Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 21
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, this week, 17 people, five
under the age of 18, were arrested for terrorism-related offences. For reasons
difficult to understand, they were intent on committing acts of terror upon
their own country of Canada and upon their fellow Canadians. Fortunately, these
misguided intentions came to nothing.
To the men and women of the participating organizations — RCMP, CSIS, local
law enforcement and Toronto's Integrated National Security Enforcement Team —
our heartfelt gratitude and thanks. You did your job and you did it well.
We have known for a long time that we are no more immune to threats of the
sort that we came up against this past weekend than the U.S., the U.K. or any
other nation that has taken up the battle against terrorism.
Just last week, Jack Hooper, the Deputy Director of Operations at CSIS warned
the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence of the threat
from homegrown terrorists saying:
We have a bifurcated threat at this point — the threat that comes to Canada
from the outside as well as a homegrown threat, and the homegrown variants
look to Canada to execute their targeting. They are not looking to
Afghanistan, the U.K. or anywhere else.
We are well aware that we have been singled out because of our efforts in
Afghanistan. In response, I say that we are in that country because we have a
job to do: rebuild a nation steeped in despair and fear and prevent Afghanistan
from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists.
As the Prime Minister has said:
We just cannot let the Taliban, backed by al Qaeda, or similar extremist
elements return to power in Afghanistan.
We cannot let extremist elements undermine our security at home.
Frankly, trying to deter our efforts against terrorism with a terrorist
attack or the threat of a terrorist attack will not work. Rather, it serves to
increase our resolve. After all, we are Canadians, and we will not back down
when we know what we are doing is right; and, honourable senators, what we are
doing is right.
This weekend, our security and intelligence efforts worked. We need to make
sure they continue to do so.
I am pleased to say that this government is doing all that it can to ensure
the national security of all Canadians here at home. We are strengthening our
laws. In the budget, which will appear before us this afternoon, we are putting
more resources toward police and security. We are doing this because we need to.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, 62 years ago, a
young artillery captain called John Matheson was adjusting artillery fire in
southern Italy in support of an infantry attack on an enemy position. Exposed
while performing that duty, he received shrapnel from enemy artillery fire. He
was rendered an invalid and, in fact, was evacuated as an "hors de combat."
Over the years, he continued, through the Veterans Charter, to study. He
became a lawyer, then a judge and, ultimately, in 1964 was appointed by Prime
Minister Lester Pearson to head the peacetime campaign to choose the national
flag. Mr. Matheson once again led with diligence, determination and courage in
the final selection of the Canadian flag, which was inspired by the flag of the
Royal Military College of Canada, which flew over the Mackenzie Building when he
went off to war 25 years earlier. The success of that campaign is obvious to us
After graduating from the Royal Military College of Canada, I was also
appointed as a forward observation officer in the Cold War campaign, where East
and West were facing each other across the German borders. In that war, no big
guns were fired in anger.
Today, at this moment, as I stand here in this chamber, in Canada's National
Military Cemetery in Beechwood Cemetery here in our nation's capital, a large
gathering of generals and admirals, colonels and captains, warrant officers and
sergeants, corporals and privates and bombardiers and gunners, as they are
called in the artillery, are laying to rest Captain Nichola Goddard, killed in
action as an artillery forward observation officer on May 17, 2006.
While exposed in order to call down fire of the big guns to protect the
infantry around her and neutralize the enemy target, her armoured vehicle was
fired upon by three anti-armour rockets. Exposed as she was in doing her duty,
her body was shattered by shrapnel in the blast and she died at her post.
This young woman was also a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada
with an honours degree in English, which she completed with first-class honours
four years to the day before her death. She gave her life for both the
protection of her comrades and the successful accomplishment of the perilous
Most worthy of recognition, her ultimate sacrifice is emblematic of the equal
sacrifices that women of our great nation are making for the advancement of
democracy, human rights, rule of law, empowerment of women in male-dominated
societies and equal education for girls and boys. Her role, and the terrible
price she has paid, as well as the lasting suffering of her comrades in arms and
her family, are not in vain.
It was not for myopic, near-term, tactical politics that she served overseas.
She served in the firm belief that her mission was just, and essential to the
innocent women and men of Afghanistan and to the advancement of freedom from all
forms of oppression by extremists in the world.
Captain Goddard died at her post, a woman of this nation serving under the
flag of this nation in a far-off land. As those before her did and others who
follow will do, she died for the greatest cause on earth, the protection and
advancement of human rights for all humans. All humans are human; not one of us
is more human than the other and not one of us counts more than the other.
May she rest in peace.
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, I rise to underscore the
importance of donating blood, and to encourage all senators and staff who can to
make a donation tomorrow when the Canadian Blood Services brings their blood
donor clinic to Parliament Hill.
Some of you may be asking yourselves, what difference will it make if I visit
tomorrow's clinic? By simply making one blood donation, you can help to save up
to three lives. Your donation can make a very big difference indeed. Blood and
blood products are needed for recipients of heart bypass surgery, cancer
treatment, transplants, car accidents and a range of other procedures. The need
for blood in this country is great and is rising significantly.
Consider for a moment that the number of transplants in Canada has increased
from 16 per 1 million Canadians in 1981 to 59 per 1 million at the start of the
new millennium. This figure includes kidney, liver, pancreas, heart, lung, and
bowel transplants. Each of these procedures is lengthy and large amounts of
blood are needed to ensure their success.
However, the fact is that less than 4 per cent of the eligible population in
Canada actually donate blood. To be eligible to donate you must bring along
identification and be at least 17 years of age, and we senators have no problem
there. You must weigh a minimum of 110 pounds, be in general good health, and be
feeling well on donation day. At the clinic, Canadian Blood Services staff will
further screen you to determine your eligibility to safely donate to the
national blood supply. If concern about your iron levels is holding you back
from donating, you should know that they will test your hemoglobin at the clinic
and will not accept a donation if your iron level is low. You will also answer a
series of questions about any medication you might be taking, about dental
treatment in the last 24 to 72 hours and so forth. I encourage all honourable
senators and staff to call 1-888-2-DONATE to make an appointment for tomorrow's
clinic or to find out more about donating at future clinics.
Honourable senators, it takes less than one hour to donate blood. The gift of
a blood donation directly helps to save the lives of others. I hope to see you
there, in room 200 West Block, tomorrow beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, for the past several weeks
Canadian parliamentarians have had the opportunity to introduce American student
interns to our form of democratic government.
This year, students from nine American universities from five different
States have chosen to broaden their knowledge of international policy
development through a six-week program here in Ottawa.
The students were given the option to work for a specific political party in
the offices of Members of the House of Commons and the Senate. A few students
interested in the role of democracy and the media have been working with the
Canadian Parliamentary Affairs Channel. Students are given the opportunity to
gain hands-on experience doing research, answering constituency letters,
preparing materials to be sent to members' ridings, attending committee
meetings, writing speeches and attending receptions.
Each year, approximately 30 students are chosen to participate in the program
to familiarize themselves with Canadian policy and history. The program was
established in 1983 by Professor Helen Graves from the University of Michigan,
and was later adopted and continued by Dr. James Baker. Dr. Baker continues to
encourage students to take advantage of the vast cultural and historic
activities that Ottawa and Canada have to offer.
The students are housed at the University of Ottawa, which allows them to be
close to Parliament Hill and within reach of all the activities that Ottawa
provides to its visitors.
As part of the program activities this year, students visited the Quebec
National Assembly and spoke to the Speaker of the House of Commons, the
Honourable Peter Milliken. They visited the U.S. Embassy to speak to career
diplomats and met with the Usher of the Black Rod. They met with the Speaker of
the Senate, the Honourable Noël A. Kinsella and with the U.S. Ambassador to
Canada, David Wilkins. As honourable senators have probably gathered, these
interns have been very busy over the past several weeks.
The experiences that these students have shared together with new friends in
and out of the office will be lifelong memories. Although six weeks goes by all
too fast, and soon they will be returning to their homes and universities in the
United States, they will return as new ambassadors for Canada and this wonderful
Honourable senators, my office has had the privilege of hosting Sarah Robb, a
student at the University of Indiana, specializing in international studies. She
has contributed greatly to my office over the past several weeks, and we will be
sad to see her leave. Indeed, she has helped to prepare this statement that I am
giving today. We thank the students for their interest in Canada, and we wish
them well in their future studies.
Hon. Madeleine Plamondon: Honourable senators, I would like to draw to
your attention the Women's Institutes of Nova Scotia, a group that is doing
excellent work on water quality. Recently, I met with two of the group's
representatives, Ruth Blenkhorn and Ellen Simpson, to discuss the results of a
very important project, Rural Water Quality.
We know that most Canadians do not associate our country with water scarcity
problems, but our resources are becoming polluted. When the water is
contaminated, it is unavailable for human consumption.
In the cities, we rely on municipal water treatment systems and qualified
operators to provide us with drinkable water, but in rural areas, the owner of
the well has the responsibility to have the water tested.
In Nova Scotia, 46 per cent of the 940,000 people depend on groundwater from
wells for their drinking water. The Women's Institutes of Nova Scotia has
organized workshops, visited 75 homes in three counties and had their water
tested free of charge. They also conducted public information sessions.
Thirty-three per cent of wells tested positive for coliforms, 4 per cent
nitrates and 3 per cent for E.coli. Forty-nine per cent had their water retested
but similar problems of high levels of iron, nitrates, coliforms and E.coli were
We have to remember that even if 20 per cent of the world's fresh water is in
Canada, only 9 per cent is usable. This group's relevant recommendations include
ongoing public education programs and water quality projects for students at all
levels of education. WINS recommends the reduction of water quality testing fees
for low-income families and encourages governments to assist and encourages
homeowners to update old septic systems.
As this is Environment Week, I am very pleased to congratulate the Women's
Institutes of Nova Scotia for their excellent work. Without access to
good-quality water, we cannot have a healthy environment.
Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, last week, I had occasion
to indicate that when one of our members is honoured, it does honour to each of
us and to this institution. Today, I have the pleasure of indicating to you that
Senator Tardif is not here this afternoon because she is being awarded an
honorary doctorate at the University of Ottawa.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Goldstein: Senator Tardif has long been recognized as one of
Canada's foremost advocates and defenders of minority linguistic and cultural
rights and for her very considerable contribution to secondary and
Before entering public life, she attained her own PhD and then worked in
higher education, first as a professor, and then as Dean of the Faculté
Saint-Jean, as well as a number of other positions within the University of
Alberta. Dr. Tardif is a tireless advocate for the francophone community in
Alberta and elsewhere. She has published in numerous publications. She focuses
on immersion education and the role of francophone schooling in the development
of a cultural identity in a minority environment.
Honourable senators, please join me in congratulating Senator Tardif.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your
attention to the presence in the gallery of Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter,
member of the United States House of Representatives for the 28th District of
On behalf of all honourable senators, Congresswoman, welcome to the Senate of
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Terry Stratton, Chair of the Committee of Selection, presented
the following report:
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
The Committee of Selection has the honour to present its
Pursuant to Rule 85(1)(b) of the Rules of the Senate, your Committee
submits herewith the list of Senators nominated by it to serve on the
STANDING COMMITTEE ON INTERNAL ECONOMY, BUDGETS AND
The Honourable Senators Comeau, Cook, Downe, Furey, Jaffer, Kenny,
Kinsella, Massicotte, Nolin, Phalen, Poulin, Prud'homme, P.C., Robichaud,
P.C., Stollery and Stratton.
Pursuant to Rule 87, the Honourable Senator Hays (or Fraser) and the
Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C. (or Comeau) are members ex officio of each
The Hon. the Speaker: When shall this report be taken into
On motion of Senator Stratton, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I move, seconded by the Honourable Senator Hays:
That pursuant to Rule 85(2.1) of the Rules of the Senate the
membership of the Standing Senate Committee on Conflict of Interest for
Senators is follows:
The Honourable Senators: Andreychuk, Angus, Carstairs, P.C., Joyal, P.C.,
and Robichaud, P.C.
Pursuant to Rule 85(2.1) the motion was deemed adopted.
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, I give notice
that in two days hence:
I shall call the attention of the Senate to concerns regarding the
agreements in principle signed by the Government of Canada and the provincial
governments between April 29, 2005, and November 25, 2005, entitled, "Moving
Forward on Early Learning and Child Care," as well as the funding agreements
with Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec, and the agreements in principle prepared
for Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Hon. Madeleine Plamondon: Honourable senators, I give notice that two
I shall call the attention of the Senate to the importance of recognizing
access to drinking water as a fundamental human right.
Hon. Francis Fox: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader
of the Government in the Senate. Millions of Canadians consider this issue to be
of vital importance. I would like to know the government's position on the
ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.
At its annual conference held in Montreal last Saturday, the Federation of
Canadian Municipalities, which represents 1,400 municipal leaders from across
Canada, adopted a policy statement supporting ratification of the Kyoto
I will quote a passage:
"Municipal governments commit themselves ... to implementing policies and
operational changes that will achieve a global reduction in greenhouse gas
emissions of 30 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050, based on 1990
levels," the statement says.
These targets significantly exceed the targets set and accepted by Canada as
a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. The current government considers these
Furthermore, last Monday, Premier Charest indicated that Kyoto is our best
option and that it is extremely important that Canada set an example on the
international stage if it hopes to influence its southern neighbours and
emerging major powers like China and Brazil.
I would add that the United Kingdom, a major advocate of Kyoto, is setting
targets that go well beyond those proposed by Kyoto. Last weekend, 238 municipal
mayors from around the United States, representing some 44.5 million people,
expressed their support for Kyoto's main principles and targets.
Today, we read in Canada's French-language press that some 30 reputable
economists from Canada's top universities are saying that Mr. Harper's plan, the
plan endorsed by the minister's party, is a mistake both environmentally and
economically. They say that Canada is on the wrong track and that it will damage
its economy considerably by considering the idea of a made-in-Canada plan that
falls short of the legal requirements of the Kyoto Protocol.
In light of the consensus in Canada of an informed public and professional
opinion, is the minister willing to urge her cabinet colleagues to reconsider
their position on Kyoto and to take a leadership role within the UN Council on
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I thank Senator Fox for his question.
The federal government joins with the Canadian municipalities, the provinces
and territories in wanting to see a reduction in greenhouse gases, instead of
continuing the previous government's pattern of inaction, as I mentioned
We will continue to work with them, along with industry and environmental
groups, to create a comprehensive made-in-Canada plan that we will bring
forward in the fall. When that plan comes forward, most environmentalists and
people who are watching this bill will be pleased.
As I have said before, we have worked constructively with the global
community on this issue, especially in recent weeks. Minister Rona Ambrose and
her officials are to be commended for gaining international support as we look
towards the post-2012 period.
Yesterday, honourable senators, witnesses appeared before the Standing
Committee on Natural Resources in the other place. They expressed support for a
climate change program containing realistic targets and support for new
technologies. That is just what our new government has stated is needed. The
Energy Dialogue Group, an alliance of 19 energy associations, said that the
previous government's climate change plans must be reworked to meet the Kyoto
targets. They said the only way of reaching the targets would be through
spending billions of taxpayers' dollars on foreign emission credits. The chair
of the group, Hans Konow, said, "We would prefer to invest in technology
development that we could then deploy as a means of complying with some climate
change regime." It is clear from these comments, honourable senators, that
there are groups within Canada that want to work with the new government to
ensure our country has an effective and realistic approach to reducing
greenhouse gas emissions.
Senator Fox: Honourable senators, if the government continues to
reduce credits to provinces for their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
— I am thinking of the $382 million intended for the Government of Quebec —
obviously we will not reach the objectives in question. Of course, we could
quote a litany of individuals who support the government's position, as the
minister just did.
Nevertheless, I am asking the minister if her government is prepared to sit
down with the 30 economists, none of whom could be described as a nobody, like
the nameless individual in Cirque du Soleil Quidam. All are leading
economists at Canadian universities. We cannot just casually set aside their
views. In addition, the mayors of Canada's municipalities have something to say
about this matter.
Is the government willing to consult these 30 economists and the Federation
of Canadian Municipalities to come to a better understanding of their position?
Will the government exercise international leadership as proposed by Premier
Charest and the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I do not think anyone could
possibly say that we are in any way diminishing or wishing to swipe aside any
plan going forward. I am confident that Minister Ambrose will meet with any
group that wants to advance proposals toward a reasonable goal of made-in-Canada
solutions. As I mentioned earlier, in Bonn, all developing nations have
acknowledged Canada's honesty in saying that it was impossible to reach the
targets of Kyoto. The previous government proved that.
I can say with great certainty that Minister Ambrose is not ruling out
meeting and speaking with anyone as she works towards presenting Canadians with
the new government's plans for this important file.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, my question is also to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate and is also about the environment.
The leader has done it again. I am going to ask the leader to consider, and
to take to the government a request to straighten out, a syntactical
inexactitude to which the government always seems to revert when questions of
climate change and emissions arise, the one she used just a moment ago,
"made-in-Canada." Will the leader observe the nicety and ask her colleagues in
government to observe the nicety of not referring to the solution as "made-in-Canada"?
Is there any commitment that Canada made under Kyoto that was not designed,
set out and agreed to in Canada by Canadians?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for the question.
As I have said on many occasions, the desires and the targets set by the
Kyoto agreement, while admirable, and while no one would question the good
intentions of the signatories, are simply not reachable. The previous government
proved how unreachable those targets were. Ordinary Canadians may not realize
that in order to meet the targets set out in Kyoto right now we would have to
shut down every car, truck, train, lawn mower — every moving vehicle in this
Minister Ambrose and the government will work at this serious issue. The
proposals they put forward to deal with this worldwide problem will be made in
Canada and the solutions will be made in Canada.
Senator Banks: I thank the leader for her response but, with respect,
she did not answer my question specifically about using the language
"made-in-Canada," which infers that something else was not.
Another rock behind which the government seems to hide when this question
comes up is the subject of clean air. Kyoto does not have anything to do with
clean air in the normal sense in which those words are understood. Kyoto has to
do with one thing: the reduction of greenhouse gases, the most prevalent of
which is CO2. CO2 is not dirty. CO2 is not
susceptible of being cleaned. Clean air does not have anything to do with CO2.
Clean air, as it is understood by anyone who has even a grazing understanding of
the subject, has to do with removal from the air of things like volatile,
organic compounds and particulates of various kinds; sulphur that has been
successfully removed from the air so that we do not have sulphuric acid running
down into our lakes any more; and mercury and other elements that need to be
cleaned from the air. The connection between clean air, on one hand, and Kyoto
climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, on the other, is a long-stick and
In the same sense that I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to
consider not using the term "made-in-Canada," I ask that she stop using the
term "clean air" when referring to removal of greenhouse gas emissions,
because it is not correct. The term is misleading. I do not know whether it
derives from confusion, but in any case it is leading to confusion. Would she
undertake not to use those phrases?
Senator LeBreton: I cannot undertake not to use such terms because I
answer questions as they are put to me. I will try my best not to confuse the
It is clear to everyone, including the witnesses who appeared before the
committee of the other place yesterday, that we do need a new approach to
climate change, one that is effective and realistic and, as I have said, made in
Canada and made for Canadians.
The government is very much seized of this issue. Minister Rona Ambrose is
meeting with various stakeholders, not only in Canada, but also internationally.
In the fall we will be presenting to Parliament and to the Canadian public our
own plans in regard to the issue of climate change.
Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I
would like to return to a question on agriculture.
I thank the Leader of the Government for the delayed answer I received last
week on programs designed to assist the Canadian farm sector, namely the
enhanced Spring Credit Advance Program. That is now Bill C-15, to which I
believe we will give expeditious legislative treatment. There is also the Grain
and Oilseed Payments Program, the CAIS Inventory Transition Initiative and the
Cover Crop Protection Program.
In summary, the response indicates that virtually all of the new money in the
budget is or will be disbursed under these programs, to quote from the delayed
answer, "as quickly as possible."
I return to the subject because last week we received additional information
on farm income and I feel it is important to have this alarming information on
The numbers in the Statistics Canada reports demonstrate the critical
problems our farmers face and indicate that farmers have extremely low levels of
farm income. The report indicates that realized net income declined by 7.7 per
cent in 2005, on top of a decline of 8 per cent in 2004.
In Alberta alone, realized net income dropped by one half of its previous
year's level, some of which is explained by increasing inventories but most of
which is explained by increased costs. In Manitoba, realized net income declined
by 40 per cent.
We have a situation of increasing costs in inputs for farmers and declining
income. To put it in a dramatic way, net farm income in 2004 was $4.06 billion
and in 2005 it was $2.61 billion. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture, you
will know from preambles to previous question, was looking for $2 billion. The
government did find $1 billion. It is not clear how much is needed in
particular, as the situation continues to deteriorate.
My first question is along the lines of the delayed answer, which indicates
programs will be developed as quickly as possible. Could the Leader of the
Government update us on what that means in terms of when these programs will
actually be developed?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for that long question.
I was pleased by the quick response from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
and Minister Strahl to the honourable senator's original question.
I do not have a timetable. I would be happy to submit this question as I did
the others, and ask the minister and the department if they could specifically
outline a timetable for these payments.
Senator Hays: It is a long question, but it is a very serious problem.
I notice that some of my rural friends have left the room. Perhaps I have not
been dramatic enough in highlighting the seriousness of this problem.
The second question I would like to put is as follows: In the 1980s, when we
had a similar disaster — and I notice Senator Gustafson has not left — the then
government of Brian Mulroney developed programs which were based on gross
income. The programs that are in place now, one of which the government has
shown a preference to do away with, namely CAIS, are based on net farm income.
Could the minister advise us if the government recognizes that addressing
only net farm income will not help the people who are in such serious problems
and that something needs to be done based on gross farm income?
Senator LeBreton: I well remember because Senator Gustafson was one of
the people on behalf of agriculture who was putting a significant amount of
pressure on then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
As honourable senators will know, there have been many changes to the CAIS
Program, and the first priority for the Minister of Agriculture was to get money
into farmers' hands for the spring planting season.
I will take the question with regard to net or gross income to the Minister
of Agriculture and bring forth a delayed response.
Senator Hays: Honourable senators, again, in the 1980s, there were
other companion programs that accompanied the Gross Revenue Insurance Program,
or GRIP, which is the one I am referring to; namely, the Farm Debt Review Board
program and the Canadian Rural Transition Program. They were, unfortunately, an
indication of failure in terms of addressing in a successful way the farm income
crisis, but they were useful in terms of farmers who had gradually gone deeper
into debt, faced serious problems, needed help to address that debt and, in the
case of rural transition, went through the transition out of agriculture. Is
that also under consideration?
Senator LeBreton: As the honourable senator knows, representing the
West as he does, there have been many discussions about diversification, and
programs that were in place in the 1980s do not address concerns facing farmers
Agriculture is a serious issue all over the country, but there are some parts
that are more affected than others. I will certainly pass the honourable
senator's specific question to the Minister of Agriculture.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of
the Government in the Senate. How can one government sign something like the
Kelowna accord with the Aboriginal people, and then another government steps in
and says, "Our signature, our written word, is not our bond"?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for his question. Minister Prentice made this very clear. He
was at Kelowna and he participated in all of the meetings. At the end of the
day, no Kelowna agreement was signed. There was a document put out with various
sums of money allocated to various potential areas. There was no agreement.
Minister Prentice supports the overall intent of Kelowna, but there were no
agreements. There was no fiscal framework.
Senator Munson: Why did everyone sign on, then?
Senator LeBreton: I do not think a member of the opposition should be
giving us any lessons in regard to governments signing contracts and then
breaking them. I need only refer the honourable senator to the helicopter
contracts and the Pearson Airport.
Senator Munson: We were talking about Canada's first people and the
Minister of Indian Affairs said that this was just a piece of paper. To those of
us who were witnesses to all of this, this was more than just a piece of paper.
A report released yesterday by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics
points to the dire straits of our First Nations people. In an article from Sue
Bailey for Canadian Press, she refers to the report and states:
Native people were twice as likely to be repeat victims, three times as
likely to be robbed, assaulted or raped, and three and a half times more
likely to be attacked by their spouse.
Ms. Bailey later wrote that:
Young native people have a greater chance of landing behind bars than
graduating from university.
It is my belief that this situation must be addressed urgently. The Kelowna
accord seemed to have the endorsement of everyone in this country: Premiers
loved it, territorial leaders loved it and First Nation councils loved it. There
were specific targets and the government gave its solemn word.
From our perspective, it seems that the present Prime Minister has decided to
scrap this accord because his predecessor called it his greatest achievement. My
question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate is: Will the current
Prime Minister take a serious look again and adopt the Kelowna accord?
Senator LeBreton: First, there was neither an agreement nor a fiscal
framework. Minister Prentice is probably the best-equipped because he truly
understands the issues. He is very sympathetic and desirous of dealing with the
serious issues that face our First Nations peoples.
During the western premiers' meetings, in Gimli, on May 29 in a news
conference, Premier Gary Doer indicated that any new federal government should
have the right to do some more constructive priority setting in the area if that
is their preference. Premier Doer also offered a reminder at the same news
conference that the previous government did not put the Kelowna money into a
fiscal framework and Premier Doer did not want to be unfair to the new
government as a result of that. Premier Doer felt that the new government should
have a chance to come to the premiers.
In the budget that Minister Flaherty introduced, and that we will begin
working on in this place today, serious money was included to address issues of
concern, including clean water, for some of our native communities.
Senator Munson: Minister Prentice's uncle, Dean Prentice, was a great
hockey player, but I do not know how much of a stick handler the minister is on
this issue. I wish him well.
Senator LeBreton: It is true that Minister Prentice is related to Dean
Prentice; I believe he was his uncle. People, no matter what their political
stripe, would acknowledge that in the person of Jim Prentice we have a very
knowledgeable and hardworking minister. From what I have observed so far, from
various meetings, he is seized of this issue and he perceives this as a very
serious subject. With regard to the previous government, they were in power for
13 years and I did not see any great improvement, until the very last moment,
with this so-called accord.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Forgive me, I am a
little confused. The Leader of the Government says the Kelowna agreement was not
an agreement. I think the leader is saying it was not an agreement even though
it was negotiated among all the governments and the native peoples, because the
details to implement it had not been written down and legislated yet. I think
that is what I hear Senator LeBreton saying.
On the other hand, with the softwood lumber deal, Senator LeBreton tells us
that the three-page document is the agreement; and the other stuff, the pages
and pages of detail designed to implement it, is not the agreement. I do not
understand. Can the leader explain this difference?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I am going by what Minister Jim
Prentice has said publicly. He was at Kelowna.
There is no question there was a lot of goodwill. There were meetings with
the provinces, and the Aboriginal leaders came together in an agreement.
However, the problem was at the end of the conference. A press release was put
out with certain sums of money allocated to various subjects but with no
agreement as to where the money was to go. We had provinces thinking they were
getting it; and we had Aboriginal leaders thinking they were getting it. For
this reason, there was no Kelowna accord. Even people in the honourable
senator's own government acknowledged that there was no actual signed accord
with a fiscal framework attached to it.
With regard to the softwood lumber issue, there was an agreement. As I
understand, yesterday Minister David Emerson appeared before the Standing Senate
Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. He apparently presented the details of
the negotiations and what the final agreements look like, which were well
received by members on all sides of the chamber.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before proceeding to Orders
of the Day, I would like to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery
of His Excellency, Ambassador Dugerjav Gotov of Mongolia, accompanied by First
Councillor Halioon. They are also joined by a distinguished member of the bar of
New Brunswick, David Lutz, who is well known to all New Brunswickers in the
Senate. On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
The Hon. the Speaker: While I am on my feet, I would like to advise
that today we have a page from the House of Commons with us. Her name is
Kathleen Stokes of Victoria, British Columbia. She is pursuing her studies at
the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa, where she is majoring in
Hon. W. David Angus moved second reading of Bill C-13, to implement
certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006.
He said: Honourable senators, I am honoured and very pleased to propose
second reading of Bill C-13, to implement certain provisions of the budget
tabled in Parliament by the Honourable James Flaherty, Minister of Finance, on
May 2 this year.
I do so in an atmosphere wherein we and all Canadians are sobered and shocked
by the revelations coming out following the arrests last Friday and over the
weekend of a gang of alleged terrorists.
Bill C-13 is designed to implement the fiscal and financial measures proposed
in the new government's first budget. It focuses on the Harper government's five
core priorities, and tangibly demonstrates how this government intends to make
fundamental changes in the way we operate government and do business in Ottawa.
Generally, the government intends to turn a new leaf for Canadians.
Bill C-13 contains good news for Canadians in all regions of our great
The Hon. the Speaker: Order. Does the honourable senator have a
Senator Joyal, do you wish to speak on a point of order?
Hon. Serge Joyal: I apologize to the honourable senators but I draw to
their attention that the Speaker has made a ruling on the use of BlackBerries.
Can the Speaker repeat what he said in the ruling for the benefit of all the
senators so they will implement the nature and letter of the ruling?
The Hon. the Speaker: I thank the Honourable Senator Joyal for raising
that. We have attempted to make it perfectly clear that BlackBerries interfere
with our system. In fact, the rule is clear; no electrical devices are permitted
in this chamber.
We have a ruling on that; it is a source of disorder. We are attempting to be
gentle in this matter but it clearly interferes with the good conduct of our
business in the house. I appeal once again to the goodwill of all honourable
All honourable senators have the responsibility for this house and the good
order in the house. The chair will do its part, so I appeal that the ruling that
was made, and supplementary material that accompanied that ruling, be taken to
heart. When you are on airplanes, you have to turn them off. Surely we can do at
least that much in this high chamber of Canada.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Angus: Honourable senators, Bill C-13 is good legislation and
already appears to have a charmed life of its own, given the way it received
unanimous consent in the House of Commons yesterday and received third reading
in the other place without a single negative vote.
Honourable senators, it is clear that the penny has dropped.
Honourable senators, I believe it to be in all of our interests, as well as
those of all Canadians, that we senators ensure safe and swift passage of Bill
C-13 through the Senate by no later than June 23 — of course, with similar
unanimous consent, but after the customary review and appropriate sober second
thought by all members of this chamber.
Lest there be any doubt, honourable senators, I respectfully submit that in
the case of Bill C-13, our traditional role and duty is to deal with the
legislation efficiently, effectively and in good time so Canadians will be able
to receive and benefit from the taxation and related socio-economic policy
initiatives set forth in the government's Budget 2006, the key elements of which
Bill C-13 proposes to implement.
From a policy point of view — and whether some senators may or may not like
it, honourable senators — this bill cries out for speedy passage through the
Senate. Budget 2006 is a simple and straightforward piece of work, generated by
a government that is committed to doing exactly what it says it will do — and
what it said it would do during the recent election campaign that led to the
formation of Prime Minister Harper's new government.
The reality is that it is a no-nonsense, focused effort that contains no
surprises. To me, this is the most refreshing element of Budget 2006. Honourable
senators, I am reliably informed by various colleagues, including the Leader of
the Opposition in the Senate, that the tradition in this place in cases where
governments of the day are substantially outnumbered by the opposition in the
Senate, is to review and implement, not to take the risk and try to change or
amend a government's budget legislation.
In my view, honourable senators, this is a noble tradition that senators have
honoured time and again with past budgets, some 10 or 11 times when opposition
senators outnumbered those representing the government.
Bill C-13 is a money bill seeking appropriation of public revenue in the true
classical sense of the term. I believe strongly that it is up to us, honourable
senators, to approve and adopt it as drafted.
From a strictly technical and legislative point of view, honourable senators,
Bill C-13 is complex and lengthy, being some 186 pages long. Each and every word
has a special meaning, and the provisions have been carefully crafted together
by the government's legislative drafting specialists. Changing words and phrases
here and there, even in a seemingly minor way, could have far-reaching
consequences that could change or alter substantially the intention and/or
effect of the proposed legislation.
The fact is, honourable senators, and it needs to be repeated: Canada's tax
laws have evolved over the past 30 years into a nightmarish web of intricate,
interrelated and intertwined verbiage that even the highly trained and skilled
fiscal experts in the legal and accounting professions are challenged and hard
pressed to decipher, understand and explain. Even the documents that ordinary
Canadians must go through simply to prepare and file their annual personal
income tax returns now fall into this category.
Honourable senators, Canada's fiscal laws are in urgent need of overhaul,
updating and reform. We have not had meaningful and comprehensive tax reform in
this country since the days of Walter Gordon and Kenneth Carter.
Bill C-13 makes the point clearly. It contains 13 separate parts or sections,
each one dealing with a totally different subject matter. I believe that this
government understands the problem and is ready and able to take the necessary
Finance Minister Flaherty repeated several times in his budget speech that
Canadians are overtaxed and that far-reaching changes are urgently needed in
Minister Flaherty reiterated the plea frequently before and after tabling
this government's first budget on May 2, 2006. Frankly, honourable senators, I
find it difficult to disagree with the minister. The hard and clear evidence is
that Canadians at large are overtaxed and burdened with fiscal red tape to a
totally unacceptable degree. Hardworking ordinary Canadians, our entrepreneurs
and our businesses large and small are being punished and are at a competitive
and lifestyle disadvantage vis-à-vis our neighbours to the south and the
individuals and corporate citizens of our allies and trading partners around the
world. The social and economic consequences and impacts are important and, I
suspect, might be much worse than we realize. It is time for a major change in
the way that we generate taxation revenues in Canada.
Honourable senators, it is time to turn a new leaf in the fiscal domain, and
I suggest that with Budget 2006 the new government has made a good start, albeit
only in a preliminary way. The good news is that this government clearly
recognizes the problem, has declared its intention to address it head-on and has
taken some specific action, as per its election and policy platform promises, to
alleviate onerous tax and other socio-economic burdens that Canadians today are
forced to endure.
What do I mean by a good start? Honourable senators, how about making
Canada's federal budget framework more transparent and limiting the growth of
How about creating opportunities for Canadians by reducing the Goods and
Services Tax by one percentage point effective July 1, 2006, and reducing
personal and business tax burdens up to $20 billion over just two years?
How about investing in Canadian families and communities by introducing
Canada's universal child care plan, tax relief for pensioners and investments in
How about the government making a good start by providing more security and
protection for Canadians in this troubled and unsettled world by hiring more
police officers and securing safer and more open borders? How about better
preparing for emergencies, bolstering defence and taking measures generally to
strengthen Canada's role in the world?
How about moving to restore fiscal balance in Canada by developing patient
wait time guarantees and by addressing other concerns about fiscal imbalance
based on fundamental principles that all Canadians can and, by all evidence and
reports, do support?
These, honourable senators, are the five initial core arguments — the
commitments that this government made to Canadians for building a better Canada,
and Bill C-13 is but one of the ways by which the government is delivering on
promises in this regard. As Prime Minister Harper says, these measures represent
promises made and promises kept.
Yes, honourable senators, there is much more to be done, but this
government's Budget 2006 and Bill C-13, before the house today, represent a
clear, concrete and no-nonsense good start. Minister Flaherty stated when
delivering his budget speech on May 2:
This budget is balanced, our spending is focused and taxes will go down for
all Canadians. There is more tax relief in this one Budget than in the last
four federal Budgets combined. The Budget also delivers twice as much tax
relief as new spending. For every new tax dollar we spend, this government is
returning two tax dollars to hard-working Canadians.
Honourable senators, in those parts of Budget 2006 to be implemented by Bill
C-13, there are 29 separate and particular taxation reductions. This bill
delivers on the government's commitment to cut the GST by one percentage point
down to 6 per cent effective July 1, 2006. This GST cut will benefit all
Canadians by close to $9 billion over two years from that one reduction, even
those who do not earn enough money to pay personal income tax. Very importantly,
to provide relief to low and modest income Canadians, the budget keeps GST
credit at current levels, even though the GST is being cut.
That is not all. Bill C-13 also proposes a comprehensive plan to reduce
personal income taxes for all taxpayers, starting with an increase in the basic
personal exemption, which is the amount that an individual can earn without
paying any tax. The government says that it wants to ensure that this amount
grows each year and remains above the currently legislated levels into 2006,
2007 and beyond.
In concert with the plan, Bill C-13 also proposes to reduce the lowest
personal income tax rate from 16 per cent to 15.5 per cent effective January 1,
2006. It also confirms that the rate will be 15 per cent from January 1, 2005,
to June 30, 2006. Together, these measures will provide personal income tax
relief of almost $2.8 billion in this coming fiscal year, 2006-07, and a further
$1.9 billion in 2007-08. This is exciting stuff, honourable senators, that sends
shivers up my spine.
Honourable senators, it is important to remember that working Canadians are
the foundation of Canada's economic growth. However, choosing to work also means
additional costs for everything from uniforms, to safety gear, to home computers
and various other supplies. In recognition of these costs Budget 2006 has
introduced the Canada employment credit. This is a new employment expense tax
credit for employees' work expenses. This credit will increase the amount of net
income that working Canadians can earn without paying federal income tax to
almost $10,000 by 2007.
Taken together these measures will deliver almost $20 billion in tax relief
for Canadians over the next two years. It is incredible. As a result, about
655,000 low-income Canadians, or two-thirds of one million Canadians, will be
removed from the tax rolls.
Budget 2006 brings tax relief that Prime Minister Harper promised to
Canadians operating businesses. In fact, the same promises were made by the
former Liberal government, but they were never delivered upon. The new measures
will enable Canada's businesses to go into a fair fight with their commercial
Bill C-13 proposes a significant business tax relief plan that will reduce
the general corporate income tax rate from 21 per cent to 19 per cent by January
1, 2010. The bill also proposes to eliminate the corporate surtax for all
corporations in 2008 and to eliminate the federal capital tax as of January 1,
Honourable senators, the new tax measures are clear and in some notable areas
implement, once and for all, in a decisive and bold way, initiatives that former
Liberal governments refused or failed to deal with effectively.
I respectfully cite the following two simple and straightforward examples.
First, this budget removes immediately the excise tax on jewellery and related
products like clocks and watches. Efforts in this regard by the Martin
government were clumsy and ham-handed, and they left an entire industry
abjectly disappointed and with sadly dashed hopes after having raised their
expectations with promises that were never properly fulfilled.
As Prime Minister Harper says in this case: Promises made, promises broken.
My second example is encouraging increased charitable giving by Canadians in
a very substantial way by completing the job started tentatively and timidly by
the Chrétien government several years ago. Budget 2006 and Bill C-13 effectively
remove the capital gains tax on the appreciated value of listed securities being
donated to registered charities such as cultural, health and educational
organizations in Canada.
In like manner, the capital gains tax on environmentally sensitive lands
donated to worthy charities dedicated to protecting our environment, such as
Ducks Unlimited, has also been removed. The results of these changes in the
charitable giving area are already evident in a huge way. Some $100 million of
gifts have been announced in the last few days, and we understand that many more
huge charitable gifts are in the pipeline awaiting unanimous passage of Bill
C-13 without amendment.
In terms of the safety and security of Canadians, we have collectively been
stunned by the wake-up call visited upon all Canadians by the arrests of 17
alleged terrorists in and around Toronto last Friday and over this past weekend
and by the revelations made subsequently in the context of the arraignment in
court and the declarations of the defence counsel of the accused suspects on
Monday and yesterday.
However, the good news is that the government of Prime Minister Stephen
Harper is acutely aware of and ready to face up to the dangers that threaten our
freedom and our open way of life which we so value. That is why the government
has a new law and order agenda and that is why it is committed to supporting our
police forces and our public safety organizations as well as our brave members
of the military. That is why, honourable senators, the government has made a
series of initial but tangible steps in Budget 2006 to demonstrate its
determination in the areas of national safety and security.
New financial support measures introduced in the budget, and which are
contained in Bill C-13, include, first, $1.125 billion for the Canadian Forces
for the hiring of more troops, purchasing of necessary equipment, paying for
improved base infrastructure and Arctic sovereignty, and restoring a regular
army presence in British Columbia; second, $214 million to the RCMP for hiring
new recruits and expanding their training depot; third, $20 million for youth
crime prevention; fourth, $15 million for the DNA data bank; fifth, $26 million
for victims of crime; sixth, $38 million for emergency response programs;
seventh, $95 million for passenger rail and urban transit security; eighth, $133
million to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority; ninth, $404 million
over two years for various programs to enhance border security, national
emergency response, a no-fly list and arming border guards; and tenth, $460
million over two years for preparing for a pandemic such as avian flu or SARS.
The budget and Bill C-13 also contain important assistance provisions for
Canadian families, including the universal child care benefit for children under
six years of age, which will cost $3.7 billion over the next two years. As well,
the budget provides for substantial assistance and funding for Aboriginal
Canadians, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and protection of our
precious natural environment, major investment in a wide variety of needed
infrastructure projects, agricultural sector support, support for the Canadian
Council for the Arts and one-time extra funding to the provinces in the sum of
$255 million for equalization.
Honourable senators, I could go on about Budget 2006 and Bill C-13, and I
know you would like me to. The sun is shining brightly, the air is warm and
sweet, the birds are singing, beautiful flowers are in bloom and our magnificent
trees are blossoming and bursting into new foliage. Canada's spring is here with
all its splendour, and summer is fast approaching. Indeed, the first day of
summer is only two weeks away.
I urge honourable senators to celebrate the advent of our Canadian summer
2006 in a constructive and honourable way. Please use the next two weeks to
reflect upon this excellent budget implementation bill and then pass it into
law, as is, so that we can all get on with our lives and deal with more
threatening problems as well as enjoying a fine Canadian summer with our
In like manner, this determined new government can then get on with its
exciting agenda to improve the lives of all Canadians and to make Canada a
safer, more secure and better place in which we can all live happily ever after.
Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I am
amazed that Senator Angus did such a good job of making such heavy material
entertaining and interesting. I have a couple of questions.
The government is doing what it promised to do. In effect, it is deferring
capital gains tax for capital gains reinvested within six months. Would the
honourable senator comment on why that is not in the budget?
My other questions deal with the fiscal imbalance. The accompanying paper on
the fiscal imbalance is a very good piece and, while heavy-going, is instructive
to those who are curious about what the Prime Minister may have been talking
about in addressing the fiscal imbalance, although the document does not lead me
to an identification of just what it was. We have heard from the premiers, who
are not happy for different reasons, whether they will have to pay more if they
are a contributing province or receive less if they are not.
Based on his briefing, would the honourable senator comment on what he
expects the definition and treatment of fiscal imbalance will be, now that we
have the benefit of the O'Brien committee report?
Senator Angus: Senator Hays has raised two very interesting points,
and certainly they are ones that concern me. I have raised both of those
questions. I cannot say — and I think honourable senators will appreciate this —
why something is or is not in the budget. However, what I can say is that what
the government said would be in the budget was there; they were the five core
objectives. Minister Flaherty has been clear on the other matters, including the
deferred capital gains tax matter with the rollover as described in various
speeches. He said that we are addressing this with officials in the Department
of Finance and other experts because it is a very complex thing. As I said
earlier, when you start changing something that is part of a whole thing, you
get a domino effect. As I understand the government's policy, the matter is
under close study. We are pursuing the subject at the Banking Committee, and it
will hopefully form part of the tax reform I discussed.
In regard to the fiscal imbalance, I do not think anyone would argue with the
fact that there is an imbalance amongst the provinces in this country. This is
one of the things out of kilter with our federation. This is also a complex
problem. I believe the answer to the question is that we have made a start.
There has been an initial one-time payment of $225 million to address the
problem. There has been a declaration of intent and discussions are underway.
The parties are not ad idem on any of the issues; it is a complex
subject. The government is determined to wrestle the matter to the ground and to
bring a greater balance amongst our various partners in the federation.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Senator Angus has described, with great enthusiasm,
various provisions that are in the budget bill. I wish to ask about the
provisions that are not there. What about nothing for the implementation of the
Kelowna understanding? What about nothing for post-secondary education? What
about no concern in providing for quality early learning and child-care spaces?
The honourable senator spoke about the temperature getting warmer outside. What
would the honourable senator say about the subject of climate change? The
minister said at the time that he would provide for $2 billion. That money is
not in here. The amount was previously $5 billion. He has criticized the
previous government for not having met their goal of $5 billion, but somehow,
without a climate change policy, he thinks they can do it for $2 billion. What
would the honourable senator say about the importance of all of these items from
Senator Angus: What about them? What is the question?
The government said they would provide in its initial budget, brought in on
May 2, soon after it was sworn in, a clear, no-nonsense, no-surprises budget.
We should be pleased with that.
The other issues the honourable senator has mentioned are important for each
and every Canadian. I am happy to be able to confirm that these matters are all
being addressed and the honourable senator should be very pleased.
Let us look at the environment. We have had discussion here today. There was
such a mess left by the previous government in terms of a plan for Canada for
dealing with climate change, for participating in Kyoto and for dealing with the
problems of the environment. The situation left by the Honourable Mr. Dion has
had to be totally scrapped. I want the honourable senator to know, that when he
sees the new outline, it will knock his socks off.
Senator Eggleton: Aside from disagreement on the last concept, I guess
while the honourable senator says that these items are important, they are
obviously not a priority for the government or they would have been in the
Let me ask about a couple of things that were mentioned by the Minister of
Finance. Things such as the urban transit credit and the textbook credit are not
in the budget. When does he expect these items will be addressed?
Senator Oliver: Next budget!
Senator Eggleton: Are they coming in a separate bill?
Senator Angus: All I can tell the honourable senator is that all of
these matters that are of great interest to all Canadians are being addressed in
the most serious way. This government unloads policy implementation one day
after another; the Canadian people are applauding. I looked for just one or two
good quotes from the newspapers to refer to for my boring speech today and they
were unanimous about what a great job this government is doing and how much it
is getting done in the little time that it has been in office. Stay tuned,
because there is more to come.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: It is with some apprehension, after that
mighty, powerful and resounding address, that I raise a scintilla of a question
with respect to the Province of Ontario. There is no question that in the
Province of Ontario there has not been unanimous approval of this budget. Those
are the facts. We hear from the premier of the largest province in Canada, and
the Minister of Finance for the Province of Ontario, and both of them have
virtually said the same thing. To be fair to Minister Flaherty, he says that
this matter required some attention, as the honourable senator has suggested.
Let me be precise about this. As I understood it, Mr. Harper came to the
Province of Ontario during the last election and made a series of promises. One
that I heard with clarity was the promise to fulfill the commitments that the
federal government made to the Province of Ontario with respect to the payment
of infrastructure, transit and a number of other issues.
We heard several weeks ago from the Minister of Finance of Ontario, with whom
I discussed this, that there appeared to be a disconnection between that
promise, which was quite precise and upon which the voters of Ontario relied. He
found, to his concern and confusion, that when he looked at the monies that were
to be forwarded to the Province of Ontario, there was a disconnection of
somewhere between $6 billion and $8 billion in the current period.
I hope I am not taking it out of context, because this is based on newspaper
reports. Minister Flaherty went to the Province of Ontario. Minister Flaherty
understands these issues and the finances of the province as well as Minister
Duncan. Minister Flaherty said that there was some confusion and the government
would try to deal with it in some particular fashion. That appears to be
inconsistent with the tenor of debate and the siren song that the honourable
senator has enunciated in this chamber that all the promises were kept.
My short question is: Was the promise kept, that Mr. Harper made in Ontario,
to fully fund, in accordance with the previous government, the questions of
infrastructure, relief and the timing of those payments, because they were quite
precise? We now understand that that is not the case.
Senator Angus: Honourable senators, that was indeed a scintilla of a
question, and I am tempted to ask the minister to refer the problem to the
Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce to determine where the
disconnect has happened. I have nothing further to say other than I have taken
note of the comments.
Hon. Willie Adams: I have a question for my good friend Senator Angus.
He mentioned more infrastructure for the military and Arctic sovereignty, but I
heard no mention of icebreakers.
A few months ago, the Prime Minister promised some icebreakers in the name of
Arctic sovereignty. Five or six years ago, Senator Comeau and I took an
icebreaker from Resolute to Coppermine. It was the biggest icebreaker we had,
the Louis St. Laurent. We got stuck a few times in the permanent ice. If
we want to break up the ice, we need to build bigger icebreakers in the future.
If we want to assert Arctic sovereignty, we need to ensure that the people from
the community are involved. We have been living up there for thousands of years.
If we want to have a military infrastructure, the community must be involved.
Senator Angus: I thank the honourable senator for that. We have spent
long hours working together to address some of the problems facing us as we move
forward to exercise our obvious and clear right of sovereignty in the North.
This government has committed the funds to shore up our own sovereignty in the
face of climate change and other things evolving in the modern day world. Bill
C-13 seeks to have them appropriated for the purposes specifically outlined in
the budget. There is a commitment to put the appropriate infrastructure in place
so we can have an in situ command of people and resources to do the things
necessary to protect our rights of sovereignty where Senator Adams lives. I
think Senator Adams would be pleased because colloquially we are referring to it
as the "Adams clause" in our policies.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, in anticipation of Bill C-13
being referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, I look
forward to the honourable senator's participation as the sponsor of the bill and
to the honourable senator bringing some levity to a committee which otherwise
tends to be somewhat serious in its dealings with these matters.
The honourable senator mentioned the reduction in the GST. Indeed, we look
forward to discussing that matter when the matter is referred to committee.
The honourable senator also referred to the fact that the lowest marginal tax
rate is to continue for a year at the same rate as the previous rate, 15 per
cent. However, the lowest marginal tax rate will be increased by half a
percentage point as is provided for in Bill C-13 to make up for the reduction in
GST of one point. There is a promise to reduce the GST by another percentage
point, to five per cent, sometime in the future. I wonder if the honourable
senator can tell us if the marginal tax rate will be increased by another half a
percentage point to make up for that reduction.
Senator Angus: As the honourable senator well knows, I am not in a
position to talk about some new policy that the government is evolving. The
budget speaks for itself. I am pleased to know that the honourable senator
anticipates having something to do with this in his committee. I suggest that
the sooner we get it to committee, the better, and the sooner we will be able to
return the bill to this place and pass it unanimously so we can enjoy the
Senator Day: I always appreciate comments with respect to getting
things quickly into and out of committee, but I also always hesitate to make
that kind of comment to members of the committee. I will let them do the work
that is necessary, thoroughly and responsibly. I am sure that in due course they
will do so.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I have a question on the
issue of fiscal imbalance. The honourable senator was quite chuffed about the
fact that this budget somehow addresses the question of fiscal imbalance and
seemed to say that it was a real issue. That is debatable. There is a real
question about whether there is a fiscal imbalance at this time given the fact
that the provinces have actually more sources of revenue than the federal
government. In addition, the federal government gives about $42 billion a year
to the provinces, which they can spend essentially of their own accord.
Is the honourable senator convinced that the Prime Minister will not go back
on his promise, which was not to include resource revenues in equalization
calculations? Either way, will the honourable senator make the commitment that
he will argue against his Prime Minister, in caucus, in this Senate and wherever
it is possible to argue against him, to ensure that the Prime Minister does not
include resource revenues or any portion of them in the calculation of
equalization? Can the honourable senator give us some idea, if the Prime
Minister were to go ahead with including resource revenues in the equalization
formula, where the Prime Minister would get the money? Would he increase taxes
on all Canadians, or would he reduce current federal expenditures? If so, where
would he propose reducing those expenditures to get the billions of dollars that
commitment would incur?
Senator Angus: Honourable senators, the Prime Minister is capable of
speaking for himself on these matters. He also, as you well know, is clear when
he makes these statements. They are not susceptible to being twisted around to
elicit new things.
He has made it clear that in his view — and it is a view that I, most
Canadians and most economists share — the federation is out of whack. Call it
what you will, it is being addressed and studied in the most serious and
profound way that this government and its resources can marshal. This study
includes the ongoing discussions with the opposite members of the provinces.
The senator knows I cannot give him more than that. I conclude by saying this
Prime Minister has a saying that I happen to subscribe to, as do my colleagues
here. That is, "Promises made, promises kept," which is a refreshing change
from the previous government.
Senator Mitchell: Is the slogan being changed from, "promises made to
preferences kept?" That is what he now calls this idea, this promise not to
include resource revenues in the calculation of equalization. That was only a
preference, so perhaps he will not keep preferences.
You are from Ontario, and you are saying that Canadians generally think this
is not — never mind.
Senator Angus: Let me say this: I was born in Toronto, and I was happy
to be born there, but was I ever glad to get out of there.
I am a very proud Quebecer. I have been living in Quebec for 67 years.
On motion of Senator Eggleton, debate adjourned.
Hon. Hugh Segal moved second reading of Bill S-217, to amend the
Financial Administration Act and the Bank of Canada Act (quarterly financial
reports).—(Honourable Senator Segal)
He said: Honourable senators, like all of you, I was deeply moved by Senator
I was reminded of a speech I made once in a church basement not far from this
building as I stepped down as the proverbial losing candidate in the riding of
Ottawa Centre for the Conservative Party. Mr. Stanfield was present at that
event. After I gave an emotional word of farewell to my fellow constituents,
friends and supporters, Mr. Stanfield was good enough to come to the microphone
and say, "Hughie, I watched the eyes, I listened to the hearts and I took
careful note of what transpired in the room, and I can report there was not a
wet eye in the house."
As Senator Angus spoke about the budgetary provisions for the future, I
introduced Bill S-217, a bill that, if passed, would require a new approach by
government departments and Crown corporations to submit quarterly financial
reports to both Houses of Parliament. The point of such reporting is
The current practice of retroactive annual reporting, looking back on
government departments' and Crown corporations' accounting, means that
parliamentary governance no longer takes place in real time. Rather, financial
reporting that occurs only on a government-wide basis, quarterly, or by
department, annually, and always retroactively, highlights departmental
inadequacies and failures long after remedial action is possible.
Quarterly reporting would enhance trust in the management of public money and
the challenge of spending taxpayers' money carefully and effectively. It would
mean progress on many fronts. Above all, it would give Parliament real-time
financial information with which to discharge its Magna Carta duties, namely to
control the expenditures of the Crown before they transpire.
Coincidentally, the day after I introduced Bill S-217, seconded by Senator
Murray, the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance questioned the Auditor
General, Ms. Fraser, on her May 16 status report. I quote from their press
release of June 2:
During the meeting, Committee members raised a range of issues relating to
government financial practices.
There was debate on uncollected taxes, accounting errors in reported
spending, Public Works' challenges in their choices to buy or lease buildings
and changes to government programs and their effects in performance accounting
As well, and I quote again:
The long-standing issue of departments moving to accrual accounting was
Honourable senators, in the 1970s Canada's Parliament surrendered its
pre-control of government expenditures. At that time, the "deemed to be
reported" rule was brought in relative to committee consideration of estimates.
In plain English, expenditures, the financial estimates of tax dollars, were not
actually reviewed and/or approved in any detail from that moment forward. They
were "deemed" to be reported, and the actual accounting of these numbers was
dealt with at a later date and, by definition, retroactively. Ironically, the
Auditor General's mandate in that same period of time was changed to incorporate
assessing "value for money." That began across the country, in the provinces
and in Ottawa.
Retroactive reporting and assessing operates solely in a judgmental
framework. Parliament gave up its right to pre-assess value for money, as the
Auditor General took that right upon herself and themselves across Canada.
Retroactive reporting and assessing operates solely in a Monday morning
judgmental framework. It works well if the only goal is to finger-point and to
lay blame, but it does nothing for actual corrective parliamentary action in
Accountability in real time, on an accrual accounting basis with quarterly
departmental financial reports, would facilitate Parliament's capacity to act in
a corrective fashion within the existing fiscal year. Retroactive accountability
is usually mostly about blame and punishment.
In the real world, if an individual, pension fund or company chooses to
invest hard-earned dollars in a publicly traded corporation in Canada, they can
rely on quarterly reports to assess and monitor a company's performance, at
which point an informed choice can be made to withdraw the investment or to
allow it to remain, based on the information provided in those reports.
Canadian taxpayers may not have an individual choice regarding their
investment in the Crown, since these dollars are largely deducted by tax law at
source. They do deserve at least the same level of assurance and information
regarding federal expenditures as is offered to the shareholders of public
companies. Publicly traded companies are bound to provide to the public and its
shareholders four reports annually. There is no reason why shareholders of
public companies should be afforded more rights than Canadian taxpayers. The
Canadian public is, after all, the ultimate shareholder of any public enterprise
and their right to real-time financial data should be no less than those of
Honourable senators, Bill S-217 focuses on premises of disclosure and
accountability — and not only to the public. It would also alert the government
and Parliament to problems in any given department early on in the process and
enable more timely remedial action. Bill S-217 provides for a requirement for
quarterly, real-time reporting, allowing problems to be identified and remedied
before they spin out of control. It facilitates a real-time reaction and
The vast majority of all civil servants who serve the Crown want to tell the
truth about financial performance, and they would prefer to do so without the
financial information in their department being managed by their political or
bureaucratic masters of the day. This bill and its requirements would liberate
civil servants, allow them to do the work required and expected of them. It
would prevent the politics of the department from attempting to manage financial
information in a fashion so recently criticized in the Auditor General's report
on the long-gun registry. A firm financial disclosure policy and frequent
disclosure to Parliament would lead to more openness and accountability, clarity
sorely needed in the post-Enron, post-long gun registry world.
The preamble of Bill S-217 clearly summarizes the rationale for such a
requirement at this point in time. While retroactive financial reporting serves
no purpose other than to highlight failures or mismanagement, the Canadian
public — the shareholders of Canada's departments and Crown corporations —
deserve a level of openness and, more importantly, trust in the way their money
The discipline of regular financial reporting would provide the much-needed
alarms identifying mismanagement and underspending, where appropriate, and allow
Parliament to step in and correct a financially difficult circumstance. It would
increase Parliament's control and, combined with the new parliamentary budget
office proposed and being discussed in the other place, would seriously enhance
the role of Parliament, parliamentarians in both chambers, protecting taxpayers,
the shareholders and the public purse.
I ask with all humility that honourable senators review the merits of this
bill and I urge that it be allowed to proceed further in our process through
second reading. I trust in the review process of the Standing Senate Committee
on National Finance, where I raised this issue with the former head of the
Treasury Board under the previous administration — and I might say that
distinguished minister from Winnipeg was very open and constructive when the
idea was expressed. That review process, after an in-depth study of Bill S-217,
would allow the matter to be addressed in a fashion that I think would be
constructive in the interest of clarity and the protection of the public service
and the taxpayers of Canada.
On motion of Senator Fraser, for Senator Fox, debate adjourned.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, entitled: Consumer
Protection in the Financial Services Sector: The Unfinished Agenda, tabled
in the Senate on June 6, 2006.—(Honourable Senator Grafstein)
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, let me begin by
saying how pleased I am with the report of the Standing Senate Committee on
Banking, Trade and Commerce, Consumer Protection of Financial Services: The
Unfinished Agenda. The report is a comprehensive overview of changes to
Canada's financial sector that we believe would enhance consumer protection.
There are 20 carefully targeted recommendations based on the evidence we heard
from over 80 witnesses, whom I wish to thank for taking their time to come to
Ottawa to share their thoughts and their expertise with the committee. Their
testimony was very informative.
I thank as well the large number of senators, 21 in all, who participated in
aspects of this report and in particular, those who are currently on the
committee and actively debated its final recommendations.
I want to commend our former clerk, Gérald Lafrenière, our present clerk,
Line Gravel, and our research staff led by the competent June Dewetering who did
a superb job of weaving together this complex, coherent tapestry of
Of course, I would like to pay special tribute and thanks to the Deputy Chair
of the Banking Committee, my friend the Honourable David Angus, who spoke so
eloquently earlier this afternoon, for his creative support as we undertook many
months of hearings on this important topic of how to protect the consumers in
this era of complexity in the marketplace and the proliferation of financial
services and choices.
Honourable senators, I have a long interest in consumer protection that dates
back over 40 years to my earliest days on Parliament Hill. In 1967 I helped to
draft the bill to establish the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.
Many changes have taken place since that time. The department was ultimately
merged with the Department of Industry. About five years ago, however, an
important benchmark bill was passed, Bill C-8, to establish a financial consumer
I urge my colleagues to consider whether it is time to see how that bill's
provisions were working. Were they protecting the consumer in the way that
Parliament had envisaged in 2001 and, more importantly, with five years of
experience with the system, were changes needed to protect consumers better in
the future? The answer is a resounding yes. Changes were needed. Qualify that it
depends on whether the system was working as well as it could and as well as it
I commend the members of the financial sector who made excellent progress in
the reform of their internal practices to provide better, more efficient and
fairer consumer protection mechanisms. However, one of our major concerns was
the confusion by the consumers in their consumer redress. Therefore, one of our
major recommendations was to establish one ombudsman for the financial services
sector while keeping intact the various pillars within this umbrella
organization to ensure that sensitivity, expertise and timeliness are brought to
bear in fairness on any consumer complaint, be it from the financial, insurance
or any other aspect of the financial sector.
While many areas require improvement, I will touch on several that we believe
require urgent attention. Payday loan organizations need immediate attention. In
fact, some elements of the industry itself are calling for more regulation.
While I agree with some of the witnesses that education would reduce the extent
to which consumers use these services, in the view of the committee it would not
be enough. The phenomenal growth in the industry from a dollar to over $6
billion in the last five or six year years and the high fees and rates they
charge cry out for in-depth attention and study. That is why the committee
recommended such a study on a priority basis, most particularly because it
overlaps federal and provincial jurisdictions. The provinces have lagged behind
in examining this matter. We hope that this study will make this an urgent
We want to know why the growth of this sector has been so rapid, how their
fees are structured and how they should be regulated for greater protection for
consumers. Obviously, these service providers are fulfilling a need, but the
question for other financial institutions is why such a large gap has occurred
in our rather competitive financial sector.
Another area that we believe deserves attention is consumer credit, whether
the consumer is an individual or a business. In my view and that of many
colleagues on the committee, individuals need access to reasonably priced credit
in order to participate more fully in the economy. For their part, small- and
medium-sized businesses that are the engines of growth and the creators of jobs
in this country also require access to reasonably priced credit if they are to
compete effectively both domestically and internationally.
This is an old chestnut, but we thought we had to roast it once again to
bring it to the fore of public attention. Therefore, the committee recommended
that the federal government study the means by which federally-regulated
institutions need better access to reasonably priced credit for individuals and
for small businesses.
There are some new and some old gems of recommendations in this report. The
need for one national security regulator continues to be pressing. This costs
the consumer and the economy much and retards growth and productivity. Our
suggestion is that we establish one national securities agency within the
National Capital Region in Ottawa to avoid some of the provincial rivalries that
retard this important reform.
We also think that it is important that the Integrated Market Enforcement
Team under the RCMP receive more funds to allow for more and greater expertise
in prosecuting large corporate frauds quickly and fairly.
I invite all senators and the public to carefully examine each and every one
of our recommendations. We believe that a good economy is an economy that
operates effectively, fairly and transparently and increases investor and
consumer confidence in this most important sector of our life, our national
I thank all honourable senators who participated in this landmark study. We
will be following the outcome of our recommendations with great care and
Honourable senators, in our era, the issue is not caveat emptor but
conturbat emptor. We have to ensure that the consumer is not only aware but
also not confused.
I will say a special word to Senator Plamondon, who, as an independent,
played a key role in the deliberations of the committee. Many of our
recommendations can be traced to her thoughtful participation. I thank all
honourable senators for their patience.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Would the honourable senator accept a question?
Senator Grafstein: Yes.
Senator Murray: What significance, if any, are we to attach to the
fact that the Chairman of the committee has not moved the adoption of his
Senator Grafstein: I thank the honourable senator for his question. I
thought that it would be appropriate to hear from honourable senators on both
sides before we address the issue of how to conclude this debate. Certainly, I
intend to move the adoption of the report.
On motion of Senator Angus, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Harb, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Keon:
That the Senate takes note that tobacco smoking continues to cause an
estimated 45,000 Canadian deaths and to cost our economy up to $15 billion
That the Senate notes that current federal legislation allows for
ventilation options and smoking rooms in workplaces under federal jurisdiction
even though they do not provide full protection from second-hand smoke and
that full protection from second-hand smoke can only be achieved through the
creation of workplaces and public places that are completely free of tobacco
That the Senate urges the Government of Canada to pass legislation to
ensure that all enclosed workplaces and public places under its jurisdiction
That the Senate ask the Government of Canada to call upon each province and
territory that has not yet done so to enact comprehensive smoke-free
That a message be sent to the House of Commons requesting that House to
unite with the Senate for the above purpose.—(Honourable Senator Tkachuk)
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I wish to speak briefly in
support of this motion. The evidence of the damage from second-hand smoke is now
overwhelming. There is no controversy left, and there is no excuse for the
exposure of innocent citizens to second-hand smoke. I could elaborate on the
documentation of diseases that have been caused by second-hand smoke and the
deaths that have occurred, but that was covered in Senator Harb's initial
I wish to lend my support to this motion and suggest that it be dealt with
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I wish to bring to your
attention a problem with this motion, which problem is not insurmountable.
The fourth paragraph of the motion says:
That the Senate urges the Government of Canada to pass legislation to
ensure that all enclosed workplaces and public places under its jurisdiction
Honourable senators, a motion cannot ask the government to pass legislation.
The passing of legislation is exclusively a parliamentary phenomenon. Perhaps
Senator Harb could consider amending his motion. I have not read the rest of the
text; my eye just fell to that part.
It is not uncommon in this era for journalists and members of Parliament to
talk about governments passing legislation. Common parlance denies the
constitutional reality. Perhaps we should look at the drafting of the entire
motion to see whether there are other defects in it.
The Hon. the Speaker: I understand that Senator Cools was rising on a
point of order. She drew our attention to the wording of this motion. I find
nothing out of order with the wording of the motion. However, in her
presentation Senator Cools has raised some issues of substance on which Senator
Harb might wish to comment.
I must advise honourable senators that, should I recognize Senator Harb, his
remarks will have the effect of closing the debate.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, Senator Cools has raised an interesting parliamentary point. Perhaps
Senator Harb would be willing to contemplate a friendly amendment to his motion
so that it would read:
That the Senate urges the Government of Canada to introduce legislation...
If he did that, perhaps Senator Cools would consider her point of order
The Hon. the Speaker: If it is the will of the house, we will simply
substitute the word "introduce" for the word "pass." I was reading the
motion in that fashion.
Is it agreed that the word "introduce" will replace the word "pass"?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Mac Harb: I wish to thank honourable senators. This is a purely
non-partisan motion. It is my hope that the Senate will approve the motion as
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion, as amended?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, what was really required was
a motion for amendment. Senator Harb should have moved a motion to amend his
motion, because a motion cannot be put to the house by unanimous consent.
Senator Harb should have moved that the motion be amended by substituting those
words. That should have been voted upon and then the question should have been
put on the amended motion.
Motion agreed to, as modified.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Di Nino, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Meighen:
That the Senate of Canada implore President Vladimir Putin, President of
Russia, to use his good office to shed light on the whereabouts of Raoul
Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who was responsible for saving the lives of
thousands of people from the Nazi death camps. Mr. Wallenberg was allegedly
seized by the Soviet Army on January 17, 1945 and has not been seen or heard
from since.—(Honourable Senator Stratton)
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I wish to speak in
support of this motion. I need not review the history of Raoul Wallenberg. He is
well known in Canada for the work he did and the thousands of people he saved.
It is time that the new Russian government, which took over the files and
records of the Soviet Union, permit those records to be released to all people
so that we can find out what happened to the thousands of people who were
transported to the Soviet Union.
During the course of the war and immediately thereafter, millions of people
were displaced. Many of them were moved to the Soviet Union, never to be known
of again. It is important that someone who served so well during the war be
acknowledged by the Russian government of this day and that it make every effort
to learn what happened to Mr. Wallenberg. Doing this could set a precedent to
allow thousands of other families to find out what happened to their relatives.
The emphasis is not how they served, but the right of families to know should be
acknowledged by the Russian government.
The Russian government has indicated that it wishes to be transparent in
order to be part of the modern community. I believe that the only way it can do
so is to immediately begin to comply with all the requests that have been made
about what happened under the Soviet regime.
This motion is timely and I wish to support it.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Would Senator Andreychuk accept a question?
Senator Andreychuk: Yes.
Senator Cools: I believe that Raoul Wallenberg is an honorary citizen
Senator Di Nino is the progenitor of this motion. I am not sure that the
Senate of Canada has a way to speak to the President of Russia, as it seems to
me that sovereigns speak to sovereigns, in protocol. Perhaps, since Mr.
Wallenberg is already a citizen of Canada, the Foreign Affairs Minister might
have an interest in advancing the issue himself directly, which would relieve us
of being put in the unusual position of imploring. The motion reads:
That the Senate of Canada implores President Vladimir Putin, President of
Russia, to use his good office to shed light...
We should really pay attention to these motions. The Senate of Canada cannot
be properly in the position of being a supplicant to a head of state of another
country. However, because Raoul Wallenberg has already been made an honorary
citizen of Canada — I believe a motion went through this particular house to
that effect — the motion would be better scripted and would be a lot more
full-bodied if we made our appeal to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and to our
sovereigns to have the dialogue with Mr. Putin, the President of Russia, because
we have no way of dialoguing with the president of a foreign state.
Senator Andreychuk: I am sure the honourable senator took the
opportunity through me to speak to Senator Di Nino. I did not want to make a
full speech, which I think this topic deserves. However, because of the time
limits, I simply wanted to support the content and the intent. I leave it to the
movers to determine whether Senator Cools' point has validity and whether they
wish to do anything about it.
The Hon. the Speaker: It was a question to Senator Andreychuk.
Senator Di Nino: I was going to speak.
The Hon. the Speaker: If Senator Di Nino speaks —
Senator Cools: That is not quite in order.
Senator Stratton: Why is it not?
Senator Cools: An important procedural parliamentary point has been
placed before the chamber that must be disposed of, unless Senator Stratton
wants to dispose of it.
The Hon. the Speaker: If a point of order is to be raised, the chair
will hear a point of order. If no point of order is to be raised, Senator Di
Nino has sought the floor. If he takes the floor, it is my duty to advise the
house that should he speak, it will have the effect of closing the debate.
Senator Cools: The time is coming to a close. On Wednesdays we like to
close this place down around four o'clock. Perhaps I should take the adjournment
and then therein propose an amendment myself, when I have had time to give it
more attention. I keep adding to my workload.
On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.
Leave having been given to revert to Notices of Motions:
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, I
That, notwithstanding the usual practices of the Senate, the Standing
Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry be authorized to sit on Monday,
June 12, 2006, at 4:30 p.m. for the purpose of hearing the Minister of
Agriculture, Chuck Strahl.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, I do not like to do this but
I will do it anyway.
As is our practice in this chamber when we have motions such as these, for
committees to meet out of their normal time slots, I have made a point of saying
that our side agrees a minister is present, and in this case there is. The good
senator was not here last week at the time that I spoke to this issue. I believe
Senator Peterson put forward the motion to have the meeting at five o'clock,
even though the Senate may be sitting. That was an exception to the rule as
I said at that time that we were doing this now for the second week in a row.
I agreed in the circumstance because of the presence of the minister at your
next meeting. Then I asked the question: Will there be a third occurrence next
week? Lo and behold, we now have a third occurrence. My question is obvious:
Will there be a fourth occurrence? Is this an ongoing, weekly exception with
which we will live?
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I understand Senator
Stratton's frustration. I am assured by Senator Tkachuk that there will not be a
fourth request next week.
As all senators know, this is a new government, and there are several big
issues surrounding agriculture and forestry. As the opportunity has arisen to
have the new ministers come and talk to our committee, it is not something one
lightly turns aside.
I am very grateful to Senator Stratton and all senators for permitting this
to take place because it is the one time we have available to speak to the
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. Thank you on behalf of all committee
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Do I
understand correctly that the honourable senator requested a Monday afternoon
for this committee as opposed to the regular time slot of Tuesday? If so, has
this request been discussed with the members of the committee on the government
Senator Fairbairn: Yes, this has been discussed with the entire
committee. The reason for choosing Monday is that is the only time the minister
is available to meet with us. His office has been very generous in finding that
The Hon. the Speaker: Are there any further questions or comments on
this motion? Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Tommy Banks, pursuant to notice of June 6, 2006, moved:
That the papers and evidence received and taken on Bill S-5, An Act to
repeal legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving
royal assent, by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs during the First Session of the Thirty-eighth Parliament be referred
to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for its
study on Bill S-202, An Act to repeal legislation that has not come into force
within ten years of receiving royal assent.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, June 8, 2006, at 1:30 p.m.