Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, in the late 1970s, the
Canadian Multiple Sclerosis Society chose the month of May as Multiple Sclerosis
Awareness Month in Canada. During the month, volunteers and staff at all levels
organize numerous public awareness activities.
Canada has one of the highest rates of multiple sclerosis in the world.
Multiple Sclerosis, MS, is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the
central nervous system — the brain and the spinal cord. The disease attacks the
protective myelin covering of the central nervous system, causing inflammation
and often destroying the myelin in patches. In its most common form, MS has
well-defined attacks followed by remission. At the time of diagnosis, it is
difficult for doctors to predict the severity of MS, its progression and
specific symptoms. The people afflicted with MS and their families have great
difficulty living with this disease.
There is no known cause or cure for MS. There are an estimated 50,000
Canadians living with the disease. Each day, three Canadians learn they have MS
and this statistic puts Canada as the world leader in the incidence of this
Canada is also a world leader in multiple sclerosis research. I believe that
a major reason for this is that Canadian researchers collaborate with each other
and with other researchers around the world.
Dr. Brenda Banwell, at the Hospital for Sick Children, Dr. Amit Bar-Or, Dr.
Douglas Arnold, at the Montreal Neurological Institute; and Dr. Dessa Sadovnick,
at the University of British Columbia, are leading a study of children with MS
at 22 hospitals in 17 Canadian cities from Victoria to St. John's.
Dr. Sadovnick and Dr. George Ebers, formerly of the University of Western
Ontario and now a professor at Oxford, lead the Canadian collaborative project
on genetic susceptibility.
The MS Scientific Research Foundation and the MS Society of Canada fund the
multi-million dollar research projects that I have mentioned.
Canada is pre-eminent in research in leading the fight against this terrible
disease. I am sure that honourable senators will respond enthusiastically when
you see volunteers selling carnations or coming to your door for a donation.
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, I rise today to draw
your attention to the Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie, which was held
last weekend in St. Boniface, Manitoba. This nineteenth ministerial conference
since 1971 was organized by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.
The theme of the conference was conflict prevention and human security.
The OIF ministerial conferences are held between each Francophonie Summit.
The purpose of these conferences is usually to follow up on the decisions made
at the last summit and to prepare for the next one. The next summit, honourable
senators, will be held in September in Bucharest, Romania.
The conference in St. Boniface was held under the auspices of the Secretary
General of the OIF, former Senegalese President, Abdou Diouf, whom many
honourable senators here know and respect deeply for his immense wisdom and
The conference in St. Boniface brought together the ministers of foreign
affairs from over 20 member countries of the Francophonie, including Canada. The
conference had two main objectives:
increased and more effective participation by the OIF in international
peacekeeping initiatives, by providing training and technical assistance; and
closer partnership between the OIF and other international bodies such as
the United Nations.
Honourable senators, as I often tell you, la Francophonie is an international
reality. It has its importance and its usefulness. The conference in St.
Boniface is a good reminder of the key role the Francophonie plays in our world
and Canada's place in it.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, the Auditor General's May
2006 report indicates that the former government has seriously misled
parliament. Honourable senators will recall that in 2002, the centre's records
were in such a mess that Sheila Fraser had to abandon her audit.
While progress has been made since 2002, there remain what the Auditor
General terms "major difficulties," including the existence of long-standing
problems in the long-gun registration database. This means that the Canadian
Firearms Centre does not have a clue as to how many of its firearms records are
correct or incomplete.
The Canadian Firearms Centre's new and improved management team bungled the
new computer system. Originally budgeted at $32 million, costs for the centre
have soared to $90 million, and the system is still not operational. Canadians
have been lied to about the results in the long-gun registry's past and
To quote the Auditor General:
Parliament's control over the public purse hinges on its voting of annual
appropriations to fund departments, signalling its approval of their spending
plans. Reporting of departments' expenditures accurately against their annual
appropriation cost is thus a cornerstone of parliamentary control.
As parliamentarians, we rely on the information that the government provides
us when we vote supply, or when we attempt to hold the government accountable.
We are now told that the performance reports of the Canadian Firearms Centre
misled Parliament on how well licensing and registration activities have
performed. We are told that the centre ignored government contracting rules, as
well as Treasury Board rules that require proper records to be kept of meetings
where decisions were made. We are told that, rather than come clean on their
spending, they hid it. We learn that the former government, after being given
legal advice in early 2004 that the registry needed extra spending authority
before the end of the fiscal year, through a Supplementary Estimate, went out
and illegally spent $22 million.
Honourable senators will recall that in January 2004, a new Liberal Prime
Minister was trying to make it look like he had the gun registry's costs under
control; it would appear that he did not.
This is a program that we were originally told would only cost $2 million.
The price tag is now $1 billion and rising.
Had Parliament been told in 1995 that it would cost $1 billion to set up the
gun registry, we might have had an informed debate as to whether this money
would be better spent on policing. The fact is that the current firearms
registry system is broken and the previous government was unable to fix it.
I heartily applaud the announcement by the Minister of Public Safety this
afternoon for reduced spending, with the millions of dollars saved to be
redirected to fighting crime. I also applaud the many other necessary and urgent
changes to the registry itself, including offering amnesty for one year to those
who have not yet registered their unrestricted arms, as well as waiving fees
this year for those who have already registered.
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, last Wednesday, the Secretary
General of La Francophonie, Mr. Abdou Diouf, arrived in Canada to begin an
official visit. The high point of his visit was the Ministerial Conference of La
Francophonie on Conflict Prevention and Human Security.
Mr. Diouf came at the invitation of Canada and yet, quite contrary to usual
practice, no member of the Canadian government was at the airport to meet him.
Worse yet, to add insult to injury, despite his diplomatic passport, Mr. Diouf
was subjected to a body search on his arrival here. It is distressing to note
the Conservative government's complete insensitivity to the visit by a dignitary
of such importance as the Secretary General of the Organisation internationale
de la Francophonie. It did not surprise me at all, however, because in its
treatment of Mr. Diouf, this government simply remained true to itself; that is,
indifferent to Canada's francophone community.
Indeed, nowhere among the priorities of the Conservative government is there
any mention of protecting francophones outside Quebec and developing the French
language in minority language communities. Furthermore, as regards the
francophone community in Quebec, attached as it is to the growth of the
language, we cannot fail to notice this government's most regrettable absence of
cultural awareness. It may be the apostle of law and order, but culture is quite
I am not saying this today to score political points. There is no need to do
that, because the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Bev Oda, has said it so well,
if we are to believe Mario Cloutier in La Presse of May 11. According to
the minister herself, Canadians care little about culture.
That is a comforting statement on the intentions of the government. It is not
Canadians who care little about culture, but rather the government under the
leadership of the minister responsible. With its total silence on the
Francophonie, its lukewarm approach to bilingualism and its staggering lack of
understanding of the strategic role of culture in Canada, this government keeps
What a contrast with the time when I was Deputy Premier of Quebec, and Mr.
Diouf, already a remarkable and dignified statesman, welcomed me to Senegal with
all the honours and savoir-faire of his diplomatic corps.
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, yesterday, in response to my
question on the right to terminate pregnancy, the Leader of the Government in
the Senate made the following statement:
The only private member's bills that have ever been tabled in the other
place, or at least in the last Parliament, were by Liberal members of
I would like to clarify a few things. Several hours of research in the House
of Commons Hansard revealed that the Liberals did not introduce any bills about
ending a pregnancy during the last Parliament. However, Conservative member
Garry Breitkreuz introduced two motions on this subject during the Thirty-eighth
Parliament. Also during that Parliament, on December 3, 2004, another
Conservative member, Maurice Vellacott, introduced Bill C-307, restricting
women's right to abortion.
Honourable senators, I know that the Leader of the Government is pro-choice.
I sincerely hope that we can count on her and her leadership to convince members
of her caucus that women who choose to end a pregnancy do so not by pleasure but
by necessity. I will take on the task of convincing dissidents within my own
party of this. If we work together, we can put an end to this debate.
Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, today, May 17, is Canada's
National Day Against Homophobia. This day was recognized for the first time
three years ago by the Quebec-based Fondation Emergence, an organization
dedicated to fighting homophobia. It is also the second International Day
Against Homophobia, otherwise known as IDAHO. It is held 16 years to the day
after the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of
mental illnesses. This year, IDAHO will be recognized in some 50 countries. It
was endorsed by the European Parliament in its January 18 resolution condemning
homophobia, as well as by the Belgian Parliament.
Homophobia is discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and
transgendered people because of their sexual orientation. Like so many other
forms of discrimination, homophobia arises from fear and ignorance, when belief
in persistent myths gives rise to negative attitudes and behaviours.
Discrimination can become violent, as seen in the 2001 beating death of Aaron
Webster in Vancouver's Stanley Park. That such incidents happen in our society
is alarming. Covert forms of discrimination remain in our homes, our
communities, our schools and in the workplace, resulting in missed job
opportunities, subtle social and professional exclusions, open harassment and
the terrorization of children.
Setting aside a day to fight homophobia helps promote relationships among
people from all backgrounds and supports the further inclusion of gays,
lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people into society.
Honourable senators, I ask that you join with me in recognizing the
importance of this day because Canada does not want to promote discrimination. I
encourage all honourable senators to continue in the struggle to end
discrimination in whatever form it may take.
The Hon. the Speaker: I draw the attention of honourable senators to
the presence in the gallery of Ms. Margaret Healy, President of the United Irish
Society of Montreal; Ms. Elizabeth Quinn, Vice President of the United Irish
Society of Montreal; Miss Courtney Elizabeth Mullin, Queen of the Montreal St.
Patrick's Day Parade; Miss Catherine Conway, Princess of the Montreal St.
Patrick's Day Parade; and Miss Tara Lee Duffy, Princess of the Montreal St.
Patrick's Day Parade.
All of these women are guests of the Honourable Senator Raymond Lavigne. On
behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government. Senator Munson informed me that Canada's first
female combat death occurred today in Afghanistan. This is a significant event
in our country's post-Second World War military history.
My question for the leader concerns the fact that, in a most precipitous
fashion, the other place is going to debate with very little time, barely six
hours, a motion introduced by the government on the length of our commitment to
the humanitarian mission currently being accomplished by Canadian diplomats,
humanitarians, and soldiers in the nascent democracy of Afghanistan.
Why has the Prime Minister turned to the other place to take such a
difficult, complex, executive decision? It is not in the tradition of our
parliamentary institutions, when we know that those who sit there do not have
the information necessary to take a full and complete decision on such an
incredibly complex and serious matter. Also, the decision ultimately is
non-binding on the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister wish to move to a
state of surrogate cabinet whereby the other House moves into the executive
decision-making of our parliamentary system?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
Honourable Senator Dallaire for that question.
The decision of the Prime Minister and the government to debate this issue, I
believe, speaks for itself. At the request of the opposition, specifically the
NDP, the Prime Minister has committed to a parliamentary debate and a vote on
any new missions. As reported by the Leader of the Opposition after the
opposition's caucus today, the official opposition will listen to the six-hour
debate and then decide how members will vote. It is true that past governments
did not consult either House on important missions like Afghanistan, but this
Prime Minister is determined to do that.
All house leaders of all opposition parties were consulted about this
procedure. They agreed to the process and they agreed to the vote, but that was
yesterday and this is today.
Senator Dallaire: Honourable senators, it is to be noted that the
motion as drafted cannot be amended. It speaks specifically of the length of the
mission and leaves the impression that if one is not in agreement with the
length of the mission, one could, by extension, be considered to be not in
agreement with the mission.
Through this debate, the Prime Minister has created a state of uncertainty
with regard to our political commitment to this mission and to troops who are
already deployed and have been bloodied. Our allies in Afghanistan have already
taken their decisions to commit their forces. As a result of this political
uncertainty with regard to the depth of our commitment, our troops could be
targeted more than those of our allies.
Does the Prime Minister realize that he can ultimately be held accountable
for the extra danger to our troops that may result from this totally artificial
decision-making process in the other House?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I should like to think that
there is no wavering on our decision to be in Afghanistan. I hope that there is
no political uncertainty about it, despite what some members of the opposition
and some media might say.
The Afghanistan government and our 35 allies in Afghanistan are looking to
Canada to extend our mission for an additional two years, from February 2007 to
February 2009. As many opposition politicians have said, and as the honourable
senator knows from his past experience, it takes time to prepare for these
missions. Therefore, it is important to get moving on this matter.
The extension of the mission would be a substantial commitment, possibly
including the resumption of command of the UN mission in 2008, although we have
not yet been asked by NATO to do that.
The debate and vote on this subject is justified at this time. The two-year
commitment is consistent with planning by key allies. Both the United Kingdom
and the Netherlands will deploy provincial reconstruction teams and battle
groups into southern Afghanistan by the summer of 2006. The British will deploy
for up to three years and the Dutch will deploy for two years.
The extension of this mission is in keeping with our commitments to our NATO
allies on the situation in Afghanistan which, by all accounts, is starting to
bear positive results, not only on the human rights side, particularly with
regard to women and children, but also for Afghanis who are trying to rebuild
and conduct their daily lives freely and openly.
Senator Dallaire: Honourable senators, if the government's conviction
and commitment is so clear and firm, why must they go through this process in
such a precipitous fashion that will have no binding effect on the Prime
Minister and his cabinet?
If it is the wish of the government to have the House of Commons and
potentially the Senate involved in the executive decision-making of the
government, they might wish to consider creating a joint committee that could
look at complex subjects such as this. Such a committee could have the necessary
resources and take the necessary time to make responsible decisions that affect
the lives of Canadians who are working in far-off lands.
Senator LeBreton: The Prime Minister and the government are in no way
shirking their executive decision-making powers. What we are doing is something
Canada had committed to for some time. The government is responding to the calls
of the opposition to consult with the elected members of Parliament in regard to
their views on these major decisions.
I would think that that is what the Canadian public supports and desires,
that they would want to know exactly how their parliamentarians feel about these
decisions while fully understanding that the government has the right to make
In a free and open society, which is certainly what we are trying to create
in Afghanistan, it is prudent and respectful to hear the views of
parliamentarians on issues. That is a healthy sign, not something that should be
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate
advise as to whether the Prime Minister and his cabinet will be bound by the
outcome of the vote on this issue that will take place in the other House?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I will answer that question in
a hopeful manner. I imagine this issue will create an interesting debate. At the
end of the day, I cannot imagine a scenario whereby most parliamentarians in
this country would not support a motion after an open debate on an important
mission in an area where Canada is making a real contribution.
Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my
question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate with respect to the
field of agriculture, prompted by the serious distress we see in the Canadian
agricultural sector, particularly with respect to grains and oilseeds.
The budget announced a commitment of $755 million made by the previous
government towards the Grains and Oilseeds Payment Program, an additional $500
million as referred to in the Conservative platform, plus another $1 billion for
2006-07 in response to the serious crisis. More money is needed.
Most important, while the $755 million is being disbursed, $1.5 billion is
not. The Minister of Agriculture stated that he did not want to distribute these
funds on an ad hoc basis.
My question is: When will these monies be available for Canadian farmers in
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for his question.
I understand that the Minister of Agriculture is working on this issue almost
as we speak. I will undertake to provide the honourable senator with a precise
answer as soon as possible.
Senator Hays: The minister has made it clear that he did not favour an
ad hoc program for disbursement of these funds.
I wish to remind the leader and honourable senators of the words spoken by
the then Leader of the Opposition, Stephen Harper, regarding an emergency debate
touching on agriculture, which dates back to February 3 of last year. He said:
We are looking at severe problems on top of what we already have as we
approach this year's planting and seeding. This problem has to be addressed
Do I take it from the difference in position articulated by the Minister of
Agriculture and the position held by our current Prime Minister when he was in
opposition that they are in disagreement as to how this matter should be dealt
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for the question.
As I said in an earlier answer, Budget 2006 did make good on our commitment
to farmers, announcing an additional $2 billion over two years for agriculture.
Budget 2006 provides an additional $1.5 billion for 2006-07. This includes $500
million for farm support, plus a one-time investment of $1 billion to assist
farmers in the transition to more effective programming for farm income
stabilization and disaster relief. There is also $200 million to help chicken
farmers prevent and fight avian influenza, and, as I have stated previously,
farmers are receiving an accelerated payment of $755 million under the Grains
and Oilseeds Payment Program, one of the first undertakings of our government.
With regard to further payments, as I stated in my previous answer, I will
undertake to provide an immediate answer.
Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): I appreciate the
minister's recital, some of which I had already pointed out in a positive way.
Will the government now recognize that agriculture is one of the great
priorities that the budget should be focused on — it is too late to focus on it
in the Speech from the Throne — although it does not have many words, less than
half a page, on agriculture.
Will the minister please take the message back that we in this place, on this
side, are wondering why the plight of Canadian agriculture is not characterized
as a priority, and ask that it be made a priority?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Agriculture
certainly is a major concern to the government. I hasten to point out that we
have been here 100 days plus one. The situation that the farmers in this country
face did not develop just since January 23. Minister Strahl, the Minister of
Agriculture, is and has been working diligently with other provincial ministers
of agriculture and farm leaders. Minister Strahl made several announcements in
Calgary a week ago and he is working hard to resolve this problem.
I will obtain a timetable of any future payments from the Minister of
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate.
On page 19 of its election platform, the Conservative Party promised to:
Provide real help for Canadian workers and businesses coping with illegal
American trade actions....We will continue to help pay the legal bills of
Canadian businesses that are fighting American softwood lumber tariffs. We
will support displaced forestry workers.
Commit to investing $1 billion over five years to support Canada's softwood
To date, after 100 days in office, the government has broken all of the above
promises. How does this government plan to honour any of these commitments when
it has forced an agreement on Canada, removing the ability to help the industry
and its workers?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for the question.
As Senator Ringuette said when I was answering questions a week or so ago,
"Well, at least you can read," and I do have our platform here.
The softwood lumber agreements were widely applauded because we finally put
in place a mechanism for resolving this trade irritant that was consuming
industry, governments and politicians on both sides of the border.
As the honourable senator pointed out, we have only been here for 101 days.
Minister Emerson has stated that this deal protects provincial forest management
policies that have been the subject of American litigation for years. It creates
a framework of certainty and stability. It provides an assurance that our
policies will be safe in the future.
Specific language on the anti-circumvention provisions will be carefully
developed over the coming months.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: The Conservative government may try to
muzzle its caucus, but when push comes to shove, they are not honouring their
commitments. This government is trying to hide the reality of the softwood
agreement from Canadians.
This is the third time I have asked this question: Will the Leader of the
Government in the Senate table in this house this potential softwood agreement,
thus putting a dent in this culture of secrecy and refer this document for full
study to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I do not think anybody who has watched me or most members of our caucus would
for one moment suggest that we have ever been muzzled. Quite the opposite is
In any event, I will take the honourable senator's question as notice.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of
the Government in the Senate.
The Public Service Commission recently posted a public competition for a
senior assistant deputy minister position for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities
Agency. The position is for vice-president of the Prince Edward Island regional
There is great concern by federal public servants in Prince Edward Island
that the posting for this position, which pays $115,000 to $135,000 per year,
was designed by part-time ACOA Minister Peter MacKay to favour a Conservative
political operative in Prince Edward Island.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate commit to this chamber that
Prime Minister Harper will ensure that the minister responsible for ACOA will
not interfere and that the proper procedure will be followed in hiring for this
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
this question comes a day after we tried to put in place an appointments
commission that would oversee an appointments process that would be transparent,
fair and open to the public.
Minister MacKay is the minister responsible for Prince Edward Island. In a
previous Parliament, Minister Don Jamieson, from Newfoundland and Labrador, was
the minister responsible for P.E.I. There are many precedents for ministers from
other provinces being responsible for P.E.I.
There are also many past examples of when the government did not have
representatives in Prince Edward Island and another government member from
another province took over political responsibility for that province.
I can say quite simply that whoever is hired for this important position in
ACOA, they will undoubtedly and most assuredly be a very qualified individual
who will ably carry out his or her responsibilities in this post.
Senator Cordy: Honourable senators, I find it interesting that the
position of vice-president of ACOA requires English essential only in language
proficiency while another recently posted position for ACOA in Prince Edward
Island for someone who will work under the vice-president requires bilingual
imperative language proficiency. Why is there a difference between the two
postings? ACOA should not stand for "Atlantic Conservatives Opportunities
Has the position of vice-president been tailored to ensure that a friend of
the minister gets the job?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, this is interesting. You will
get tired of hearing me say we have only been here for 101 days. I very much
doubt that anybody in our government would be foolish enough to tell the Public
Service Commission how to do its work.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, could the Leader of the Government in the Senate also ascertain for
us, while she is at it, whether this ad for English only essential employment
was, as the law requires, published in media in both official languages in
Prince Edward Island.
Senator LeBreton: I will find that out for the honourable senator. The
Public Service Commission is obviously responsible for hiring within the public
service. I will be interested to hear what they have to say in answer to that
question, because I am unaware of it myself.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader
of the Government in the Senate.
After the l'École Polytechnique murders, stronger gun laws were passed in
1991. In 1995, Parliament passed a law requiring all gun owners to be licensed
and guns to be registered. As a result, from 1991 to 2002, the homicide rate
with rifles and shotguns has fallen by 68 per cent. Recently, Tony Cannavino,
President of the Canadian Professional Police Association, said that gun crimes
are not committed only by handguns, and that the last six or seven police
officers were killed with long guns.
With this fact in mind, I want to ask the Leader of the Government in the
Senate if she believes this government's decision to do an end-run around the
democratic process and eliminate the long-gun registry is a wise one?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
anyone who purchases a gun must get a licence. The media, and some people who
should know better, deliberately confuse the issue of gun control and the
I have learned some things from television reports about police officers on
the street who deal with illegal guns that are not registered. There is a notion
that there are 5,000 inquiries a day. There are 5,000 inquiries, but in that
registry there are also semi-automatic guns and handguns. The fact that they
make 5,000 inquiries does not necessarily mean that the inquiry has produced any
meaningful results or answers. Many police officers have said that is the case.
Gun control is a law in this country. The issue is the long-gun registry. The
Auditor General pointed out not only how Parliament was deliberately misled, or
even worse, but also that even when people were sent notices that their licences
were revoked, 23 per cent of the notices came back as undeliverable mail. The
registry has clearly not worked. No one who has known the victim of any kind of
crime, but particularly a crime involving gun violence, would ever support any
move to not have the strong gun control laws that we already have. These laws
were brought in by Conservative governments, first, in 1934, and then again in
Senator Milne: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question
for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. If the Canadian Association of
Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Professional Police Association, more than 40
women's associations, the Centre for Suicide Prevention, the Canadian Pediatric
Society and the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians all agree that the
firearms registry is worth supporting, why would this government not keep one of
the critical elements of this program in place? Today, the cost of registering
guns in Canada is about $15.7 million a year. About $10 million of that
represents the cost of registering rifles and shotguns.
Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate believe that $10 million a
year is too high a price to pay to ensure the safety of Canada's police
officers? Is $10 million too heavy a financial burden for this government to
carry to assist in the prevention of crimes involving long guns in Canada?
Senator LeBreton: Would that be $10 million hidden or not hidden? That
would be my answer. In fact, in today's Ottawa Sun the former Chief of
Police of the City of Ottawa said that the Liberals lied to him. Most ordinary
people read the Ottawa Sun and I consider myself an ordinary person.
The fact is that criminals use illegal guns in most of the illegal acts that
take place on our streets. I certainly support strong gun control laws that
protect the lives of all men, women and children.
The long-gun registry does not work and it has been very costly. There is
still a registry that the police can consult. I do not believe the registry has
to contain the names of farmers. My father was a farmer and had a gun, but my
father would never consider using that gun for any illegal purpose. I believe
that the long-gun registry should be dealt with, but we should still support our
very strong gun control laws.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Will the minister obtain a copy of the statement,
that the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness made on this
matter? I have not seen the statement, but I saw some news reports just before I
came in and I have the impression, listening to the exchange, that some of the
questions and, if I may say so, some of the answers, have not taken account of
the statement. Would the honourable Leader of the Government obtain a copy of
the statement and table it here before we adjourn?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I will get a copy of that statement. Briefly, I will run over a few of the
things Minister Day announced today.
I do not have the actual statement, but I can outline the immediate actions
that the minister announced today. The first action is to transfer
responsibility for the operations of the Canada Firearms Centre to the RCMP and
the second is to reduce the annual operating budget for the program by $10
million a year. Minister Day announced the implementation of a refund and waiver
of renewal fees for firearms licences and the elimination of the requirement for
physical verification of long guns. A one-year amnesty will protect previously
licensed owners and the owners of non-restricted firearms from prosecution and
encourage them to comply with the current laws.
Honourable senator, the Liberal government had 10 years to complete this
registry and it could not administer it properly. Why not give ordinary,
law-abiding citizens another year? The amnesty is an important part of the
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting a delayed answer to an oral question
raised in the Senate by Senator Banks on April 6, 2006, in regard to funding for
(Response to question raised by Hon. Tommy Banks on April 6, 2006)
As Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, I can advise
the Senator that since April of last year, my department leads and
facilitates, through the Office of Greening Government Operations, the
implementation of a government-wide approach to the greening of government
We work very closely with many departments. Through steering groups which
meet regularly, we bring together departments to make significant, measurable
progress in improving the environmental performance of government operations.
This includes a focus on such key areas as reducing building energy
consumption, improved fleet management, and green procurement. This progress
has been monitored at a high level at Treasury Board Secretariat, Environment
Canada, and Public Works and Government Services Canada.
The government, under the leadership of the Minister of Natural Resources,
is putting in place a made-in Canada plan for reducing greenhouse gas
emissions. It has already been announced that a few programs are winding down.
Among those already announced is one program component of the Federal House in
Order initiative which has completed its work. This component provided
one-time demonstration funding for energy efficient practices and renewable
technologies in Government of Canada facilities. The majority of climate
change programs, including the remaining program components of the Federal
House in Order initiative, are undergoing a review and funding decisions have
not yet been made.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to
notice of May 16, 2006, moved:
That at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, May 18, 2006, if the business of the Senate has
not been completed, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings to adjourn the
That should a vote be deferred until 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, 2006,
the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings at 2:30 p.m. to suspend the
sitting until 5:30 p.m. for the taking of the deferred vote;
That the Address of the Prime Minister of Australia, to be delivered in the
Chamber of the House of Commons at 3:00 p.m. that day before Members of the
Senate and the House of Commons, together with all introductory and related
remarks, be printed as an Appendix to the Debates of the Senate of that
day, and form part of the permanent records of this House; and
That when the Senate adjourns on Thursday, May 18, 2006, it do stand
adjourned until Tuesday, May 30, 2006, at 2:00 p.m.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to
notice of May 16, 2006, moved:
That the Senate send an Address to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second,
expressing the heartiest good wishes and congratulations of all Senators on
the occasion of her eightieth birthday.
He said: Honourable senators, I think that we all agree that Her Majesty is a
remarkable woman. She was born on April 21, 1926, daughter of the Duke of York,
who later became King George VI.
As a young woman during the Second World War, Princess Elizabeth joined the
British army and became a symbol of hope. At the age of 21, she pledged that her
whole life, be it short or long, would be devoted to serving the people of the
Her Majesty has deep respect and admiration for Canada and its people, and we
have deep respect and admiration for our Queen. It is therefore a very great
honour for me, seconded by Senator Fraser, to move this motion marking the
birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I want to add my
voice to that of Senator Comeau.
Honourable senators will be familiar with the phrase "Your Gracious
Majesty." I can think of no one to whom the adjective applies more
appropriately than to Queen Elizabeth II. She is indeed a woman of rare grace,
rare elegance and rare dedication to duty, who has in her long and distinguished
reign shown particular affection for this country. We on this side are pleased
to support the motion.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to join today with
colleagues in wishing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of Canada, a
happy birthday. Queen Elizabeth turned 80 on April 21. Next Monday, May 22,
commonly described as the Queen's birthday, or Victoria Day, Canadians will
formally celebrate the Queen's birthday. Next Monday was chosen by the Royal
Proclamation as a formal day of celebration of Queen Elizabeth's birthday. I
would like to put that proclamation on the record, and I am reading from the
Canada Gazette of February 27, 1957.
Proclaimed for Celebration
ELIZABETH THE SECOND, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and
Her other Realms and Territories, QUEEN, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of
To All To Whom these Presents shall come or whom the same may in anywise
concern — Greeting:
Whereas Our birthday falling on the twenty-first day of April it is thought
fit to appoint the first Monday immediately preceding the twenty-fifth day of
May as the day on which Our birthday is to be officially celebrated in Canada
in 1957 and each year thereafter.
Now Know Ye that we do hereby proclaim and declare by this Our Proclamation
that the first Monday immediately preceding the twenty-fifth day of May is
hereby fixed for the celebration in Canada of Our birthday in the year of Our
Lord one thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven and each year thereafter.
Of All Which Our Loving Subjects and all others whom these Presents may
concern are hereby required to take notice and to govern themselves
In Testimony Whereof We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent and
the Great Seal of Canada to be hereunto affixed. Witness: Our Right Trusty and
Well-beloved Counsellor, Vincent Massey, Member of Our Order of the
companions of Honour, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.
At Our Government House in Our City of Ottawa, this Thirty-first day of
January in the year of Our Lord, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven and
in the Fifth Year of Our Reign.
Under Secretary of State.
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
Honourable senators will know that I am pained by the systematic erosion of
the monarch and the monarchical system in Canada, and that I uphold the Royal
Family at all times. My commitment to Her Majesty began when she was still a
young woman and I a young child. I recall most vividly her coronation in 1953.
Her Majesty, too, then took an oath, the Coronation Oath, swearing a commitment
to her subjects, to mercy, to justice and to God.
I was then a child of nine years, in Barbados, the British West Indies, in
the first form of my school, Queen's College, the oldest girls' school in the
British Empire. The school was situated on many acres of land, with games
fields, hockey fields and three tennis courts, named Queen's College in honour
of Queen Victoria.
In honour of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, my school, Queen's
College, staged a pageant, an outdoor play, in which one student, an upper form
girl, dramatically mounted side-saddle on a horse, played Queen Elizabeth I
delivering her inspiring address to her own troops poised for battle at Tilbury
in 1588, as they awaited the approach of the Spanish Armada. Queen Elizabeth I
I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and
stomach of a king and of a king of England too; and think foul scorn that
Parma and Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of
Queen Elizabeth I then told her troops that leadership is about heart and
stomach, lion-heartedness in duty and service to God, Queen and country.
Honourable senators, those words influenced my life profoundly. At the time
of that pageant, in celebration of the coronation in 1953, I had one particular
school mistress who had actually attended the coronation ceremony at
Westminster, in London, on June 2, 1953. I vividly recall her accounts of the
event. That school mistress was Grace Adams, the wife of one of the leading
political figures of Barbados, later premier, and later Sir Grantley Adams, when
she became Lady Grace Adams.
Honourable senators, my childhood was dotted with her accounts of great
public men, public service and civic responsibility. I also vividly remember
that same school mistress giving accounts of the great British social reformers,
parliamentarians like William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury.
Honourable senators, I am an ardent supporter of Her Majesty, and of our
system of government known as constitutional monarchy. The Queen, Her Majesty,
is the actuating power in our Constitution. For all bills that we pass she is
the enacting power. It is Her Majesty's Royal Assent that gives the bill the
force of law. The seat of government in Ottawa is Government House. The
Parliament of Canada is the Senate, the House of Commons and the Queen. Her
Majesty the Queen is the caput, principium, et finis; that is, the head,
the beginning and the end of Parliament, hence the term "the Queen in Her
Honourable senators, I have looked for a quotation that embodies the
importance of Her Majesty in Parliament in our Constitution. I would like to put
on the record a statement from Benjamin Disraeli, the Prime Minister of the
United Kingdom in the late 1800s. In his 1852 book, Lord George Bentinck: A
Political Biography, he described the true force and meaning of the enacting
power of the Royal Assent by the Queen. He wrote:
As a branch of the legislature whose decision is final, and therefore last
solicited, the opinion of the sovereign remains unshackled and uncompromised
until the assent of both houses has been received. Nor is this veto of the
English monarch an empty form. It is not difficult to conceive the occasion
when, supported by the sympathies of a loyal people, its exercise might defeat
an unconstitutional ministry and a corrupt parliament.
Honourable senators, I always try to make the point that the actuating power
in our Constitution is Her Majesty and it is very real: It is no vestige, it is
no ornament and it is no ceremonial fact.
Honourable senators, I should like to wish Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the
daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, a very happy
eightieth birthday. I should also like to take the opportunity to wish her many
more happy birthdays.
I thank her, her husband and her family for the many decades of dedication,
commitment and service to her people, subjects in Canada. I also thank her and
her family for the leading role that they played during the Second World War in
sustaining the British people and the British Empire people who carried that war
by themselves for several years. I thank her for all of that.
Honourable senators, Canadians young and old, veterans and non-veterans, men
and women, hold Her Majesty in deep affection. I say, "God bless the Queen." I
say, "Long may she reign over us," — very, very long — and I say, "She has a
special place in my heart and in my head," and I would submit in the hearts and
the heads of many Canadians.
If honourable senators doubt that, we should have witnessed Juno Beach a
couple of years ago when all eyes of our veterans were on Her Majesty. All eyes
were on Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, because of her long connection to
history, of her long connection to Canada, and of the role that she herself and
her parents especially, the Queen Mother and King George VI, played in
sustaining Canadians through a terrible time of warfare when Canadian men and
women were engaged in the theatres of war.
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?
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Munson calling the
attention of the Senate to the issue of funding for the treatment of autism.—(Honourable
Senator Di Nino)
Hon. Ione Christensen: Honourable senators, I wish to thank Senator
Munson for raising the inquiry on autism. Incidence of ASD, in all its many
forms, is now at one out of every 166 children. In the 1970s, it was rarely
diagnosed. It is now 10 times what was experienced just 20 years ago.
The challenges are many. Be it autism, FASD, schizophrenia, MPS or Down's
syndrome, just to name a few, the children with these damaged brains and bodies
are often referred to as "the angels among us." In the past, they were often
not long with us, but their short lives always left a bright, shining light and
they were never forgotten. Their intellect, their loving nature through
adversity, their insight into what life is all about and their happiness with
small things were gifts that helped others to grow. However, all of this came at
a huge cost to the child, to the parent and to society.
With research and medical advances, these angels are living longer. However,
the financial needs to help them to be productive members of society are much
more than any family can realistically cope with, and the limited coverage under
provincial health care programs is nowhere near enough.
In the United States, the federal funding has more than tripled in the past
10 years for autism; it is now over $100 million. However, by comparison, $500
million was spent on childhood cancer, which affects far fewer children.
There are programs that do work, but they require one-on-one therapy, which
is hugely expensive and offers no ongoing medical coverage. Parents must
literally mortgage their lives to provide for these needs.
With Maroteaux-Lamy syndrome, or MPS, the cost of replacement enzyme
treatment is $200,000 a year, and that is not covered by our health care
systems. MPS is an enzyme deficiency that is very rare; there are only 10 cases
in Canada. I personally know of two of them — one in the Yukon and one in
The cost of FASD to Canadians is upwards of $344 million a year. The cost for
each person affected with FASD is $1 million over their lifetime. There are
4,000 new cases of FASD every year in Canada. Can we really put off taking
I believe that Senator Munson will be asking the Standing Senate Committee on
Social Affairs, Science and Technology to undertake to study the financial needs
and how they can best be addressed. What better than a Senate committee?
However, we should be looking at all afflictions that fall outside of our health
care guidelines. There is a great need.
There should be a special health care fund established to deal with these
very special, difficult and extremely expensive requirements. It could be of
national scope, and available for provinces and territories to draw from.
Over and above the treatment expenses, research chairs should be established
to deal with the prevention — as in the case of FASD — and the causes and the
cures, in the cases of ASD and MPS. With modern medicine, these children are
becoming adults. With care and nurturing, they, for the most part, can be
functional and productive in society. It will be very costly, but without such
assistance they will become non-functional adults and will be dealt with through
institutions, both criminal and otherwise, that is also very costly, I would
argue even more costly than helping in the first instance.
Governments of all stripes are not good at committing to long-term programs,
but this is one area where funding must be ongoing to be of any help. We must
find ways to accommodate the need. The burden on a parent to help such children
is enormous. The responsibility to help these angels rests with all society and
the governments that society puts in place to represent them.
Hon. Madeleine Plamondon: Would the senator accept a question?
Senator Christensen: Yes.
Senator Plamondon: What does the honourable senator mean by "being
productive in society?" I have the feeling that if we are to obtain funding, we
must always include the buzzwords "productive in society."
Not every Canadian will be able to be productive and they will still need
care. Could the honourable senator elaborate more on what she means by
Senator Christensen: I thank the honourable senator for the question.
Without any assistance in providing for treatment and therapy, all of those
children will grow up as a burden on society. With assistance and care, some of
those children will be able to function well in society. For example, Fetal
Alcohol Syndrome Disorder is preventable but, once afflicted, a child will be a
burden on society and will need ongoing assistance for life. If the inquiry is
referred to committee for further study, the area of funding for ongoing
assistance will certainly be a focus. The honourable senator is right when she
says that being a productive member of society is not the be-all and end-all.
However, many people need continuing assistance and that must be built into the
program as well.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Dallaire calling
the attention of the Senate to the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan and
the importance of Canada's commitment to the people of this war-torn
country.—(Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth)
Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, our government is committed to
doing all that it can to achieve peace in Sudan. This continues to be a major
policy initiative and priority for Canada. To provide context to the situation,
it is helpful to consider the background of the region, its history and the
Honourable senators, Sudan is the largest African country and has the sixth
largest population. It has been embroiled in conflict for almost half a century
and has suffered tremendous instability. Establishing peace in the eastern
African region requires addressing and resolving the instability throughout all
of Sudan, the impact of which is not confined to national borders. The situation
in Sudan must also be addressed and resolved in the context of both the region
and the continent. We cannot hope to end the plight of the people of Darfur and
the rape of women and girls outside the context of peace in the whole of Sudan.
This is reflected in Canada's approach.
Honourable senators, this past January marked the anniversary of the signing
of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which effectively ended Sudan's
long-standing north-south civil war. The conflict had a devastating toll, taking
an estimated two million lives and displacing upward of four million people.
Despite the peace agreement, impacts of the war continue to be felt, and a
massive and ongoing Sudanese and international effort is required to build the
necessary infrastructure to support long-term development in the region and to
ensure that it does not lapse into conflict again. Canada is proud to have
played a part in the role of the peace process that ended the north-south
conflict and is continuing this role, including through our participation in the
United Nations peacekeeping force, which has been deployed to oversee the
At the recent Sudan Consortium, hosted by the World Bank in Paris, Canada
announced that it was ahead of schedule in disbursing its pledge of $90 million
in support of the consolidation of peace in Sudan. This funding includes $40
million for humanitarian assistance over two years; $10 million for
peace-building and good governance initiatives; and $40 million to support the
full implementation of the CPA and reduce poverty. Nearly one third of the
$90-million pledge is specifically earmarked to help the people of Darfur.
Honourable senators, the United Nations estimates that the violence in
Darfur, western Sudan, has displaced roughly two million people and killed tens
of thousands. Today, 200,000 refugees are living in camps in Chad in
increasingly unstable conditions. Canada remains deeply concerned by the
continuing violence, the persistent culture of impunity and especially by the
attacks on civilians in Darfur. Continuing violence in Darfur has been in
violation of the 2004 ceasefire agreement. Canada congratulates the parties on
the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement and is encouraged by the prospect of
an end to the violence and a peaceful future for the people of Darfur. I commend
Canadian officials on the ground in Abuja who have put forth such a tremendous
effort to assist the process both in Africa and at the United Nations in New
Canada has provided both financial and diplomatic support throughout the
peace process. In particular, Canada has contributed to the mainstreaming of
gender as a crucial component to the Darfur peace talks and has provided support
to the African Union to integrate gender concerns into the peace agreement. The
Darfur Peace Agreement makes significant progress on the issues that are
important such as political participation; wealth sharing; humanitarian
development and infrastructure needs; integration of former combatants into
security institutions; democracy building; assistance to the displaced; and,
most important, an end to the violence and rape.
Canada commends the tireless efforts of the African Union mediation team,
which has been instrumental in the progress achieved thus far. Reaching an
agreement is only the first step and implementation and reconciliation must
follow quickly. Canada will be there to support both. As part of our efforts to
promote reconciliation and end impunity in Darfur, Canada is a strong advocate
of the United Nations Security Council's referral of the Darfur situation to the
International Criminal Court and was the first and only nation to make a
$500,000 voluntary contribution to assist with the investigation. Canada
welcomes the UN Security Council decision as an important step toward addressing
the serious crimes alleged by all parties to have been committed in Darfur. We
are confident that the International Criminal Court investigation will
contribute to establishing a lasting peace for the people of Darfur.
Canada has supported the establishment of peace and stability in Darfur. The
African Union took the lead in the international effort to resolve the conflict
by deploying a multinational force of over 7,700 military police and civilian
personnel. The African Union Mission in Sudan, AMIS, is mandated to encourage
the parties to live up to their agreements, to provide protection to civilian
populations and to establish the conditions necessary for the successful
implementation of political agreements. Canada has assumed an internationally
recognized leadership role in support of the African Union's peacekeeping
mission, which was motivated by and is consistent with the principles of R2P —
the responsibility to protect.
Canada is currently one of the mission's top donors. Our contributions to
AMIS total $170 million in logistical, financial and materiel support necessary
to allow the mission to fulfil its mandate. Canada has supplied helicopters,
fixed-wing aircraft and armoured personnel carriers to provide the necessary
mobility for the force's effectiveness. Canada is continuing to provide military
police and civilian experts to assist in the carrying out of their operations.
The AU mission has achieved much under exceptionally difficult circumstances
that would have taxed even the most experienced and well-equipped international
force. Both the AU and the wider international community have recognized that
the time is right for a new phase of international engagement.
The situation demands a new level of international engagement and has led to
a request from the African Union to the United Nations to begin planning for the
transition of the AU mission to a UN mission. This mission will integrate a
peacekeeping force with ongoing, humanitarian, political and development efforts
into one cohesive package. The UN planning effort is well underway. We welcome
the AU's request to the UN. We will continue to work closely with both
organizations and our international partners to provide the necessary support to
succeed in the process.
This UN mission will be able to secure greater humanitarian access which has
to this point been unacceptably restricted, putting at risk the lives of
hundreds of thousands of Darfurians who depend on this assistance.
Canada continues to urge the Government of Sudan to provide unhindered access
to aid workers, as previously agreed to, so that the international community can
provide assistance where needed.
Canada remains deeply concerned about continuing violence and impunity in
Darfur, particularly sexual and gender-based attacks against civilians. Canada
has sought to ensure that protection of civilians would be included in UN
peacekeeping mission mandates and we are pleased that has been the case in the
last seven missions, including the United Nations mission in Sudan. The
important component should be maintained in the new mission's mandate.
The mandate of the current African Union Mission in Sudan covers monitoring
and observation, participation and confidence-building measures, and the
creation of a secure environment. In addition, the mandate authorizes the use of
force to protect civilians under imminent threat of violence, similar to Chapter
VII of the Charter of the United Nations. Canada will work to ensure that the
mandate of a prospective United Nations force is similarly robust.
We support the full and timely implementation of all measures agreed to by
the Security Council, including the use of targeted sanctions regarding the
serious human rights and humanitarian situation in Darfur.
Canada welcomes the recent designation of four individuals for targeted
sanctions as a first step. Those who impede the peace process or constitute a
threat to stability in Darfur and the region cannot go unpunished. In keeping
with all of our Sudan approach, Canada is closely monitoring the situation in
eastern Sudan and we recognize the need for ongoing peace talks.
The humanitarian situation in this region is of great concern, and again
Canada calls for unhindered access by international aid agencies to those in
need in Sudan. Canada is also working to promote longer-term stability and
reconstruction in Sudan by helping to build new government institutions and
We assist civil society organizations and local grassroots community networks
on projects that promote human rights, good governance, access to justice and
In conclusion, honourable senators, we are working in cooperation with the
people of Sudan and our international partners to ensure that the future of
Sudan is peaceful, democratic and prosperous. This is imperative for Sudan,
vital for peace in Africa, and a priority for Canada.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, would the
honourable senator accept a question on the content of her presentation that
reflected the historic participation of Canada? Like so many other developed
countries, we are latecomers, as the people of Darfur were suffering for almost
two years prior to the start of this movement to provide aid and security. A
decision has been taken not to intervene but rather to support the African
Union. For one of the first times, the latter has begun to respond to the urgent
need for security in this country.
However, as you indicated, the capabilities of the African Union are now very
limited. We can support the operation. And, in this context, the urgent need for
a United Nations presence on the ground cannot be minimized. Six million people
are living in extreme poverty and continue to be the victims of rape and attacks
by subversive elements.
Do you not believe that Canada, having supported the African Union, will want
to request a more robust role and a much more concrete and specialized
deployment? With the involvement of the United Nations, should Canada now
propose a military presence that will also assist with the humanitarian work
being carried out in the field?
Senator Nancy Ruth: It is my understanding that it is up to the United
Nations to decide and it is Canada's intention to support the decision.
Senator Dallaire: That is technically correct, except when the UN is
preparing a mission it speaks informally to the contributing countries and asks
whether those countries are interesting in participating in building the force.
That informal discussion happens in parallel with discussion of the mandate in
the Security Council. Once the mandate is approved, a formal request is
submitted to those countries that have demonstrated an interest in deploying.
Do you not think that Canada, in both the informal and formal process, should
have been offering capabilities to form the backbone of a force of developing
countries that have neither the skills nor the equipment to do the job properly?
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is it the will of the
Senate that the time of Senator Nancy Ruth, which has expired, be extended for
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Nancy Ruth: I think that everyone in this chamber is concerned
about Senator Dallaire's comment. I know that Canada is the third-largest donor
to the peace process in Darfur. It is a situation that the government is
monitoring closely minute by minute.
Leave having been given to revert to Tabling of Documents:
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I wish to table, in response to the question of Senator Murray, a press release
of earlier today from Minister Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Security and
Emergency Preparedness, along with questions, answers and statistics on the
long-gun registry and frequently asked questions on changes to the firearms
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Segal, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Keon:
That whenever the Senate is sitting, the proceedings of the upper chamber,
like those of the lower one, be televised, or otherwise audio-visually
recorded, so that those proceedings can be carried live or replayed on CPAC,
or any other television station, at times that are convenient for Canadians.—(Honourable
Hon. Jim Munson: This is Senator Jim Munson reporting live from the
Does that not encourage you, honourable senators, or perhaps scare you?
Honourable senators, now that I have your attention, a month ago, we heard
from my friend Senator Hugh Segal, who put forward a motion to broadcast
proceedings in the Senate. I wish to speak in favour of this motion.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Munson: I come at this issue from two angles. First, I look at
this subject from the point of view of a former journalist and as a believer in
transparency in our democratic institutions. Second, I have a more self-serving
angle as a senator who wants to strengthen this proud institution and to make
more Canadians aware of the good work that we do here. Some senators are
The first point, that of transparency, is a vital one. Canadians, more than
ever, expect parliamentarians to be accountable, to show openly what they are
doing to make this country better. This is entirely reasonable, and we have the
technology and the means at our disposal to meet this expectation.
A well-informed public is in everyone's best interest. Although print media
covers some of what we do in this chamber, our actual work is filtered by
journalists, editors and producers who decide what is newsworthy. This does not
fully meet the need for transparency that Canadians expect.
I believe that by broadcasting our debates, by being more transparent, we
will strengthen this institution by being more accountable. I also believe that
televising, radio broadcasting, webcasting, and let us not forget the newest
and, I am sure, the most popular format amongst my colleagues, podcasting, our
debates will strengthen this institution because of the quality of the debate
that goes on here.
Honourable senators know the qualities that make the Senate unique. We are
representative of different regions. We have better representation from both
women and Aboriginal people. We all bring to the Senate a wealth of personal and
professional experience that, in many cases, is non-political, and none of us
are driven by the desire for re-election when it comes to our position on
certain bills or policies.
I believe that these qualities elevate the tone and breadth of our debate.
Take, for example, the debate on stem cell research that took place a while ago
in this chamber. To hear former Senators Morin and Roche speak to that bill in
such a knowledgeable way, I was profoundly moved by what they were saying. Stem
cell research is a complex issue and what they said was illuminating for me. I
can think of many more examples. I was privileged and moved when I first arrived
here and heard former Senator Chalifoux speak about the rights of Aboriginal
people and to hear Senator Keon speak about his passion for health care reform.
All Canadians would benefit from hearing these debates. Canadians will see
how the work in this chamber is more focused on what is best for this country,
and is notably less partisan in its approach. Many times, different sides of the
chamber agree on issues, and my support of Senator Segal's motion is only one
example. We have a unique and viable way of working together, which is expressed
through constructive debate.
I know there has been some concern about senators using the cameras as an
opportunity to perform or showboat. From my experience in television, I do not
believe that will be the case. I regret to inform honourable senators that
bringing cameras into the chamber will make us more accountable, but will not
win us any Gemini awards, although we may get letters of thanks from insomniacs
who find a cure by watching some of our drier debates and discussions.
The bottom line is that the Senate is not a private club. The Senate is a
place where wise people say wise things, and Canadians should be aware of them.
I heartily support Senator Segal's motion, and I urge all honourable senators to
do the same.
My only concern on this issue is the logistical requirements of broadcasting
our proceedings. A debate on this issue could rage on for months. I believe it
is necessary for a committee to review this issue as quickly as possible. For
example, there is one idea that perhaps, as an experiment, we could have
broadcasting of Question Period only to see how that works.
Honourable senators, this is an issue that must go to a committee to get a
proper understanding of costs, logistics and benefits. With a report coming out
of the committee, I believe senators will be better informed to debate this
issue than they are at the current time. We must move into the future. The
future is now, and broadcasting is now. Broadcasting must happen in this place.
It happens in town halls and city halls across this country. People are watching
their politicians at work. What are we afraid of? Let the cameras in.
That, pursuant to rule 48(1), the question be referred to the Standing
Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it is quite in order,
pursuant to rule 48(1), that when any question is under debate in the chamber,
an honourable senator may move an amendment to that motion, but also may move
that the question that is before the house be referred to a Senate standing
committee. This is what Senator Munson has just done.
Therefore, it is my duty to formally put the question. It was moved by
Senator Munson, seconded by Senator Peterson, that pursuant to rule 48(1), the
question be referred to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the
Rights of Parliament.
This motion is now debatable or adjournable. That is the question that is now
before the house.
Hon. Terry Stratton: There is a point here, Your Honour. When this
normally takes place, you, as Speaker, stand up and state that if the last
speaker who spoke actually has a statement, that closes debate; did you do that,
The Hon. the Speaker: No, I explained the procedure correctly, namely,
that when a matter is before the house, such as this matter, the matter can be
amended by the senator who has the floor at that time, or the matter can be
referred by way of motion by the senator who has the floor. That is what has
The motion that is before the house is the motion to refer the question to
the Senate Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.
It is debatable, amendable, adjournable, et cetera.
On Motion No. 63, by the Honourable Senator St. Germain:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, in accordance
with rule 86 (1)(q) of the Senate, be authorized to examine and report on the
general concerns of First Nations in Canada related to the federal Specific
Claims process, the nature and status of the Government of Canada's Specific
Claims policy, the present administration of the policy, the status of the
Indian Specific Claims Commission, and other relevant matters with a view to
making recommendations to contribute to the timely and satisfactory resolution
of First Nations' grievances arising out of both their treaties with the
federal Crown and the Government of Canada's administration of their lands,
monies, and other affairs under the Indian Act.
That the Committee report to the Senate from time to time, but no later
than June 14, 2007 and that the Committee retain until September 1, 2007, all
powers necessary to publicize its findings.
Hon. Mac Harb: If honourable senators, and in particular, Senator St.
Germain, look at the motion as it stands, namely, the line where we talk about
"other relevant matters," I would like to insert a friendly amendment to this
motion, to read as follows:
Noting that specific claims arise from the Government of Canada's possible
breach or non-fulfillment of lawful obligations found in the treaties and the
Government of Canada has yet to acknowledge and recognize that the historical
fact that the first people, Indian and Inuit, were the first people to inhabit
the land and cultivate its natural resources such as furs, wood, growing of
corn and the making of trails through the wilderness; in the Arctic, further
recognition that the —
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Harb, if we are to get this matter
before us, someone must move the motion. It has not been moved yet.
Senator Harb: I saw the order on the Order Paper.
The Hon. the Speaker: It has yet to be moved, though. Do you wish to
move the motion?
Senator Harb: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker: You are moving it in the name of Senator St.
Senator Harb: No, in my name.
The Hon. the Speaker: Well, it is his motion. I am trying to be
helpful. I think it is best that the matter stand for today and we let the mover
of the motion move it.
Hon. Joseph A. Day, pursuant to notice of May 16, 2006, moved:
That the papers and evidence received and taken and the work accomplished
by the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance during the First Session
of the Thirty-Eighth Parliament as part of its study of the Estimates for the
fiscal year ending March 31, 2006 be referred to the Committee for the
purposes of its study of the Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31,
2007, as authorized by the Senate on Wednesday, April 26, 2006.
He said: Honourable senators, I do not think that extensive discussion need
take place on this. If any senator has a question, I would be pleased to answer
it. This motion allows for the evidence and the material gathered by the
Standing Senate Committee on National Finance in the previous year before the
election to be referred to our committee to be dealt with in our study of the
estimates this year.
We would like to make some comparisons. Also, we would like to have referred
to our committee work we did in the previous government when we had the mandate
and the reference to study the previous estimates.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I am prepared to see this go
ahead, but in order for the Senate to refer papers to a committee, it ought to
have them. A lot of this is going on, honourable senators.
I should like to urge committees in general, when they are coming to a close
or there is a dissolution or imminent prorogation, to submit an interim report
of two or three paragraphs to the Senate. The Senate will then be in possession
of all the evidence. I have been waiting for an opportunity to make this point;
maybe I should do it more formally. That is the proper way to proceed. We often
refer papers to committees that we do not have in our possession. When I serve
on a committee I always nudge the committee to make reports to the Senate, and,
Senator Day, we will nudge you to have those reports in to the Senate so that
the Senate will receive the information that the committees will later ask the
Senate to refer to them.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin, pursuant to notice of May 16, 2006, moved:
That the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act be empowered,
in accordance with rule 95(3), to meet on Monday, May 29, 2006, even though
the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.
He said: Honourable senators, I am ready to reply to any questions that my
colleagues may have, but I believe that this motion is self-explanatory. It is a
question of hearing one or two ministers. We do not know yet at what time we
will listen to them, but with the permission of this chamber, we will do so on
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Honourable senators, have we not already
adopted a motion to that effect?
Senator Nolin: I do not know the answer to that question.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, if memory serves me, the motion we adopted does not apply to special
committees, and this is a special committee.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Mac Harb, pursuant to notice of May 16, 2006, moved:
That the Senate takes note that tobacco smoking continues to cause an
estimated 45,000 Canadian deaths and to cost our economy up to $15 billion
That the Senate notes that current federal legislation allows for
ventilation options and smoking rooms in workplaces under federal jurisdiction
even though they do not provide full protection from second-hand smoke and
that full protection from second-hand smoke can only be achieved through the
creation of workplaces and public places that are completely free of tobacco
That the Senate urges the Government of Canada to pass legislation to
ensure that all enclosed workplaces and public places under its jurisdiction
That the Senate ask the Government of Canada to call upon each province and
territory that has not yet done so to enact comprehensive smoke-free
That a message be sent to the House of Commons requesting that House to
unite with the Senate for the above purpose.
He said: Honourable senators, I am honoured to rise today to ask for your
support for a motion that will update legislation protecting Canadians from the
dangers of second-hand smoke. I thank Senator Keon for seconding this motion.
Specifically, we ask the federal government to put in place an effective,
nation-wide prohibition on the use of ignited tobacco products in enclosed
places and workplaces under its jurisdiction.
In Canada, public health and occupational health and safety are shared
responsibilities between federal and provincial and territorial governments,
with some of these responsibilities passed down to the municipalities. For this
reason, the motion also calls on provincial and territorial governments who have
not yet provided adequate protection for their citizens to do so.
Honourable senators, I ask you to imagine with me for a moment that the year
is 1985, and we are here in the Senate chamber preparing to participate in the
business of the day. In these historic chambers, not much has changed since
1985. Other than the width of the ties and the length of the skirts, much is the
same. Certainly, the predominance of Liberal senators is the same. What is not
the same is the air that you are breathing. As some esteemed colleagues will
remember, until the late 1980s, smoking was commonplace in the offices, hallways
and meeting rooms here on Parliament Hill.
There is no doubt in my mind that making the Parliamentary Precinct
smoke-free was the right thing to do. Indeed, I think most of us would agree
that making all of Canada's enclosed workplaces and public places smoke-free is
the right thing to do.
Currently, Canada's federal Non-smokers' Health Act controls the use of
tobacco in federal buildings and on federal property or federally managed lands.
This includes places of work and business such as financial institutions,
airports, airplanes, interprovincial trains, and telecommunications facilities.
Unfortunately, honourable senators, this 20-year-old occupational health and
safety legislation, and its regulations, still permits designated smoking rooms
or smoking areas in many of these federally regulated workplaces and public
places. This outdated legislation puts Canadians and their health at risk.
Let us consider for a moment that smoking is the single most serious public
health problem in Canada, killing more Canadians than car accidents, murders,
suicide and alcohol combined. Smoking results in 45,000 deaths every year in
Canada. Tragically, thousands of those deaths are non-smokers who die from
smoke-related lung cancer or heart disease.
The evidence about the risk of passive smoking is too compelling to ignore.
Honourable senators may be surprised to learn that second-hand smoke is even
more toxic than smoke inhaled directly because it is completely unfiltered.
Second-hand smoke contains 4,000 chemical compounds, at least 50 of which cause
or promote cancer. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has
declared second-hand smoke a Class A carcinogen. "Class A" means there is
literally no known safe level of exposure.
Highly respected organizations such as Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada,
the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Coalition for Action on Tobacco, and
the Canadian Global Forum on Tobacco Control, are calling for a nation-wide ban
on second-hand smoke.
In 2004, Ireland became the first country in the world to go smoke-free.
Ireland was followed by Norway, New Zealand, Bhutan and Scotland. As many as 20
countries are currently working towards smoke-free enclosed workplaces and
Protecting people who are involuntarily exposed to environmental tobacco
smoke in enclosed workplaces and public places must be a top priority for every
government in every jurisdiction in Canada.
Federal, provincial and territorial ministers of health are committed to
working together to reduce tobacco consumption in Canada. Smoke-free work and
public places are necessary elements of that commitment.
Many of you will know that Canada was one of the early ratifiers of the World
Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which we passed in
November 2004. As party to this convention, we agreed to abide by article 8,
Each Party shall adopt and implement in areas of existing national
jurisdiction as determined by national law and actively promote at other
jurisdictional levels, the adoption and implementation or effective
legislative, executive, administrative and/or other measures, providing for
protection from exposure to tobacco smoke in indoor workplaces, public
transport, indoor public places and, as appropriate, other public places.
For the most part, honourable senators, Canada is well on its way to meeting
these requirements. To quote the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
monitoring report, published in February 2006:
All levels of government in Canada have given political and financial
support to tobacco control initiatives. These strategies have led to
significant reduction in tobacco use in recent years.
Smoking rates in Canada are dropping, down to 20 per cent in 2005, and the
number of young people starting to smoke, while still high, is decreasing as
well. We must take our tobacco control strategy to the next level, to build on
Honourable senators, the city we call home, at least part-time these days, is
smoke-free. Ottawa banned smoking in all enclosed workplaces or public places
almost five years ago. Many come from cities or towns that have taken similar
actions to prevent the dangers of second-hand smoke from affecting workers and
It is important to note that smoke-free policies do more than protect
workers. These policies help to reduce overall smoking behaviour. They generate
increased awareness about tobacco issues and they change the way people think
There is a momentum building now in jurisdictions across Canada to create and
maintain smoke-free spaces. Currently, 27 per cent of Canadians are living in
communities where provincial, territorial or municipal law protects the public
from second-hand smoke exposures in public places, including bars and
By January 1, 2007, 80 per cent of Canadians will have this level of
protection, but unfortunately, 20 per cent will not, and an unacceptable number
of these unprotected workers fall under federal jurisdiction.
While most federal workers are protected from second-hand smoke through
Treasury Board policies, or because their employers respect existing provincial
or municipal bans on smoking at work, others are not so lucky. There is less
protection in some federally-regulated facilities, such as airports, than in
municipalities in which they are located.
Honourable senators, one need go no further than the Ottawa International
Airport. As I stated earlier, Ottawa has been completely smoke-free since 2001.
A glaring exception is the airport, because it is under federal jurisdiction for
matters of occupational health and safety. There are two smoking rooms at the
Ottawa airport. Even when the new Ontario law comes into force on May 31, 2006,
there will still be smoking rooms at the airport and at other airports across
Canada. They are all under federal jurisdiction. We need legislative action to
ban smoking in airports and all other locations under federal jurisdiction.
The federal government must bring its own legislation up to the higher
standards being set by other jurisdictions. It will be necessary to revise the
Non-smokers' Health Act and/or the Canada Labour Code to prohibit smoking in all
federally-regulated indoor workplaces and public places.
The Yukon, Alberta, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and
Saskatchewan also need to increase the level of protection from second-hand
smoke to prohibit smoking in all workplaces and public places under their
jurisdiction. We should encourage them to do so.
I would like to add, honourable senators, that legislative change, when it
comes, must take into consideration the cultural significance of tobacco in the
lives of Aboriginal Canadians and its ceremonial role in cultural and spiritual
Health Canada has done a first-rate job providing resources and information
on smoke-free work and public spaces. It has also been diligently spreading the
word about the dangers of tobacco products and second-hand smoke in our society.
Most honourable senators will be familiar with the courageous champion of the
Smoke-Free Canada campaign, Heather Crowe. Her face has been on television
advertisements and her story written about in the newspapers. She is a life-long
non-smoker who is dying from lung cancer after a career spent working as a
waitress in smoke-filled restaurants.
When I mentioned to Ms. Crowe that we would be discussing this motion in the
Senate, she responded by saying:
It gave me a big lift to know that you will table a motion in the Senate to
make all workplaces and public places smoke-free. A lot of progress has been
made but many Canadians are still not protected from second-hand smoke at
work. I want to be the last person to die from second-hand smoke at work.
Your motion will help make my wish come true.
Honourable senators, individuals such as Ms. Heather Crowe, groups such as
Physicians for a Smoke-free Canada and international organizations such as the
World Health Organization are calling on us to close the loopholes and to clear
the air for non-smokers in our country.
I ask honourable senators to support this motion to ensure that the necessary
steps are taken to obtain federal smoke-free legislation in Canada. There is no
reason not to proceed with this initiative and more than 32 million good reasons
why we should. Believe me, we will all breathe easier when this motion passes.
Honourable senators, I put this motion before you with the support of my
esteemed colleague, Senator Keon, in the hope we can concur with it quickly and
thereby send a message to the other place asking them to unite with us to ensure
that Canada's workplaces and public places are truly smoke-free.
On motion of Senator Tkachuk, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, May 18, 2006, at 1:30 p.m.