very aware of the farm income situation facing grains and
oilseeds producers, and we agree that one element of the solution is to
provide a broader range of marketing choices for producers.
The government has committed to a 5 per cent renewable fuel content in
Canada's transportation fuels by 2010. The 5 per cent goal is ambitious as it
requires 3 billion litres a year of biofuels — a ten-fold increase from
The Minister of the Environment is leading the government efforts to
implement this goal, in cooperation with provinces and territories.
The Council of Energy Ministers, co-chaired by the Minister of Natural
Resources Canada, is coordinating federal-provincial work to develop a
national framework on renewable fuels. The process to develop the national
framework has been engaging stakeholders to ensure the long term success of a
Canadian biofuels industry. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is also
participating in this process as it is important that the development of the
renewable fuels sector benefits Canadian farmers as much as possible.
As the biofuels sector develops in Canada, farmers will have new market
opportunities for their grains and oilseeds. It can also have positive
environmental benefits, while promoting rural economic development and
As well, research and development is continuing to improve production
capability, efficiency, and enhance the long-term viability of the biofuels
As the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has stated, Canadian farmers
will share in the benefits of this new market opportunity for grains and
Second reading of Bill S-212, to amend the Income Tax Act (tax relief).
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators will recall that on Tuesday,
May 2, during Orders of the Day under Other Business, as Senator Austin was
about to move second reading of Bill S-212, Senator Di Nino rose on a point of
order to argue that the bill was not properly before this house. The senator
explained that under the Constitution Act, 1867, bills that appropriate any part
of the public revenue or impose a tax must originate in the House of Commons.
Such bills cannot be introduced first in the Senate. Based on his reading of the
bill, Senator Di Nino maintained that Bill S-212 was imposing a tax and was
appropriating public revenue. In his view, the bill "should have been preceded
by a Ways and Means motion, should have been accompanied by a Royal
Recommendation, and should have originated in the other place."
The senator went on to explain the reasons why he thought Bill S-212 was out
of order. First, the bill provides an increase in the child disability
supplement which could lead to payments out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund,
the CRF. Second, clause 3 of the bill increases the maximum refundable medical
expense supplement. As a result, in instances where a taxpayer is entitled to a
tax credit, a refund will be made out of the CRF. Finally, while Senator Di Nino
acknowledged that Bill S-212 reduces the income tax rate from 16 per cent to 15
per cent, he suggested that this could actually result in an increased tax
burden for a very small number of taxpayers.
Other senators participated in the discussion on this point of order. Senator
Rompkey characterized the arguments justifying the point of order as specious.
Senator Baker claimed that the expenditures contained in Bill S-212 were not
really expenditures within the meaning of the objection raised. For his part,
Senator Austin, the sponsor of the bill, denied that there were any
appropriations or tax impositions in Bill S-212. The Senator also pointed to
several precedents to buttress his position including past rulings in which the
Speaker declared that bills proposing reductions in taxes did not require a
Senator Stratton appreciated the intent of the point of order. He thought
that the bill should be examined to determine if there is an increase on the
public purse. Senator Murray then intervened. He repeated a point that had
already been made by Senator Di Nino, that Bill S-212 is based in large measure
on a bill that had been introduced in the House of Commons in the last
Parliament. That bill, as Senator Murray recalled, had been preceded by a Ways
and Means motion and accompanied by a Royal Recommendation.
Whether right or wrong in his recollection, the senator was convinced that
the provisions of the bill implicitly involved payouts that would be drawn from
public funds. Finally, Senator Hays spoke to caution against any
misunderstanding of the fiscal process that might prompt any confusion about the
purpose of the bill, which is "to preserve tax reductions that are already in
Honourable senators, following these exchanges I stated I would take the
matter under advisement. Since then, I have reviewed the applicable Rules of
the Senate, closely examined the bill and studied the relevant precedents
and authorities. I am now ready to make my ruling on the point of order.
There were three arguments made by Senator Di Nino to justify his claim that
Bill S-212 is not properly before the Senate. Let me begin with the last one.
The senator accepted that one objective of the bill is to reduce the federal
income tax rate to 15 per cent from 16 per cent. This is achieved through
clauses 1 and 2 of the bill. As he and other senators acknowledged, this
reduction first appeared in Bill C-80, a bill introduced in the other place in
what turned out to be the closing days of the last Parliament. According to the
Journals of the other place, that bill was preceded by a Ways and Means motion.
However, honourable senators, I can find no evidence that the bill was also
accompanied by a Royal Recommendation.
In his presentation, Senator Di Nino explained that when the percentage of
the tax rate is lowered, the tax credits are also lowered. When this happens,
when a tax credit is lowered, according to the senator, a Ways and Means motion
is required. Such motions are a distinct feature of the other place. There is no
equivalent in any part of the Senate rules and practices. While I accept that
clauses 1 and 2 of Bill S-212 will reduce the tax rate, I do not agree that this
tax reduction necessitates a Ways and Means motion. A tax reduction is clearly
not a tax imposition even if, incidentally, it has a negative impact on a small
number of taxpayers. According to House of Commons Procedure and Practice
by Marleau and Montpetit, at page 759:
Legislative proposals which are not intended to raise money but rather to
reduce taxation need not to be preceded by a Ways and Means motion before
being introduced in the House.
This statement is supported by two rulings by Speakers of the House of
Commons, dating back to 1957 and 1972. Based on this aspect of the point of
order, I would not be disposed to rule Bill S-212 out of order. This is in
keeping with my own preference and underscores my intention to allow debate
which gives the Senate itself the opportunity to come to its own decision on the
There are, however, two other arguments that need to be considered in regard
to this point of order. I propose to deal with both of them together. As has
already been mentioned, much of Bill S-212 is based on Bill C-80. Despite their
similarities there are some significant differences which may be reflected in
their different titles. Bill C-80 was entitled, An Act to implement certain
income tax reductions; Bill S-212 has as its title, An Act to amend the Income
Tax Act (tax relief). In addition to incorporating elements of Bill C-80, Bill
S-212, in clauses 3 and 4, also seeks to implement increases to the refundable
medical expense supplement and the child disability benefit. As honourable
senators may recall, both of these refundable credits had been increased in the
budget implementation bill, Bill C-43, adopted last June. Prior to the enactment
of this bill, the formulas used to calculate the refundable credits for medical
expense supplements and the child disability benefit were $500 and $1,600
respectively. As a result of the changes implemented through Bill C-43, the
figures were increased to $750 and $2,000. Bill S-212 now proposes to increase
the benefit again to $1,000 and $2,300. Based on this analysis, it is clear that
Bill S-212 is doing more than preserving tax reductions already in place. Bill
S-212 also aims to provide tax relief in the form of refundable tax credits.
So far as I have been able to determine, these proposed tax credits have not
had any expression in legislation. No bill was introduced in the last Parliament
to implement them. They were certainly not any part of Bill C-80. In preparing
my ruling, I found it instructive to review the procedures that were followed in
the other place with respect to Bill C-43, entitled Budget Implementation Act,
2005. This bill was preceded by a Ways and Means motion. More importantly, when
Bill C-43 was introduced and read the first time, it had a Royal Recommendation
attached to it. This recommendation was necessary because of the proposed scheme
to increase refundable tax credits. Unlike measures that affect non-refundable
tax credits, bills proposing to alter refundable tax credits need a Royal
This is because the payouts that will be made to taxpayers, who are entitled
to claim them, must be authorized. This authorization is the Royal
Recommendation. These payments can only be made from the Consolidated Revenue
Fund; they are expenditures of public money.
Rule 81 stipulates that:
The Senate shall not proceed upon a bill appropriating public money that
has not within the knowledge of the Senate been recommended by the Queen's
Bill S-212 does not have a Royal Recommendation, though it is clearly
necessary with respect to clauses 3 and 4. Had Bill S-212 contained only clauses
1 and 2, I would have been able to rule otherwise. However, given this level of
certainty with respect to the meaning and operation of clauses 3 and 4, I am
obliged to rule that the point of order that was raised with respect to further
proceedings on Bill S-212 is well founded. The second reading motion on Bill
S-212 will not be put for debate and the bill is to be stricken from the Order
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette moved the second reading of Bill S-207,
to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children).
She said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak to you again about Bill
S-207, to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children). This bill was
previously tabled in 2004, but its review in committee could not be completed
due to the election. Since it was tabled in 2004, there has been a continuous
flood of support for the bill, encouraging me to pursue the fight against
physical violence against children. Average citizens, health and social services
professionals, non-governmental organizations, provincial premiers from Quebec,
Ontario and British Columbia, fellow senators and MPs have asked me to continue
this debate to put an end, once and for all, to the corporal punishment of
children. Bill S-207 eliminates section 43 of the Criminal Code, which reads as
Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is
justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the
case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is
reasonable under the circumstances
In my speech at second reading stage of the previous Bill S-21, I gave a
detailed history of section 43. I encourage you to review it. I would, however,
like to revisit the definition of the verb "to correct," which Webster's
Dictionary defines as follows:
to punish (as a child) with a view to reforming or improving behaviour.
The word "correction," means corporal punishment or hitting someone.
Furthermore, we also see the word "care," defined in the Criminal Code as
The provision of what is needed for health or protection.
Honourable senators, as I am sure you will agree, this definition is the
antithesis of the word "correction." We must reflect deeply on this matter.
In 2004, in its information sheet, Physical punishment of children,
the Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare defined physical punishment as
...an action intended to cause physical discomfort or pain to put an end to
a child's behaviour...Attempts to distinguish physical punishment from
physical abuse have not been successful. In fact, the majority of cases of
reported and substantiated child physical abuse are situations of physical
In 1991, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child, which states in article 19:
States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative,
social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of
physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment,
maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of
parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the
Article 3 of the convention states that:
...the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
In two successive reports on Canada, dated June 20, 1995 and October 27,
2003, the United Nations clearly indicated that, by maintaining section 43 of
the Criminal Code in force, Canada was not complying with the terms of the
convention it had signed.
On June 20, 1995, the Committee on the Rights of the Child stated that it
...preoccupied by the existence of child abuse and violence within the
family and the insufficient protection afforded by the existing legislation in
As well, on October 27, 2003, the committee recommended that Canada:
...adopt legislation to remove the existing authorization of the use of
"reasonable force" in disciplining children and explicitly prohibit all
forms of violence against children, however light, within the family, in
schools and in other institutions where children may be placed.
Despite these reprimands and recommendations, Canada still has not taken
steps to comply with its international obligations.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, the Council of Europe, at its 2004
parliamentary assembly, recommended in recommendation 1666 that all member
countries ban physical punishment, and I quote:
The Assembly considers that any corporal punishment of children is in
breach of their fundamental right to human dignity and physical integrity. The
fact that such corporal punishment is still lawful in certain member states
violates their equally fundamental right to the same legal protection as
adults. Striking a human being is prohibited in European society and children
are human beings. The social and legal acceptance of corporal punishment of
children must be ended.
On April 22, 2005, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
confirmed its support for Recommendation 1666, and:
...heralded the idea of launching a coordinated and concerted campaign in
all member states for the total abolition of the corporal punishment of
For example, in 2003, Germany tabled an exhaustive study of physical and
psychological child abuse and, in recent years, has implemented many measures to
eradicate abuse; these are summarized in the document entitled:
Violence in upbringing: an assessment after the introduction of the right
to a non-violent upbringing.
The new German prohibition of violence is thus connected with the Swedish
law reform, which was so successful because it couples a clear "no" to
corporal punishment with a broad and comprehensive program of informing the
public about the negative consequences of violence when raising a child.
In 1998, the German government amended its Civil Code to prohibit all
degrading methods of instruction, including physical and psychological abuse.
And in 2000 it amended its Civil Code, which states:
Children have the right to a non-violent upbringing. Corporal punishment,
psychological injuries and other humiliating measures are prohibited.
Furthermore, the German childcare law was also amended —
...to promote ways in which families can resolve conflict without resorting
The German federal justice department and minister for family affairs
conducted research to assess the impact of the legislative changes and compared
the results with previous findings. They discovered that, in 1996, 33 per cent
of parents spanked their children; by 2001, after six years and a public
awareness campaign, the number had dropped to 25 per cent. In 2002, only 3 per
cent of children reported being beaten, compared to 30 per cent in 1992.
Similarly, in 2002, 87 per cent of parents believed in the soundness of parental
discipline without violence.
After Sweden, which completely prohibited corporal punishment of children in
1979, and which is the leader in this area, Germany is the model to follow.
Obviously, Germany and Sweden did more than just amend their legislation. They
carried out extensive public awareness campaigns, informing the public of the
risks and dangers of corporal punishment of children. Sweden even used milk
cartons to inform parents that hitting a child constitutes an offence. These
extensive campaigns drastically altered public opinion.
Several other countries have banned corporal punishment of children including
Finland in 1983, Norway in 1987, Austria in 1989, Cypress in 1994, Denmark in
1997, Iceland in 2003, Hungary in 2004, Romania in 2004, and Ukraine in 2004.
In Canada, no such measure has been considered since 1892. Even worse, in the
case of Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada
(Attorney General), the Supreme Court ruled, by a majority of four votes to
three, not to ban this practice and to protect parents and educators, to the
detriment of children.
This was the decision that compelled me to fight for this minority, to defend
these children who cannot defend themselves. The majority of the justices made a
discriminatory decision that only children aged two to twelve could be subjected
to corporal punishment, even though such actions would be considered assault for
the rest of the population.
As legislators, we cannot give others the power to decide what is force that
does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances. As Justice Arbour,
who is now the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated in the
Supreme Court of Canada's decision:
The phrase "reasonable under the circumstances" in s. 43 violates
children's security of the person interest and the deprivation is not in
accordance with the relevant principle of fundamental justice, in that it is
unconstitutionally vague. A vague law violates the principles of fundamental
justice because it does not provide "fair warning" to individuals as to the
legality of their actions and because it increases the amount of discretion
given to law enforcement officials in their application of the law, which may
lead to arbitrary enforcement.
Further, she added:
Conceptions of what is "reasonable" in terms of the discipline of
children, whether physical or otherwise, vary widely, and often engage
cultural and religious beliefs as well as political and ethical ones. While it
may work well in other contexts, in this one the term "reasonable force" has
proven not to be a workable standard and the lack of clarity is particularly
problematic here because the rights of children are engaged.
Striking down the provision is the most appropriate remedy, as Parliament
is best equipped to reconsider this vague and controversial provision.
It is therefore up to us, as parliamentarians, to protect our children. It
has been shown that children under five are subject to corporal punishment most
frequently. How can they defend themselves? When do they know their parents have
exceeded force that is "reasonable under the circumstances"? Whom can they
turn to? How many times can they be struck before a neighbour or a teacher
notices? Sometimes it takes a long time before marks appear, and then it is too
Honourable senators, to continue to allow parents to think they can strike
their children to teach them a lesson is to fail to respect their basic rights
to life, liberty and security of the person.
I would like to draw honourable senators' attention to a number of Canadian
studies on the subject, which confirm the importance of abolishing section 43
for the good of society.
First, there is the October 25, 2004, study by Statistics Canada on the
parenting environment and aggressive behaviour in children. This study involved
2,000 children and revealed that children two to three years of age living in
punitive environments in 1994 scored 39 per cent higher on a scale of aggressive
behaviour — such as hurting others or being naughty — than children living in
less punitive environments. The difference, however, was even more marked six
years later, in 2000, in the same children at ages eight to nine. Those living
in punitive environments scored 83 per cent higher on the scale of aggressive
behaviour than children living in less punitive environments. Only 17 per cent
of the children had not become aggressive. Statistics Canada noted that this
aggression carried over into adulthood in the form of aggression, delinquency,
crime, poor school performance, unemployment and other negative aspects. In
other words, those who begin life in violence are unable to make positive
contact with others, resolve conflicts normally and develop in a healthy manner.
On February 21, 2005, Statistics Canada published its National
Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth: Home environment, income and child
behaviour. This study looked at changes in punitive parenting practices in
the home and observed changes in child behaviour. Children showed higher levels
of aggressive behaviour when their parents were more punitive. They also showed
higher levels of anxiety and lower levels of pro-social behaviour, the latter
defined as actions that benefit another person with no reward for oneself, when
parents were more punitive. Note that in both Statistics Canada surveys,
household income had little bearing on any of these trends.
In 2003, the Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare conducted a national
study on physical violence against children. Some 31,488 cases of physical
violence were investigated and corroborated in 2003 in Canada, excluding Quebec.
In 12,775 of those cases, the child had been hit with a hand. Some 40 per cent
of those children were slapped or spanked.
The Centre of Excellence recently gathered the findings of several studies
and found that children who are hit have a tendency to hit other children; 19
per cent were violent toward others. They had a tendency to adopt anti-social
behaviour such as intimidation and bullying at school and 36 per cent of
children who are physically abused have psychological or behavioural problems.
Lack of remorse was also observed because, for punished children, violence is a
habitual form of conflict resolution. The centre also notes deterioration in
parent-child relations. What is worse is that a higher risk of depression,
sadness, anxiety and despair was observed in the children. Unfortunately,
children are beaten by those who are supposed to love them the most.
Some people have told me that in their childhood they had been hit and it was
not so bad — I am talking about my colleagues here and elsewhere. The centre
noted that 71 per cent of children who suffered physical violence had no
evidence of physical scars. However, in 50 per cent of cases, investigators
noted functional problems such as learning difficulties or developmental delays.
In other words, even though it is not always apparent, it is far too often
In 2004, the Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth
reported the results of several national surveys of Canadian parents concerning
their use of corporal punishment. For example, in 2002, 50 per cent of
respondents indicated that they had inflicted light corporal punishment. The
results of regional surveys were also gathered. In Ontario, 85 per cent of
respondents stated that they had spanked their children and 20 per cent reported
having hit them with objects. In Manitoba, 70 per cent reported having used
physical punishment. In Quebec, 48 per cent reported having physically punished
their children in the 12 previous months and 7 per cent reported acts of severe
violence such as shaking an infant, punching and kicking. However, the majority
of respondents believed that physical punishment is ineffective and unnecessary,
and most believed that it is even harmful. Parents who had themselves been
physically punished as children were more likely to use this method. This is
why, honourable senators, it is important to put an end to this backward, if not
In 2003, Toronto Public Health conducted a national poll on Canadians'
attitudes toward removing section 43 from the Criminal Code. The results
revealed that 69 per cent of Canadians agreed that teachers should not be
allowed to physically punish children and 51 per cent agreed that parents should
not be allowed to use corporal punishment. Sixty-one percent wanted to see
section 43 removed if it were proven that corporal punishment is not effective
and can be harmful. However, 71 per cent wanted it removed if it could be proven
that this would decrease child abuse. In light of all of these studies and this
poll, it seems obvious to me, honourable senators, that by voting in favour of
this bill, the Senate would be listening to Canadian public opinion.
Honourable senators, I would now like to respond to those whom I have not yet
convinced. Abolishing section 43 does not cause problems for parents who, in an
isolated instance, lose their patience one day, because common law defences such
as necessity and de minimis are still in effect — see section 8(3) of the
Criminal Code — and will continue to justify isolated acts and acts that are
necessary in order to protect children, meaning that court action will be
avoided. As Justice Arbour said so well in the Supreme Court judgment, it "will
not expose parents and persons standing in the place of parents to the blunt
instrument of the criminal law for every minor instance of technical assault" —
where the intent is not criminal, of course. The common law defences of
necessity and de minimis adequately protect those whose conduct is
excusable or trivial and not repeated too often.
"The defence of necessity rests upon a realistic assessment of human
weaknesses and recognizes that there are emergency situations where the law does
not hold people accountable if the ordinary human instincts overwhelmingly impel
disobedience in the pursuit of self-preservation or the preservation of others."
The Canadian Bar Association, on page 206 of a 1992 study entitled
Principles of Criminal Liability: Proposals for a New General Part of the
Criminal Code of Canada, bases its reasoning on K.R. Hamilton, De Minimis
Non Curat Lex, December 1991, which gives the following justifications for a
de minimis defence: first, the application of criminal law must be
reserved for serious misconduct; second, an accused must be protected from the
stigma of a criminal conviction and from the imposition of severe penalties for
relatively trivial conduct; third, the courts must be saved from being swamped
by an enormous number of trivial cases.
With respect to the defence of necessity, the Supreme Court has reiterated
its application on many occasions.
Also, we must not think that every parent will face prosecution based on a
mere report. Take Quebec for example, which signed a multisectoral agreement on
the social and judiciary response procedure. There are five essential steps in
the decision-making process: first, the reporting of abuse to the director of
child protection; second, liaison and planning; third, investigation and
assessment; fourth, decision making; and, fifth, action and information of
Thanks to this whole process, a serious and thorough investigation can be
conducted with a view to protecting the children and dismissing frivolous or
For the repeal of section 43 of the Criminal Code to be successful in curbing
the physical abuse of children, this bill has to be complemented with national
initiatives, as Germany and Sweden did.
First, there has to be a public awareness campaign, with a clear, consistent
and tenacious message, saying that the use of corporal punishment to discipline
children is unacceptable and that it can cause irreparable physical and
I would like to add that child abuse can also cause economic harm. In 2003,
the Law Commission of Canada measured the economic costs of all forms of child
abuse for 1998 alone. It was estimated that judicial costs and costs associated
with social services, education, health, unemployment and other costs related to
violence against children totalled nearly $16 billion. That is to say that child
abuse has a devastating effect not only on individuals but also on society in
Second, it is necessary to raise public awareness about discipline without
violence. In this respect, I refer you to the information sheet published by the
Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare, which lists constructive methods for
guiding children's behaviour, including modeling appropriate behaviour;
monitoring and supervising the child's activities; planning and preparing for
challenging situations; establishing expectations and limits ahead of time; and,
most importantly, seeking assistance, whenever necessary.
Given the astronomical costs of violence against children, a comprehensive
parent education program designed to support them in their child-raising role
would be most beneficial for Canadian society as a whole.
Third, the Criminal Code has to afford the same protection from assault for
everyone, and Canada has to fulfill its international obligations.
In closing, I would like to speak of the support received for the repeal of
section 43 of the Criminal Code. In 2004, an initiative of the Children's
Hospital of Eastern Ontario — the Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of
Children and Youth — was formally endorsed by 138 Canadian organizations.
Today, this statement has been endorsed by 226 organizations. I would like to
name a few: the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the
Canadian Public Health Association, the Association des centres de jeunesses du
Québec, Ontario Association of Child and Youth Workers, the BC Institute Against
Family Violence, Hôpital Sainte-Justine de Montréal, the College of Family
Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Yukon Family Services
Therefore, honourable senators, I am asking you to support Bill S-207 in
order to put an end to the corporal punishment of children, and in order for
Canada to honour its international commitment and join the ranks of the nations
most respectful of the human condition.
Honourable senators, a few minutes before giving this speech, I met with a
class of nine- and ten-year-olds. These children discussed this bill. I intend
to ask the committee responsible for examining the bill to invite some nine- and
ten-year-old children to talk about the consequences of this legislation. I
believe that they will be able to convince you that there is no longer room for
this medieval practice in our modern society.
Hon. Willie Adams: Honourable senators, I have a little difficulty
with the bill. What is the future? How are you going to police it? Nowadays,
things have changed a lot. We used to punish kids with spanking, before we had a
law on spanking. Today, kids are watching all kinds of things on television,
with violence and things like that.
Today the kids and young people in my area who are 13 and 14 years old are
starting families. They are not old enough to look after kids. How are you going
to police how they behave themselves in the house? Will the RCMP or social
welfare be there, watching how the family behaves?
To me, despite what happened so many years ago, we never had any break-ins in
the houses. There was spanking in the schools and in the homes.
After the spanking law came in, especially for the Aboriginal people and the
Inuit, if kids had a mark on the bum, the doctors told the RCMP that the kids
have been abused. It happened a few times in the community in Nunavut.
To me, today, even if you love your kids you have to spank them sometimes. If
they do not understand you, sometimes you get angry. What do you do? Just let
them go so they become more spoiled? You could allow more people to punish them,
social workers and the family, or you could have the RCMP get a warrant to take
the youth from the home. What can the bill can do?
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Thank you for your comments. Let me remind
the honourable senator that it was a practice also in Quebec to use corporal
punishment in boarding schools. We have a case called the Duplessis Orphans.
Several thousand children who were placed in boarding schools were declared
mentally unfit and were brutalized.
If we look at the statistics today of the future of these people, whose
childhood took place many years ago, more than half of them were unable to work
in the marketplace because they were so damaged that they could never complete
any course of study. They were depressed and had many mental problems. They were
supposed to be placed in these institutions for their well-being and to be taken
We have ample evidence that it starts with the education of the parents. A
national education program for parents took place in Germany, and it has been a
tremendous success. It is not a matter of having the police educate parents; it
is the responsibility of the government that implements this measure to have a
Whether it is on milk containers or on television, the program must properly
inform the parent who wants to discipline their child. This does not mean that
one should never discipline a child; it means that one should not use physical
correction because it does not work. Psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians
and everyone who works with children state that when they are treated properly
and disciplined properly, they mature and become responsible individuals.
I am not saying that parents are not allowed to lose their temper once in a
while; this bill is not designed for that purpose. It is meant to stop the
practice of educating a child by using physical correction on a regular basis.
We say that reasonable spanking does not exist because it cannot be measured.
This is what Judge Arbour at the Human Rights Commission at the United Nations
is saying. What is a mother of 90 pounds compared to a father who weighs 225
pounds? I do not think the spanking would be the same. Therefore, it cannot be
measured. It has produced only very large damages. The human cost to our society
is $16 billion a year for juvenile delinquency and depression.
Honourable senators, the evidence is that we have to make sure that the
parents have support, that the social services are behind them and that we are
educating our people.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Of course.
Senator Cools: I think we all believe in this chamber that brutality
is undesirable. However, I am interested in the statement by my honourable
friend about a national education program to educate parents, or to teach people
how to be parents, for that matter. Does this bill contain any provisions to
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Yes. There is a provision that the bill not
receive Royal Assent for one year. It is similar to the provisions for using a
safety belt in cars; it was understood very well by the people that it would
save lives. In this case, the measure is certainly less material. It is more a
matter of telling the parents where to reach out for the support they need to
use other means of discipline.
I am a grandmother of six. I can tell honourable senators that discipline
exists in my family, and my daughters were never obliged to hit my
grandchildren. Neither am I, when I am babysitting.
Senator Cools: I think the honourable senator misunderstood my
question. From her response, I understand that she is saying the bill has a
provision, not for a program, but to postpone the implementation of the bill.
My question concerns the program that she is talking about. I am hearing her
say that she hopes the government will create a program of the type that she has
in mind, but there is nothing in the bill to really call such a program into
Senator Hervieux-Payette: I would like to remind my honourable
colleague that neither are there any measures in the Criminal Code to
rehabilitate criminals. Knowing that governments will save on the $16 billion
budget to repair all the damages, there is ample money to finance this measure
at the national level. After my discussion with the Attorneys General of British
Columbia, Ontario and Quebec — and I am touring Canada — the Ministers of
Justice from these provinces, as well as the minister responsible for children,
they are totally supportive. We know that they are in charge of administering
the law on a day-to-day basis. They already have agreements in place stipulating
that it is not the police who will intervene; it is the family and the
department that will deal with these issues. Of course, when it is severe
violence, even with section 43, you cannot beat your children to death between
two and 12.
However, regular physical correction, without any physical appearance, is
still producing severe damage. For children who are hit on the one hand and
loved on the other hand, it is hard to reconcile these two sentiments.
Senator Cools: I do not think that I am getting the answers I am
looking for, so I will go at this in another way.
In its provisions, does the bill differentiate between severe abuse and other
situations? In other words, do the provisions of Bill S-207 differentiate
between a tiny slap on the fingers and a severe, brutal beating?
Senator Hervieux-Payette: That has already been dealt with by the
Criminal Code. Reasonable force is the concept that Judge Arbour, myself and all
the people involved with families are saying is impossible to implement. I have
mentioned the two defences, the de minimis defence and the one dealing
with necessity. When two kids are fighting each other, someone may have to use
force to make sure that they will not hit each other, whether it is in a school
yard or at home.
However, it is important to know that the program is a regular program that
already exists in the Department of Human Resources, and it can be enriched. We
are not talking about billions of dollars. I am quite sure that if we were
willing to put reasonable campaigns on television and communicate through
various associations, we would attain the goal of educating parents to
understand that hitting children is not disciplining them.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 43, I
should like to raise a question of privilege with respect to misleading
statements made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate on May 3, 2006.
On Wednesday, May 3, in the Senate, the Leader of the Government responded to
some senators' concerns about her absence during Question Period. The honourable
My absence yesterday was to attend a special cabinet meeting to brief us on
Following the above confirmation from the Leader of the Government in the
Senate on Wednesday, I asked my staff to verify if cabinet members were in the
House of Commons during Question Period on Tuesday, May 2.
I received the pertinent information on Tuesday, May 9, and personally
verified it before notifying the Senate of my intentions to raise this question
of privilege at the earliest opportunity, therefore, yesterday morning.
Only two sitting days had elapsed since the incident, which was used to
obtain and verify the information and consequently give a written notice to the
Clerk of the Senate to notify this house and to finally raise the question of
privilege I am speaking to now.
To my surprise, when reviewing the tapes, at the exact time that the Leader
of the Government in the Senate claims to have had a cabinet meeting, most
cabinet members, including the Prime Minister, were in the House of Commons. On
May 2, Senate Question Period was between 2:45 and 3:10. On the same day, in the
House of Commons, Question Period was between 2:15 and 3:05. One can certainly
conclude that the cabinet briefing on the budget could have only occurred after
Question Period of the House of Commons, which ended at 3:05 on Tuesday, May 2.
With evidence of this misleading statement, I am raising this serious offence
at the earliest opportunity for the Senate to take up for consideration.
Honourable senators, I have on hand a videotape of the House of Commons
proceedings during the time the Leader of the Government alleges she was in a
cabinet meeting, which was during Question Period of the House of Commons. As
the Journals of the House of Commons and videotape indicate, all
ministers but one were in the House of Commons during the same period.
Honourable senators, I have serious doubts that a meeting of one minister
from the House of Commons and two ministers from the Senate amounts to a cabinet
meeting, special or not. Respectfully, I doubt that such a conclusion could
logically be reached. If the current Government of Canada operates with cabinet
meetings of three persons, then this country has serious issues.
This government constantly pretends to be accountable and to be lifting up
the veil of secrecy. The fact of the matter is that what they say and what they
do are two different things. This question of privilege is at the heart of this
Conservative government's self-proclaimed accountability.
Honourable senators, after reviewing the Leader of the Government's statement
in the Journals of the Senate, and verifying the location of the Prime
Minister and cabinet ministers at the time that Senator LeBreton claimed to be
in their presence, I have come to the conclusion that the Leader of the
Government in the Senate is in contempt of Parliament.
Honourable senators, contempt of Parliament is an offence against the
authority and dignity of the Senate, or an act which offends against the
authority and dignity of Parliament, or against its officers or members. The
evidence is overwhelming and in clear contradiction with section 4 of the
Parliament of Canada Act. We take contempt of Parliament very seriously and
provision is made for severe penalties for those who are found in contempt of
court or in contempt of Parliament.
Parliament is an institution that must maintain the confidence of the people.
The people must believe that parliamentarians act with integrity and honesty at
all times. In my opinion, this matter directly concerns the privilege of the
Senate and this seriously impedes on our ability to fulfil our parliamentary
If the absence of the Leader of the Government in the Senate from Question
Period and her following misleading statements to cover that up does not amount
to a grave and serious breach affecting our ability to perform our duties, I do
not know what does.
In addressing this point as a matter of privilege and not as a substantive
motion, which could be debated after notice is given, I want this question of
privilege to be considered to be of the utmost importance.
I therefore ask Your Honour that all other matters of the Senate be put aside
and the prima facie merit of this question of privilege be recognized.
Respectfully, I must remind this chamber that, when His Honour is asked to
determine the merit of a question of privilege, he must not assess the merits of
the question of privilege as such, but, rather, restrict himself to determining
whether there is sufficient evidence for the matter be given priority for
Honourable senators, I believe this question of privilege fulfills the four
conditions in rule 43. I contend that the inaccurate statements by the Leader of
the Government in the Senate constitute a breach of senators' privilege and are
in contempt of the Senate.
This question of privilege calls for corrective action only the Senate can
bring. It is up to the Senate to decide what corrective action to take and, in
my opinion, there are no other parliamentary procedures to resolve this dispute.
Therefore, I ask senators to intervene in order to remedy this grave and serious
The facts are clear: The statements made by the Leader of the Government in
the Senate were misleading. For this, she should be found in contempt of
Parliament. I urge Your Honour to rule on this issue based on the facts that I
am stating and tabling.
I do not take lightly my role and responsibility as a senator for New
Brunswick, and I researched my intervention in this house with respect for each
and every one of us. I did so within the rules accepted by this house.
On Tuesday, May 2, on a very important day, which was also the first Senate
sitting day of the week, I had pertinent questions that required pertinent
answers from this government. After many conversations with the softwood
industry people, I had important questions on the issue of the softwood
agreement signed with the United States.
Your Honour, given the facts presented today, I ask you to establish that
this situation constitutes a prima facie case of privilege in order for me to
call upon the Senate to take action on the matter. Your Honour's ruling on the
facts presented to the Senate today will undoubtedly set the tone and quality of
our sitting for the months to come.
I table the following: The videotape of the House of Commons Question Period
of May 2, 2006, and Hansard of the said period; as well as the Question Period
Journals of the Senate of May 2 and May 3.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave accorded for tabling the documents?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Some Hon. Senators: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Leave is not granted.
Honourable senators, is there further comment on the question of privilege?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I listened carefully to the intervention of the honourable senator. I absolutely
want to confirm that I was at a special cabinet committee meeting that started
at 3 p.m. When we looked at the Order Paper that particular day containing the
statements and tributes, we realized that Question Period would not start in
this place until around 2:50 p.m. If my reading of Hansard is correct, I think
that is when it did start.
The Deputy Leader of the Government gave notice and informed the official
opposition that I would have to attend this cabinet meeting. I think most
senators would understand: I am a new member of cabinet, it was budget day and
I, of course, wanted to be briefed on the budget. I have tried to answer the
questions as they have been delivered. I knew I could not be in two places at
Question Period in the House of Commons is held at a fixed time, from 2:15
p.m. until 3 p.m. When I arrived at the cabinet meeting at 3 p.m. there were
already several ministers in the cabinet room, and the meeting started shortly
thereafter. Meanwhile, if Question Period here had continued, it would have
lasted another 20 minutes if it started at 2:50 p.m.
I am sure all honourable senators believe me when I say that I was at the
cabinet meeting. I felt I was following proper procedure by notifying the
official opposition that I would not be in my seat during Question Period.
I regret that this issue has become a question of privilege. I leave it in
His Honour's hands to decide whether it is a question of privilege.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, first I think the record
should clearly state that proper notice was given. It is not usual, although it
does happen from time to time, that the Leader of the Government in the Senate
cannot attend, and therefore is not present for, Question Period. I have been
around here long enough to remember many times where the individual occupying
that office was not present. A courtesy was extended, if I remember correctly,
that questions would not be asked.
Second, Senator Ringuette seems to base her argument purely on the number of
individuals who are cabinet ministers and who would attend a cabinet meeting. In
her own comments, she suggested there were some cabinet members who were most
likely at this meeting.
I do not believe there are any specific rules that state you must have a
certain number of cabinet members in attendance for a cabinet meeting to take
I think the Leader of the Government in the Senate acted responsibly. She
certainly acted appropriately by giving notice to the opposition that she would
not be present. Regardless of how many members of cabinet sit in a meeting, I
believe they constitute a cabinet meeting.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Honourable senators, the question before us is
not whether notice was given or not. Notice was given. It has happened that
ministers were unable to attend the Senate, and all honourable senators
understood the situation. That is not the question.
The presentation made by Senator Ringuette concerns the answer provided the
following day by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, saying that she was
attending a cabinet meeting at the time. I am questioning neither what the
Honourable Leader of the Government said, nor what Senator Ringuette said.
If we were to receive information which, on the face of it, appears to be
false, the question put to His Honour is whether or not there is a prima facie
question of privilege.
I think that Senator Ringuette clearly made her point. The matter is now in
the hands of the Chair. It is not a matter of believing or not believing. We
could easily listen to the tape recordings before making a decision, since
cabinet meetings are recorded and the recordings are available. I would not want
to cast doubt on the truthfulness of what was said, because we are all
honourable senators. However, we are faced with a situation where two honourable
senators saw an event differently.
Before making his ruling and setting the record straight, His Honour will
need to make sure that the matter before us has been given due consideration. I
encourage His Honour to confirm whether the facts presented have been well
represented and to determine whether or not there is a question of privilege.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Like other
honourable senators, I am content to leave this issue in Your Honour's hands,
but I would like to offer a couple of thoughts.
First, I think this exercise demonstrates to us that it is not a frivolous
matter when one gives explanations with regard to presence, absence or other
conduct, to the Senate. One must be precise when making those explanations.
The explanation that the Leader of the Government has offered today — and I
take her at her word, of course — is not exactly the explanation that she
offered the other day in this place. I leave it to Your Honour to decide whether
privilege has been breached.
I observe that Question Period is not a minor element of our proceedings.
However circus-like its atmosphere may sometimes be, it is a profoundly
important part of parliamentary process, and not to be taken lightly.
Since this issue has been raised, with regard to whether "proper" notice
was given, propriety may lie in the eye of the beholder. However, that day,
before the Senate sat, senators on this side of the house were in caucus, as
were, I believe, senators on the government side.
I received an urgent note in my caucus between 1:45 p.m. and 1:50 p.m. That
is, our side had, in fact, received notice of between 10 and 15 minutes before
the Senate sat that Question Period would be missing two ministers.
I did not consider that time as being adequate notice, nor did most
honourable senators. If those opposite consider 10 minutes to be adequate
notice, I find that slightly surprising.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, we are creating a
dangerous precedent in launching an investigation to determine whether the
minister was here or there. I did not expect this to take such a turn. I have no
intention of checking, for every single time when the former government leader
was away, whether a ten-minute notice was given, as Senator Fraser suggested.
Personally, I never received any notice saying that the leader would be absent.
I would notice his absence once in the chamber.
It was very frustrating because I wanted to ask questions. I knew there would
be issues I planned to ask supplementary questions about, but I realized the
minister was not there.
I will not start commenting on the attitude of the current Leader of the
Government. I am not so naïve as to think that no senators would want to discuss
whether, every time the former leader was absent in past months or years, he was
really where they said he was.
That is a very dangerous precedent. I would like His Honour, in all his
wisdom, to take as much time as he needs to study the precedents. I do not wish
to take issue with Senator Ringuette, my colleague and friend, but I feel
strongly that we must not treat this matter of privilege lightly. To do so would
be to initiate a major debate about the former administration and everybody's
Senator Meighen, I will speak in English, if you prefer, but today I prefer
to speak in French.
I will not repeat what I have just said, but I hope Your Honour takes the
necessary time to prepare the ruling because it could set an extremely dangerous
precedent and possibly lead to a disorderly future for the Senate. We understand
what can happen when the opposition holds a strong majority, the government has
a small minority and some are sitting as independents, such as Senator Rivest,
Senator Plamondon and I.
The general atmosphere in the house for debate of this issue and where it
might take us concerns me. Therefore, as Senator Fraser said, I am at the mercy
of Your Honour's wisdom, and your staff, and ask you to take all the time
necessary because of the precedent that could be established.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, because the matter has been
raised and Senator Fraser has referred to the necessity for precision, which
would be right if the question is to be considered, I would refer to Senator Di
Nino's remarks. Senator Di Nino said that he did not know whether there were
specific provisions on the number of people required to constitute a cabinet
meeting. It would be instructional for us to know whether there are rules on
quorum in respect of cabinet meetings and whether a cabinet meeting can be held
with three people.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, there is no question of privilege in this instance. Senator Ringuette
has raised a mere complaint that Senator LeBreton was not present on one
occasion. First, this matter was not raised at the first opportunity, as Senator
Ringuette asserts; the timing issue was clear from the outset and could readily
have been determined by Thursday of last week, and certainly by Tuesday of this
week, that under rule 43(2) of the Rules of the Senate, the matter cannot
be proceeded with under the terms of rule 43 because it was not raised at the
The claim that this constitutes grave and serious breach, as is required
under rule 43(1)(d), is a far cry from reality. Senators are absent from this
chamber for a range of reasons. In this instance, ministers do have other
duties. The Senate Question Period would not have been finished before Senator
LeBreton had to attend to other duties. These are the facts. Senator LeBreton
could not reasonably be expected to leave Question Period after only a few
minutes — to simply get up and walk out. Senator LeBreton provided advance
notice to the Leader of the Opposition, to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition,
to the opposition whip and to the Speaker of the Senate. There might not have
been as much advance notice as the other side might have wanted, and we have
heard the complaint on that element as well, but it is a complaint. There is no
genuine remedy for occasional absences, no matter what the reason. Thus, rule
43(1)(c) is also not satisfied.
It is not a reasonable proposition that the absence of the Leader of the
Government in the Senate could bring this chamber to a halt in such a way as to
impede its work beyond repair. Indeed, Question Period did proceed in the
absence of the minister. The claim of question of privilege is, at best,
specious and should be dismissed for the complaint that it is.
The Hon. the Speaker: Does any other honourable senator wish to speak?
Honourable senators, I believe that I have understood fully the question of
privilege that has been raised and the comments that have been made by
honourable senators. I will take the matter under advisement and return with a
ruling as to whether a prima facie question of privilege has been assessed.
Hon. Jim Munson rose pursuant to notice of April 27, 2006:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the issue of funding for
the treatment of autism.
He said: Honourable senators, there is an urgent health issue in this country
and that issue is autism. The Autism Society of Canada estimates that the number
of children with autism has grown by more than 150 per cent in the last six
years and now affects one in 200 children. Autism affects people in different
ways, isolating its sufferers with compulsive behaviours and speech disorders
that close people off from their family, friends, teachers, neighbours and
society as a whole.
Researchers studying the brains of people with autism see similarities to
other conditions such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's Disease.
Treatment can make dramatic differences in the lives of people with autism,
especially in the early years. The sad fact is that too many children in Canada
do not have access to the treatment they need. Across this country, parents are
scrambling to find health and social services to help their children break the
neurological barrier that prevents them from participating fully in school,
family and community. These people are slipping through the mesh of our social
safety net. Canada is letting them down and we must take action.
It is heartbreaking to see what is happening to families with autistic
children. Two bills have been introduced in the other place that will commit the
government of this country to take action to help people with autism and their
families. These are Bill C-211, an act to amend the Canada Health Act, and Bill
C-212, an act respecting a Canadian Autism Day. I call upon senators to support
these bills when presented in this chamber so that we can be part of a national
solution to this devastating disorder and part of increasing Canadians'
awareness of autism and its affects on individuals, families and communities.
Not long ago, a generation or two, autism was considered to be a psychiatric
response to parents, especially mothers who were cold or not loving enough. We
have changed our views, thank goodness for that. However, autism remains a
mystery in many ways. We do not know what causes it. We do not know how to cure
it. We do not know why the number of children suffering from it is growing. We
do not have consensus on what constitutes adequate or appropriate treatment, and
we certainly do not know how to pay for autism treatment.
I recently stood in the rain on Parliament Hill with representatives from
every political party. We stood united in our support for the children and
families of people with autism. We need to remember that autism has far-reaching
impacts on families — just ask young Joshua Bortolotti.
Two years ago, his sister Sophia was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder
and this big brother, only 12 years of age at the time, presented me with a
petition calling for access to treatment for his little sister.
Many have claimed that intensive behavioural intervention, IBI, is the best
treatment for children with autism. It is a painstaking, expensive treatment
that requires full-time individual therapy for children at a young age.
Success stories exist. In one study, with an average of 40 hours per week of
one-on-one treatment for two or more years, almost one-half of the children
recover to the point of being indistinguishable from their normally developing
peers. The cost of intensive behaviour intervention is between $50,000 and
$120,000 a year, depending on the severity of a child's condition.
Most provinces pay for the treatment up to a certain amount. British Columbia
and New Brunswick, for example, pay up to $20,000 a year, not even one-half of
the cost of treatment for the child who needs the least amount of treatment. In
Ontario and Quebec, treatment is limited to children under six and waiting lists
are so long that many children reach their sixth birthday before having access
Recent news reports have referred to Alberta as the best province for autism
service. How fortunate for Albertans.
What does this mean for the rest of Canadians? It could mean pulling up
stakes and moving to Alberta, or it could mean selling your home and taking on a
huge debt to buy the care that your children need. Parents are going broke. Why
are parents being penalized? Where is the universality in health care of which
Canadians are so proud? It is not to be found if you have a child with autism.
The Canada Health Act does not specify autism treatment as an insured health
service. This means that access to treatment depends on where you live. This is
shocking to most Canadians. We believe that people who are ill should get the
treatment they need.
We must recognize autism for the health problem it is, one that is urgent and
demanding of our immediate action. Autism knows no borders.
The Canadian Institutes for Health Research devotes between $16 million and
$18 million to autism-related research. This includes genetic research, health
services research and research concerning appropriate support for families. We
do not have a national strategy for autism. We do not have a plan to link policy
and research. We have to learn more about which treatment works best for whom
and in which setting.
It is time for the Government of Canada to show leadership in the same way
leadership has been shown with Canada's drug strategy and diabetes strategy. We
need an autism spectrum disorder strategy.
There is no doubt that intensive behavioural intervention treatment is
expensive, and shockingly so. In fact, if only one-half of Canadians diagnosed
with autism received IBI treatment at $20,000 a year, our annual public health
care spending would increase by $700 million.
However, honourable senators, we need to act. Nine out of 10 children who do
not receive the treatment they need are institutionalized. This is a huge cost
to our society and a tragic loss of potential. Think about it, senators. If
these children had cancer, would we not act? Would we debate whether they were
deserving of chemotherapy, whether our society had responsibility to treat these
children? No, we would not deny this treatment.
The numbers involved — both the growing numbers of children and families
affected by autism and the costs associated with treatment — demand that we pay
attention and take action. I know that my honourable colleagues Senators Kirby
and Keon have been studying mental health issues and consulting with Canadians,
including people with autism and their families. I commend this important work.
Allow me to quote directly from the latest report of the Standing Senate
Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology as follows:
The Committee recognizes that family caregivers are struggling to provide
the best care possible for persons living with autism. Their emotional and
financial hardships are very real, and a solution must be found. However, we
do not believe the Committee is well placed to make recommendations at this
time. Further study is required if we are to do justice to this
extraordinarily complex issue...
Canada's most vulnerable children are falling through the mesh of our social
safety net. Every province has a different approach. This patchwork approach to
autism in Canada is ineffective and, in some ways, demeaning. We know that
autism is a neurological disorder — a health problem. It is time we recognize
that autism treatment is an essential health care service that should be funded
through our health care system.
The federal government has shown leadership over the last few years. We have
supported several community-based initiatives to help children and families
including the Aboriginal Head Start program, the Canada Prenatal Nutrition
Program and the Community Action Program for Children. All these programs put
money where it is needed — helping children and families. We need to do the same
We need a strategy to link policy and research to treatment and services. We
must then make a commitment to act. We need to do more than just say that we
care about children and families with autism. We must show that we care. Let us
have a national strategy to address autism.
I would hope that after reasonable debate here — and I do not mean in 15
years when I will be 75 — we can move this inquiry to the appropriate committee
for further study and recommendations in order to do something for these
children. No child in this country should be left behind.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: I wish to commend Senator Munson for what he has
I have not had the time to look at this issue in depth, but I and other
honourable members of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science
and Technology have reviewed it to an extent. It is such an enormously complex
subject that transcends so many disciplines that we did not quite know what to
do with it.
Although this would require much more research, my immediate reaction is that
we should probably approach it as the British have and define it as an entity
unto itself that requires input from many departments and government.
When we conclude debate on this item in the chamber, will Senator Munson be
recommending a study of this subject as a stand-alone entity that requires the
resources of health care, education and social services rather than in the
context of health care, education and social services themselves?
Senator Munson: Yes, honourable senator, I think it deserves that
recommendation. I also think it deserves to be put on the agenda of the Minister
of Health so that borders disappear with regard to autism. I am hoping that
after a very short debate here, I can move a motion to move it to the Standing
Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology as a stand-alone
entity and that committee can come up with new and innovative ideas for treating
this condition. The treatment must be equitable all across the country as it is
with diabetes and other diseases.
I spoke briefly about this situation when I came here two and one half years
ago. Since that time, the children who were four years old are now six and a
half, and it may be too late. It is the same as with everything in life. If we
capture the child now with the proper treatment, on the financial side, we will
save millions of dollars because, instead of being institutionalized, these
children will participate in our society.
For the relief of these families for helping others, we have a commitment at
this time from your committee to go full steam ahead in dealing with this issue.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: I would like to thank Senator Munson for bringing
forward this issue for debate. This question should have been asked a long time
I listened with some care to Senator Munson's statements, and I understand
that autism is a condition that has been shrouded in mystery and a lot of
misunderstanding for quite some time. Perhaps when Senator Munson closes the
debate he could give us a more ample description of the challenges, the
difficulties and the problems that autistic children and their parents face in
life. I wonder if he would consider putting more substantive detail on the
Senator Munson: I certainly will consider that. I am new at this, but
I know one thing: Its incidence was one in a thousand just a few years ago; now
it is one in 200. I understand it is becoming 1 in 175. It is a mystery. Why is
it happening? We must get to the bottom of that question, and I would be pleased
to share all the information I have. I believe we need to step beyond this
chamber into our committees and have the people and the experts come forward to
say how to do it. We must have the will of governments to tear down these
borders. Whether you are in St. John's or Victoria, you must get the same
treatment, or be offered the same treatment.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette, pursuant to notice of May 2, 2006,
That the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament study and make the necessary recommendations on the advisability of
amending Senate practice so that bills tabled during a parliamentary session
can be reintroduced at the same procedural stage in the following
parliamentary session, with a view to including in the Rules of the Senate, a
procedure that already exists in the House of Commons and would increase the
efficiency of our parliamentary process; and
That the committee report to the Senate no later than June 8, 2006.
She said: Honourable senators, in this motion I am once again proposing that
the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament study
and make the necessary recommendations on the advisability of amending Senate
practice so that bills tabled during a parliamentary session can be reintroduced
at the same procedural stage in the following parliamentary session, with a view
to including in the Rules of the Senate a procedure that already exists
in the House of Commons and would increase the efficiency of our parliamentary
process. I also propose that the committee report to the Senate no later than
June 8, 2006.
I would remind the honourable senators that this motion was introduced in the
last session, but the election call prevented the completion of its review in
committee. However, it is important to point out that this procedural amendment
would apply only to public bills originating in the Senate.
Honourable senators, as you know, prorogation ends the session and, in turn,
all the work in progress, and requires that we constantly reintroduce the same
bills. How many times was the act to protect heritage lighthouses, sponsored by
the Honourable Senator Forrestall, introduced? Five times: the first time in
1999, Bill S-21; then in 2001, Bill S-43; in 2002, Bill S-7; in 2004, Bill S-14; and again in 2004, in the third session, Bill S-5, when it was finally
adopted. It took five years for this bill to go through the complete
How many times has the Act to amend the Criminal Code (lottery schemes),
sponsored by Senator Lapointe, been introduced? Three times. An Act to Amend the
Official Languages Act (promotion of English and French), sponsored by Senator
Gauthier, was introduced four times.
The list of bills is long. Between the Thirty-fifth and Thirty-eighth
Parliaments, 32 bills were introduced several times. This manner of proceeding
goes entirely against the desires of Canadians, who want an efficient
Honourable senators, this procedure is not new and its efficiency has been
proven in the House of Commons. In fact, on November 30, 1998, with the
unanimous consent of all political parties, the other place amended its Standing
Orders and added section 86.1, which reads as follows:
At the beginning of the second or a subsequent session of a Parliament, all
items of Private Members' Business originating in the House of Commons that
were listed on the Order Paper during the previous session shall be
deemed to have been considered and approved at all stages completed at the
time of prorogation and shall stand, if necessary, on the Order Paper
or, as the case may be, referred to committee and the List for the
Consideration of Private Members' Business and the order of precedence
established pursuant to Standing Order 87 shall continue from session to
Section 86.1 was passed after the 13th report of the Standing Committee on
Procedure and House Affairs was unanimously adopted. The committee found that:
The latter is convinced that the measure adopted at the beginning of the
session contributed to the passing of a certain number of private members'
bills and accordingly recommends a permanent change to the Standing Orders.
Since 1998, our colleagues in the other place no longer waste any time
constantly reintroducing the same bills. This method was not totally new
because, a few years earlier, it was used to reinstate certain bills on the
Order Paper in a new session at the stage they had reached before prorogation.
What a waste of time and money for taxpayers when we have to reintroduce and
re-examine the same issues. This is especially true when there is a minority
government. Senators spend a lot of time in committee reflecting on bills that,
according to current procedure, may not get passed. These reviews call for
serious reflection, and many witnesses are called to appear before committee
several times. Sometimes these witnesses come from across Canada and from abroad
to share their points of view with the committee. It is a waste of time and
money. Individuals and representatives of interested groups lose their
confidence in the process.
Honourable senators, this modification to Senate practices will benefit all
parliamentarians regardless of their political stripe. You can already see the
objectivity of this motion.
Let us remember that, in the House of Commons, all parties without exception
voted in favour of this change. Furthermore, as we are speaking more and more of
Senate reform, I believe that by adopting such a measure we will demonstrate
that we are attuned to the views of the public, which would like
parliamentarians to be concerned more with the substance of issues than with
Honourable senators, let us listen to Canadians by spending their money
wisely. We are just at the beginning of a new session. That is why it is
imperative to find a suitable way to make progress in our debates and to look at
other issues that are just as deserving of our attention. Canadians are entitled
to expect appropriate answers in a reasonable period of time.
Change is needed. This reflects on the reputation of the Senate, the
effectiveness of our parliamentary work and our responsibility to Canadian
citizens. Thus, out of respect for the honourable senators and the citizens of
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I apologize to Senator
Hervieux-Payette for interrupting.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, that the Senate do now adjourn
during pleasure to await the arrival the Her Excellency the Governor General?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Furthermore, honourable senators, following
completion of Royal Assent, is it agreed to adjourn at pleasure and reassemble
at the call of the bell for about 10 or 15 minutes beyond the completion of
Royal Assent? Her Excellency would welcome the opportunity to greet each senator
individually. It would be a short period of time, and we would have a
Her Excellency the Governor General of Canada having come and being seated on
the Throne, and the House of Commons having been summoned, and being come with
their Speaker, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give the Royal
Assent to the following bill:
An Act to amend An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax
Act (Bill C-4, Chapter 1, 2006)
The Honourable Peter Milliken, the Speaker of the House of Commons, addressed
Her Excellency the Governor General as follows:
May it please Your Honour.
The Commons of Canada have voted certain supplies required to enable the
Government to defray the expenses of the public service.
In the name of the Commons, I present to Your Honour the following bill:
An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public
service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2007 (Bill C-8,
Chapter 2, 2006)
To which bill I humbly request Your Honour's assent.
Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give the Royal Assent to
the said bill.
The House of Commons withdrew.
Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to retire.
Resuming debate on the motion by the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette,
P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator De Bané, P.C.:
That the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament study and make the necessary recommendations on the advisability of
amending Senate practice so that bills tabled during a parliamentary session
can be reintroduced at the same procedural stage in the following
parliamentary session, with a view to including in the Rules of the Senate,
a procedure that already exists in the House of Commons and would increase the
efficiency of our parliamentary process; and
That the committee report to the Senate no later than June 8, 2006.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, if I may, I would
like to resume my speech at the point where the sitting was adjourned.
As you know, we are still at the beginning of a new session and that is why
it is essential that we find an appropriate way to focus on other issues.
Canadians have a right to receive satisfactory answers. It is time for a change
in terms of the Senate's reputation, the efficiency of parliamentary work, and
our responsibility to Canadians.
As such, out of respect for honourable senators, for Canadian citizens, for
the experts who appear before committees and for all of the people who do the
research, we should adopt this motion. In doing so, we will demonstrate our
value as legislators as well as the value of our legislation.
I move that we refer this motion to the Standing Committee on Rules,
Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.
Hon. Lise Bacon, pursuant to notice of May 9, 2006, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications be
authorized to examine and report on current and potential future containerized
freight traffic handled at, and major inbound and outbound markets served by,
i) Pacific Gateway container ports
ii) east coast container ports and
iii) central container ports
and current and appropriate future policies relating thereto; and
That the committee submit its final report no later than March 31, 2007.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, as usual, I would like to ask the Chair of the Standing Senate
Committee on Transport and Communications why this study should be done and what
it would it entail.
Senator Bacon: Honourable senators, I asked Senator Tkachuk, who is
the deputy chairman of the committee, to give the explanation, but he left me
his notes, which I have in front of me.
Containerization is regarded by some as the most significant shipping
innovation of the 21st century. Container technology dramatically lowered the
costs of transporting goods over great distances, facilitating the globalization
of supply chains and the realization of benefits from trade liberalization.
While containerization has been streamlining logistics since the 1950s, it
continues to evolve and stimulate trade. Growth in containerized freight traffic
outpaced economic growth in North America over the last decade, and there is
every indication that growth in the volume of containerized freight will
The Senate of Canada needs to conduct a study of containerized freight
traffic flowing through our ports and across our country because, without timely
analysis and vision, a significant economic opportunity could pass us by.
The volume of containerized freight in Canada is expected to double, some say
even triple, by 2015, and before that happens we need to understand where
containers using our ports are coming from, where containers go when they leave
our ports, whether our transportation system will be able to handle the
anticipated growth in the containerized traffic; and, most important, our
communities across Canada can take part and add value to the logistics chain.
The infrastructure investment that may be needed to make the most of this
opportunity will take considerable time and planning to realize, so the sooner
we analyze the situation, the better.
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. Joseph A. Day, for Senator Meighen, pursuant to notice of May 9,
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be
authorized to undertake a study on:
(a) the services and benefits provided to members of the Canadian
Forces, veterans of war and peacekeeping missions and members of their
families in recognition of their services to Canada, in particular examining:
access to priority beds for veterans in community hospitals;
availability of alternative housing and enhanced home care;
standardization of services throughout Canada;
monitoring and accreditation of long term-care facilities;
(b) the commemorative activities undertaken by the Department of
Veterans Affairs to keep alive for all Canadians the memory of the veterans'
achievements and sacrifices;
(c) the implementation of the recently enacted Veterans Charter;
That the papers and evidence received and taken during the First Session of
the Thirty-eighth Parliament be referred to the Committee; and
That the Committee report to the Senate from time to time, no later than
June 30, 2007.
He said: Honourable senators, this is the reference for the Subcommittee on
Veterans Affairs. It is substantially the same reference as in the previous
Parliament, except that honourable senators will know that the Veterans Charter
has now been enacted. We are proposing in subsection (c) to follow the
implementation of the Veterans Charter. Apart from that, this reference is
substantially the same as the previous one. We wish to continue that work.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is there further debate?
Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Has there been any evaluation of the budget
that would be required for this study? Such a budget would have to go through
the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. It is
not that I am opposed to it, but, from now on, as far as I am concerned, as at
the United Nations now, we have to evaluate items. It used to be a wish and then
after that there were budgets that became unlimited. This is just to have some
discipline. If the reference is the same, that is okay. I want to know, because
it is a good cause, it is okay, it is perfect. However, each committee that
requires a study should come with a feasibility study with a dollar amount
attached to it as much as possible as to what it will cost.
Senator Day: I thank the honourable senator for his question. That is
the chicken and egg question. It is always difficult for us to know what it will
cost until we know what we are entitled to do. However, as the honourable
senator will recall, our former colleague Senator Lynch-Staunton brought this
issue before us on many occasions. The committee has not at this stage set down
specific items that it wishes to study from this reference, other than visiting
hospitals to determine if the priority beds for veterans are being properly
attended to. They are the specific items that appear in the motion. From that,
we may get another more specific reference that we may have to come back to the
Senate to request direction on.
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?