Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 18
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, I rise to speak about Sudan. Our
government is committed to doing all that it can to help achieve lasting peace
in Sudan. The signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement between the Sudan Liberation
Movement and the Sudanese government signalled that it was time for this
government to further its efforts.
Our Conservative government has responded. Last week, on May 23, Prime
Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada will increase its funding by
another $40 million. Since September 2004, Canada has contributed a total of
$218 million in support of diplomatic, humanitarian and African Union-led
efforts to end the violence and to bring lasting peace to the people of Darfur.
As you know, Sudan is the sixth-largest African country and has the
sixth-largest population in Africa. Its needs are immense. The United Nations
estimates that the violence in Darfur has displaced roughly 2 million people and
the World Health Organization estimates that there have been 50,000 deaths in
Darfur since the beginning of the conflict.
The Conservative government's plan, announced on May 23, will pursue a
two-pronged approach to ensure that the immediate needs of the most vulnerable
people are met. At the same time, support has also improved for ongoing
long-term initiatives. Half of the $40 million most recently pledged by our
government will be used for urgent humanitarian needs such as food, water,
sanitation, basic health care and assistance to displaced people in Sudan and
Canadian support addresses needs identified by the African Union in
accordance with the Status of Mission Agreement in place between the AU and the
Government of Sudan. Canada is one of the top three contributors to the African
Union Mission. We have provided 25 helicopters, two aircraft, 105 armoured
personnel carriers, helmets, protective vests, as well as civilian police and
Honourable senators, we should not forget that Canada's commitment to solving
Sudan's humanitarian crisis has been ongoing for over 20 years. It is not a
problem that will disappear overnight. While momentous, the Darfur Peace
Agreement is only the first step in a long journey. Canada's government has
demonstrated and will continue to demonstrate leadership among nations that
support peace in Africa. Let us continue our efforts to ensure that Canada never
becomes complacent when we see atrocities on the global stage.
Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, on May 18 and 19, I had
the opportunity to participate in a symposium on the topic, "Official languages
and linguistic duality: structuring research and partnerships". This event was
held in Montreal as part of the annual conference of the Association francophone
pour le savoir, ACFAS.
The purpose of the symposium, which was organized by the Canadian
Francophonie research network, was to enable researchers from universities,
communities, governments and elsewhere to present and discuss their work and
address the issue of partnerships for research on official languages.
I agreed to open the research symposium because it combined two themes that
drive my social and political involvement: linguistic duality and post-secondary
education, which goes hand in hand with the dissemination of knowledge through
The presentations addressed themes ranging from education, policy and program
evaluation, and the vitality and development of official language communities,
to justice and community radio.
In spite of many challenges, including a lack of human and financial
resources, many community researchers, government, academic and private sector,
are conducting interesting, relevant, high-quality research on official
languages, linguistic duality, and official language minority communities.
Statistics Canada officials shared some of their ongoing research into
community vitality and literacy. Community representatives shared their ideas
about research partnerships and the preliminary results of their ongoing
All of the presentations contributed in some way to encouraging participants
to think about the possibilities and challenges of partnerships for research on
official language minority communities.
Symposium participants agreed that there is a major need, particularly in the
wake of recent changes to the Official Languages Act, to encourage and actively
support research on official language minority communities.
They also agreed that there is a lot at stake with respect to the issue of
horizontal governance in official languages, which will have to be watched
closely in light of recent amendments to Part VII of the Official Languages Act,
better known as Bill S-3.
Honourable senators, as I have often said, linguistic duality is one of this
country's fundamental values. It is important that both the federal government
and the provinces support this value, as well as the research being undertaken
on the subject.
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, the City of Winnipeg just
wrapped up its first ever city summit. The event, held during the first week in
May, brought together over 200 leaders in business, labour, universities,
colleges, culture, media, community and youth. Its purpose was simple: It was a
call to action, led by Mayor Sam Katz, for governments, local businesses and
citizens to develop a plan to revitalize the downtown core of the city.
Over the course of two days, delegates heard from distinguished speakers,
such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Kay
Barnes; Joe Berridge of Urban Strategies and The Globe & Mail's John
Ibbitson. Discussions focused on urban renewal and growth to make Winnipeg the
"City of Opportunity" that it should be.
There are many challenges facing Winnipeg, but the city has much to offer and
build upon. We have a very impressive arts and cultural scene which has been
long admired across the country: the internationally renowned Royal Winnipeg
Ballet and the Winnipeg Art Gallery, home to the world's largest collection of
contemporary Inuit art, and the National Screen Institute Film Exchange Canadian
Film Festival, an acclaimed symphony orchestra and a lively music and theatre
life. This vibrant arts community is also seeing the emergence of a new
generation of artists, writers and filmmakers from the Aboriginal community, and
their stories are being told and filmed.
Of course, one of the city's impressive distinctions is that it does not
simply declare its diversity — Winnipeg lives it. We have a multi-ethnic North
End, celebrated for its cultural riches. For example, within the length of a
city block we have the Greek Orthodox Church, a community agency for Native
Canadians, a Ukrainian perogy restaurant, Vietnamese and Filipino restaurants
and a market selling fish from Lake Winnipeg, home to Manitoba's large Icelandic
Winnipeg is also known for having the largest and finest array of ethnic
restaurants in the country. The cultural diversity of Winnipeg is simply
unrivalled anywhere else in our country. We also have the largest Aboriginal
population in our city and the largest French-speaking population outside of
Historic architecture is another great attribute of Winnipeg. The original
core of the city, the Exchange District, was designated a national historic site
in 1997. It received this distinction because it illustrates the city's key role
as a centre of grain and wholesale trade, finance and manufacturing during two
historically important periods in western development: between 1880 and 1900
when Winnipeg became the gateway to Canada's West, and between 1900 and 1913
when the city's growth made it the region's metropolis.
It is true that the road ahead will be filled with challenges, such as fixing
decaying infrastructure, dealing with the high rate of Aboriginal unemployment,
encouraging entrepreneurs and business development and beautifying the downtown
core. In short, we need a plan of action, but we have a solid base from which to
work, and we must not undervalue this. This solid downtown base includes the
University of Winnipeg, the Red River College campus, the MTS Centre, the new
hydro headquarters, the Forks development, the Waterfront Drive condominium
development, and we soon will be able to boast about a national human rights
Now that the summit is over, the question becomes: what about the plan? It is
vital that we not lose all the goodwill and momentum stemming from this event.
We all have a role to play, and I am committed to working with my municipal,
provincial and federal counterparts to help Winnipeg realize its full potential.
My call to action: Let's identify the priorities, the plan, and get to work! No
more talk — action.
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, as President of the
Canada-France Federation, a non-Parliamentary organization, and as a Canadian
senator, I was invited to attend the 56th France-Canada International conference
in Nice, and to co-chair the event with French Senator Marcel-Pierre Cléach.
I also had the honour of chairing the 55th FCF Conference, which was held in
2005 in St. Boniface, Manitoba, where French and Canadian delegates received a
warm welcome from the francophone community in Manitoba. At the conference in
Nice, I was able to follow up on some of the partnership initiatives that had
been discussed last year.
The theme of the Nice conference was "La Francophonie—Cultural Diversity in
Action". Round tables were held to discuss diversity in action in francophone
businesses; youth visibility; moving to Canada or moving to France; and,
finally, a cultural commission to address "dialogue with others, between
cultures, and the contribution of the Francophonie."
Several prominent individuals gave speeches, including the Mayor of Nice,
Senator Jacques Peyrat, and His Excellency Claude Laverdure, Canadian Ambassador
I gave a speech at the official opening, took part in numerous debates and
presented a Canadian flag to the organizing committee. I met Canadian students,
including one from Winnipeg, who are there on an exchange program with Nice, and
I had the opportunity to speak with them at length.
The most memorable event for me was the anniversary mass to commemorate the
consecration of the Nice Cathedral, on May 7, during which the Bishop welcomed
the Canadians and reiterated the special ties that we share, particularly our
culture and language. At the very end of the anniversary mass, the Canadian
national anthem was played in honour of the Canadians who attended the event.
I returned with very fond memories and a strong desire to continue to pursue
partnerships with our French friends, our Canadian communities, and
particularly, connections between the people of France and the francophone
community of Manitoba.
I would like to thank the Senate of Canada for this privilege of continuing
to support the community I represent.
Hon. Pat Carney: The earthquake in Indonesia earlier this week, and
the tragic loss of life and devastation, brings into focus the work of the
Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians' Conference on Environment and Development, which
met in Whistler during the Easter break. I was one of the nearly 100 delegates
from 19 countries who compared notes on national emergencies. At Whistler,
parliamentarians discussed how emergencies and natural disasters are on the
increase due to urbanization, weather and climate change. We are familiar with
the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, where 260,000 people died in Indonesia alone.
Each country faces different challenges. The Philippines are located on a
"typhoon highway" and experiences about 20 cyclones a year. Rising ocean
levels affect the 7,100 islands at high tide. There are more islands at low
Tiny Tuvalu, where 8,000 people share nine atolls in the South Pacific, has
no technical staff to manage disasters as sea water invades its taro fields.
Kiribati, an atoll nation whose highest point is only 13 metres above sea level,
faces a similar threat.
Low-lying villages in Fiji are under threat as rising sea levels obliterate
the coral reefs that protect the shoreline. Malaysia and Vietnam cope annually
with both flash floods and drought. Mountainous Nepal, located in an active
seismic zone, suffers damage from lightning, landslides and hailstones, and
constant threat of earthquakes.
Korea and Mongolia talked about the "fifth season" of dust and sandstorms
which turn the air yellow and is the result of overgrazing, as poverty forces
the urban poor back to the land. Canada's country report lists ice storms,
flooding and forest fires, and several trends suggest our problems will only get
Disaster response by each nation is divided into mitigation, such as dams and
floodways; preparedness, such as emergency plans; response from police,
firefighters and medical personnel; and recovery, to rebuild and restore
Delegates agreed on the need for international credentials so volunteers from
donor countries can work without threat of legal action. The conference ended
with consensus for the Whistler Declaration of Natural Disasters: Prevention
and Response, whereby parliamentarians resolved to encourage the increase in
capacity and resilience of regions affected by natural disaster; the
implementation of the Agenda for Humanitarian Action of the International
Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which would better
facilitate a quick response by the international community to large-scale
natural disasters; the development of local emergency management plans based on
hazard identification and risk assessments; the development of communications
strategies, as well as cooperation in disaster monitoring, warning and response;
and the development of strategies to protect victims of natural disasters from
human trafficking and the spread of disease.
They may not prevent natural disasters, colleagues, but these measures will
help to mitigate and assist the people who have to bear them.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I rise, with some
trepidation, to give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I shall
That the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry have power
to sit at 5 p.m., Tuesday, June 6, 2006, even though the Senate may then be
sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, I hereby give notice that two
days hence I shall move:
That, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed
response from the government to the sixth report of the Standing Senate
Committee on Official Languages, entitled French-Language Education in a
Minority Setting: A Continuum from Early Childhood to the Postsecondary Level,
report tabled in the Senate on June 14, 2005, and adopted on July 18, 2005,
during the First Session of the Thirty-Eighth Parliament; and that the
Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Minister of Social Development and the
minister of Official Languages be identified as Ministers responsible for
responding to the report.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the
next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs be
authorized to examine and report on the implications of including, in
legislation, non-derogation clauses relating to existing Aboriginal and
treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada under section 35 of the
Constitution Act, 1982;
That the papers and evidence received and taken on the subject and the work
accomplished during the Second Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament and
the First Session of the Thirty-eighth Parliament be referred to the
That the committee present its report to the Senate no later than June 30,
Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, I hereby give notice that,
two days hence:
I shall call the attention of the Senate to questions concerning
post-secondary education in Canada.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I am rising, as John Ivison
would describe in the National Post, in a sloth-like motion to ask the
Leader of the Government in the Senate a question. In fact, speaking of John
Ivison and the National Post, the "Conservative Times," or the
Conservative's favourite newspaper reports that Her Excellency the Governor
General has asked twice to visit troops in Afghanistan, and from the National
Post's report, she has been denied twice. The Post talked about
security conditions to make the exact same trip taken by the Prime Minister and
the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Let us get serious, for Pete's sake. The
Governor General is our Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. She is
held in high regard by the Armed Forces, as was the former Governor General,
Adrienne Clarkson, and a visit by her would boost the morale of the troops.
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell me if this story is
accurate? If it is accurate, is the government prepared to change its position?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for his question. Certainly, the Governor General is held in
high esteem by all Canadians and she does an outstanding job.
The information that I have is that the Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick
Hillier, did invite the Governor General to visit soldiers in Afghanistan a few
months ago. However, at that time, her schedule did not permit her to make the
Due to the security environment, the Chief of Defence Staff has recommended
that a visit at this time would not make the most of the Governor General's
presence because she could not have met with humanitarian workers outside of the
base or with troops who are currently involved in operations away from the
My understanding, and I can clarify this if the honourable senator wishes, is
that in view of the recommendations made to her, the Governor General has
decided not to proceed with her trip at the present time.
Senator Munson: I am curious. Is the Prime Minister trying to send a
message to his Minister of Foreign Affairs that it is okay for him to go even
though it is very dangerous for all people to go? I am concerned.
I just want to be clear. The Governor General will be allowed to go — the
government says she can go — when the situation becomes more normal, because
this is a very tough place to be. Reporters have been there. Former Prime
Minister Jean Chrétien was there during a pretty tough time. I know that the
people from National Defence will always say you cannot go now because of
When Mr. Chrétien was there, he was rushed to the airport and put on a
Hercules plane to get out of there just in time. There was a lot of gunfire over
the air base and the field in Kabul.
Just as a clarification, can the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces go
when she wishes to go, or does she simply have to listen always to
recommendations from the government?
Senator LeBreton: Thank you, Senator Munson. There is no doubt that
the situation on the ground in Afghanistan is very dangerous. I think that all
of the good humanitarian work is being done because we have troops there who are
working to secure the safety of all of the other people there.
The Governor General is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces My
understanding is that on the advice of the Chief of Defence Staff, she made a
decision not to go at the present time. However, as soon as the Governor
General's time permits and the Chief of Defence Staff advises her that it is
safe to go, I am quite certain that she will go.
Senator Munson: Perhaps when she gets there, she could wear one of the
Prime Minister's stylish flak jackets to help her along the way.
I am worried about the control aspect of this; you are controlling what is
happening to the Governor General. It seems to me the Commander-in-Chief, no
matter what time, should be on the front lines, even if it is for 30 minutes. It
is an important message to state. The idea of what is happening in terms of
controlling bothers me.
There was controlling of photo ops at the Trenton air base; there is
controlling of the National Press Gallery. What is next, mind or thought
control? I am not sure.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I think the situation in
Afghanistan and the peril that our troops face are not something to be joked
about nor the subjects of cheap shots.
As a Canadian citizen, I personally hope that the Governor General, as our
Commander-in-Chief, will be able to make a trip to Afghanistan. Coming from the
developing country of Haiti, she would make a great contribution to the
situation in that she would be able to strongly profile the humanitarian and
human rights efforts being made in Afghanistan. For example, young girls are
finally able to go to school and women are now allowed to teach and to open up
businesses. I do not think it is a question of flak jackets. The Governor
General will make a decision, and I would urge all parliamentarians to encourage
the Governor General to go to Afghanistan as soon as possible.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, I too am inspired by the
media, specifically the article headlined "Quebec cranks up rhetoric with
Ottawa" appearing in La Presse, not the National Post, as in my
My question is for the minister responsible for Quebec in the Senate. At a
time of encouraging speeches about Canada-Quebec cooperation, can the minister
explain the utter lack of dialogue with Quebec on greenhouse gases and her
government's lack of support for the target set by the Government of Quebec,
which wants to honour the previous government's commitments to fund a greenhouse
gas reduction program so that the province can meet its Kyoto targets?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for his question.
The Minister of the Environment attended the meetings in Bonn and acquitted
herself and represented the government's position extremely well, so much so
that most industrialized countries and the United Nations have now accepted and
agreed that the Kyoto targets are impossible to meet. I believe the Bonn
conference ended with great acceptance and support for Canada's honesty and
With regard to the media reports, I am always hesitant to respond to issues
raised in the media, but suffice it to say that the Prime Minister, the
government and the Minister of the Environment encourage all provinces and
premiers to work seriously on the whole issue of climate change.
Senator Dawson: My supplementary question is for the Minister of
Public Works and Government Services. The new Minister of the Environment has
torn up last year's historic Montreal agreement, which clarified each
government's commitments for the coming years.
The Quebec environment minister has called on your government to support
Quebecers and their government in their efforts, outlined by Premier Charest, to
meet the Kyoto targets. I quote Minister Béchard:
If the federal government should decide not to contribute, we will make it
very clear where the responsibility lies and why we have not meet the Kyoto
Why not honour the commitments made by past governments, Mr. Minister?
Hon. Michael Fortier (Minister of Public Works and Government Services):
Honourable senators, the senator from Quebec City addressed me as the minister
responsible for Quebec. He is well aware that I represent a much smaller area
than that. However, since he has asked a serious question, I will tell him that
— as mentioned by the Leader of the Government in the Senate — our government,
through the Minister of the Environment, Ms. Ambrose, has clearly indicated in
recent months that our objectives differ from those established by the previous
Quebec may object to this policy or others. The fact that two governments
differ in their views on a subject is hardly earth-shattering. I believe it is
healthy in a democracy. Quebec puts forth its views on the environment and the
federal government does the same, and I think that is just fine.
Senator Dawson: Along the same lines, with the child care agreement
ripped up, the agreement on greenhouse gas emissions ripped up, and Quebec
cranking up the rhetoric, does he not think that is the time to wonder if fiscal
balance will be achieved at the expense of past agreements?
We must also wonder if the government will take money out of one pocket and
put it in the other and then declare that it is giving money to Quebec. Will his
government respect the historic agreements signed by previous governments?
Senator Fortier: First, I want to correct the honourable senator on
the child care issue; it was not the agreements that were torn up, it was the
press releases of the previous government, which created thousands and thousands
of child care spaces through its press releases. That is the first thing I want
to say. Let us be honest.
Once again I want to state my conflict of interest since I have two children
under the age of six. When I talk to parents of children under six, they are
very pleased with this policy, very pleased that we trust them with the care of
their children and that we respect their choice. In Quebec in particular there
has been a great wave in favour of the Conservative government's policies since
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, I wish to ask a supplementary
question. With all due respect, Mr. Minister, in Manitoba it was agreements
signed between Manitoba and the federal government. The francophone community
that I represent here in the Senate met with me last week during break week and
it is very worried that the agreements will not be renewed on April 1.
I do not have the relevant documents with me today because I was not
expecting to speak. I could bring the minister the documents describing the cuts
in French Manitoba because these agreements will not be renewed.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for her question.
As I said yesterday, I think it is clear that the Canadian electorate did not
elect a new Conservative government to implement a patchwork of failed programs
of the previous government.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.
Senator LeBreton: During the election campaign, we made our position
on child care very clear and it included our intentions with the patchwork
agreements that had been signed with some provinces. It is a fact that there was
not one single daycare space provided.
With regard to Senator Chaput's question about the list of programs she feels
would be cut, I am interested in seeing that list. I would like to provide an
opportunity for the minister responsible for child care to respond definitively
to the honourable senator's concerns.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, earlier I described the lack
of leadership in environmental policy on the part of our Environment Minister as
bewildering. After weeks of watching her, I find I have to upgrade the
description to breathtaking.
She began by telling us we were out of Kyoto. Then she said that she still
wants to chair the international Kyoto committee, but she only wants to do it
for one day and not 14 days. She cancelled our program for the reduction of
greenhouse gases, which could have been done at $20 per ton. Minister Ambrose
cancelled the program on the basis that it was inefficient, yet she replaced it
with her transit bus pass program that will reduce greenhouse gases at $2,000
Talk about patchwork, she was going to have a made-in-Canada environmental
program, yet we learned yesterday that she is talking about allowing companies
to trade credits in Europe. It is sort of like the weather that changes every 15
Is there any kind of plan at all, or does the Minister of the Environment
simply make up her policy based on the last person she spoke to?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I will not comment on the tone of that question dealing with our young,
intelligent, female Minister of the Environment.
Senator Tkachuk: Who is from the province of Alberta.
Senator Mercer: No policies; just talk about frills.
Senator Tkachuk: These are the press release boys.
Senator LeBreton: And they want this place televised. There is a
person closer to television than Senator Segal who seems to want the chamber
televised even more. He is sitting in the back row.
As I have stated previously, I am confident that it is quite well understood
that the Kyoto Protocol commitments were not working, were not going to work and
could not have been met. As I have said, emissions rose by 26 per cent since the
protocol was signed.
Minister Ambrose represented her department and the government very well in
Bonn. There was agreement by industrialized nations that the Kyoto Protocol was
not realistic, and it is very encouraging that those industrialized nations,
supported by the United Nations, are now reassessing the goals set in Kyoto.
As I have said in previous answers, the government is working on a
made-in-Canada climate change program. Minister Ambrose is consulting, as she
should, with people around the world, because this is a global problem, even
though we want a made-in-Canada solution to deal with the problem.
Naturally, being the open, honest and smart minister that she is, Minister
Ambrose comments on the presentations made to her in an open and honest way.
Senator Mitchell: It is breathtaking how defeatist this government is.
Do the government and the minister not understand that, if you give capable and
energetic Canadian people leadership and objectives as challenging and important
as Kyoto, it is guaranteed that they will meet and exceed those objectives?
What kind of leadership is the government providing? It is providing no
Senator LeBreton: That is incredible. The Liberals were in power for
13 years. Where was their leadership? An Ipsos-Reid poll showed that 68 per cent
of people do not know what the Kyoto Protocol means.
The honourable senator talks about leadership and inspiring Canadians. That
is exactly what Minister Ambrose and the government will do. Furthermore,
Canadians will not be confused about what we are going to do. We will present
our plan in an open and honest way.
It is obvious that the previous government did not explain what Kyoto means,
because 68 per cent of people do not understand the protocol.
Senator Mitchell: I can tell you about some people who do know what it
means. There are major energy corporations in Calgary that are already on track
to meet their Kyoto obligations. That 32 per cent understands the Kyoto
What kind of leadership is this government providing to groups and people who
have a lot to lose if they do not do it properly? What leadership is it
providing to help them achieve these objectives, which they know they can
Have you forgotten about those guys?
Senator LeBreton: We were not the ones who forgot about "those
guys", as the honourable senator says. We will work with "those guys" to
ensure we meet our climate change targets.
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, my question is
for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday, I think I felt my
hair bristle, and I certainly became angry, when I heard the leader say "child
care advocates aside" — just gone, into the garbage or whatever, just out. The
honourable leader then proclaimed that "parents are the best child care experts
in the country." I think that was a first. All along we have heard the new
government say that parents are the experts on their own children. Most of us
can accept that. However, now the leader is saying that "parents are the best
child care experts in the country."
Why has this new government decided to further denigrate the women and men
who dedicate their lives to early childhood development and quality child care?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
when I said, "...parents are the best child care experts..." I meant that
parents know what is best for their children. I suppose we could be splitting
hairs as to what the interpretation is.
The intent of the government is to put money directly in the hands of parents
and to work with industry to provide child care spaces, which the previous
government did not do. They talked about it for 13 years, but they did not do
it. The intent is to put money into the hands of parents to make the choices
that they wish to make and not to pass hard earned taxpayer dollars from
government to government, or from government to some advocacy group. That is all
I was saying.
Senator Trenholme Counsell: I have a supplementary question.
I will repeat again from the Debates of the Senate yesterday, at page
368. The leader said:
As has been said many times, parents are the best child care experts in the
Maybe the comment was not well-phrased, but I believe that child care
professionals and child care advocates deserve our respect.
I wish to remind the honourable leader that the 2004-05 system of quality
child care, based on the finest principles of early childhood development
accepted by all provinces and taking firm roots in fertile soil from coast to
coast to coast and signed agreements in nine provinces — I am sure of that; I
have the copies — promise to value —
An Hon. Senator: Signed agreements!
Senator Trenholme Counsell: Yes, signed agreements; not press
releases. Of course, the honourable senator has not had much experience in
government, but maybe he will learn. As I was saying, it is a promise to value
those who care for our children when parents must work, and that is 70 per cent
of all parents. We also promised to provide additional training, professional
development and improved workplaces, and we would hope improved pay, for all
child care workers, many of whom are parents.
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate apologize to all child care
advocates, child care professionals and all those who work in daycares, family
resource centres and in government for her derogatory and dismissive remarks of
May 30, 2006?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for her question. I
stand by my comments that "parents are the best child care experts in the
country." As a parent, I think I was in the best position to decide what to do
with my children and not have some so-called other expert tell me how to handle
Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators will recall that in the
dying moments of the Thirty-eighth Parliament, four bills were presented to this
chamber, one of which was an act to amend the bankruptcy and insolvency
legislation of the country. Those four bills were passed in circumstances that
we all recall, against the specific understanding that the bankruptcy and
insolvency legislation would not be proclaimed until at least the end of June
and that the government, upon the reconvening of a new Parliament, would
immediately refer bankruptcy and insolvency legislation to the Standing Senate
Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce in order to have it acted upon and
Honourable senators will also recall that in 2003 the Banking Committee of
this chamber produced an excellent report with respect to bankruptcy and
insolvency legislation in Canada pointing to certain areas which required
Bankruptcy legislation is framework legislation. It must necessarily be
updated to keep pace with changing times and circumstances. It is fundamental to
the proper operation of commercial Canada; it is equally fundamental to the
proper protection of individuals who get into trouble as a result of the misuse,
abuse or inability to deal with the credit system.
Bill C-55 was to have been referred to committee. It is fundamental
legislation. Admittedly, it is not very electorally significant legislation but
it is significant legislation for Canadians.
My question is: When will this government deal with bankruptcy and insolvency
legislation? We have heard that it has been postponed until the fall, at the
earliest. With respect, that is outrageous. Can the honourable leader tell the
house anything about that?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I am almost tempted
to ask the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce
to answer this question. However, I will take the question as notice because
there have been discussions with the Chair and the Deputy Chair of the Banking
Committee and the ministers. I do not have at hand the information for the
honourable senator, although I know that some work has been done on this matter.
Senator Goldstein: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary
question. The proposed legislation also contained measures to protect employees
whose employer had gone bankrupt and permit them to recover monies — partially
at the cost of secured creditors and partially at the cost of the Financial
Institutions Supervisory Committee, FISC — of which they had been deprived
because of the bankruptcy and insolvency of their employer. That protects
Canadians and Canadian workers. I would ask the Honourable Leader of the
Government, when will this government act to protect Canadian workers?
Senator LeBreton: If my memory serves me correctly, that was the
portion of the bill that everyone was anxious to see pass, so that Canadian
workers would be protected. I will take the honourable senator's question as
notice and give him a full response tomorrow.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Canadian forest industry is
extremely negative about the current softwood lumber agreement because of the
loss of jobs, money and hope for the future. The Alberta Forest Products
Association told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources on
Monday that their association had not been consulted in this respect. Yet,
yesterday, the honourable leader told this chamber that industry and the
provinces are being consulted. Honourable senators, the honourable leader has
misled us again. Perhaps she should get her facts straight.
Could the honourable leader tell the house why the Alberta Forest Products
Association has not been consulted? Most important, could she advise her Prime
Minister to speak in the interests of Canadians, and ask him to consult with his
own provincial forest association?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I am aware of the testimony yesterday, and that there is never a hundred per
cent support for anything that any government does, no matter the colour of the
political stripe. I understand that some smaller stakeholders in the industry
have expressed concerns. Overall, however, the softwood lumber agreement has
received overwhelming support from industry and from the provinces. Let us work
our way through this situation.
The agreement is a hundred per cent improvement over the situation that
existed before the signing, when there was such uncertainty and when industries
were demanding to meet with government to resolve the issue. They did just that
and this is a good deal, although it might not be to the full satisfaction of
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting delayed answers to the oral questions
raised in the Senate by the Honourable Jack Austin on April 27, 2006, regarding
international trade, the proposed softwood lumber agreement and consultation
with the provinces; by the Honourable Francis Fox on April 27, 2006, regarding
the proposed softwood lumber agreement; by the Honourable Pat Carney on April
27, 2006, regarding the proposed softwood lumber agreement, consultation with
the provinces; and by the Honourable Daniel Hays on May 17, 2006, regarding
grains and oilseeds, availability of support funding.
(Response to questions raised by Hon. Jack Austin, Hon. Francis Fox and
Hon. Pat Carney on April 27, 2006)
The government has been working very closely with provincial governments
and Canadian industry on elements of the agreement. Provinces were consulted
and aware of discussions that led to the agreement in principle on April 27,
This agreement represents a negotiated outcome, which is in Canada's best
interest. This agreement will provide a stable set of rules, predictability
and relief from U.S. measures.
The Canadian industry will get over 80 per cent of duties returned — more
than US $4 billion. This represents the highest return ever achieved in
negotiations to date.
Litigation is a lengthy process, and the results of litigation, including
the full refund of deposits, are never guaranteed. In the absence of a
negotiated settlement, litigation could continue well into 2008 and beyond.
The provinces have indicated their support for the agreement in principle.
The government will be working closely with the provinces and industry
stakeholders as further details are worked out in the coming weeks.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Daniel Hays on May 17, 2006)
This government is aware that many farmers, especially grain and oilseed
farmers, are in need of immediate assistance so that they can plant crops this
spring. On May 18, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Canadian
Wheat Board officially announced three of the initiatives first outlined in
the 2006 federal budget. One of these initiatives, the Enhanced Spring Credit
Advance Program (ESCAP), will provide producers with the increased cash-flow
they need to plant their crops this year.
ESCAP will double the maximum level of interest-free loans available under
the existing Spring Credit Advance Program from $50,000 to $100,000 and extend
the repayment period for these advances from December 31, 2006, until
September 30, 2007. It is expected that, under SCAP, producers will have
access to some $650 million in advances and that ESCAP will increase this
amount to more than $1 billion for this crop year.
In addition, nearly $590 million has been paid to producers through the
Grain and Oilseed Payment Program. Further, more than $560 million has flowed
to producers through the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS)
Program since the beginning of January. Combined, these programs provide
producers with significant levels of cash-flow for this growing season.
On May 18, the Minister also announced two CAIS-related Budget
initiatives. The Minister is working with the provinces and industry to make
the CAIS program more responsive until governments are ready to implement
alternative income stabilization and disaster programs for 2007. These
CAIS-related initiatives include $900 million to retroactively adjust how
inventories were valued under CAIS for the 2003, 2004 and 2005 program years
through the CAIS Inventory Transition Initiative (CITI) and another $50
million to expand the eligibility criteria for negative margin coverage under
CAIS for the 2005 and 2006 program year. On May 23, the Minister announced the
Cover Crop Protection Program, which will add a further $50 million to help
those adversely affected by excess moisture during the 2005 and 2006 growing
Government officials are working as quickly as possible to put these
initiatives in place so that this $1 billion in new federal money can begin to
flow to producers.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Banks, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill S-202, to repeal
legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving royal
assent.—(Honourable Senator Cools)
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, Senator Cools has given me
permission to speak.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Rompkey: Did you check with Stephen Harper?
Senator Segal: Honourable senators, inside the government caucus I
have learned that seeking Senator Cools' permission is a wise and appropriate
thing to do.
I rise today in order to voice my support for Senator Banks' motion to move
Bill S-202 ahead, to repeal legislation that has not come into force within 10
years of receiving Royal Assent.
None present in this chamber needs any advice from this new arrival on the
legislative process. We all understand that the business of Parliament is to
introduce, debate, amend, vote and finally pass legislation that then receives
Her Majesty's assent through the Governor General. It is at this point that the
will of Parliament has been expressed. It is also the concrete demonstration of
the will of the people through its elected representatives. When the delegation
of authority to determine the date that the legislation comes into force is
given to the Governor-in-Council, it is not unreasonable that there be some
limit on how long that discretion can last.
Currently, such a limitation does not exist. Bill S-202 provides for such a
limitation that would require the government of the day to revisit acts and
sections of acts that have not yet come into force a decade after their passage.
I suggest that such a provision is nothing more than common good sense. When
legislation is left pending for years, the will of Parliament is frustrated.
When I learnt the Bible in the early days in parochial school in Montreal, my
teacher used to say that the Ten Commandments were not 10 suggestions; they were
not 10 bits of a consultant's advice; they were not 10 ideas to reflect upon;
they were commandments. The case I make to honourable senators is that when the
Parliament of Canada, the House of Commons and the Senate, passes legislation
after due consideration in committee and throughout the entire process, and when
that legislation is signed by Royal Assent into effect, the decision to delay is
treating that legislation not as a law, but as a helpful suggestion from the
Parliament of Canada.
This is not what Runnymede and Magna Carta were all about. Runnymede and
Magna Carta were not about the King accepting helpful suggestions with respect
to the disposition of the people's money. The authority that exists in this
place and in the other place is part of the constitutional core of our
democratic system, and that is why I am so enthusiastic about Senator Banks'
proposed legislation that would allow us to assert the rights of Parliament and
the rights of the people served by Parliament to constrain the executive from
having endless and untrammelled discretion relative to when any law comes into
Honourable senators, a few days ago in this chamber, we approved close to
$15.6 billion in Governor General's warrants. Had Senator Cools not intervened,
that might have been done in a single-digit count of minutes rather than a more
reflective proposition. That is what has happened, not because of the fault of
anyone in this chamber or for that matter anyone in the other chamber, but the
prior control of expenditures is Parliament's fundamental core role under our
The notion that Parliament can pass laws which the executive can willy-nilly
set aside, not just for legitimate technical reasons, but for however long they
want, is a further denial of the democratic framework that should constrain what
any government can do with the resources made available to it by this chamber
and the place next door.
As honourable senators sit here there are three acts and provisions in 60
other acts that were enacted over 10 years ago, many more than 20 years ago,
that have not been put into effect. I am quite sure there are myriad reasons for
their non-enforcement. Some may be valid; others may not. The reasons are
secondary to the fact that at some time Parliament saw fit to spend its effort
on modifying existing laws or introducing new ones.
The requirements of Senator Banks' Bill S-202 are reasonable and fair-minded.
The annual tabling of a report listing the acts and provisions of acts not
brought into force by their tenth year, provides a full and open accounting of
the work done in this place and in the other place. If the government of the day
continues to have reasons for the non-proclamation and putting into effect of
those laws, it gives them a normative, regular opportunity to state those
reasons directly. It also affords an opportunity for this assembly to set those
laws aside for good and substantive reason, rather than have them fill a
pipeline of expressions and statutory directions that have been ignored by the
public servants who are supposed to respond to the laws that come from this
chamber and the other place.
There are, without question, circumstances and exceptions which may need to
be addressed in this process. Clearly, the negotiation of international treaties
falls into that category. The ratification of such treaties is often lengthy.
While the government of the day may see fit to pass legislation relating to such
matters, the subsequent negotiations may move at a much slower pace. Provisions
can be made for these exceptions.
The public, whom we all try to serve, expects its representatives to be
practical. More than ever they also expect openness from their government. Bill
S-202, to Senator Banks' credit, provides both. It is impractical to allow
legislation and legislative provisions that have been passed and given Royal
Assent not to come into effect for more than a decade. This diminishes the value
of the work done by everyone in this chamber and by our elected colleagues in
the other place.
Parliament discusses, debates, votes, modifies, improves and passes all
manner of laws that have to be treated seriously by the public service. If we
let the opportunity of this bill pass, we will be saying that it does not matter
to us that laws passed in this place sit on a shelf in perpetuity for public
servants, unnamed, undisclosed and unaccountable, to dismiss any way they deem
I ask honourable senators on all sides to consider embracing Bill S-202 for
rapid disposition and to recognize the reasonableness of its core premises. This
bill does not threaten the authority of government or the executive; it simply
provides a means of accounting for the acts and provisions of acts that were
duly passed and are now waiting in limbo somewhere in the never-never land of
It is important that the work done by all members in both Houses not be put
aside. The laws of the land are evidence to the citizens of this country that
democracy is working. Failure to move the work of Parliament forward is a denial
of the will of the democratic process. It ties specifically to democratic
legitimacy and respecting the will of the voters.
I salute Senator Banks for this initiative, the clarity and timeliness of his
ongoing effort in this respect, and I am honoured for this side to support it.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Will the honourable senator allow a brief
Senator Segal: I would be pleased to do so.
Senator Grafstein: First, I wish to commend Senator Banks and Senator
Segal. This is an important and landmark bill. I understand that encapsulated
within the bill is a 10-year period that allows the executive to make a
rationale for why they have not proclaimed the particular laws. Do I clearly
understand the heart of the bill?
Senator Segal: My understanding is that those bills that would come to
the attention of this proposed legislation are those that have been delayed for
10 years or more.
Senator Grafstein: Is there a provision in the bill for future time
frames with respect to proclamation?
Senator Segal: My understanding of the operation of the bill, and I
would be glad to defer to my colleague across the way, is that when any bill
hits its 10-year point, it would then be called into account by the provisions
of this legislation on an annual basis.
Senator Grafstein: The difficulty I have, honourable senators, is that
there are pieces of emergency legislation. For instance, as Senator Goldstein
pointed out earlier in a question to the government, there was an emergency
piece of legislation encapsulated or incorporated in the Bankruptcy and
Insolvency Act to, in effect, liberalize the treatment of the Bankruptcy and
Insolvency Act as it applies to employees, and we were caught by the bill
because the bill could not be separated.
When this bill is referred to committee, would there be some consideration
given to requiring, with certain bills, a more expeditious proclamation because
it requires immediate attention? Otherwise, I feel that everything Senator Segal
and Senator Banks have said about this bill is correct. However, occasionally,
when the will of both Houses of Parliament, assented to by the Governor General,
speaks with one voice and it is an emergency — and I can think of a number of
issues that are emergencies — perhaps they should be given better treatment than
a 10-year delay.
Senator Segal: I thank Senator Grafstein for that question. I do not
disagree with the premise he is advancing, it just does not exist in the content
of this bill. This bill deals with existing legislation that has been passed and
is now sitting on a shelf.
The notion that honourable senators may wish to consider another kind of
proposition, I would argue that that is different from the purport of this bill.
A proposition that is relative to the emergency and rapid deployment of any
piece of legislation is completely compelling, but it is separate from the
provisions that Senator Banks has provided for in this proposed legislation.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs has had a working relationship with Senator Banks on this
bill. I do not believe that any honourable senator has disagreed with the intent
of the bill; the concern is to make it workable so that the government would not
incur unnecessary expenses bringing the proposed legislation into being. This
bill has some of the same qualities as the act that addressed the attempt to
bring our legislation into conformity in both official languages. The task is
horrendous in many ways, but nonetheless, one that needs to be done.
I was rather intrigued that the honourable senator brought up an argument
that we had not heard in the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs, and that was that parliamentary will is thwarted when an
act is not proclaimed. The difficulty that I have is that when I was sitting on
the opposition side — and please forgive me, but perhaps that is where I am
thinking from — often, we would say that we would allow a bill to pass, but we
were concerned as to how it would be implemented. The government of the day
undertook that they would not implement the bill until certain standards,
guidelines or inferences that we suggested were met, whether that would be in
reports or during informal discussion with them.
The honourable senator suggests that delaying enactment is thwarting
parliamentary will. We have done that to ourselves in many cases. Why has he not
chosen to discuss the subject that there are some good things in continuing the
Senator Segal: I thank Senator Andreychuk for that question. As a
newcomer to the chamber, I was present when, for example, on the bankruptcy
legislation, as Senator Goldstein mentioned earlier, there was a concurrence in
this chamber that despite broad approval, there were difficulties and lacunae in
the legislation that needed to be addressed. The Department of Finance undertook
to bring back the matter prior to proclamation. I understand that, and the
ability of legislators to request that, particularly when there are difficult
technical issues to be addressed, is part of the genius of the proclamation
process which can only follow after the regulatory drafting has taken place and
various representations on different sides of an issue can be made so that the
bill does not bring into effect measures which are counterproductive in any way.
I understand the purport of this legislation to be dealing with legislation
that is already passed and signed into law by the Crown, and is then sitting on
a shelf for reasons that are not always clear. We are saying that when that wait
on the shelf hits an entire decade, either they have not been serious about the
regulatory refinements or it is being held up for another reason and this
chamber and the other chamber has the right to know why.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I wish to begin by thanking
Senator Segal for his mighty words and for his characteristic wit. Senator Segal
has a capability similar to that of the late Senator MacQuarrie for using wit
and humour. It is a wonderful skill and talent. I encourage Senator Segal to
continue to do it.
I supported this bill in previous sessions of Parliament. I told Senator
Banks that I wished to speak to it. Senator Segal did not need my permission to
speak today, I just yielded the floor to him, but since he thought it was
permission, it was very easily granted.
I wish to thank Senator Banks especially for placing before us a subject
matter that, quite frankly, many senators had not paid much attention or given
any thought to. During the Senate Legal Affairs Committee, as we held hearings
on previous incarnations of the bill, it became crystal clear that not many
senators had thought much about the number of bills that may never have been
proclaimed or had never been called into force.
I appreciate Senator Andreychuk's concern, which is extremely valid, where
the ministers agree not to proclaim a bill until certain other considerations
and wishes have been met. However, Senator Banks' intention is far wider than
that. The intention of Senator Banks with this proposed legislation is to deal
with acts that have already been passed, and for some reason, the government has
perhaps changed its mind. I know of a particular bill that was passed, given
Royal Assent in another jurisdiction, and has never been proclaimed because the
same government changed its mind in a policy way.
These are the questions that Senator Banks places before us. Senator Banks
raises important constitutional questions about the role of Parliament, about
the proper relationship between the cabinet and Parliament, and about the
balance and purpose of the Constitution. He is also raising a not insignificant
question about the phenomenon of the expense of the entire process just to have
an act sit somewhere parked waiting for a proclamation that may never come.
We learned in the committee hearings that there have been many more of these
acts and nobody really knows how many. I think it is an important matter that
raises very important questions.
When the government has changed its mind on policy questions, it raises for
me a consideration of what used to be called "the dispensing power." When
kings did not like parts of acts that were passed, they would simply dispense
with those portions of the acts that they did not like. It would be inaccurate
to describe this as a dispensing power, but it certainly could be described as a
suspending power, where some individual has essentially suspended the calling
into force of an act. It is not crystal clear who that person might be because
it appears that many ministers did not know about a lot of these acts — but some
individual, perhaps a minister, perhaps a few ministers, perhaps departmental
heads, essentially suspended the calling into force of an act.
That is a mighty power. I am not sure it is one that Parliament ever intended
to invest in anyone. Parliament never intended to invest anyone with the power
to be able to suspend what Parliament had done.
Having said all of that, I thank Senator Banks for raising these questions.
As I said before, they are very important constitutional questions. God knows,
we are living in an era where Parliament, both Houses, has been so degraded and
debased to the extent that there are many cabinet ministers who cannot even
speak in the language of Parliament.
I believe that the biggest problem that most modern governments face — and I
have watched this consistently now for a couple of generations — is that, for
the most part, ministers and prime ministers know very little about Parliament.
Most of the difficulties that prime ministers and cabinets run into have to do
with their lack of familiarity with Parliament. That is one of my own pet peeves
and concerns. We see bill after bill come before us, and that absence of
knowledge is pretty clear.
For example, just a couple of weeks ago, Senator Bryden was speaking about
the animal cruelty situation and his animal cruelty bill. I believe that the
primary reason that bad bills and bad laws are passed is that the government has
no knowledge of the workings of the law of Parliament and the law of the
prerogative, and how those two systems of law should work together to produce
good statutes. That is why we have had some outlandish bills come before us.
Unfortunately, because prime ministers and governments have also consistently
weakened the position of the Governor General into nothing more than a mere
servant of the Prime Minister, we have had situations where Governors General
give assent to bills that they should not give assent to. It is a complex issue
and it raises many important considerations.
To that extent, Senator Banks, I am prepared to cut short my remarks and
allow you to close the debate so that the bill can go to the Legal Affairs
Committee and we can begin the committee study, reinforced and buttressed by the
fact that the government has taken some interest in and is supportive of this
I would also like to say to Senator Banks that the parliamentary practice is
that when governments decide that they support private members' bills, they put
their support behind that bill, and eventually take it upon themselves to
reintroduce it under the notion of ministerial responsibility.
If you remember when Bill C-250, to amend the Criminal Code regarding hate
propaganda, was passed here in the chamber, I questioned the fact that the
government was supporting a bill yet was not doing the proper constitutional
thing, which was to adopt the bill as its own and move it through the chambers
under the notion of ministerial responsibility.
In the instance of Svend Robinson's Bill C-250, An Act to amend the Criminal
Code on hate propaganda, this bill was passed with the support of the
government, but in the absence of any minister ever taking responsibility, which
I thought was rather pernicious at the time.
In any event, honourable senators, Senator Banks has done a stalwart job. The
subject matter that he has tackled in this bill is not subject matter that new
senators usually take on. I may not have said this to you before, Senator Banks,
but when you embarked on this initiative I held you in great esteem, and I had
great admiration for you because the subject matter demands a fair amount of
exertion and study. I have never said that to you, but I thought I would say
that to you today.
Thank you, honourable senators.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to inform the Senate
that if Senator Banks speaks now, his speech will have the effect of closing the
debate on the motion for second reading of this bill.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Thank you, honourable senators. Thank you, Senator
Segal, and thank you, Senator Cools, for your very kind words, which gratify and
Senator Cools has said better than I what the point of this bill is. It is
nothing less than the supremacy of Parliament.
It has been the case, without malice or Machiavellian intent, I am sure, that
successive governments have from time to time, whether through inadvertence or
otherwise, flouted the expressed will of Parliament. If Parliament cannot pass
acts into law in the reasonable expectation that they will be brought into force
within a reasonable amount of time, then we should all go home and elect 10
people to run the country, which we do not do any more.
However, there have been important questions raised in this last little
debate that I would like to address very briefly before I move that we send this
to committee for study. First, with respect to what Senator Andreychuk raised,
there are circumstances in which it is important that we have delays of one kind
or another in the bringing into force of legislation. Senator Grafstein raised
other instances in which there is a matter of urgency and importance that
requires that things be done in very short order.
I must remind honourable senators that as Senator Segal quite correctly said,
this bill refers always and only to legislation that has received Royal Assent
10 years before the date on which it comes to the attention of Parliament. It
gives the government of the day the opportunity to come and argue why it should
continue to have the discretion granted in that bill.
Honourable senators, we must remember, in respect of Senator Grafstein's
comments, that this bill does not address the question of urgency on a given
bill. In that respect, we have hoisted ourselves on our own petard. Every time a
bill comes before us that is not going to come into force on a date certain as
set out in the bill, there is that coming into force section which grants to the
government the unfettered discretion to bring the act into force at a date and
time determined by the Governor-in-Council.
The effect of this bill simply says that after that discretion has been
granted by Parliament, one has up to 10 years to decide when, but not whether,
to bring this act of Parliament into force. That is the important distinction.
Honourable senators, we must be careful when we see bills before us that
require urgent attention. We must look at that little coming into force
paragraph. When it requires that the delegation of that discretion be given to
the government, we have to be sure that we want to do that. I will do that, for
one thing, by looking at that provision in future bills that come before us
after, I hope, this bill is passed by this house. We must look at the typical
coming-into-force provision and add some words at the end of it after it says; "Shall come into force on a date to be determined by the Governor in
Council..." We must be sure to add that it shall come into force no later than
a date certain upon which the bill would be automatically repealed or brought to
the attention of Parliament.
We have to deal with those questions on a per occasion basis.
When we grant a discretion, subject to this bill which I hope will become an
act, it will not be longer than 10 years before we have to hear about it again.
I thank honourable senators again for their kind comments. I have great
pleasure in moving second reading of this bill.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Banks having spoken and the house having
been advised that should he speak, that would conclude the debate —
Senator Cools: Senator Banks can answer questions.
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, I am curious. We have been
referring to Parliament and the will of Parliament being somehow abused. Section
17 of the Constitution Act states: "There shall be one Parliament for Canada
consisting of the Queen, the upper house styled the Senate and the House of
Parliament is the Crown, the Queen; us; and the other place. When a bill is
assented to by the Queen's representative, and in that bill it says, "it shall
come into force on a day to be fixed by the Governor in Council," the Queen
with council, how can that, for however long it would last, become an abuse of
Parliament since the top member of Parliament is the person who is going to act
Senator Banks: I thank the honourable senator for his question. It is
a good one. "Abuse" is not a word I ever used. I have used "flouted,
"ignore" and sometimes "forget." While governments, as Senator Cools
suggested, have from time to time changed their mind, I do not think it is
within the purview of the government to change its mind without changing
Parliament's mind. Parliament having spoken, I do not think it has delegated to
the government the right to change Parliament's mind.
When Parliament grants to the government an unfettered, unbridled, unlimited
discretion to determine when an act comes into force, ignoring that act or
failure to bring it into force can, by definition, constitute an abuse, since
the right was granted.
This bill seeks to circumscribe that right and to say "notwithstanding the
right having been granted" and this is where the distinction comes in. The
right that was granted was not to determine whether the act should come into
force, but when. I have arbitrarily suggested that a reasonable amount of time
would be 10 years. It could be 15 or 20 or even five. There should be some
circumscription of the time for which that authority has been delegated by
Parliament to the government and to the government after that and to the
government after that and so on. As Senator Segal pointed out, we are now in
some cases, with respect to the legislation that presently would be caught by
this bill, in the sixth government following the government that introduced and
passed the act of Parliament. It is a restraint on that delegation of authority.
The Hon. the Speaker: Further questions and comments?
Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to and bill read second time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the third time?
On motion of Senator Banks, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Ringuette, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Moore, for the second reading of Bill S-201, to
amend the Public Service Employment Act (elimination of bureaucratic patronage
and geographic criteria in appointment processes).—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Could I have a time frame as to when the
opposition will be speaking on this bill?
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: The opposition?
Senator Ringuette: Sorry, I meant the leaders.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): In the
fullness of time.
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin, pursuant to notice of April 6, 2006, moved:
That the Senate should recognize the inalienable right of the first
inhabitants of the land now known as Canada to use their ancestral language to
communicate for any purpose; and
That, to facilitate the expression of this right, the Senate should
immediately take the necessary administrative and technical measures so that
senators wishing to use their ancestral language in this House may do so.
He said: Honourable senators will recall that in the previous Parliament, I
introduced a similar motion that focused on the use of Inuktitut by two of our
colleagues during Senate debates.
All parties in this chamber supported the motion. The issue was referred to
the Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. The committee
studied the content of the motion during several regular meetings, and then
formed a subcommittee to study the proposal in detail.
Once again, all members of the committee supported the purpose of the motion,
but some raised the question of the estimated cost of providing such a service.
A Senate administrator appeared before the committee and confirmed that it would
cost the Senate a million dollars to go ahead with this measure.
We realized that it might cost $1 million to renovate certain aspects of the
architecture of the Senate chamber. We know what federal government work can
cost, but that is an aside.
In principle, there do not seem to be any major problems. During the last
sitting, the committee went to the interpretation booth on the fourth floor of
this building. The senators were somewhat surprised at the poor quality of the
booth. We have to admire the interpreters for working in such conditions.
It seems that sometime in the past better physical facilities were promised
so that our interpreters could do a good job. Following this visit, we realize
that the booths need to be enlarged, or possibly new ones have to be built.
Various solutions were proposed.
In principle, there do not seem to be any obstacles to providing
interpretation in French and English of the Inuktitut language for our two
colleagues whose mother tongue that is. This language existed before Canada was
formed and these people occupied a territory before the conquest. Since we all
know what happened, there is no need to go over that again.
An important principle is at stake here. We appoint to the Senate individuals
from Canada's North where Inuktitut is predominant. It is the language used
every day. It is the mother tongue. It is taught at school. Despite the fact
that there are two official languages in Canada, I feel we should respect these
individuals by acknowledging their inalienable right to be able to express
themselves in their mother tongue.
The institution must provide them with interpretation. They should not be
required to conform to imposed standards. Their language existed before the
arrival of French, English and all the other languages and cultures in Canada
over the centuries. This is not a privilege, but a natural right and it is time
for the Parliament of Canada to recognize this right.
In Europe, rules have been established and budgets provided to preserve
regional languages. In Canada, we have treasures. Anthropologists and linguists
can tell you this. In fact, French and English contain many terms borrowed from
the Aboriginal languages of this country.
I was somewhat perplexed by the way the residential schools issue was
resolved. Over a billion dollars was allocated specifically to compensate
Aboriginal students who were mistreated at school in general.
Money is all well and good, except that we cannot take it with us to
eternity, if there is one, when we die. Money does not solve everything. In
order to truly make amends for mistakes from the past, we must focus on basic
human rights. In my opinion, the right to be able to speak in one's mother
tongue should take precedence over many other considerations, including monetary
If you want to make honourable amends and create a legacy to atone for errors
from the past, you must today recognize our two senators' right to express
themselves in their mother tongue. This is something that endures longer than
any sums of money. I am not criticizing the settlement reached between the
government, the institutions and Aboriginal peoples. That is not the issue. I am
talking about something more fundamental.
Allow me to return to my initial proposal. The Standing Committee on Rules,
Procedures and the Rights of Parliament studied the motion, but did not report
to the Senate in time before the election was called. Here we are today with
this proposal before us once again.
What I am proposing is not that this issue be sent once more to the Committee
on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, but that the Senate adopt
this motion immediately. We all know what the problem is. I believe we can all
agree that it would not cost a fortune to establish an interpretation service to
accommodate two specific senators. If other senators wish to extend the use of
Aboriginal languages to all other senators who so desire, I would not object.
Money is not the issue. We are talking about respecting basic, natural
rights. We can talk all we want about various other issues, but if we do not
allow colleagues to express their hearts and souls in their maternal language,
we deprive them of participating as efficiently as possible in debates on
legislation, studies and other matters.
I need not say anything else. I am asking the Senate to make a decision and
to order the administration of the Senate to set in place the interpretation
facilities that are required to allow any senator who wishes to use his native
language, to do so.
Hon. Charlie Watt: Honourable senators, I wonder if Senator Corbin
would accept a question.
Senator Corbin: Yes.
Senator Watt: First, I should like to indicate my appreciation to the
honourable senator for raising this matter again. It would go a long way in
terms of facilitating both Senator Adams and me. However, there is one issue
that remains — and we have dealt with this in committee; namely, what about the
other languages? I am raising this question since that could be used as a
stumbling block to prevent us from pursuing this issue, if we were compelled to
take into consideration other peoples' languages. However, those people are not
here. I am not sure if either Senator Sibbeston or Senator Gill speak their
mother tongue. If they do not, then that is fine. However, a number of
Aboriginal people have lost their language over the years.
Inuit is very healthy within the international community. I would like
honourable senators to know that the language of Inuktitut, in the international
community, is one language. There is a variation in dialects that cuts across
many lands, from Siberia, to Alaska, to Canada, but it is one language. We have
been able to communicate, and I do not think our language is about to disappear.
We are a very determined people in terms of keeping our language alive.
Inuktitut is also being used as a language of instruction in classrooms. That
practice has been in place since we signed a deal with the Government of Canada
and the Government of the Province of Quebec in regard to the well-known James
Bay/ Northern Quebec agreement. From there on, we managed to take control of our
own educational system. The language of instruction is Inuktitut, and therefore,
it has continued to grow.
The same thing applies in Nunavut. Many of our people in the North would be
thankful if, one day — and I heard an honourable senator say the other day that
we will soon have cameras in the chamber — they could follow our proceedings.
Right now, they have televisions in the North, too; people do not necessarily
live in an igloo but in a house.
Could the honourable senator answer my question in relation to other peoples'
needs? I understand today that there are only two people who really need
assistance at this point in time.
Senator Corbin: I thank Senator Watt for his question. The other
senators were approached and were asked if, from time to time, they would like
to speak their — let us call it their native language. Most of them indicated
that, indeed, they could well do that. I do not think the response was such that
they would do so all of the time, or that they felt impelled to do so most of
I think we should let that matter rest. History tells us that things evolve
over time, for one reason or another. Peoples' minds open up, as do their
hearts. We accommodate each other because we like to get along together as
nations, too, I should say, in this particular instance.
I cannot speak for our other colleagues, to answer the honourable senator
directly. However, most of them rose during the debate and indicated support.
Some of them did so as well in the committee. The record of the proceedings of
the committee will show that they were all approached and they gave various
What moved me, first and foremost, was to allow both Senator Watt and his
colleague to avail themselves of this service because, more than any other of
the so-called Aboriginal senators in this place, you are the ones who have the
greatest facility in your native language. Indeed, there are times when you
search for words in English and you cannot find them. You cannot translate what
goes on in your mind. You have great difficulty. We have had the experience of
Senator Adams reading or speaking in Inuktitut and you, Senator Watt, standing
beside him reading the English version. I thought that was helpful on your part,
but distasteful in terms of having to do that in this institution, the upper
house of the Parliament of Canada. If we provide translation for English and for
French, we should do it as well for native languages for those senators who wish
to use it.
My motion is not limiting. I suppose, like a mushroom, it can expand both
underground and above ground. It is strictly a matter of goodwill. I hope that
the Senate will give due consideration to the proposal and facilitate its coming
about in the very near future.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Corbin's time has expired. If we wish to
continue debate, or if there are further questions —
Senator Corbin: Five more minutes, please.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Corbin is prepared to ask for an
extension of five minutes. Is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: There is a question from Senator Smith.
Hon. David P. Smith: I was about to make a brief report on where the
work of that committee wound up.
The Hon. the Speaker: Right now, we are on an extension of time for
Senator Corbin. If there are no more questions or comments —
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: I have a brief question, and that is the
question of equality under the Charter. I do not think we can unilaterally
suggest that we have two colleagues who wish to assert their particular rights
without ensuring or satisfying ourselves that there is equality of rights with
respect to others in this chamber who wish equal access to their mother tongue.
I would hope that you would give this some consideration, because I do not think
we can adequately support the senators who speak their native tongue without
knowing whether there are other senators who may have equal rights. That should
all be put before us at the same time so that we can fully understand the
contours of the solution.
Senator Corbin: I thank Senator Grafstein. I am neither a lawyer nor a
constitutionalist. I am a pragmatic, practical person. All I see is a need here
and now. I would like to find solutions to satisfy that need.
My motion does not apply to so-called European languages. It deals strictly
with Canadian North American, if you wish, native languages. As far as equality
goes, I said I had no objection — and I think the members of the committee
generally spoke to that effect — to extending the interpretation services to
other Canadian native languages. Therefore, the equality criteria would be well
met, in my opinion, should the Senate decide to go that way.
Senator Smith: Honourable senators, it might be helpful to honourable
senators to have a short update on what has happened. When this matter was
referred to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament, a small committee was struck consisting of Senator Di Nino, the
current Chair of the Rules Committee, Senator Joyal and me. The first thing we
tried to do was get a better understanding of the extent to which senators
wished to use such an accommodation. At the outset, we had thought that it could
be done on a fairly economical basis when, for example, a committee member chose
to speak an Aboriginal language. As well, it was agreed that all Aboriginal
languages would have equal status, whenever there was such a request. Would this
service be available for all times that the Senate is in session? Would it be
available at committee hearings as well? Would it be for special occasions only,
when a senator would give notice of intent to make a speech in an Aboriginal
language? The necessary facilities could then be put in place in preparation for
Some senators might be aware of the situation in Yellowknife, where they have
as many as seven or eight interpreters, I believe. The cost was high to provide
the facilities, so I believe the service was reduced somewhat, but I am not up
to date on the matter. The Rules Committee had hoped to look at that experience.
We canvassed Aboriginal senators and there were several, in addition to my two
colleagues, who said that, on special occasions, they would like to be able to
use their Aboriginal language. However, they were quite satisfied with providing
the Senate with a reasonable period of notice in order that we might hire
translators, rather than have them on a full-time basis when the Senate is
We tried to get a sense of the cost of such a service if it were to be
provided on a permanent basis, to all committees and on a unionized basis. The
cost would be high, so the matter was referred to committee to try to determine
a more precise figure and to define as clearly as possible what was reasonable,
practical, respectful and fair. However, Parliament was dissolved at the call of
an election before we had any definitive answers on the matter.
The new session began and the Rules Committee resumed. Senator Corbin, in the
meantime, had put this motion on the Order Paper so that the matter was not
revived by the Rules Committee. As a committee, we were waiting to see what the
Senate as a whole would do with the issue. Certainly, there was a clear
consensus that whatever was decided, there had to be equal offerings for anyone
who wished to use any Aboriginal language. However, it was necessary to define
the extent of the need and to estimate the costs, as reasonably as possible,
before we could move forward.
Hon. Willie Adams: I would like to add to Senator Smith's comments.
Senator Watt and I have never requested Aboriginal witnesses to appear before
the Rules Committee. I have an understanding of circuitry because I was an
electrician, although I do not know the specifics of the wiring in the chamber.
I would guess that there must be a booth that could be used for the translator,
although costs would be incurred to make the space suitable for another
If the position were designated permanent, I do not know what the salary
would be but certainly it would compare to other interpreter positions in
Ottawa. I do not know whether there are as many as seven or eight Aboriginal
interpreters in Yellowknife now because, after the territory was split and
Nunavut was created, many of them left.
A person hired by the Senate as a translator would be part of the staff like
the current translators. We have numerous witnesses from Nunavut appearing
before Senate committees, such as Fisheries and Oceans, in Ottawa, and we need
translators. Persons hired for the position could work in committees as well as
in the chamber. I do not know how much it would cost for the materiel and human
resources but it would not be $1 million. Much would depend on the kind of
equipment installed and the extent of any renovations. We have no trouble
accommodating translators in the Aboriginal Committee room, 160-S. I do not
think the cost would be a big deal.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): In reference
to the comment of Senator Adams, when the Senate Fisheries Committee did a study
of the North, it had interpreters for English to French to Inuktitut — three-way
interpretation. If the committee does look at these issues, they might find the
experience of the Fisheries Committee helpful.
On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein, pursuant to notice of May 30, 2006,
That the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce which was
authorized by the Senate on May 2, 2006 to examine and report on issues
dealing with the demographic change that will occur in Canada within the next
two decades, be authorized to retain until July 31, 2006 all powers necessary
to publicize its findings.
He said: Honourable senators, this is a very simple request to allow an
extension of the committee's budget for a particular study to be extended to
July 31. Honourable senators will recall that the committee held its hearings
during the previous session of Parliament, which was dissolved. The committee
was to consider the report on demographic studies today and tomorrow, with the
hope that it could be completed in time. However, it would seem that the time
available is not sufficient. It will likely take until the end of July to
complete and publish the report in both official languages. Therefore, we need
the expenditure to be extended to July 31. This is not a request for additional
expenditure but, rather, an extension to July 31 of the expenditure that was
Hon Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I find Senator Grafstein's explanation entirely reasonable so I do not
rise in opposition. However, as I read the wording of this motion, I am not
certain that is exactly what it says. The motion contains a request for an
extension for powers necessary to publicize the findings of the committee. It is
my understanding that the honourable senator requests an extension to enable the
committee to report and to publicize. Is that true?
Senator Grafstein: Honourable senators, it is our expectation that we
will complete the report within the next week or ten days. You will recall that
there is an onus on each senator who is chair of a committee to be responsible
for publicizing the report. We will need some time afterwards to be able to
properly publicize it. In the next couple of days we hope to have a very
important study on consumer protection. We do not want the two studies to be
released too close together because we think we lose out on the publicity if we
release two of our studies back to back. Therefore we are hoping to leave some
space between the release of the two studies to allow adequate opportunity to
fully publicize each study from coast to coast to coast.
Senator Fraser: On a point of clarification, is the committee planning
to report within its deadline, and is that report just for publicity purposes?
Senator Grafstein: Exactly.
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?
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette, pursuant to notice of May 30, 2006, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce study and
report on the Canada-United States agreement on softwood lumber;
That the Committee analyse, among other things, the impact of Canada's
resource management on sovereignty, the impact on the interpretation of NAFTA
chapters 11 and 19, and provisions contained in the agreement with regard to
financial support for the industry and its workers.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, with leave of the
Senate and pursuant to rule 30, I move that the motion be amended to read as
That the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce study and
report on the Canada-United States agreement on softwood lumber;
That the Committee analyse, among other things, the impact of Canada's
resource management on sovereignty, the impact on the interpretation of NAFTA
chapters 11 and 19, and provisions contained in the agreement with regard to
financial support for the industry and its workers; and
That the Committee report to the Senate no later than October 2, 2006.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted?
Some Hon. Senators: Yes.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: Leave is not granted, honourable senators.
Senator Ringuette: Today I have the honour to begin the debate on this
motion, which proposes that the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and
Commerce study and report on the Canada-United States agreement on softwood
I would like the committee to analyze, among other things, the impact on
Canadian sovereignty over resource management, the impact on the interpretation
of chapters 11 and 19 of NAFTA, and the provisions in the agreement with respect
to financial support for the industry and its workers.
As you know, an article in the Winnipeg Free Press on Saturday, May
13, pertaining to a media interview of Minister Emerson held in Vancouver,
reported him as having said:
Provincial governments will be expected to vet any forest policy changes
through Washington under the terms of the new softwood lumber agreement...
Those are the words of the International Trade Minister, David Emerson, as a
member of the Conservative government. Surely it is not respectful of the
Canadian Constitution in regard to provincial jurisdiction to cede our
provincial sovereignty to Washington. This deal does not represent a solution
for Canada. It represents our surrender to the U.S.
Why was it that the Conservative International Trade Minister, David Emerson,
who held the same portfolio in the last Liberal government, recommended the
rejection of the same type of deal because it was not good enough for Canada?
Why is it that the deal is now good enough?
Honourable senators, being able to study this proposed softwood lumber deal
would give us a chance to see why the Harper government is ready to give up our
provincial and national sovereignty over the management of our natural
resources. Even the Canadian forest industry said that the package's so-called
anti-circumventing clause could give the U.S. government a veto on changes to
provincial forestry policies, and thus impinging on Canadian sovereignty.
It sure did not take the Prime Minister long to surrender Canada's industry
in the hope of scoring cheap political points with the U.S. The terms of this
agreement were unacceptable to the Conservatives when they were in opposition.
Why are they acceptable now? The best the Conservatives could achieve was a deal
that the Liberal government rejected. The Conservative government even caved in
to the U.S. government in agreeing to a softwood lumber deal that would see the
Americans keep over $1 billion of the tariffs illegally collected at the expense
of the Canadian industry, half of which will go to the U.S.-based lumber
coalition to compete against our own lumber industry and lawyers.
Here is an interesting quote from Mr. Harper, no less, when he addressed the
Conservative national caucus in Halifax on September 7, 2005. Mr. Harper said:
There can be no question of Canada returning to a conventional bargaining
table, as the U.S. Ambassador has suggested.
You don't negotiate after you've won.
The issue is compliance.
And achieving full compliance should be the objective of the Prime Minister.
That was Stephen Harper when he was Leader of the Opposition, of course, but
that was not so long ago; it was just last September. When the Conservatives
were the official opposition, they demanded that the U.S. respect NAFTA rulings
that were in Canada's favour, that Canada settle for nothing less than full
compliance and that we even refuse to continue to negotiate, but it did not take
long for Prime Minister Harper to cave in to his American Republican friends.
This government owes it to Canadians to achieve nothing less than what they
promised: free trade and a 100 per cent refund.
Why is it that, back then, Mr. Harper did not want to negotiate, and now he
has not only negotiated, has given away Canada's sovereignty and over $1 billion
collected by the Americans at the expense of our Canadian forest industry?
Thanks to this government's softwood sellout to the U.S., Canada's forestry
policy must now be vetted by Washington. This so-called deal clearly shows the
government's strength is capitulation, not negotiation.
By caving in to this deal, Prime Minister Harper is wasting years of work
that the Liberal government and the Canadian forest industry have put into
making sure Canada got the best deal and that our lumber industry was protected.
By catering to the U.S. forest industry, they can now do research and
development and market strategy so that they can be more aggressively
competitive against us in the global marketplace.
On May 15, as a result of the proposed softwood agreement yet to be signed,
our own Canadian forest industry had no choice but to file a lawsuit against
this Tory government — against their own government — because they have turned
their backs on the industry and gone along with the American protectionist
Our Canadian forest industry is saying that the Tory government and the
American government have conspired against Canadian private industry. Had we not
stopped the litigation, we would have eventually recovered all of the money that
the Americans took from our industry. We were so close to winning again.
Unfortunately, this deal wants to eliminate all Canadian victories, past and
future. This agreement is nothing more than a political agreement without being
a reliable commercial agreement. Some estimates go so far as to say that up to
20 per cent of our sawmills and our jobs will go out of business because of this
As Jamie Lim of the Ontario Forest Industry Association puts it, we expect to
suffer, and suffer significantly, under the terms as they are now written.
Moreover, the deal that is written now has no hope of exit. Policy reforms are
subject to U.S. judgment and to U.S. veto, and there is no termination clause.
Honourable senators, we cannot afford short-term gain for long-term pain.
This Conservative government wants to speed up the process and sign this deal by
June 15. However, to proceed quickly is risky, because we risk not getting it
right. If we do not get it right, then this deal will turn out to be worse for
our Canadian forest industry. The Americans want to speed up this deal because a
deficient agreement will work to their benefit and to the absolute disadvantage
of the Canadian forest industry.
We have to be aware that we have only one chance to get this right, and if we
try to rush through, and this deal turns out not to be a reliable commercial
agreement, then Canadians will pay the price and live with the consequences.
Industry representatives have stated that the proposed softwood lumber deal
is worse and will make them suffer more than the current situation. Mr. Carl
Grenier, the Executive Vice-President of the Free Trade Lumber Council, has
declared that the basic U.S. objective of the agreement is to erase the last
four years of litigation, to eliminate all Canadian legal victories and to
replace them with the same old legal assertions that the U.S. industry has been
making for the last 25 years. They want to be ready for another trade war on
this issue as soon as the current deal fails or expires, and they want to wipe
out any advantage Canada may have gained from defending itself during the last
The Conservative government has invested $1 billion into the American forest
industry, and they can now do research and development with the money from our
Canadian companies. Not only did our Canadian forest industry lose $1 billion,
but the Conservatives also decided to remove from their budget the previous
government package worth almost $1.5 billion designed to help Canada's forest
industry remain strong and sustainable.
In November 2005, the Liberal government flatly rejected the same deal
because it was not in the best interests of Canada. This so-called deal means $1
billion of Canadian money can be used against us to impose unfair restrictions
on Canada's lumber industry. By agreeing to this flawed deal, the Prime Minister
has sold out the Canadian lumber industry. This deal represents the Prime
Minister caving in to the U.S., not solving the softwood lumber issue for
As with all agreements, the devil is in the details. We strongly suspect that
there are more devils in the details of this deal than the Prime Minister is
letting on. This deal does not reflect free trade. We are at the mercy of the
U.S. The fact that we would cave in like this is disappointing. Despite my
position on this issue, this motion is not a debate on the agreement, but on the
possibility for this chamber to analyze what the government is agreeing to on
behalf of all Canadians.
Numerous members of the Conservative Party shared views that negotiation must
proceed quickly with our U.S. counterparts in order to finalize the details of
the Softwood Lumber Agreement. Many members of the government in place believe
that we must blindly put our faith in the hands of the executive and accept any
final deal that may be aligned with the already-proposed draft. I believe that
there is a requirement for transparency — we remember that word, "transparency" — and the need for, at the least, an examination of this
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Ringuette: I seem to have just touched upon an issue here,
have I, "transparency"? How cute.
I believe there is a serious requirement for transparency and the need for at
least an examination of this agreement and its consequences on our industry and
its workers by this chamber.
Canadians want good governance. They want to know the content and
consequences of agreements that the government will sign on their behalf. They
want greater openness and transparency, and they want to be able to hold
Parliament, their government and public sector officials to account for results.
In order to do so, it is the role of parliamentarians to examine and analyze the
issues. The House of Commons is already listening to the stakeholders, and yet,
because of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, this chamber has sat idle
on the issue.
I have asked six times for the Leader of the Government in the Senate to
table the proposed Softwood Lumber Agreement and to refer it for full study to
the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, but to no avail.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Ringuette: That is why I now move that this deal be referred
to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce today.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Ringuette: Honourable senators, in the spirit of openness,
transparency, accountability and fairness I would also like to table, for all of
you to be able to read —
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Ringuette: Honourable senators, may I? I am sorry that I am
disturbing you, but I wish to continue. Thank you.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Ringuette: Please shut up.
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to inform Senator Ringuette that her
time has expired.
Some Hon. Senators: Order, order!
Senator Ringuette: I have one more minute, Your Honour.
The Hon. the Speaker: Order. Senator Ringuette is indicating that she
would like to have one more minute to speak. There is also a request to table a
document, so I will deal with the latter first.
Senator Ringuette: This is fun. Honourable senators, for your
interest, I would also like to table, along with my motion, documents that I
have received in a brown envelope.
These envelopes, I believe, contain drafts, in English and in French, of the
proposed softwood lumber agreement. They are 25 pages in length.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Some Hon. Senators: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Leave is not granted.
Senator Fraser: Read them.
Senator Ringuette: Do I have four or so minutes left? Very well. The
SOFTWOOD LUMBER AGREEMENT
THE GOVERNMENT Of
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
The Government of Canada ("Canada") and the Government of the United
States of America ("United States")
HAVE AGREED AS FOLLOWS:
The objectives of this Agreement are to:
1. eliminate all current litigation and prevent disputes arising from
trade of softwood lumber products between Canada and the United States;
2. facilitate and encourage mutual beneficial trade in softwood lumber;
3. foster competitive conditions in the North American softwood lumber
market, the expansion of existing markets and the growth of new markets
for softwood lumber (and participate in meritorious initiatives).
SCOPE OF COVERAGE
1. This Agreement applies to trade in softwood lumber products. Softwood
lumber products are those products listed in Annex I.
2. No new softwood lumber products will be added to the scope of this
— meaning we cannot add value-added products; you need to read between the
lines here —
— without the mutual agreement of the Parties regardless of any tariff
reclassification or other action by the United States.
REVOCATION OF ANTI-DUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY
REFUND OF ANTI-DUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY
REFUND OF CASH DEPOSITS MADE WITHOUT PREJUDICE...
COMMITMENTS OF THE UNITED STATES CONCERNING TRADE
REMEDY INVESTIGATIONS AND ACTION AND OTHER LITIGATION...
CANADIAN EXPORT MEASURES
Honourable senators, I think this one merits our concerns.
1. Immediately upon revocation of the AD Order, the CVD Order and the
termination of all current administrative, expedited, changed circumstances,
and new shipper reviews by the United States in accordance with Article III,
the following export measures will be applicable: (1) an export charge; (2) an
export charge plus a volume restraint; (3) a surcharge mechanism; and (4) a
third country trigger.
That sounds pretty one-sided to me. I move on:
EXPORT CHARGE AND EXPORT CHARGE PLUS VOLUME
That means quotas, right? Then, Article IX says:
CANADIAN EXPORT SURGE...
THIRD COUNTRY EXPORT SURGE...
EXCLUSIONS FROM THE EXPORT MEASURE...
TERMINATION OF LITIGATION...
I do not know why they put that in there because they do not believe in it.
Then the document goes on —
The Hon. the Speaker: Order! The five-minute extension has expired.
The Honourable Senator Comeau?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): I had been
kind of hoping that the honourable senator would refer to the André Ouellet
board of directors' expense accounts that she used to sign, but that did not
Having said that, I will move the adjournment of the debate.
Senator Ringuette: On a point of order, Your Honour —
Senator Milne: I rise to speak to this motion —
The Hon. the Speaker: There is a motion on the floor that has been put
forward, which is that it was moved by the Honourable Senator Comeau, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Oliver, that further debate be adjourned until the
next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Normally, Your Honour, a point of order —
The Hon. the Speaker: This question is before the house. Is it your
pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the yeas have it.
On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned, on division.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there is a House order that
I must put to you. The House order is that, it being 4 p.m., and pursuant to the
order adopted by the Senate on April 6, 2005, I declare the Senate continued
until Thursday, June 1, 2006, at 1:30 p.m., the Senate so decreed.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Your Honour, four people were standing for a
vote on the adjournment motion.
Senator Ringuette: Your Honour —
Senator Milne: Point of order.
The Senate adjourned until tomorrow, Thursday, June 1, 2006, at 1:30 p.m.