Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 23
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there will be an
opportunity for us to express ourselves later, but at this time I extend deepest
sympathies on behalf of all senators and all associated with this place to Ms.
Marilyn MacDonald Forrestall, the children, Mary Ellen, Daniel Patrick, Robert
Arthur, Polly Sue, Michael Thornhill and their entire family.
Honourable senators, out of respect for our deceased colleague, the
Honourable J. Michael Forrestall, I ask you to rise and join with me in a moment
Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I rise to pay
tribute to the late Lord Kenneth Thomson. I first ran into Ken Thomson over 45
years ago. I introduced myself, saying, "I am delighted to meet you, Lord
Thomson"; and he said, "My name is Ken; what is yours?" Thereafter, we
developed a very warm and friendly relationship.
I ran into him in my early years going downtown on the subway. An underground
passage connected my office to his office around the corner, so I met with him
from time to time at a coffee shop in the food area underneath our buildings. Of
course, one would always run into him at any major charitable event in Toronto
because he was an avid supporter of the arts.
Ken Thomson, in my view, was brilliant. He was modest and a visionary who
transformed his father's print empire into a virtual internet-savvy
conglomerate. In the process, he became one of the richest men in the world and
certainly the wealthiest Canadian.
He was a lover of the arts and his living monument will be the Art Gallery of
Ontario. He was a collector of Cornelius Krieghoff and the Group of Seven. His
efforts propelled those artists into the world art community.
Last Wednesday night I raced to Toronto for a surprise birthday for Tom who
is a clothier in Kensington Market. Tom, who owns Tom's Place, is a Hungarian
refugee and his friends were throwing a party for him. Ken Thomson was there; he
was one of Tom's best customers.
Whenever I called Ken Thomson, he was ready to help. For me, Ken Thomson was
the quintessential Canadian. He was brilliant, modest, hard working, a gentle
man and a gentleman. Our hearts go out to Marilyn, his family and his extended
Ken, your race is run, your victory is won, now come to rest, Godspeed, God
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, the Premier of Manitoba, the
Honourable Gary Doer, is being recognized for his leadership in developing a
relationship between the Jewish National Fund and the Province of Manitoba at
the JNF's gala scheduled for this evening, Tuesday, June 13. This annual gala
has become the Jewish community's single largest fundraising event and the funds
go toward projects in Israel. This year, the monies raised will go to
environmental projects in conjunction with the recently announced new
partnership with the Province of Manitoba.
A Manitoba-based fund is being established to support research exchanges
between Israel and Manitoba universities, focusing on the construction of rapid
growth greenhouses, water conservation and forest diversification.
Mr. Joe Rabinovitch, Executive Vice-President of JNF Canada, stated:
JNF Canada looks forward to sharing, with the people of Manitoba, its
expertise with water management, greenhouse technology and agriculture. This
will be a partnership that will benefit all parties now and in the future.
The money will stay in Manitoba and projects will be identified based on the
advice of northern communities and specialists in northern diversification at
It was pointed out by Israel's Consul General in Toronto that "Israel is the
only place in the world where the desert is shrinking, not expanding." He also
notes that the JNF will soon be sharing its experience and research and
development with the Province of Manitoba through an agreement recently signed
between the province and the organization.
This year, Premier Doer is being recognized for his leadership in developing
this relationship as the deserving honouree for Gala 2006.
As a Manitoban, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Premier
Gary Doer. Manitoba's diversity is one of our greatest strengths and Premier
Doer is showing dedication to the betterment of our society and humanity as a
Congratulations, Mr. Premier.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, I was disappointed
last week when I heard that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Brian Jean, had advocated the
migration of Atlantic Canadians to the Western provinces in order to solve
employment problems. This suggestion shows an acute insensitivity to the people
of Atlantic Canada and a profound lack of understanding of the regional nature
of this country. Worse still, it demonstrates the lack of a fundamental
commitment on the part of this government to the goal of ensuring equal
opportunity for all Canadians, wherever they live.
Unfortunately, this lack of commitment has been apparent since the
Conservative government unveiled its budget. The recent federal budget plan
failed not only to outline the government's vision for policies that support
each region of the country but also failed to mention regional economic
development in its more than 300 pages.
The people of Atlantic Canada have shown our value and capacity for hard
work. In September 2003, a cross-Canada survey was undertaken by two professors
from the business schools at Carleton University and the University of Western
Ontario. This survey found that the people "out east" spend more time at work
than people in any other regions, an average of 44.5 hours per week.
We are also more likely to show high levels of job satisfaction and
commitment to our employers. We have lower turnover rates and are less likely to
leave our jobs. Atlantic Canadians have demonstrated our commitment to success
and we continue to work toward building our region and our country.
I hope that this government will continue the work of the previous
government. We need investment and partnership with the federal government for
our new and traditional industries. The answer is not to move our workers to
other parts of Canada. The future of the whole country rests on helping people,
businesses and whole communities to reach their full potential.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, pursuant to rule 28(3) of the Rules of the Senate, I have the
honour to table, in both official languages, the proposed order under section 8
of the Telecommunications Act.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table,
in both official languages, the 2005-06 annual report of the Information
Commissioner for the period ended March 31, 2006, pursuant to section 38 of the
Access to Information Act.
Hon. Michael Kirby, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has
the honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill S-211, An Act to amend the
Criminal Code (lottery schemes) has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of
Wednesday, May 10, 2006, examined the said Bill and now reports the same
The Hon. the Speaker: When shall this bill be read the third time?
On motion of Senator Lapointe, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third
reading at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino, Chair of the Standing Committee on Rules,
Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, presented the following report:
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament
has the honour to present its
Pursuant to Rule 86(1)(f)(i), your Committee is pleased to report as
The User Fees Act, S.C. 2004, c. 6, received Royal Assent on March
31, 2004. It originated as a private Member's bill in the House of Commons.
The purpose of the Act is to provide a consultation process with stakeholders
before the introduction of new user fees, or the increase or extension of
existing user fees, followed by parliamentary approval.
The Act requires Ministers to cause proposals to be tabled in each
House of Parliament. Each proposal that is tabled is deemed referred to the
"appropriate standing committee" of each House. The committee may submit a
report containing recommendations regarding the proposal. If after 20 sitting
days, no report has been tabled by the committee, it is deemed to have
recommended the approval of the proposal. The Senate and House of Commons may
pass a resolution approving, rejecting or amending the recommendation made by
The wording of the User Fees Act is more consistent with the
procedures of the House of Commons, with its pre-determined "appropriate
standing committees," which mirror government departments and agencies. In
the Senate, however, committees are organized more along policy lines, and, in
any event, generally require a specific order of reference from the chamber
with respect to any study that they undertake.
Given the tight timeframe envisaged by the Act for reviewing
proposals — 20 sitting days — your Committee believes that it is important
that they be referred to a committee without delay. We are recommending an
amendment to the Rules of the Senate to facilitate this. It is your
Committee's hope and expectation that there will be consultations between the
leadership of the two sides prior to any tabling of a proposal so as to
expedite the process and ensure that the Senate carries out its
responsibilities under the Act in a meaningful way.
Your Committee recommends that the Rules of the Senate be amended by
adding after subsection (3) of Rule 28 the following:
28 (3.1) When the Leader of the Government in the Senate or the Deputy
Leader of the Government in the Senate tables a document proposing a user fee,
it is deemed referred, without debate or a vote, to the select committee
designated in the Senate for the purpose by the Leader of the Government in
the Senate or the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate following
consultation with the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
(3.2) If the select committee does not report within twenty sitting
days, the committee is deemed to have recommended approval of the user fee.
CONSIGLIO DI NINO
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Di Nino, report place on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. George J. Furey: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table
the third report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and
On motion of Senator Furey, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table the third report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and
Commerce entitled, The Demographic Time Bomb: Mitigating the Effects of
Demographic Change in Canada.
On motion of Senator Grafstein, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. George J. Furey: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table
the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and
Administration, regarding expenses incurred during the First Session of the
(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 223.)
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell, Joint Chair of the Standing Joint
Committee on the Library of Parliament, presented the following report:
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
The Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament has the honour to
Your Committee recommends to the Senate that it be authorized to assist the
Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons in directing and
controlling the Library of Parliament, and that it be authorized to make
recommendations to the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of
Commons regarding the governance of the Library and the proper expenditure of
moneys voted by Parliament for the purchase of books, maps or other articles
to be deposited therein.
Your Committee recommends that its quorum be fixed at six members, provided
that each House is represented, and a member from the opposition and a member
from the government are present, whenever a vote, resolution or other decision
is taken; and that the Joint Chairs be authorized to hold meetings to receive
evidence and to have that evidence published when a quorum is not present,
provided that at least three members are present, including a member from the
opposition and a member from the government.
Your Committee further recommends to the Senate that it be empowered to sit
during sittings and adjournments of the Senate.
A copy of the relevant minutes of Proceedings (Meeting No. 1) is
tabled in the House of Commons.
MARILYN TRENHOLME COUNSELL
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Trenholme Counsell, report placed on the Orders of the
Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, so that we may attend the funeral tomorrow of our former colleague
Senator Forrestall, with leave of the Senate, and notwithstanding rule 58(1)
(h), I move:
That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Thursday,
June 15, 2006, at 1:30 p.m.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, we were saddened, as were all honourable senators, to learn that
Senator Forrestall has left us.
It is our understanding that the proposal of the Deputy Leader of the
Government in the Senate will allow us to attend the funeral in Halifax
tomorrow. We are in complete agreement with this proposal.
That said, we would have appreciated being consulted before this decision was
made and preparations begun.
According to precedent — or at least recent precedent — we adjourn the first
sitting day following the death of a senator. This time the precedent was not
followed, for obvious reasons that we understand and support. I would just like
to point out to honourable senators that a little consultation would be welcome
Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, I am pleased that the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition agrees with the measures we took, whereby the Senate
will not sit on Wednesday, and that her side fully understands these measures.
That said, with respect to consultation on such matters, we thought that
having our assistants call the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition's
assistants would have satisfied the other side and that there was no need for
the Leader and Deputy Leader themselves to call.
However, if I understand correctly, the fact that our assistants contacted
their offices was unsatisfactory to the Deputy Leader. If I have understood
correctly, perhaps we should discuss establishing a protocol in future. However,
if the Deputy Leader of the Opposition insists that the Deputy Leader on this
side make the calls personally, we can certainly do so in future. That is
something we can discuss.
Personally, I would not insist that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition call
me directly to inform me of this sort of thing. If the other side insists that
the Deputy Leader of the Government call directly, I will do so.
Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, each side has three leaders. I
think that those six people can figure out a way to communicate without taking
too much offence.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table,
in both official languages, the report of the Canadian branch of the
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association that participated in the Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association, United Kingdom branch, seminar on "Restoring Faith
in the Political Process: Tackling Corruption, Upholding Human Rights, the Role
of the Media," held in London, United Kingdom, from January 22 to 28, 2006.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule
23(6), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the
Canadian delegation to the Canada-U.S. Inter-Parliamentary Group's Meeting on
the Emergence of Cross-Border Regions between Canada and the United States,
Ottawa Round Table, hosted by the Policy Research Initiative, Privy Council
Office and the Canada-U.S. Inter-Parliamentary Group, held in Ottawa on March 6
and 7, 2006.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule
23(6), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of my
participation as Co-chair of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group
at Great Lakes Day held in the United States Congress, Washington, D.C., March
Hon. Michael Kirby: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the
next sitting of the Senate I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology be authorized to examine and report on current social issues
pertaining to Canada's largest cities. In particular, the committee shall be
authorized to examine poverty, housing and homelessness, social
infrastructure, social cohesion, immigrant settlement, crime, transportation,
and the role of the largest cities in Canada's economic development;
That the study be national in scope, with a focus on the largest urban
community in each province;
That the study report proposed solutions with an emphasis on collaborative
strategies involving federal, provincial and municipal governments;
That the committee submit its report no later than December 31, 2007, and
that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until
March 31, 2008;
That the committee be permitted, notwithstanding usual practices, to
deposit any report with the Clerk of the Senate if the Senate is not then
sitting and that the report be deemed to have been tabled in the chamber.
Hon. Willie Adams: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 57(2), I give
notice that two days hence:
I will call the attention of the Senate to issues concerning the fishing
industry in Nunavut related to the use of fishing royalties, methods of catch,
foreign involvement and a proposed audit of Inuit benefit from the fishery.
[Senator Adams spoke in his native language.]
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of
the Government in the Senate. I am fortunate to have as my member of Parliament
Mr. Michael Savage, the member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. In reaction to
questions from Mr. Savage in the other place, the minister of ACOA, Peter
MacKay, said in a media interview: "I'll look at the projects coming out of his
riding, but his ability to influence me you can imagine is going to be severely
I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if this is the policy of
this government. If a Liberal asks a question, does it automatically jeopardize
your chances of getting project funding for your riding?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
this new Conservative government is committed to building a strong competitive
economy in all regions of Canada. We are helping communities in Atlantic Canada
to tackle their respective economic and employment challenges by investing in
community-generated projects that will work for them.
I notice the reference to the MP in the other place, Michael Savage, and I
find it interesting. I noticed in The Hill Times that he is supporting
Scott Brison for the leadership, and Mr. Brison is one of the people who
advocated for getting rid of ACOA.
Senator Cordy: Michael Savage is my member of Parliament, and I am
proud to have him as my member.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Cordy: To make matters worse, Minister MacKay said during the
Nova Scotia election campaign that Tory candidate Dwayne Provo was in the best
position to help his constituents receive money from ACAO. He stated:
There is money that the people in Preston are entitled to, and I can tell
you he's going to come knocking and we're going to deliver.
This is clearly in contravention of the government's own accountability act.
Clause 7 of the proposed accountability act states the following:
No public office holder shall ... give preferential treatment to any person
or organization based on the identity of the person or organization ...
Is Minister MacKay not violating the intent of the accountability act by
stating publicly that the Liberal MP will not receive ACOA grants but a
Conservative MLA will have the ACOA money delivered? Is that how this government
interprets the accountability act: Tory ridings get, others do not?
Senator LeBreton: I guess the way to resolve these matters in the
future is to pass the proposed accountability act to ensure that all apply it to
Hon. Robert W. Peterson: Honourable senators, on June 8 of this year,
the Leader of the Government in the Senate made numerous references regarding
the Kelowna accord, stating there was no fiscal framework, that it was all talk,
no framework, no nothing.
I have checked into this, and the facts would seem to indicate otherwise. On
November 14, 2005, the previous Liberal government provided its fiscal update.
Among other matters, the following were included in the update: money for
farmers, $755 million; standby loans for the forest industry, $800 million; and
money for Kelowna.
On November 24, 2005, the Kelowna accord was ratified by all parties
involved, namely, the federal government, provincial governments and First
Nations. On that same date, in the Department of Finance's sources and uses
table, the following were formally identified and booked: money for farmers,
$755 million, and money for Kelowna $5.096 billion.
How can the honourable senator argue there was no money for Kelowna?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
Minister Prentice, who at the time was our critic, attended the Kelowna
meetings. The facts are that in the closing minutes of the first ministers'
meeting of November 2005, the former Prime Minister tabled a single-page
document that was a compilation of numbers, as I mentioned in my answer the
other day, totalling $5.1 billion. There was no signed agreement in Kelowna, and
no consensus on how this money would be spent or distributed amongst Aboriginal
groups or how it would be split among the provinces and territories.
This new government is committed to proceeding with a clear budget,
accountability, measurements and results. The minister said on many occasions
that the targets and objectives set out in the Kelowna meetings are admirable,
as I have said myself. We are supportive of them and we will move forward on
them, as we have in the 2006 budget.
For example, I would like to point out that the 2005 first ministers' meeting
called for $300 million over five years to be allocated toward northern housing
while Budget 2006 dedicates the same amount over two years.
Senator Peterson: Honourable senators, the fact is that the money for
Kelowna was booked at the same time and in exactly the same way as the $755
million for farmers. Obviously, the government thought the money for farmers was
real because they have spent it. How can the minister justify this double
Senator LeBreton: There is no double standard, honourable senators. As
I said in answer to Senator Adams last week, the sad reality is that there was
no agreement. There was no allocation. There was nothing in a fiscal framework.
Even though the aims of the Kelowna meetings were admirable, the previous
government did not make plans to move forward. This new Conservative government
will be moving forward.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I have a follow-up question for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate arising out of Senator Peterson's
My limited understanding is that when the government has booked money for a
project it will probably be spent on that project. As Senator Peterson pointed
out, the government seems to have accepted the fact that the previous booking of
$755 million to help farmers was legitimate and was acted upon. They wrote the
cheques, signed them, sent them out and the money has been spent.
Rather than refer to Kelowna, I will refer to the other $800 million
mentioned by Senator Peterson. That was money committed by Minister Emerson in
the previous government and was for assistance to the forestry industry in
It happens that we have an unusual situation in which the then minister is
the present minister. He was of the opinion then that we needed to get $800
million to assist the forest industry. It was booked then. It was contained in
the documents tabled in Parliament to which Senator Peterson referred. We now
have the same minister who seems no longer convinced, or is being obstructed by
the present government if he is still convinced, that the forestry industry
needs some assistance.
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us whether it is the
case that the honourable minister has changed his mind and determined that the
forestry industry is not in need of any support for the moment or whether the
minister believes that it is so and the rest of the cabinet disagrees?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I thank Senator Banks for his question.
With respect to Kelowna, the money was not booked and there was no fiscal
With regard to Minister Emerson's statements on the forestry industry, I am
not aware that he has changed any position that he held previously. However, I
will take the question as notice and undertake to find the answer for the
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, my question is addressed to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate and concerns the federal accountability
act and the so-called Roscoe amendment.
Elizabeth Roscoe worked as a volunteer on the Harper transition team. She is
now a victim of the proposed five-year rule whereby lobbyists and former
politicians cannot lobby the government. Now comes along her former boss, Derek
Burney, who led the transition team, and who is mighty upset that Roscoe will
not be able to lobby the government. Mr. Burney, as he said, puts "a premium on
loyalty." He has a problem that the rules are being changed after the fact. He
is obviously not very happy.
Mr. Burney went on to say that the new standards were not "made clear at the
time." Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate will please tell us what
she really thinks of this amendment?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I thank Senator Munson for his question. I have known Elizabeth Roscoe for many
years and I have a great deal of respect for her.
Senator Mitchell: How are you getting along with her now?
Senator LeBreton: I get along with her just fine. I have spoken to her
The issue is Ms. Roscoe's position in the executive branch of the government
during the transition period. The Prime Minister made it very clear that
lobbyists were not to be part of the transition team. That is on the public
Also on the public record is the government's intention that there be a
restriction against lobbying for five years after people leave the employ of the
government. Perhaps Ms. Roscoe did not apprise herself of what was being said on
the issue of lobbyists during the campaign. We cannot change the proposed
accountability act to accommodate a friend.
Senator Munson: Honourable senators, implicit in that statement is
that Mr. Burney did not understand either, although he was the chief of the
transition team. He had tremendous experience with Mr. Mulroney's team and was
the president of a big company. It strikes me that Mr. Burney would be listening
very closely to all of this, and he says that these rules were made after the
I suppose Deborah Grey will have to follow the same rule.
I am wondering about the right to work under the Charter of Rights. How can a
person be denied the right to work in this town?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, there is a difference between
Deborah Grey and lobbyists who support the Liberal party or the Conservative
party and are regularly on television. Lobbyists such as Deborah Grey were not
part of the executive branch of the new government and did not serve on the
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I have a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate on the
question of funding for the Kelowna accord.
On March 22 of this year, a letter was sent to Minister Prentice from the
Honourable Ralph Goodale, a person of widely recognized competence and
unassailable integrity. Mr. Goodale's letter said in part:
As the federal Minister of Finance at the time of the Kelowna First
Ministers' Meeting involving the Prime Minister, provincial/territorial
Premiers and the leaders of five national Aboriginal organizations, I can
confirm that as of that meeting (November 24, 2005) the fiscal framework of
the Government of Canada included a total of $5.096 billion to address
obligations arising from what came to be known as the "Kelowna Accords."
The letter continues:
In the government's 2005 Economic and Fiscal Update, issued on November
14th, the importance of the then-upcoming Kelowna meeting was specifically
mentioned, together with an undertaking to provide the needed financing. There
was more than enough unused fiscal room in our framework to accommodate the
expected sum. When the Kelowna meeting actually took place (10 days later),
the money was booked — $5.096 billion.
The fiscal treatment of the Kelowna Accords was —
— as Senator Peterson has recalled for us —
— quite similar to how we handled special federal funding of $755 million
to help grain and oilseed producers in the farm sector. In both cases, formal
announcements were not ready to be made at the time of the November 14th
Fiscal Update, but both were signalled in that Update and flexibility was
built into our framework to cover the anticipated expenses. By November 24th,
both initiatives had become ready to go, announcements were made, and the
money for both was booked.
Is the minister suggesting that Mr. Goodale did not tell the truth?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I have not seen that
letter. The honourable senator told me the date it was written. When the
honourable senator read the letter, she said something to the effect that he
said there were sufficient funds. I will certainly speak to Minister Prentice or
Minister Flaherty about the response to that letter, but I do not believe he
actually said a fiscal framework had been put in place for the Kelowna accord.
I will take the question as notice and will ask both Minister Prentice and
Minister Flaherty if, in fact, they responded to Ralph Goodale's letter.
Senator Fraser: I thank the minister. In addition, will she also
obtain for this house the Department of Finance sources and uses table affecting
the date of November 24?
Senator LeBreton: I am uncertain as to whether I am in a position to
make that kind of commitment, but I will take the question as notice.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question
on the same issue of booking of commitments of the government. Will the
Honourable Leader of the Government please include in her inquiry the $800
million that I believe was also booked in respect of assistance to the forestry
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Any desire of the
previous government that was not booked into the fiscal framework was just that
— a desire. It is clear that the Canadian public did not vote for the new
Conservative government just to carry on with failed projects of the previous
Senator Banks: I must be clearer. I am not asking the same question
again. Intervening between the question I first asked and the present one, the
Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked and the Leader of the Government undertook
to respond to questions having to do with a letter from Mr. Goodale addressed to
Mr. Prentice, I believe.
This letter indicated that the money for those things was, in fact, booked,
and was part of the fiscal framework. I refer to the fact that the Leader of the
Government has suggested that the Kelowna accord, among other things, does not
apply because there was no such booking of funds and because there was no such
That is the question. Was there a fiscal framework that included those
amounts of money? Were those sums booked? It is to the absence of those things
that the Leader of the Government has referred in explaining why the Kelowna
agreement and other matters were not proceeded with.
I simply ask if she can pin on to the end of the undertaking to the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition with respect to Kelowna the $800 million for forestry.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators I would be more than happy to do
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, over the last number of
weeks, we have been given three different reasons the government has cancelled
the previous government's 15 climate change programs.
The first one was inefficiency, but the government does not really believe
that because the one program they brought in to try to replace the previous
government's is far less efficient. The second one was failure to achieve the
Kyoto objectives. The government does not really believe that because they have
stated that they will bring in lower objectives.
The third one was that they want a made-in-Canada program, but the government
does not really believe that reason either, because, of course, none of the 15
programs they have cancelled apply anywhere but in Canada. They do not apply
outside of Canada, and they were all made in Canada by definition.
Could the leader try another reason, a fourth reason, one that might be more
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): The fact is that the
previous government's efforts on this front were a dismal failure. We are
working on a new plan on the entire issue of climate change and clean air.
I suggest Senator Mitchell and others be patient. They will like what they
see when Minister Rona Ambrose releases a comprehensive plan in the early fall.
Senator Mitchell: Can the minister briefly give us a list of those
programs amongst the 15 that she thinks are not made in Canada, that she thinks
do not apply in Canada, and that she thinks somehow apply somewhere outside of
Canada? Can she give us that so we have some sense of the background and so we
know that the government did a detailed study of these programs before they
cancelled them out of hand?
Senator LeBreton: I will simply repeat what I said earlier.
Senator Mitchell: It is okay. You do not have to.
Senator LeBreton: I would not dictate policy on the basis of what
Senator Mitchell thinks or does not think. I will simply leave it to the capable
Minister of the Environment, Minister Ambrose, to come forward with a
comprehensive plan. It is clear from public opinion research that has been done
and published in newspapers that the Canadian public also knows that the
previous government failed dismally. As I mentioned in an answer last week, so
does one of the Liberal's star leadership candidates, Michael Ignatieff.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting delayed answers to four oral questions
raised in the Senate.
The first response is to a question raised by Senator Hays on May 4, 2006,
regarding Kyoto commitments. The second is in response to a question raised by
Senator Austin on May 11, 2006, regarding the agreement of first ministers
meeting on Aboriginal issues. The third is in response to a question raised by
Senator Ringuette on May 16, 2006, regarding the proposed softwood lumber
agreement and vetting changes in policy with the United States. The fourth
response is to a question raised by Senator Banks on May 16, 2006, regarding the
(Response to question raised by Hon. Daniel Hays on May 4, 2006)
This government is committed to working within the UNFCCC process with the
international community to strive to meet the ultimate objective of the
Framework Convention which is to ensure that human activities do not adversely
influence the global climate system.
The Minister of the Environment has recently stated that we will pursue a
variety of paths in working towards our national clean air and greenhouse gas
emission reduction objectives, with Kyoto being one of those paths.
In her remarks to the House of Commons on May 11th, she stated that:
"Even though we cannot meet the targets that the Liberals negotiated, that
does not mean that we give up the fight. We are committed to real progress on
cleaning up Canada's environment and on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions,
and we are committed to face the challenge before us in an open and
transparent way and develop realistic and reachable goals to reduce pollution
and greenhouse gases.
We are turning a new leaf on the environment with a commitment to Canadians
that all the money for the environment will be spent on the Canadian
environment. We will not send taxpayers' money overseas to buy credits. These
are billions of dollars that can be invested in Canada to help reduce
pollution right here at home, to build greener infrastructure, to develop new
technologies and to make Canada more efficient and economically competitive.
The principle that guides us is that in our initiatives Canadians will
always come first. To that effect, our government is focused on made-in-Canada
solutions that are inclusive and results oriented. We will respect the
particular needs and circumstances of each of our country's provinces and
territories, but we will always insist that our initiatives have direct
benefits to Canadians and the Canadian environment. We want to see tangible
benefits where it matters most to us, which is in Canadian communities.
Our first focus is on domestic action to ensure that Canadians can enjoy
clean air, clean water, clean land, clean and secure energy and healthy
We have already begun, with an investment in made-in-Canada solutions that
deliver real environmental and health benefits to Canadians, by investing in
new, greener, cleaner transportation and incentives to get Canadians out of
their cars and into public transit. This is important because transportation
is one of the highest contributors to pollution and greenhouse gases.
We have met recently with the provinces and territories to launch a way
forward to a national renewable fuel strategy that will see real, tangible
benefits to the environment and economic benefits to the agriculture sector.
We have launched a long overdue review of the Canadian Environmental
Protection Act, Canada's most important piece of environmental legislation."
As reflected in the remarks of Minister Ambrose, the government is
committed to delivering a made-in-Canada approach that will see real progress
in cleaning up our environment and in reducing pollution and greenhouse gas
emissions. We will do this in an open and transparent manner by setting
realistic and achievable goals.
A realistic and effective plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for
the long term will:
- have clean air benefits (co-benefits)
- take advantage of opportunities to build a competitive and sustainable
Canadian economy through a commitment to efficiency and a commitment to
greener and cleaner technologies
- advance our interests in our energy security
- support regional development
- ensure that environmental spending improves Canada's environment and
strengthens public and community health
- engage Canadians through incentives and communities to take action at
the local level
- respect the needs and circumstances of provinces and territories across
- ensure much stronger integration of our domestic and international
climate change agendas
The government is looking carefully at existing programs in this context.
Fifteen climate change programs have been terminated where the work was
completed or it has been decided that a different approach is required. No
decisions have yet been made with respect to future funding for programs like
the Partnership Fund.
We want to see a more inclusive international approach which sees large
emitters like China and India take on commitments to reduce pollution and
greenhouse gases within the Kyoto Protocol. To reach a global solution, we
need everyone to be part of the equation.
We expect that more detail and the full scope of the government's approach
to a "Made in Canada" to clean air and climate change will be articulated in
the months ahead.
The information related to climate change and clean air on the Web sites of
Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada and others is being updated to
reflect the government's approach to secure real and lasting benefits on clean
air and greenhouse gas emission reductions.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Jack Austin on May 11, 2006)
The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, has had
many meetings to date with leaders of the national and, indeed, regional,
Aboriginal organizations. He has also had bilateral meetings with several of
his provincial counterparts, including Minister Christensen of British
This government is proud of the fact it is taking action to address
conditions faced by Aboriginal Canadians.
The government has stated that it accepts the objectives and targets agreed
upon at the First Ministers Meeting, but it must be stated that there was no
agreement on exactly how the $5.1 billion would be spent, or of its source.
This government intends to work closely with the provinces, territories and
Aboriginal leadership to develop a responsible fiscal plan for addressing
Aboriginal poverty and, as stated in the Speech from the Throne, to "seek to
improve opportunity for all Canadians, including Aboriginal peoples".
One example of concrete action by this government was the announcement on
May 31, 2006, that the Government of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations
have agreed to establish an independent panel which will examine and provide
options for a regulatory framework to ensure safe drinking water in First
Nations communities. The establishment of the expert panel is one of the
commitments the minister made when he announced his action plan on water in
March of this year. This announcement is also in keeping with the Government
of Canada's objective, stated in the recent federal budget, to support
Canadian Aboriginal communities by providing $450 million for improving water
supply and housing on reserves, education outcomes, and socio-economic
conditions for Aboriginal women, children and families.
Budget 2006 said that investments in Canada's Aboriginal communities will
$300 million for Aboriginal housing off-reserve;$300 million for
affordable housing in the territories; and$2.2 billion to address the legacy
of residential schools.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Pierrette Ringuette on May 16, 2006)
Anti-circumvention provisions are a standard feature of trade agreements.
They are meant to ensure that neither party undermines commitments set out in
the agreement. Specific language on the anti-circumvention provisions will be
developed over the coming weeks. We will consult with Canadian stakeholders
during this process.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Tommy Banks on May 16, 2006)
As you are aware, the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in Japan in 1997 as
part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at the third
Conference of the Parties.
The national emission reduction commitments that were assigned to Annex 1
Parties, and others associated with the Framework Convention, such as
undertaking national inventories and annual reporting, can hardly be described
as "Made in Canada". They were reached through a protracted and collective
process of negotiations among some 189 signatories to the Framework Convention
and 163 signatories to the Kyoto Protocol.
The "Made in Canada" commitment that has often been referred to is in the
process of being articulated, by commitments made in the Speech From the
Throne, commitments made in Budget 2006 and by ongoing deliberations between
members of the Cabinet and key stakeholders across Canada.
The decisions that are being taken and communicated regarding how we
address the joint issues of greenhouse gas emission reductions and clean air
will amount to what has been and is referred to by the Minister of Environment
and others as a "Made in Canada" response.
The "Made in Canada" response will ensure real progress in cleaning up
our environment and in reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The
intent is to work in an open and transparent manner to set and achieve
realistic goals within realistic timeframes.
A realistic "Made in Canada" plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions
for the long term must:
- have clean air benefits (co-benefits)
- take advantage of opportunities to build a competitive and sustainable
Canadian economy through a commitment to efficiency and to develop and
deploy green/clean technologies
- advance our interests in our energy efficiency
- support regional development
- ensure that environmental spending improves Canada's environment and
strengthens public and community health
- engage Canadians through incentives and communities to take action at
the local level
- respect the needs and circumstances of Provinces and Territories across
- ensure much stronger integration of our domestic and international
climate change agendas
As announced in Budget 2006, the government has increased infrastructure
spending on public transit by $1.3 billion. Further, it has moved to make
monthly and annual bus passes tax deductible, thereby providing an incentive
for Canadians to get out of their cars an into a cleaner transit alternative.
Most recently, the government has announced an agreed approach involving
provinces and Territories to implement a goal of five per cent average
renewable content in Canadian motor fuels by 2010, significantly advancing
Canadian production capacity in line with efforts in the U.S. and European
Most if not all agree that, globally, we need an inclusive international
approach which sees large emitters like China and India take on commitments to
reduce pollution and greenhouse gases within the Kyoto Protocol. To reach a
global solution, we need everyone to be part of the equation.
Canada is committed to work towards the ultimate objective of the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and has recently communicated
its willingness to take on further emission reduction obligations post 2012 in
a manner that is consistent with a global consensus to so act.
These are all elements of a "Made in Canada" approach, by Canadians and
for Canadians, to climate change and clean air.
It will see federal spending further the environmental goals and
aspirations of Canadians and our communities.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, pursuant to rule 27(1), I give notice that, when we proceed to
Government Business, the Senate will deal with the items in the following order:
resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Angus, seconded by the
Honourable Senator Eyton, for the second reading of Bill C-13, to implement
certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006; second
reading of Bill C-15, to amend the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act; resuming
debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Nolin, seconded by the Honourable
Senator Andreychuk, for the second reading of Bill S-3, to amend the National
Defence Act, the Criminal Code, the Sex Offender Information Registration Act
and the Criminal Records Act; and resuming debate on the motion of the
Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Comeau,
for the second reading of Bill S-4, to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Angus seconded by
the Honourable Senator Eyton, for the second reading of Bill C-13, to
implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2,
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, we were all entertained last
week by Senator Angus and his enthusiasm in sponsoring Bill C-13. I frankly do
not know how he did it. There is nothing to be enthusiastic about in this piece
of legislation. This budget bill does not respect the wishes of the majority of
Canadians. It does not meet the needs of Canadians.
Last week, in questions and answers I had with the Leader of the Government
in the Senate, we talked about what constituted the mandate of this Harper
government. I pointed out they received only 36 per cent of the vote. She said
that may be true, but the Liberals did not get the majority of the vote in the
years they had government under Mr. Chrétien. I further point out two other
things: They do not even have a majority of seats in the House of Commons. They
have about 40 per cent of the vote in the other place. At least in the days of
the Chrétien government, there was a majority in the other place.
Getting back to that statistic about 36 per cent of the people, if you turn
that around into 64 per cent of the people, you will find that most of them
voted for progressive policies, particularly progressive social policies. There
was no mandate given to this new government to make changes in those social
policies. Canadians quite seriously did want a change in government. They wanted
new people to manage the government. However, they were not asking for
substantive changes in the way government policy was implemented in this
country. In this budget bill, I think the government ignores that. They have no
respect for the wishes of the vast majority of Canadians who want to continue
with programs such as early learning and child care, who want to continue with
the Kelowna accord, who want to continue to meet the objectives of Kyoto and who
want to continue supporting post-secondary education and investments in
innovation and research. All these things have not been handled in Bill C-13 in
a way that is respectful of the wishes of Canadians.
Let me start with early learning and child care, because a number of people
have been asking questions about that in the last little while. It is
interesting to note what people in the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada
say about this government. They say this government does not understand the
benefits of early learning and child care or how to develop it. An allowance to
parents, which is what that $100 a month is, is not an early learning program
for children. This government cannot seem to understand that at all.
Over and above giving money — as I think our leader calls it, a family
allowance, because that is what it is — to call it a universal child care
program is an insult to people's intelligence. That is what they are trying to
call it. It is a supportive program in terms of family allowance, or similar to
it, and no one objects to people having additional money in their pockets, but
to suggest that it answers the needs of early learning and child care is
absolutely false. It does not create spaces. It does not ensure quality child
care is provided in this country.
You know what it is like, honourable senators. It is as if 140 years ago,
about the time that Canada started, the government of the day had come out and
said, "We will give every parent in this country $100 a month, and you go out
and get the education you think you should get for your children." In other
words, rather than establishing an education system, the government would give
the $100 to people and let them have their own choices. This issue is not about
daycare or babysitting per se.
This issue has to do with early learning for our children because early
learning will help ensure the future prosperity of this country by ensuring
these people meet their maximum potential and take advantage of the
opportunities. This government ignores that need by only providing something
that has no relationship to the cost of providing those kinds of programs. In
Ontario, for example, you are talking about $500 to $700 or more a month, and it
is the same for British Columbia. In Nova Scotia, it is from $488 to $565. These
ranges depend on the age of the children involved.
Of course, this government not only ignores the real costs but also cuts off
funding at age six, as if that is the end of it. There is no need to provide
anything for children beyond age six. That cut-off is ridiculous. That program
is not a child care program. When parents look at a number like $400, $500 or
$700 a month, to which they apply $100 a month, which is taxable, the actual
amount of money parents get at the end of the day is about $72, on average.
There was a plan in place. It was supported by all the provinces, even the
ones with Conservative governments. Even Ralph Klein supported it. They decided
to just throw that away and provide this $100 allowance.
The leader did say the government will provide another $250 million a year so
they can provide 25,000 spaces. How will they do that? First, they will have a
consultation to figure out how to do that. There have been lots of consultations
already, but they will do more.
The private sector is in the hopper as being one of the recipients. Here is a
quote from The Globe and Mail:
...75 per cent say their companies are unlikely to take up the budget's
corporate tax credit of up to $10,000 for new child care spaces.
In many cases, they do not see it is a priority or they believe their
company is too small.
It does not sound like many companies will take up the challenge of creating
those spaces. Mike Harris tried that approach and no one took him up on it. No
spaces were created. The government will not create any spaces either; it will
continue to ignore the developmental needs of the children of our country.
Another provision in this budget to which I will speak is the 1 per cent
reduction in GST. In juxtaposition to that reduction is the whole question of
personal income tax measures and alternatives.
A quote from The Globe and Mail makes the point in this case. It says:
Mr. Flaherty's budget document defends the GST reduction as a benefit to
the poorest Canadians, those whose earnings are too low to incur income tax.
But Greg DeGroot-Maggetti, an official with Citizens for Public Justice, said
that the cut won't help the poor much.
"GST isn't charged on the basics, which is food and housing, which make up
the biggest expenditures for low-income households. There really is very
little for the 1.2 million children and their families who are living in
The Globe and Mail clearly states that this is the wrong way to go.
Not only that, we have an economist — a tax lawyer, David Douglas Robertson —
who says, "Don't tax me when I earn it, tax me when I spend it," which is the
opposite direction of this government.
This quote is very instructive at well. He says the answer to the question is
clear — talking about GST versus income tax reductions:
Cutting the personal income taxes is by far and away better for individual
Canadians compared to a 1 per cent reduction in the rate of GST. Why?
(1) Cutting the lowest marginal personal income tax rate by 1 per cent
and increasing the basic personal amount by $500 is worth about $320
annually to most individual Canadians. In order for an individual to obtain
the same tax savings through a 1 per cent reduction in the GST, an
individual would have to spend at least $32,000 annually on goods and
services that are subject to GST.
Also, there are basic things that low-income and modest-income Canadians
spend most of their money on — rent or mortgage payments, groceries,
prescription drugs, health care, tuition, child care, insurance, et cetera —
that are not subject to GST. To get the equivalent value, what will they buy — a
Mercedes? We are talking about low and moderate-income people, people with
taxable incomes between $9,000 and $50,000 annually. They would have to spend
100 per cent or more of their disposable income to take full advantage of this
Every leading economist in this country — except Stephen Harper — says that
this direction is absolute folly; we should cut income taxes. Instead, what are
they doing? They are raising the income tax rate for the lowest income group in
After people get their tax announcements that indicate taxes have gone down
to 15 per cent, this government will raise it to 15.5 per cent, July 1.
Honourable senators, let us not be in too much of a hurry to pass this; we are
passing a tax increase. Thank goodness Senator Austin has a bill, Bill S-15,
which will correct that. I hope the bill will be passed by the Senate.
Moving on to tax credits, a couple of them are in the bill, but most of them
are not. Even though Senator Angus did not seem to be aware of when they were
coming, I take it the tax credits will come in a subsequent bill — the tax
credit on the transit, the one on the textbooks, and the one if you are working,
The only comment I wish to make about tax credits, since most of them are not
here at this point in time, is that I think the government has managed to
increase hope. Why would they do this, inflate expectations? They have inflated
expectations about what these tax credits mean.
The government talks about a $1,000 Canada employment credit. That sounds
nice, but the actual tax dollars that credit represents is about 10 to 12 per
cent of that, which is the same with any of these tax credits. The tax credit
amount looks a lot bigger than the actual tax saving.
In fact, when you talk about the tax credit for textbooks for our students,
here is a quote from the government relations coordinator for the Canadian
Federation of Students. He says:
Tax credits are the worst way to allocate student financial assistance.
They are blind to the need and are useless to the vast majority of students
who aren't even on the income tax rolls to start with.
What kind of a deception is this — putting all these amounts out there and
saying the government will provide all these credits when, in fact, they mean
little or nothing in terms of the bottom-line tax dollars that Canadians will
That is what is in the budget bill, Bill C-13. There are a few other
provisions in there as well. Most of them, I think, are not controversial; those
provisions are the key controversial ones.
Equally controversial are the provisions that are not there. Bill C-13 falls
short of meeting the needs of Canadians by what is not in Bill C-13.
There is Kelowna, first of all. Let us look at the Kelowna accord. The Leader
of the Government in the Senate, Senator LeBreton, has tried to skirt around
this for a number of Question Periods. She said Kelowna was not really an
agreement; it was just a bunch of people chitchatting away — for 18 months, mind
you. A lot of people who were there seem to think there was an agreement and
they do not particularly like the government reneging on it.
Ralph Klein is a Conservative. He said he does not particularly like it, nor
do the other premiers and territorial leaders. He "liked the commitment that
was given by the Liberal government to the First Nations and the Metis people."
He thought the agreement went a long way to addressing some of the needs of
Aboriginal people — of education, of housing, and of dealing with a whole range
of issues that relate to women, children and families, particularly violence
against families. Kelowna dealt with some of these issues.
What did the Aboriginal leaders say? Here is what Grand Council Chief John
This budget is a far cry from what was committed by the First Ministers.
Once again, we've been left out in the cold. Like the proverbial poor person
looking in through a frosted window watching somebody having a real nice
dinner in a fancy restaurant.
Senator LeBreton skirts around it, but the Deputy Leader of the Opposition
got her today with Mr. Goodale's statement that $5 billion was put in the budget
for Kelowna. The government has not put in anything like that; they put a
pittance in the budget compared to that. They have not indicated any kind of
commitment. Where is their moral commitment to that agreement?
What do you do, throw out everything previous governments have done? Some
good work has been done. Why do honourable senators not get up and say they
support Kelowna, they support $5 billion being spent, just like Ralph Klein and
the Aboriginal people want.
Kelowna represents an incredible and realistic opportunity toward closing the
prosperity gap between Aboriginal people and other Canadians, in education,
health, housing or economic opportunities. I can see no reason why any
government of any colour in good conscience can walk away from that agreement. I
hope the government reconsiders that agreement.
Senator Mitchell had good questions on climate change concerns today in
Question Period. We made a commitment to Kyoto. Yes, there was a long way to go
and not everything was on track to being done on time, but there were many good
things in there and there was a sense of commitment to making that international
agreement work. They just threw agreement in the dust bin and say that we failed
miserably. What do some people in the environmental community have to say about
this? I do not agree that we failed miserably. However, we may hear some
independent thought on this subject. On May 2, Dale Marshall from the David
Suzuki Foundation said:
Prime Minister Harper has dismantled the only climate change plan our
country had and replaced it with subsidized transit passes that will do little
to fight air pollution or convince people to leave their cars at home.... It's
From Greenpeace we hear:
This budget is a climate change catastrophe. It feels like, looks like,
acts like, made-in-the-U.S.A climate change policy made by George Bush.
Stephen Harper is doing exactly what Mr. Bush did in 2001. That is not much
of a made-in-Canada policy. Time is marching on and the climate-change damage is
marching on. Fifteen programs have been cancelled. The EnerGuide program was
working well and producing efficiency at $200 per ton cost whereas the transit
pass is $2,000 per ton cost, 10 times as much. The government cancels the
cheaper one and puts in the more expensive one. That is not marching down the
path to make good on our commitment to Kyoto.
When the minister was recently at the meetings in Berlin, people from
countries that support Kyoto were horrified by her backing off on the
commitments that Canada had made under the environment minister of the previous
government, Stéphane Dion, who did a wonderful job when he was in that position.
Post-secondary education is another area that is absent from this discussion.
That is regrettable, because the government has cancelled commitments that were
presented in the Goodale economic update last fall. These commitments were, by
and large, cancelled. They cancelled $3.11 billion over five years, or $600
million a year, and replaced it with approximately $380 million a year.
Therefore, they have cut down on post-secondary education support. That is
regrettable because that is key to our prosperity in the future and we cannot
afford to let down support for people going through our educational institutions
and helping to provide for our future.
In connection with that is the lack of support for innovation in research.
Everyone in the Conservative ranks talks about prosperity and productivity. Yet,
they are not doing anything to help prosperity and economic activity. When it
comes to innovation in research, we had more than $2.1 billion in new funding
over five years in the previous government's plan and we have managed to reduce
that to $100 million in the Conservative budget. That will simply not meet the
needs of this country in the future.
Do not talk to us about prosperity or productivity. This government is doing
nothing to move in that direction, nor is this government doing anything in
terms of international competitiveness. We can return to the same economic
statements I made earlier about the GST versus income tax reductions. Most
economists agree that this budget does little for Canada's economic
competitiveness. A reduction in the GST and an increase in income tax rates is
not productivity-enhancing and will not help us to compete in the international
On the subject of economic prudence, the previous government had a
significant and positive record when it came to dealing with the economy and our
fiscal house. We took over from the previous Conservative government and I hope
when we take over again we do not find a mess similar to the mess that was left
The government of Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell saw unemployment at 11.5
per cent. Today unemployment is down to 6.3 per cent thanks to the Liberal
government's fiscal management. When we took over from the Conservatives, the
debt burden was about 70 per cent. It is now down to 38 per cent. That saves us
billions of dollars every year in interest that goes to supporting good programs
for Canadians. Employment Insurance premiums were cut in half. Federal program
spending came down from 16.8 to 12.6 per cent. The foreign debt went from 45 per
cent to 17 per cent. We have seen the Canadian dollar appreciate. Personal
income taxes, through several tax measures, have come down substantially in that
period of time.
The economy was handled well and the Liberal government has turned over to a
Conservative government a well managed economy. However, one of the things the
Liberal governments included year after year was a measure of fiscal prudence.
There was always a $3 billion contingency reserve which, if it was not needed,
was put against the debt. I believe that is being continued, but in a smaller
There was, however, an additional amount for prudence which has proven to be
valuable. From time to time we run into economic challenges such as September
11, the mad cow crisis, the SARS crisis or the Asian currency crisis. If we do
not have that fiscal prudence we will end up in a deficit very quickly. That is
one thing that Canadians do not want any more; they do not want to go into
deficit or to add to the debt again.
This government has now removed the cushion that ensures that we do not fall
into that situation again. Most economists have commented on the matter of our
getting close to a possible deficit situation. If anything should go wrong in
the economy we could face that kind of challenge.
If surpluses have increased, it is because of the good management by the
former government. This government plans to reduce surpluses through the fiscal
balance and that is fine, but I would urge them not to remove the prudence.
There was $1 billion scheduled to go into the prudence fund and to increase over
the next couple of years. That is not an excessive amount of money, just over $1
billion, but it is wise to do in case we run into rough economic times.
Honourable senators, I cannot be enthusiastic for this budget the way Senator
Angus is. He was really on top of his game; he was really hyped up and I could
not understand why. There is nothing in this budget to get enthusiastic about.
This budget does not respect the needs of Canadians or the needs or wishes of
the majority of Canadians who voted for more socially progressive policies to
the tune of 64 per cent of the population versus 36 per cent that voted for the
Conservative government. Yes, they have a mandate for change, but not a mandate
for radical social change. They did not get a mandate for that purpose and this
budget goes too far and is not respectful of the Canadian people.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, like Senator Eggleton, I too
enjoyed the speech delivered last Wednesday by the sponsor of the bill, Senator
Angus. I listened very attentively to him but at one point I could not believe
my ears. Therefore, I reviewed the June 7 Debates of the Senate and, sure
enough, at page 456 I read that the honourable senator said, among other things:
...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.
I am incredulous. I am cut to the quick that Senator Angus, of all people,
would be among those trying to airbrush the Progressive Conservative government
of Brian Mulroney completely from the historical record. For the record, allow
me to point out that toward the end of our first mandate in 1988, the former
Mulroney Finance Minister, the Honourable Michael Wilson, reduced the number of
tax brackets from 10 to three; reduced the top federal rate by five points, a
reduction made possible by elimination of a number of incentives in both
personal and corporate sectors; and converted a number of deductions to credits
with a view to targeting assistance to those most in need. For example, the
child deduction, family allowances and child tax credit were folded into a chid
tax benefit. To Senator Angus I would say, "That is tax reform." With all due
respect to the current Minister of Finance, the Honourable Jim Flaherty, and
with full understanding of the fact that he has been in office only a few
months, nothing in Budget 2006 approaches what was done by the Mulroney
government and by Mr. Wilson in the area of tax reform.
In its second mandate, the Mulroney government brought in the GST. I need not
remind honourable senators of the destructive aspects of the old manufacturer's
sales tax. Year after year after year, successive governments identified those
defects and tried to fix them by fiddling with various exemptions of one kind or
another and then paying for the variations and exemptions by increasing the
rate. To complicate matters further, Canada was entering a global competitive
environment hobbled by a tax that increased the price of our exports. Thus, the
government of the day brought in the GST. Again, to Senator Angus I would say,
"That is tax reform," and nothing that is in the current budget approaches it.
Honourable senators, I am distressed to see that Mr. Harper, who is nothing
if not an orthodox economist and who understands perfectly well that a reduction
in the income tax is a far more effective and progressive measure to take
socially and economically than a reduction in the GST, nevertheless, allowed his
political instincts to take precedence over his economic training. If Mr. Harper
wanted to play hardball and strike a blow against vertical fiscal imbalance, the
existence of which he has acknowledged, unlike his predecessors, he should put
the GST on the table when he sits down with the premiers to discuss those
matters. He should invite the provinces that have not harmonized their sales
taxes with the GST to do so. At the same time, he might go one step farther and
undertake to include the GST in the price of the goods and services being sold.
I used to think in my high-principled Conservative naiveté that people wanted a
visible tax so they would know exactly how much tax they were paying. As it is,
people and businesses would prefer to have the tax included in the price. There
is another item for the agenda if Mr. Harper wants to strike a blow against
vertical fiscal imbalance.
At page 457 of the Debates of the Senate Senator Angus referred to
Budget 2006 as "investing in Canadian families and communities by introducing
Canada's universal child care plan." To Senator Angus I would say, "A universal
child care plan, it ain't."
Allow me to take honourable senators back to 1988 and Bill C-144, introduced
by the Mulroney government, which provided tax measures, including a child tax
credit and an increase in the child care expenditure deduction, a special
Aboriginal component that would have created 2,000 daycare spaces over six years
and a commitment of $4 billion to cost share with the provinces a minimum of
200,000 new and subsidized daycare spaces over seven years. Honourable senators,
that is a universal child care plan.
Bill C-144 died on the Order Paper in the Senate because senators opposite
then, as those now in opposition, would not let it pass, although it passed the
House of Commons. The bill came to the Senate, was not passed and died with
dissolution of Parliament in 1988. In 1989-90, the bill fell victim to budgetary
constraints. Fast forward to the year 2000 when the Federal-provincial-territorial Ministerial Council on Social Policy Renewal produced the
national children's agenda. Three years later in 2003, we saw the
federal-provincial-territorial framework on early learning and child care. In
2005, the government negotiated agreements in principle with the provinces
totalling $5 billion over a five-year period.
I am the first to acknowledge that while there is less to those agreements in
principle than the Liberals claim, there is much more to them than the
Conservatives say. They were agreements in principle. They stated objectives and
goals and went so far as to identify areas for investment. It is true that
specific action plans still had to be produced by the provinces within a stated
period of time. Each of those agreements had a chart showing how the money from
Ottawa would flow year after year for five years. However, a multi-year
financing agreement still had to be negotiated, which, I understand, was
concluded by only three of the provinces with the federal government. Of course,
there were references to Aboriginals and minority language communities, but
these too were to form part of the action plan to be brought back by the
provinces and agreed to by the federal government.
All that being said, like the Mulroney government's Bill C-144, it provided a
framework and a basis for a national child care system. That is the important
point. What we have before us in Bill C-13 is not a national child care plan but
a baby bonus, and not a progressively designed baby bonus at that. As has been
mentioned, $250 million has been provided "to support the creation of child care
At page 103 of the budget plan, honourable senators will see that the
government will consult to ensure that assistance is effective in creating
additional child care spaces responsive to the needs of parents, et cetera. The
key issues for these consultations will include different delivery approaches,
the unique needs of small businesses and rural communities and the types of
start-up and equipment costs that will be required. In other words, 'the
government is reinventing the wheel 18 years after a child care program died on
the Order Paper in this place and they are doing so in a way that is totally
inconsistent with the approach to federal-provincial relations taken by the
Prime Minister, an approach which I have supported. He says that one of the
tenets of his federal-provincial relations policy is to respect the
jurisdictions of the provinces.
Even the Martin government negotiated those agreements in principle in the
context of the social union framework agreement, a copy of which I have here. It
provides that the design of the child care program is left to the provinces as
Each provincial and territorial government will determine the detailed
program design and mix best suited to its own needs and circumstances to meet
the agreed objectives.
Why is the federal government mucking about, consulting about different
delivery approaches and the unique needs of small businesses? That is in the
provincial jurisdiction. The way to go with a program like this one is to
negotiate it in the framework of the social union framework agreement, agree to
the financing and to some principles and have the provinces do their thing and
thus develop what will become a national child care system. What they are doing
now is inconsistent with the approach that Mr. Harper announced at Quebec City
and elsewhere on federal-provincial relations.
In 1988, Prime Minister Mulroney went to a first ministers' conference in
Vancouver and identified the lack of affordable, flexible and quality child care
in this country as being one of the most persistent barriers preventing women
from making a full contribution to the nation's social and economic life.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Murray: I am glad to hear the applause from this side because
that attitude is nowhere reflected in the policy of the present government.
A year later, at the first ministers' conference in Toronto in 1987, Mr.
Mulroney told the premiers:
Working together, we can meet the challenge of achieving equality and
dignity for working women — one means to help us achieve that goal is a
national child care system.
What a remarkable difference between that compassionate, enlightened and
progressive attitude and that of the party that presently forms the government.
I am sorry our friend Senator St. Germain is not in his seat — he was there a
few minutes ago — because I want to quote him from the Catholic Register
of June 11, under the heading, "Canada has lost its moral way, says senator":
St. Germain also decried the current government policy of supporting child
day care. He said he is angry at Canada's willingness to take over for parents
as the primary source of moral formation for young people.
"What has our society come to when we are willing to relinquish this
responsibility to the state?"
What a remarkable difference between the position taken by Prime Minister
Mulroney and his government and the position taken today.
It is fair to say that we will not have a national child care system in this
country because the party that now forms the government has a principled
objection to that and, in some cases, believes that daycare is morally
objectionable. I respect the position, but I profoundly disagree with it.
Eighteen years after Bill C-144 and six years after the National Children's
Agenda, we are still farther away than ever from a national child care system. I
say this is a loss for our economy, for social cohesion and for disadvantaged
kids in this country, and I do not mean just financially or economically
disadvantaged. I mean kids who need the assistance of early childhood learning.
Never was that old right-wing cliché "a hand up instead of a handout" more
appropriate than it would have been in this case. Instead of a hand up, the
present government is giving a handout to the children of Canada. It is a major
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I rise to explain why I have
grave difficulty with this budget, why I feel it makes fundamental errors and
misses unique opportunities that Canada could grasp in its effort to take its
leadership place in the world.
I would like to concur with Senator Murray and express my appreciation for
his comments about daycare and early childhood learning, about our program. It
could be a program of great national consequence and of great consequence for
many less fortunate people, in particular, and for many women who do not have
the choice not to work but who must work, namely, single parents, and need the
kind of support that program would have provided.
I should like to establish my belief that this budget reflects a triumph of
votes over policy virtue. The government has tried to depict itself as a
government of expertise and of administrative capability, of competence, the
word so often used to describe itself. Yet it is clear that on key policy
initiatives embraced by this budget, its policy initiative is not based upon
prevailing wisdom, facts or a proper study. It is based, quite the contrary,
upon pure politics.
My colleague Senator Eggleton made a strong point about the inappropriateness
of cutting the GST, if you consider it from any number of objectives. First, it
is not real tax cutting that helps people who need their taxes cut. Poor or
low-income people would not benefit from it as they would from the tax cuts that
we have brought in.
Second, it denies the economic imperatives of productivity and of promoting
productivity for this country. Every economist, as Senator Eggleton said, except
Prime Minister Harper, is very clear. There is a consensus that reducing the GST
will not enhance productivity. Reducing income tax does enhance productivity at
a time when Canada's economy needs to be encouraged in its productivity and
Here we have a GST-cutting policy that runs contrary to prevailing,
conventional wisdom, facts, analysis and the kind of understanding that should
drive this policy differently.
With respect to mandatory minimums, that is a classic "votes over virtue"
kind of policy. Many areas of correctional policy and theory are difficult to
establish, but it is generally seen by experts in this field that mandatory
minimums do not work to reduce crime. When the minister in the other place was
pressed to come up with studies that defended the government's position Softwood Lumber Agreement—Vetting Changes in Policy with United States one of
them did not defend the case either way, and two of them argued against the case
he was making.
There is little, if any, support for the idea that mandatory minimums will
reduce crimes. The evidence, experience and policy evolution in the United
States underline clearly their understanding that mandatory minimums are not a
preferred policy initiative by any stretch of the imagination.
On the other side, it will cost a huge amount of money.
This government is resorting to vote buying in perhaps one of the more crass
versions that I have ever seen. They have created a problem, this idea that
there is rampant runaway crime that is increasing in ways that would suggest it
is out of control, when clearly, that is not the case. They then compound that
problem by saying that mandatory minimums will solve the problem, when clearly,
they will not solve that problem and will cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions
of dollars for no apparent good and no achievement whatsoever.
The issue of fiscal imbalance is a third area where the government is denying
the facts, as it were. They are trying to create the impression of a problem so
they can milk the solution to that problem for political gain. Clearly, they
think that they have an issue that resonates well in Quebec. The fact is that if
you analyze the issue of fiscal imbalance, it does not exist.
Provinces have more sources of income than the federal government. Amongst
them, their additional sources of income are gambling revenues. Not only that,
but the federal government turns around and gives $42 billion to the provinces.
The provinces have plenty of money. There is not a fiscal imbalance. The
equalization program has served this country well and will continue to serve it
well, but there is not the fiscal imbalance that Mr. Harper is trying to portray
as existing. Why would he want to perpetuate that problem? He sees it as a
Again, it raises the question: Why would they want to do that at tremendous
cost to Canadian taxpayers? If they spend more money to redress a fiscal
imbalance that does not actually exist, they will have to find that money
somewhere. Where would we find that money? We either have to cut programs, and
that is a question I will address later, because, clearly, this government has
it in mind to cut programs. They will have to cut about $22 billion worth of
programs to even begin to meet their promises. The other alternative is that
they will have to raise taxes. One hopes that the government will not pursue
that course of action any more aggressively than they already have by increasing
the personal income taxes of Canadians that we had cut previously.
There is no issue or problem that lowering the GST will fix; that will create
more problems. There is no problem that exists that mandatory minimums will fix;
they will likely create more problems and more expense. There is no fiscal
imbalance problem that this government's fiscal imbalance bias will ever fix; in
reality, it will cost more money.
That brings me to a fourth issue, and that is the issue of fiscal
responsibility and managing an economy. I am reminded of a statement that I
believe was made by Sir Winston Churchill. Historians may be able to correct me
on this. Churchill once said that if you can convince the public that you are an
early riser, you can sleep until noon every day. That is exactly what
Conservative governments try to do and they have done with some success. From
time to time, they have convinced people that they can actually manage an
economy and that they are fiscally responsible.
If one were to look at the history of debt in this country, the greatest
portion of debt, provincially and federally, that this country has experienced
has been created by Conservative governments. I expect that one could make a
strong argument that Canadian economies — certainly U.S. economies and stock
markets — underperform historically with Republican governments. If we were to
study the subject, I believe that we would find that Canadian economies and
stock markets would underperform with Conservative governments.
I come from a province where great effort was made to balance budgets and to
begin to pay off debt. I come from a federal party with 13 years of profoundly
successful, perhaps unprecedented, fiscal management of this country. We have
balanced a budget that had a runaway deficit. I believe that 35 or 40 per cent
of the government's entire expenditure was debt and deficit spending. That was
turned around, and tremendous strides were being made to pay off the debt up to
We now see a budget, as Senator Eggleton pointed out strongly, where there is
little regard for fiscal responsibility. I am gravely concerned that this
government, in its focus on votes and buying votes, has lost that fundamentally
important focus on properly managing the fiscal imperatives of this government.
There is no cushion.
An amount of $3 billion a year has been committed to paying off a $488
billion debt. At that rate, it would take 160 years to pay off the debt. How is
it that this government can say it is concerned about families and people now
when it is prepared to mortgage the future of those families and the children of
this country? We must be focused on paying off that debt, and we cannot take
that responsibility and those pressures, in any way, shape or form, lightly. I
believe that this budget takes fiscal responsibility very lightly.
I wish to focus on the area of the environment in particular. We talk about
Canada taking its place in the world. That has great resonance with Canadians;
it certainly has great resonance with me. Canada is a privileged part of the
world. We are blessed in many ways, and we have a huge responsibility to play a
leadership role in the world in many different ways. One of those areas of
leadership has been our history in peacekeeping and the work we are doing in
Afghanistan, which I applaud.
The Montreal conference chaired by Stéphane Dion showed that we were capable
of leadership and respect in the world for our Kyoto initiatives and our
environmental policy. That has been lost. The fact is that Canada can and must
be a leader in environmental policy, but that has been gutted and reversed by
this government's initiatives.
I have listened intently to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and to
her counterparts in the other place as to the reasons the government would
choose to cut our 15 climate change programs. I mentioned these reasons today in
Question Period. Initially, inefficiency was thrown out.
Clearly, our programs are far more efficient than the one program with which
they have bothered to replace those programs. Our programs would cut greenhouse
gases at as little as $20 a ton. Their program would cut greenhouse gases at
$2,000 a ton, if it cuts greenhouse gases at all. Inefficiency is not the real
reason they threw that out.
A second reason government representatives have given that Kyoto will not
work is that the program has been a failure and has not been able to achieve
objectives. The government should design a program that will achieve those
objectives. Instead, they are contemplating a program to reduce the objectives.
That would be a way, I suppose, to solve the problem, but it does not solve the
The third issue — and this is the one that makes me scratch my head — is that
we need a made-in-Canada policy. I know that stems from this idea that we might
be buying tradeable permits allowing corporations and others to buy permits and
to invest that way elsewhere in the world. We encourage our corporations to
invest elsewhere in the world all the time it is good business. The easy
political response to that has been that we will make it in Canada.
The fact is that the 15 programs the government has cut were all made in
Canada. They all apply in Canada. They do not apply internationally. They have
great promise and were on their way to being immensely successful.
What deeply frustrates me about this government's inability to grasp the
importance of the environment — not just to Canadians, but to Canada's place in
the world and people around the world — is that they underestimate the ability
of Canadians to do great things. This government has said for the last number of
months that Canada could never achieve Kyoto objectives. That is like them
saying in 1939 that Canada and Canadians could never do what had to be done to
assist in winning World War II.
The environment is a huge problem, and it may be a problem on the magnitude
of winning World War II, but no one would ever doubt today that Canadians could
do what they did from 1939 to 1945, which required massive commitment, energy
I believe that if we gave the Kyoto program a chance and took our rightful
place of leadership on it, we would demonstrate to the world and to the
Conservatives that Canadians can rise to that important challenge, can meet and
surpass those guidelines, and provide profound leadership in the world in the
issue of the 21st century. Instead, we have a government that views this 21st
century problem with 19th century solutions. It is a lost opportunity for people
and business in the country and for the place Canada could take in the world.
Finally, I am distressed and disturbed by how little this budget does to
assist and manage the economy.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the time allotted to
Senator Mitchell has expired.
Senator Mitchell: Could I have five more minutes to conclude my
The Hon. the Speaker: Is that agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you, honourable senators.
In many ways, this budget falls short of contributing in the ways that it
could. I have mentioned the GST. Productivity is a profoundly important issue
facing this country. The GST reduction will only serve to harm the furtherance
of that objective. Reducing income taxes would promote that objective and, of
course, that is exactly what this government is not doing.
Our ability to be an economy of the future will be contingent on our ability
to educate our children. This government falls short on early childhood learning
by virtue of the fact that it is reneging on daycare agreements and not
replacing them with the kind of initiative that is required. It is missing the
chance to promote post-secondary education in the way the Liberal government
did. We were offering students $6,000 over the course of a degree program.
Students will now get an $80 tax credit for books and will not have to pay taxes
on their bursaries and scholarships. However, very few of them pay taxes anyway,
so the government is giving away very little in that regard.
There is an absence of investment in and incentive for research and
development. Specific to my region, the gateway to the Pacific program, which
was so important to northern Alberta, will be implemented over eight years
rather than five. We need these things now.
With its fiscal strength, its powerful economy and the high morale and
exuberance of its population, this is the time for this country to grasp the
future with respect to environmental policy, with respect to our role in
peacekeeping, peacemaking and building democratic societies, and in so many
other ways. Yet, those opportunities have been dropped in this budget.
For those reasons, honourable senators, I am very disappointed with the
government's first effort at a budget for this country.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: On division.
Motion agreed to, on division, and bill read second time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the third time?
On motion of Senator Comeau, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee
on National Finance.
Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson moved second reading of Bill C-15, to amend
the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act.
He said: Honourable senators, I am honoured to rise in support of the
proposed amendment to the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act, both as a member
of the government and as a proud member of the Canadian agricultural community.
Sir Leonard Tilley once said: "Destroy the farmer and grass will grow in the
streets of every city in the nation." We are in difficult times in agriculture.
The Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector is the backbone of Canada's rural
economy and is critical to the overall economic health of the country. It is
responsible for more than 8 per cent of our gross domestic product, and one of
every eight jobs in Canada relates to agriculture. A strong and vibrant farm
sector that provides security of income for farm families and a strong economic
foundation for rural communities will in turn provide secure food supplies for
Canadians and others around the world.
Our country's farmers are world leaders in efficient production of
high-quality agricultural food products. They deserve our support and help to
ensure that the industry and, by extension, rural communities, have a viable and
sustainable future. This includes making cash advance payments more responsive
to the needs of producers to better reflect the reality of the modern farm
To remind honourable senators, cash advance programming refers to a program
that makes cash advances available to producers, a portion of which are interest
free, to meet their high cash-flow requirements during spring seeding. The
interest-free portion has been raised from $50,000 to $100,000.
It is being proposed that we combine the spring and fall programs, which are
already popular with producers, into a single, efficient and more powerful tool.
The single cash advance program, known as the Advance Payments Program, the APP,
would reduce red tape for producers and extend the repayment period by 18
months. In that way, farmers would have use of the money interest free for an
additional 18 months. Further, under the single cash advance program, the
government is proposing an increased level of coverage for farmers and broader
coverage to include a much wider range of commodities, including livestock. I
believe that the most important part of this bill is the inclusion of livestock.
Other commodities such as dairies were not previously included in the program.
Specifically, these proposed amendments would move to a whole-farm approach
by increasing the types of commodities covered, including livestock but
excluding supply-managed products and breeding stock. The proposed amendments
recognize today's larger farm sizes and increasing farm input costs by raising
the interest-free component of cash advance loans from $50,000 to $100,000. The
proposed amendments increase the overall limits on advances from $250,000 to
$400,000 and enhances emergency cash advances.
To give you an idea how the new program would work, producers would secure
their cash advances against their stored inventory or, in many cases, potential
claims under the Production Insurance Program or Canada's Agricultural Income
Stabilization Program in a case of production failure. With livestock now
available, cattle producers would hold back animals to take advantage of a
better price. That is, they could keep their calves and steers a couple of weeks
or months longer to get the best price for them. In fact, the officials of the
AAFC estimate that the proposed amendment will provide an additional $600
million a year in cash advances to Canadian agricultural producers.
Honourable senators, the amendments we are proposing to the AMPA legislation
are about giving Canadian farmers, whether they have to raise livestock or plant
crops or both, better tools to run their businesses in a more stable and
predictable financial environment. Now more than ever, producers need a level of
financial stability whether they are heading out to the field to begin their
spring seeding or heading into the harvest in the fall.
Some of the measures included in this legislation will not be implemented
until the year 2007, and the government announced in early May that a
transitional program, the Enhanced Spring Credit Advance Program, will be
implemented, which would be consistent with the proposals changed in the AMPA.
Under this enhanced program, producers can borrow up to $100,000 interest free
to cover cash flow demand in the spring. For maximum flexibility, they will have
until September 30, 2007 to repay the loan.
As I mentioned earlier, the enhancements to the AMPA improve on what the
producers already agree is an extremely useful business tool in their
operations. The message we have heard from the industry is basically to keep the
program but to improve in these areas.
That is what we have done and that reflects our commitment to listening to
the concerns of those working in the industry, and attempting to address those
concerns in a way that benefits all Canadians. The beauty of the cash-advance
programs is that they empower producers to give them the financial flexibility
during peak cash-flow demand periods during spring seeding and fall harvest.
They help producers meet their obligations with their suppliers and, just as
important on the marketing side, they help producers market what they want when
it is most beneficial for them.
Honourable senators, farm financial programs must meet the needs for Canadian
producers. Producers want programs that are easy to use and responsive to their
needs. We believe that a fresh approach to the developing farm income programs
is needed. That is why the government is committed to replacing the Canada
Agricultural Income Stabilization program known as CAIS, which has not worked
for the farmers as well as it should have, with a program that separates income
stabilization and disaster relief. That is why the government has replaced the
CAIS deposit requirement with a much more affordable fee and has changed the
inventory valuation system, a measure that will put $900 million into producers'
pockets. The federal government is negotiating with the provinces and the
territories to expand the eligibility criteria for negative margins. This is an
area where one of the problems, mostly with the CAIS program, occurred. In some
cases, farmers who needed the program the most did not get it.
Like those changes, the amendments we are proposing in this legislation
provide a fresh approach and response to the current realities of agriculture.
We are taking two good programs and making one even better — a program that will
cut down on the paperwork and streamline the process for farmers.
Most important of all, these amendments help ensure greater stability for
most farm businesses across Canada. That is good news for not only farmers,
honourable senators, but also for rural Canada and all Canadians. That is why I
urge honourable senators to support these proposed amendments to the act.
I want to thank the Agriculture Committee for their support for this program.
All senators on the committee can be very proud of their good work.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, it is always tough to get
up after my colleague Senator Gustafson has given chapter and verse of the
condition of our farm community, of which he is a long-time and devoted member.
Senator Gustafson and I have been on the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry for a very long time. He has served as a fine chair
through many difficult periods and we are grateful for him doing that.
Therefore, I stand after him somewhat humbled but, nonetheless, with a few words
First, it is with a sense of relief that I am rising today in support of Bill
C-15, which those of us on this side wish to see passed quickly into law so that
our farmers can rely on an expansion of tools to help them through what many
believe is the most frustrating and challenging farm crisis in our recent
In the past, we have looked to the 1930s, with its depression, combined with
withering drought, as the historic footprint of challenge to this fundamental
Canadian industry and all those who relied on it for their daily living. Today,
the scene is different. While we have much enhanced technology and science to
move our creative farming industry forward, other challenges have put it on the
edge of what many fear is near disaster for its future.
We are no longer standing quite as tall as a lead country to be automatically
counted upon here in Canada and around the world. The instrument known as the
World Trade Organization simply is not working as its members hoped it would and
could. That puts an enormous pressure on Canada, right down to the ground, where
our farmers continue to support an industry that is fundamental to the physical
and economic well-being of this nation. That, honourable senators, includes the
farm families, which are at the very core of this industry, as well as the
wonderful towns and communities in rural Canada, which are so important to the
support of our big cities and the people who live in them.
This legislation speaks out to all of those thousands of farmers who have
taken their trucks and tractors off the land and brought them to places like
Parliament Hill, as they did several months ago on a bitterly cold day, in a
desperate hope that their concerns would be felt and their words heard.
Some of those concerns are definitely reflected in this bill, which allows a
process of direct cash support to benefit our producers and give them a lift
right now and in the longer term ahead.
Bill C-15 builds on its predecessor, Bill C-69, which was introduced last
October 27 by the then-Minister of Agriculture, Andy Mitchell. This was not just
discovered now; it has been building and building and a path was made on which
the new government has been able to walk.
Farmers are continually faced with the same challenges of nature: floods,
droughts, insects, wind, and hail — one of the senators, perhaps Senator
Gustafson, has referred to the hail that is known as the "white combine" that
sweeps through Saskatchewan every year. These farmers are not immune to truly
frightening outbreaks around the world coming to our borders: bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, or BSE, with cattle; and the so-called avian flu virus, which
crosses borders, carried by birds, infecting poultry here on our farms in
At the same time, we now face a giant challenge from governments of friendly
countries in Europe and our great neighbour to the south, the United States, who
are, on the one hand, in the business of trying to bring down world trading
barriers while, on the other hand, removing pressures on their own farming
industry with a degree of subsidization that Canada and many other countries
simply cannot match. Meeting after meeting has failed. Senator Gustafson and I
had the dubious pleasure of attending the meeting in Seattle, where we both were
tear-gassed. These meetings have failed to produce an agreement that would offer
a fair chance for agricultural trade throughout the world, especially for
countries that desperately need to be part of that trade.
In an effort to streamline our system, this bill pulls the Advanced Payments
Program and the Spring Credit Advance Program together into an overall new
entity called the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act, which hopefully will ease
some of the current challenges faced by producers.
In addition to the broad reach of grains and oilseeds, the bill covers
livestock production and includes a greater variety of crops, such as
blueberries and cranberries. The bill has the ability to add other agricultural
products with the exception of supply-managed commodities. The overall limit of
advances to the farmers will be increased from $250,000 to $400,000. Interest
free advances may be increased from $50,000 to $100,000.
This bill is not perfect. We believe the government could have done a better
job of providing producers with direct cash for this spring's planting when they
needed assistance with seeding. The farmers will still have to pay loans through
cash advances and, in the end, some may have to borrow more and increase their
debt level to pay their bills. That is the reality of farming in this climate.
At a time when total outstanding farm debt reached $51 billion at the end of
2005, even with the benefit of this bill, some will be hard-pressed to take out
loans and increase their debt level to meet expenses.
Our former government acknowledged difficulties in the ability of the
Canadian Agricultural Stabilization Income program, known as CAIS, in getting
help to the farmers when they needed it most. It, too, was looking for changes
prior to the last election. It is encouraging to be standing here today with
this bill before our Senate. Without question, the legislation will be welcomed
in the farm community.
We hope the generosity of spirit flowing from the new minister Chuck Strahl,
will continue to grow as our Parliament reaches out to those in the industry who
need it most. Yesterday Mr. Strahl was before our Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry and strongly underlined his commitment to the farm
community and all of those who support it across the country.
Honourable senators, this is a painful situation that faces our farm
families. If there was ever an issue upon which we in Parliament can work
together to continue to give this fundamental industry a fair chance, this,
honourable senators, is it; and the sooner the better.
Senator Gustafson shared an anecdote with us, and I want to close with one.
It involves a gentleman who was a great friend of many of us here on both sides
of the chamber, and that was the late Honourable Alvin Hamilton. When I was a
young girl, along with Marjory LeBreton in the early days of the 1960s, I was a
journalist in the parliamentary press gallery, one of my favourite assignments.
Coming from southwestern Alberta, I was always given the agricultural
assignments. I thought I should meet the legendary Mr. Hamilton. He was a
talker. I thought it would take 15 minutes. It was about two hours before I got
out of his office, worn out. He told me about being minister and how tough and
sometimes how horrible the pressures were, the climate, the trade, and the whole
bit. I was so sorry for him by the end of it that I said, "Mr. Hamilton, how
could you get through that as agriculture minister?" He said, "Well, Joyce,
there comes a time when there is only one thing to do and that is to go in the
fields and cry with them." I have never forgotten that. Senator Gustafson has
done that. I have done it frequently in recent years; and so today, with this
bill, I hope we will get on with it. I hope the Senate can join in support of
second reading of Bill C-15 and refer it to the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry today so that the committee can get on with the job.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators,
I can not resist asking this question of Senator Fairbairn, given that she has
revealed we were once young. In her long chats with the Honourable Mr. Hamilton,
did she also receive the lecture on garbage to energy? He talked about the
conversion of methane gas into energy. He was ahead of his time, given it was
Senator Fairbairn: I did indeed receive the lecture and I think
without question he was proven correct.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to and bill read second time.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
when shall this bill be read the third time?
On motion of Senator Gustafson, Meighen, bill referred to the Standing Senate
Committee on Agriculture and Forestry.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Comeau, for the second reading of Bill S-4,
to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate tenure).
Hon. Pana Merchant: Honourable senators, largely I will speak today
with Liberal colleagues in this house and, by extension, with Liberal colleagues
in the other place.
Bill S-4 was born in haste for political aims rather than for good
governance. The bill is not born of substance. Yet, we have to address it and
the politics of it as it affects the future of Canada. The Liberal Party is in
the process of self-examination, change and renewal. It is internally absorbed.
Our party is absorbed in the important process of selecting a new leader, to
make Parliament stronger and more meaningful to all Canadians. Many Liberals are
absorbed in policies of the day, a minority government, a possible election at a
time when our party is still without a leader. I might add that the Prime
Minister seems to have one goal in mind: a majority government.
The minority Conservative government has sent us a "hairball" of Senate
reform — a hastily conceived bill, the ramifications of which we cannot know.
Unable to act meaningfully, the government has chosen to tweak the tenure of
senators with a change that is really no change. For honourable senators
appointed since 1990, assuming death based on actuarial tables, the average
tenure of colleagues over those 16 years has been and will be 11.2 years. This
bill is nothing more than a change of 3.2 years. For those who say the Senate
needs heart surgery, the government has offered a pedicure.
The first question in reducing terms from 11 years to 8 is whether this bill
is really much ado about nothing. The second question is whether this bill will,
in any event, pass in the other place. We do not know whether the opposition
parties in the House of Commons will support this change. Two of those parties
propose that Canada no longer continue as a bicameral government.
Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Australia and the United
States all have two-chamber parliaments.
Worldwide, 73 nations have bicameral governments: 16 in Asia, 17 in Africa,
17 in Europe and 20 in the Americas. All the G8 countries have two chambers, as
do 17 of the 29 members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development, OECD. However, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois know better. Will
they support the tweaking of an institution that they say should be abolished?
Why did the Prime Minister send us this bill? It will not accomplish meaningful
change, which would flow from proper consideration by both Houses and
constitutional experts for change for the future. Ironically, pre-Confederation, Canada elected our senators and, at the same time, the United
States appointed theirs. Both have changed. Changing how we get here is no
panacea. I argue that Bill S-4 is simply change for change's sake. The Canada
West Foundation has doubts about elected senators. Additionally, The Beaver
wrote this month:
An elected upper house would be bad for Western Canada, bad for Canada, bad
Real thought is needed, such as found in the paper Challenges in Senate
Reform from the Fraser Institute. None of that has occurred. Honourable
senators, Bill S-4 was created on the back of an envelope.
Some provinces will not call for, pay for or suffer the divisiveness of the
process to elect senators. Are we asked to pass a bill which is, in any event,
stillborn because it is unacceptable to some provinces? Will any two provinces
adopt identical systems? Will an entire provincial electorate vote on all
senators? Will provinces be required to establish constituencies? Will they
coincide with, or combine, House of Commons constituencies?
If the requirement to retire at 75 still applies, would it apply if one were
elected at 76? If elected at 76, would the new senator serve until 84? How do we
create this mongrel house of some elected and some not elected; some serving
until age 75; some elected at 76 and serving until 84; and some with an
eight-year hook and others longer? The devil of Bill S-4 is in the details.
Honourable senators, within our caucus we have to approach Bill S-4 in
relation not to where we are politically but with the future and the good of
Canada in mind, whether or not that creates problems for the Liberal Party in
2006. In my fourth year in this house, I continue to stand in awe of the quality
of the members of this chamber. I speak not of myself but of all honourable
senators. With the greatest deference to the elected side of Parliament, the
qualities of mind and capacity in this house are unsurpassed. The experience,
the raw intelligence, the energy and the good work done by honourable senators
is a credit to each of us and a credit to Canada.
Yet, it is almost entirely wasted because we so often put loyalty to party
ahead of voting in accordance with our collective view of what is appropriate.
It is almost entirely wasted because, as an institution, we do not deal with the
other place in the way we should. When we do not press for what we believe, we
lose the respect that the quality of our work merits.
We never say to the Prime Minister's Office and the cabinet that these views
must be given the consideration they merit. We hesitate to say that they must be
weighed appropriately. Our good ideas are often ignored because they take us for
Why do they take us for granted? In large part, it is because we almost
invariably vote along party lines and they have learned to expect it.
As recently as 40 years ago, senators did not even caucus as parties. We
swore allegiance to Canada and the Queen; we did not swear allegiance to the
party that appointed us. I am as guilty as the next person. Many of us see our
loyalties primarily to the Prime Minister and the party that sent us here.
Honourable senators, as I address the political realities of our party, we
should examine the government's motive behind Bill S-4. This bill was drafted
by a Conservative minority government, not to deal with Senate change in
substance, but to impose political pressures on the Liberal Party through our
caucus in the Senate. We must rise above those pressures. We must not deal with
this bill in relation to how it will affect the Liberal Party. We must not
acquiesce to a silly, marginal and probably unconstitutional change that will
never come into effect. We have to do the right thing and let the political
consequences fall where they may.
We have to remember that changes in June of 1867 are still with us 139 years
later, and that changes made by us in June of 2006 may still be with us in 2145.
The government can send a reference to the Supreme Court to determine the
answer to hypothetical questions. As a Senate, we ought not to be dealing with
this bill, which is basically a series of hypothetical questions.
Not knowing where the opposition parties stand in the Commons, this bill is a
hypothetical question. Not knowing whether this change is constitutional, this
bill is a hypothetical question. Not knowing whether it will enable someone
elected at the age of 78 to sit until 86, this bill is a hypothetical question.
Not knowing how this could possibly function when most of the provinces oppose
Senate elections and each would run them differently, this bill is a
Honourable senators, this ill-and hastily-conceived bill was sent to us as a
hypothetical question for political reasons. If the Prime Minister will tweak
the functioning of one of the Houses of Parliament on a political whim birthed
in politics, we must not respond in politics and we must not respond in a
I will be interested to know from the Conservative side answers to these many
questions about an unworkable, unconstitutional, provincially unsupported
Making the Senate more meaningful is a commendable aim. There is much we can
do within this institution, and there is much we can do as individuals.
There are things to be considered holistically — elections, regionalization,
perhaps as part of a package, even term limits. There are changes to consider
within an appropriate structure, but Bill S-4, with simplistic answers to
important and substantive questions, will not make the Senate more meaningful.
This is a bad bill based on less than noble motives. I do not advocate study
because study cannot change ill to good. Rather, I advocate saying to the
government, "We are with you; we want change. We are meaningful; we want to be
more meaningful. Work with us for improvement. In the Senate, we, as a Liberal
majority, will work with you. Do not play political games with us and we will
not play political games with you."
Honourable senators, this is nothing more than a transparent political poison
pill. This is not a good start, and we can do better.
On motion of Senator Fraser, for Senator Mitchell, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Spivak, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Segal, for the second reading of Bill S-210, to amend
the National Capital Act (establishment and protection of Gatineau Park).—(Honourable
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I wish to speak today to Bill
S-210 for the purpose of proposing that we should, with the greatest alacrity,
send this bill to committee for study.
This bill deals with a question, which is almost the definition of what is a
park. Many Canadians have a view that parks — putting aside the one down at the
end of the street with bushes and flowers in it and the kind that has a swing
and slide in it, which is the favourite kind of Senator Grafstein — along the
line of Gatineau Park imply something bigger and more important than that. They
embody important aspects of our heritage, to say nothing of our environment,
economy, wildlife and the preservation of parts of Canada in a close to pristine
condition, allowing always for the enjoyment of those places by Canadians. Such
an idea pervades our system of national parks, which is the envy of the world.
It happens that two of the larger parks are in the province in which I have
the honour to live, Alberta, and the first national park was in Alberta. Since
the creation of that park, national parks have been created all across the
country. There is an understanding among Canadians that national parks are
carefully husbanded, that we take great care in legislation and in
administration to look after those parks to ensure they are preserved for their
original purposes for the enjoyment of Canadians.
Gatineau Park, the subject of the present bill, is not a national park; it is
a federal park. It is the only thing that is called a federal park in the
country and, as such, it is a very poor cousin. It is not subject to the same
kind of care, with respect to either its boundaries or the things that go on
within its boundaries, to which national parks are subjected.
Since at least 1971, concerned citizens and environmental groups have agreed
that Gatineau Park, in particular, needs some form of legal status, as well as
protection from unsuitable encroachments, developments and sell-offs to which it
has been subject from time to time. I think most Canadians would be unhappy to
learn that those things have happened, but they have.
While the park's boundaries were originally set by an Order-in-Council in
1966, they were changed by a mere administrative fiat in 1988. It is a shame.
Changes have since been approved from time to time that have changed the nature
of properties within that park, have changed the boundaries of the park and, to
this day, those changes are done behind closed doors.
Honourable senators, we must remember that changes to national parks, either
additions to them or removals of land from them, require the approval of
Parliament. They cannot be made without the approval of Parliament, but changes
in and to Gatineau Park are done almost in private. This situation has allowed
the National Capital Commission, within whose purview Gatineau Park presently
exists, to change the boundaries without public consultation, let alone referral
to Parliament, and without the review or knowledge or approval of those of us
here in Parliament who are concerned about these things. As a result, several
properties have been severed from the park and put up for sale. As a result of
its 1997-98 rationalization exercise, the NCC has removed 48 properties,
comprising 1,507 acres, from what was once Gatineau Park. These include 13
properties comprising 430 acres that have been sold, 13 properties comprising
430 acres transferred to the Quebec ministry of transport and six properties, or
436 acres, that have been offered to Chelsea. There are also 16 properties, or
296 acres, declared surplus — how parklands can be surplus is beyond my
comprehension — and whose location the NCC will not even reveal since doing so
will harm its negotiating position.
The National Capital Commission, in the Gatineau Park Master Plan (1990)
makes three points. The first point concerns the legal status and boundaries of
the park and the creation of a legal framework to allow the park to be better
administered and protected. The second point deals with the creation of legal
status for the park that would require the development of a program to acquire
private properties, municipal roads and all other similar assets. The third
point concerns the benefits of creating a legal status for the park. That status
would make official the park's role and its status among other Canadian heritage
That is correct, but the National Capital Commission has failed to act on any
of those three recommendations or to bring into effect any of those three
The public interest, and not only the interests of people who live in
Gatineau or in or around the national capital but the interest of all people of
Canada, demands action on this issue. This is a park in which every Canadian has
an interest. It is a park that is attendant to the National Capital Region,
honourable senators. This bill seeks to do exactly what the National Capital
Commission said in 1990 ought to happen. The NCC has failed to establish the
boundaries of the park and establish the means by which and the circumstances in
which the National Capital Commission may deal with, treat with, transfer,
develop, sell, divest itself of or otherwise do business having to do with the
land that is presently contained within Gatineau Park.
A simpler solution would be to declare it a national park, and maybe some day
that would be a good idea. In the meantime, it would be a very good idea if this
bill were given careful consideration by the committee to which it will be sent
and if the recommendations of that committee were brought back to this house.
This is a matter of national and very long lasting importance, honourable
senators. I recommend we vote as soon as we possibly can to send this bill for
On motion of Senator Fraser, for Senator De Bané, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Callbeck, for the second reading of Bill S-205, to
amend the Food and Drugs Act (clean drinking water).—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, it is my pleasure to rise
today to speak at second reading of Bill S-205, an act to amend the Food and
Drugs Act (clean drinking water), introduced by Senator Grafstein.
As Senator Grafstein has made clear, this is not the first time senators have
debated the content of this bill. Indeed, Bill S-18 was introduced by Senator
Grafstein in February of 2001. The bill died on the Order Paper in 2002. Bill
S-42 was introduced in the Thirty-eighth Parliament and died on the Order Paper
after Parliament was dissolved last November. Bill S-205 is identical to Bill
S-18 and Bill S-42 introduced in the Thirty-seventh and Thirty-eighth
At the outset, I wish to state that I share Senator Grafstein's view on the
importance of safe drinking water. I also commend the senator on recognizing
that achieving the subject means more than having drinking water standards, but
that we must ensure also that our sources of drinking water — lakes, rivers,
aquifers — are protected from pollution.
The question, I believe, is whether we need to establish a federal regulatory
regime to protect drinking water as proposed in Bill S-205, or do we achieve
more effective safeguards by building and supporting the current collaborative
approach in which provinces and territories exercise primary responsibility for
The federal government has a distinct role in conducting the science required
to develop guidelines, which are used by provinces and territories as a basis
for establishing their own regulatory requirements. This approach ensures
national consistency. At the same time, however, it also avoids unnecessary
duplication and acknowledges the regional and local priorities that can best be
addressed at the provincial and territorial level.
In short, honourable senators, I believe that Bill S-205, while well
intentioned, would simply add another layer of bureaucracy to the management of
water and would essentially cause the federal government to step into an area of
provincial jurisdiction. It would not provide a system that is more protective
of human health than what we have today and which we are jointly building with
our provincial and territorial partners for the future.
Honourable senators, the Walkerton tragedy was a wakeup call for all orders
of government, which have perhaps become complacent about the safety of drinking
water. I do not need to remind honourable senators that this same bill was first
introduced in 2001 largely in response to the Walkerton tragedy.
Were Walkerton and North Battleford indications of systemic failures in our
drinking management regime or isolated incidents that turned into tragedies? I
believe these incidents were a clear warning that without action, incidents like
this one are going to increase. Justice O'Connor, who led the Walkerton inquiry,
made his point clear. He said,
The Walkerton experience warns us that we may have become victims of our
own success, taking for granted our drinking water safety. The keynote in the
future should be vigilance.
All orders of government recognize the importance of Justice O'Connor's
findings and have acted to put in place the safeguards that Bill S-205 would
merely duplicate. This has been achieved under the existing
federal-provincial-territorial approach which respects jurisdiction and takes
into account local and regional priorities and capacity.
Indeed, since 2001 all provincial and territorial governments have
strengthened their legislative, regulatory or policy regimes to protect their
drinking water. These actions by federal, provincial and territorial governments
have not been limited to drinking water quality standards. As we learned
following the inquiries after the Walkerton and North Battleford incidents,
drinking water standards by themselves do not ensure the safety of drinking
water. Governments, both nationally and internationally, are now adopting
multi-barrier approaches for protecting drinking water quality.
Honourable senators, source-of-water protection is an important first step in
the multi-barrier approach. To achieve this, federal, provincial and territorial
governments are adopting watershed-based approaches to prevent pollution of
source waters, a key recommendation of the Walkerton inquiry. Today, land use
decisions and policies are being made with a view to ensuring the protection of
the rivers, lakes and aquifers that serve as sources of drinking water.
There are many good examples of these new approaches, including Ontario's
development of source-water protection plans and Quebec and Alberta's watershed
management protection strategies. An important distinction needs to be made
between what provinces and territories are doing and what Bill S-250 proposes,
as well as what is proposed in Senator Grafstein's Bill S-208 which deals with
the creation of an agency to oversee protection of watersheds.
Decisions on watershed and source-water protection should not be taken
essentially in Ottawa. These are decisions that need to be made by communities
and stakeholders locally and overseen and supported by their provincial and
territorial governments. People in the area of the watershed are best equipped
to understand the battles between environmental, economic and health priorities
and to take the decisions that ensure their well-being, taking a
population-based approach to best protect their health.
The federal government certainly has a role. The government is a major player
in these watershed approaches and leads or participates in a number of programs.
These include the action plans for the protection of the Great Lakes and the St.
Lawrence River ecosystems, federal contaminated sites clean-up programs and
regulation of pollutants under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
In addition, innovative federal programs such as the Agriculture Policy
Framework have been designed and implemented to ensure that environmental
protection and health concerns are an integral factor in planning for the
sustainability of our farming sector.
The multi-barrier approach means more than source-water protection. Other key
components include effective treatment and maintenance of water quality and the
distribution system, including regular testing.
I was surprised to hear today that Ottawa tests its water every single
morning. That is great.
Further key components include operator training and infrastructure renewal
as well as a scientifically-based set of guidelines to use as enforceable
standards for the protection of drinking water from environmental and other
Over the past few years, all governments have been developing programs, best
management practices and regulations to implement these objectives.
Honourable senators, we are turning the corner on Walkerton, North Battleford
and Kashechewan by working collaboratively with our provincial, territorial and
Aboriginal partners to put more rigorous measures in place to ensure the safety
of drinking water. We have done this without raising significant issues of
constitutional authority or the significant costs of an enhanced federal role in
inspection and enforcement that would overlay existing provincial and
This cannot be said for Bill S-250, which, leaving aside its potential
constitutional ramifications, would raise questions on how it can be put into
practice. Together with Bill S-208, it would bring federal oversight to
watershed management and land use decisions that could impact source-water
quality. Where would provincial authority to make decisions end and federal
authority begin? The bottom line is that provinces and territories are already
implementing these approaches.
Honourable senators, Bill S-205 simply duplicates the work that has already
been accomplished through cooperation by all levels of government. Rather than
establishing a federal regulatory regime for drinking water, as proposed in Bill
S-250, we should continue to work with the provinces, the territories and our
Aboriginal partners within the current water management regime to address
drinking water quality priorities for all Canadians.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Cochrane, will
you accept a question?
Senator Cochrane: Yes.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, again, I am hopeful that this
bill will be sent to the committee of which Senator Cochrane and I are both
members. However, I believe that the distinction to which Senator Cochrane
referred is clearly made in this bill and in the matter with which it deals. The
management of water as a consumable is not all that clearly within the exclusive
purview of provinces, because it is a consumable. It is clear that in Canada we
have national enforcement of regulations for the safety of the Canadian public
to ensure, for example, that a manufacturer of a consumable of any kind cannot
move to a jurisdiction in Canada that has less strict control over the safety
and health aspects of what it is putting into a can, a bottle or a pipeline in
order to escape higher standards.
With respect to every other consumable that we eat — corn flakes, chocolate
bars, beef, corn, bread — Canada has said that we need nationally enforced
national standards in order to ensure that things do not escape to the vacuum of
a less strict regime. This is judged to be in the best interests of Canadians.
That is true of bubble gum, Coca-Cola, popcorn, bottled water and packaged ice.
Those things are all subject to federal food and drug law, control, regulations
and enforcement. The result is that Canadians have good reason to assume that
the things they put into their mouths to consume will probably not make them
The only thing we consume on a daily basis that is not presently subject to
the provisions of the food and drug controls that exist in this country is the
one thing without which we cannot live. It seems absurd that we nationally
control bubble gum and bottled water and have sanctions to deal with people who
improperly deal with the safety aspects of those consumables while the one
consumable that we do not control within the purview of the Food and Drugs Act
is the one thing without which human beings cannot live — water.
I wonder whether Senator Cochrane agrees with me.
Senator Cochrane: I wish to thank the honourable senator for his
speech; it was wonderful. However, you and I know that Walkerton was the wakeup
call for all of us when it came to drinking water and the safety of drinking
water. The federal government must do the scientific work and it has done the
scientific work. I do not want to go forward and walk on boundaries because the
provinces have their own water supply and they take care of protecting their
water supply. They have various qualified people to look after their own water
supply. Each little community — and, God knows, there are many of them in Canada
— has its expertise. Being on the federal side, I do not think we should walk on
their jurisdiction. We will deal this subject in our committee quite adequately,
I am sure.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Cochrane's
time has expired. However, Senator Banks may have one more question.
Senator Banks: This is a hypothetical question, but it refers to what
Senator Cochrane talked about. A hypothetical answer will do very nicely. If the
problem of health of a consumable causing danger and harm to the health of
Canadians had arrived in, for example, beef, chicken or fish; and if that
commodity had not at the time been under the purview of the Food and Drugs Act,
would the honourable senator not agree that it should be made so in order that
the purveyors of that fish, beef or soft drink could not move to another place
to avoid the strictures and controls? The only way that can be achieved is with
a national program with national aspects of enforcement.
Senator Cochrane: The honourable senator has asked a hypothetical
question. The hypothetical question will be answered in committee.
On motion of Senator Keon, debate adjourned.
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 Cools)
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I have had a chat with my
colleague Senator Cools and she has asked me to make a representation about this
issue. She was concerned about the appropriateness of the Senate in effect, as I
suggest in my motion, imploring the Russian president to assist. She felt that
it was not an appropriate thing and we probably did not have a —
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable Senator Di
Nino, this is your motion. Are you closing the debate? If you speak now, you are
closing the debate.
Senator Di Nino: Your honour, I am seeking guidance. Senator Cools
said that if I were to make what she calls a friendly amendment, she would not
have an objection and I could then close the debate on my motion. I am prepared
to do that, if that is appropriate. Senator Cools is not here, but she did ask
me to make that request.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Before I let the
honourable senator close the debate, are there any other honourable senators who
wish to speak on this question? If not, I will acknowledge Senator Di Nino at
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, the friendly amendment
replaces the word "implore" with the following words: "support the effort of
International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation regarding their request to..." It
would then continue: "...President Vladimir Putin", and so on. From my
perspective, it still respects the principle and the intent and does not change
materially what I had intended to do. Therefore, I would ask permission to make
that amendment. We could then vote on the motion that I have on the Order Paper.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Di Nino is
asking for leave. According to our rule 30, a senator who has made a motion or
presented an inquiry may withdraw or modify the same by leave of the Senate.
Senator Di Nino wishes to modify his motion, so he needs leave. Is leave
granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Di Nino: Honourable senators, I will repeat the amendment. On
the motion, where it says, "That the Senate of Canada implore...", we will
replace the word "implore" with the words: "...support the effort of the
International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation regarding their request to..." and
then it would continue on "...President Vladimir Putin...," and so on.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Would you repeat that,
Senator Di Nino?
Senator Di Nino: Yes, I will repeat it. After "...the Senate of
Canada...", replace the word "implore" with the following words: "support
the effort of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation regarding their
request to..." and then it would continue from there.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion, as modified?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to, as modified.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Corbin, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Bryden,
That the Senate should recognize the inalienable right of the first
residents of the land now known as Canada to use their ancestral language to
communicate for any purpose; and
That, to facilitate the expression of this right, the Senate should
immediately take the necessary administrative and technical measures so that
senators wishing to use their ancestral language may do so.
Hon. Madeleine Plamondon: Honourable senators, I would like to say a
few words on the inalienable right of the first residents of the land now known
as Canada to use their ancestral language to communicate for any purpose.
I have always shown my support for Senator Adams' and Senator Watt's
requests. Because the election was called, we were not able to follow up on
those requests. I have often expressed my opinion on this matter. I believe it
is important — since it is a question of breaking down boundaries — to prevent
the creation of solitudes within the Senate, but above all, this would
constitute a democratic step forward.
A senator's functions and responsibilities are important and require active
participation in debates. Senators must be able to participate fully and
completely. With all of the technology available to us today, it is rather
surprising that we are even wondering if someone can be authorized to speak in
their own language. There is no doubt that it is easier to express oneself more
clearly and more completely in one's mother tongue than in another language. We
must facilitate this practice here. It is not a privilege to be granted; it is
the recognition of everyone's right to speak, a sign of respect, and a privilege
for listeners to hear our colleagues' thoughts, ideas and opinions. The argument
of the cost involved does not hold up. Based on what we have heard, it could
cost $1 million, which is 1.2 per cent of the Senate budget.
Senator Corbin's proposal is worth much more than that. It is a message of
openness and cultural rapprochement. The proposal is reasonable and makes good
sense. We should not wait to find a solution that would apply to all Aboriginal
languages. The idea here is to make it easier for our colleagues to use their
mother tongue, Inuktitut, to express their arguments, ideas and thoughts. In so
doing, we are giving everyone the privilege of understanding another culture
better and benefiting from it.
Let us take this first constructive step in order to enable everyone to
On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.
Hon. Claudette Tardif rose pursuant to notice of May 31, 2006:
That she will call the attention of the Senate to questions concerning
post-secondary education in Canada.
She said: Honourable senators, a year ago I introduced my first inquiry on
the state of post-secondary education in Canada. As I have stated before,
post-secondary education is a public policy issue critical to the future success
of Canada and, therefore, deserves specific direction and support. Earlier this
year, Canada's premiers, along with experts from every sector of the Canadian
post-secondary education system, gathered in Ottawa for a Council of the
Federation Summit on Post-Secondary Education and Skills Training.
As Premier Charest noted, it was the first time in the history of Canada that
the provincial premiers and territorial leaders called together any such
It has been stated ad nauseam, but probably bears repeating, that in the 21st
century a highly educated populace is a country's ultimate resource. In an
increasingly globalized and interdependent knowledge-based economy, it is the
countries and nations who awake and respond most quickly to this reality that
will reap its economic and social rewards.
It is my belief that, despite the acknowledged importance of post-secondary
education to the economic and social success of Canadians, we, as governors and
policy-makers have failed in providing it with the focus, direction and support
We must move now, honourable senators — swiftly, efficiently and
intelligently — and end the stagnation and stalemate looming around this
important public policy issue.
Recently, while still serving as Canada's Executive Director to the
International Monetary Fund in Washington, Mr. Kevin Lynch who is now the Clerk
of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet, wrote a paper outlining the
three most critical policy challenges and opportunities facing Canada. The paper
was published in the April-May issue of Policy Options, the public policy
magazine of the esteemed Institute for Research on Public Policy. My honourable
colleague Senator Segal can surely attest to the institute's high quality.
Of particular interest to this inquiry today, Mr. Lynch declares in his paper
that "increasing Canadian productivity growth" and "improving our human
capital through education and training" are important public policy challenges
facing Canada today. In fact, they are intertwined, as education and skills
training lead to a more efficient and effective workforce, and also lead to
productivity advances through the commercialization of ideas and innovations.
While Canada has done well on both the productivity and human capital fronts,
it continues to lag in comparison to most of its comparable trading partners and
comparable nations, especially the United States. There is a productivity gap in
Canada, and it continues to widen. Canada's gross expenditure and research and
development as a share of GDP is below most G8 countries and below the OECD
average of 2.3 per cent. We are at 2 per cent. According to OECD numbers,
Canada's private sector research and development as a percentage of industry
value added is the lowest in the G7. Public sector funding of research and
development has increased, but commercialization of that research is inadequate
as compared to the United States.
Canada has a post-secondary education attainment rate of 44 per cent, which
at first glance seems significant, but pales when it is contrasted with what
nations such as the United States, China and India strive to achieve. It is also
inadequate considering that such a large and growing segment of our population —
Aboriginal Canadians — are being left out of the fold. We also are behind in
educating graduate students in this country. Our goal should be to have 25 per
cent of university spaces in Canada filled by graduate students, which will
align us with other global competitors such as the United States. Instead, our
numbers are around 18 per cent.
There are many reasons why a post-secondary education is important, not the
least of which is the personal reward and fulfillment that it provides to the
recipient. But here is another reason, as stated by Mr. Lynch, Clerk of the
OECD estimates suggest that adding one year to the average educational
attainment in a country can increase its GDP per capita by 5 percent.
That percentage is staggering, honourable senators, one unlikely to be
achieved through any other productivity driver.
Kevin Lynch, Anne Golden, President and CEO of the Conference Board of
Canada, and Janice MacKinnon, Vice-Chair of the Institute for Research on
Public Policy, IRPP, Professor of Public Policy at the University of
Saskatchewan, and former Minister of Finance in the Romanow government, all
single out Canada's research and development, commercialization and
post-secondary attainment rate deficiencies. They also identify two
preconditions for future success on these files: speed and a national strategy.
If Canada wishes to remain a significant competitor in the global economy, it
must move quickly in implementing public policy aimed at increasing our
productivity and post-secondary attainment rates. Radically accelerated advances
in technology have levelled the playing field, meaning that anyone anywhere in
the world can achieve financial and social success without having to leave their
country, no matter what the restrictions of local realities. Countries that make
investments and advances in the education of their population, as well as the
commercialization of their ideas, dominate the global market. The world is in
flux, honourable senators. New paradigms are being created. The race is on, and
we do not have the luxury to sit it out. If Canadians want our current standard
of living to be maintained and if we want it to grow for our children and
grandchildren, then we must take action immediately. We certainly will not
recognize it now but, in hindsight, waiting for one year or more might be the
difference between Canada being a global player and a global pretender.
As Anne Golden asserts, "regional parochialism is the 'elephant in the
room"' when it comes to addressing issues surrounding post-secondary education,
as it is with so many other public policy issues in Canada. Questions of
jurisdiction, responsibility, funding appropriations and addressing whether the
fiscal imbalances between the federal government and the provinces abound often
hinder real progress. Yet, it would be unfortunate, if not disastrous, for the
current model of shared responsibility to be modified without first having
mechanisms put in place to ensure that significant levels of funding for
post-secondary education are maintained throughout the country.
It is my belief that abandonment by any federal government of its shared
responsibilities in the area of post-secondary education should be met with
resistance and protest. Restoring Fiscal Balance in Canada asserts that:
Federal and provincial-territorial governments must continue to work
together on these shared priorities to ensure that Canadians have affordable,
accessible and high-quality post-secondary education and training that is
responsive to the needs of the labour market and supports an innovative
economy through a world-class research capacity.
To quote Golden:
We need national leadership and genuine inter-governmental collaboration
to address these pan-Canadian issues.
In the 2006 federal budget, the government made the following commitment:
...the Minister of Industry will be developing a science and technology
strategy, in collaboration with the Minister of Finance, that will encompass
the broad range of government support for research, including knowledge
I believe it is important that, in formulating this plan, several things must
be accomplished. The first is that the strategy must establish tangible goals
and deadlines. We must determine where we would like to be as a country in terms
of productivity, as well as undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral completion
Do we wish to be a leader in these areas and, if so, how much more funding
and support must be given to achieve that end?
Also, the consultation process must be transparent and collaborative,
allowing experts and leaders from across the country and even abroad to provide
feedback. And finally, again, I must stress the need for urgency in the
development of this plan. The government has indicated that it will develop the
strategy "over the next year." I would urge that it accelerate that process.
I also wish to take the opportunity to suggest that the Senate focus on
post-secondary education and to consider in the near future establishing a
Senate subcommittee to explore some of these issues in greater depth. I am eager
to collaborate with any and all policy-makers who are determined to undertake
such a venture.
As I have stated many times before, the time has come for the Prime Minister
of Canada to call a first ministers' meeting on post-secondary education and
skills training. This is yet another way that the provinces, territories and
federal government can engage in dialogue and set forth a collaborative,
positive plan of action. The first ministers have repeatedly met on another
issue with joint responsibility — health care. Therefore, there is no reason why
a meeting on the issue of post-secondary education could not occur as well.
In her paper in Policy Options, Janice MacKinnon states:
Just as railways, canals and roads provided the main arteries for economic
development in the 19th and 20th centuries, laboratories, synchrotrons and
other research infrastructure are the foundations for economic developments in
the 21st century.
Ideas are our world's greatest commodity in today's global economy. Seeing
matters in this light, it becomes easier to understand not only why we must
begin to invest now, but also why all levels of government must be involved. If
we wish to keep up with other nations of the world that are rapidly educating
their citizens and building their maps of tomorrow, we must employ every ounce
of our labour in this cause. We must embrace the knowledge frontier with the
same courage, fortitude and entrepreneurial spirit that emboldened the founders
of this grand experiment called Canada and to do so with the goal of camaraderie
and community that first united us as a people.
On motion of Senator Segal, debate adjourned.
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell rose pursuant to notice of June 7,
That she will 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.
She said: Honourable senators, it is a privilege for me to open the debate on
this motion which affects children, their families and our responsibility, as
Canadians, concerning early learning and child care, more particularly as
regards the agreements in principle between the federal government and the
provinces and territories, and the situation as of June 2006.
It is absolutely unacceptable and unfortunate that some individuals,
including members of the Liberal Party, attempted, in press releases, to dismiss
the agreements in principle by describing them as a deathbed repentance and the
like. That is not fair. It is not right.
We will recall that the debate on this issue started when the Right
Honourable Jean Chrétien proposed a national child care program, a program that
was announced in the famous 1993 red book, at pages 38 and 40. "A deathbed
repentance, not at all!"
Ten years later, in December 2003, in his maiden speech as the newly elected
leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, the Right Honourable Paul Martin pledged
that early childhood development would be a priority for his new government.
In the Speech from the Throne on October 5, 2004, this priority was
Parents must have real choices; children must have real opportunities to
learn. The time has come for a truly national system of early learning and
child care, a system based on... quality, universality, accessibility and
Let us look back at 1993. Why did the Chrétien government plan fail? As the
Minister of State for Family and Community Services from 1994 to 1997, I
attended a provincial meeting in Victoria. One of the items on the agenda was
the Chrétien government plan to advance the issue of child care and the federal
government's desire to share the costs fairly and equitably among the provinces.
It is unfortunate that the funding agreement proposed by the Chrétien
government became the stumbling block to the negotiations between the provinces.
Unfortunately, the provinces do not wish to share the costs of this new social
Honourable senators, can you imagine that the honourable Stockwell Day, as
chair of this conference, promoted Prime Minister Chrétien's objective of
quality child care in order to offer a real choice to parents. It is a
commitment of the Liberal Party of Canada to early learning and child care, not
"a deathbed repentance" or a press release.
Honourable senators, I sincerely believe there are still people from every
political party today who truly want to have quality child care and want early
childhood development to be one of Canada's essential priorities.
I think you share my passion and that most of us continue to share a vision
of a country where every child from the earliest age can have the best possible
opportunities whether at home or in the community. This debate is alive
In the announcement of this inquiry, I referred to the agreements in
principle negotiated by the Honourable Ken Dryden with his provincial
colleagues. I will read excerpts from each of our 10 provinces.
On April 29, 2005, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were first, moving forward on
early learning and child care. Again, the guiding principles in every province
were quality, universal inclusiveness, accessibility and development. Premier
Calvert said it so well:
Our vision is to ensure that all Saskatchewan children enjoy a good start
in life, and are nurtured and supported by caring families and communities ...
by supporting innovative programming that integrates early learning and child
care with community and school-based programs and services.
Premier Calvert compared this agreement to Medicare.
From that small beginning in Saskatchewan, a system has developed that is
part of the fabric of Canadian society, and is at the heart of social policy.
That same day, Premier Doer said:
We are pleased that the federal government has followed through on this
important commitment .... Today's agreement will help us continue to build
Manitoba's child care and early childhood development system, which is one of
the best in the country.
On May 13, 2005, Premier Danny Williams signed an agreement for his province
Making sure that our youngest citizens get the best start in life is one of
the most important priorities for parents and families in our province.... to
ensure children and families have access to a quality early learning and child
care system, and that early child care educators and providers receive the
training and supports they need.
Premier Williams recognized that the good people who care for children
outside the home would have a greater hope for their betterment in a career that
too often and for too long has been overlooked professionally.
Three days later in Nova Scotia, May 16, Premier John Hamm said:
Our future belongs to our children, and this Agreement in Principle will
help us better support them in the years to come.
The plan in Nova Scotia included operational grants, revised eligibility for
subsidized spaces and improved retention and training supports for early
childhood educators and child care educators.
Premier Hamm was speaking about more than spaces. He was speaking about real
vision for real challenges.
In Alberta, on July 7, 2005, Heather Forsyth, Minister of Children's
From the beginning, we have focussed on getting to what Albertans told us
they wanted for child care, which was choice... We look forward to continuing
to build on a wide range of programs, recognizing that parents should have
options and choices in caring for their children.
It was Alberta's intention to establish links between home and communities,
affirming that parents and families have the primary responsibility for the care
and nurturing of their children, and recognizing that early learning and child
care is a provincial responsibility.
Next, in British Columbia, on September 29, 2005, Premier Gordon Campbell
We want to ensure that B.C. families have access to a sustainable,
flexible, and affordable early learning and child care system that will ensure
B.C. children get the support they need to thrive and succeed. The
agreement... will help parents balance the demands of work and family, and
assist child care providers with new funding. It is a critical step in
achieving our goal...
Quebec, October 28, 2005: a funding agreement — not an agreement in principle
— was signed.
... Canada's goals are very similar to those already pursued by Quebec in
its system of educational child care.
This first Government of Canada funding agreement on early learning and child
care was acclaimed as a historic event.
Quebec's Minister of Families, Seniors and the Status of Women, the
Honourable Carole Théberge said:
We are pleased that the federal government recognizes that Quebec is a
leader in child care... It will give us great pleasure to share the expertise
we have acquired over the past few years with our colleagues of other
Honourable senators, this agreement was a great Canadian moment, one of
sharing, of vision and of hope. Is all of this lost? I believe it is not because
I believe that one day we will join hands again from coast to coast to coast on
behalf of families and their children. A few dollars a week, our daycare spaces
without vision, will never replace this great Canadian dream. It will rise
After Quebec, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick signed on the same day —
November 24, 2005 — why did it take so long? I cannot answer for P.E.I., but I
do know that Premier Lord insisted upon enough flexibility to allow money to go
to rural areas.
PEI's Minister of Health, Social Services and Seniors, the Honourable Chester
Today's announcement is good news for children and their families, as well
as for future generations of Island children.
P.E.I's plan was to enhance the child care subsidy rate, increase direct
funding to operators, provide infant incentive grants and provide the capacity
of early learning centres to include children with unique needs.
Colleagues, this agreement is so much more than daycare spaces. Speaking for
Premier Lord, the Honourable Joan McAlpine-Stiles said:
We now have the flexibility to develop a made-in-New Brunswick plan that
will continue to build on the foundation of a strong child care sector
involving more services for rural New Brunswick and for families who currently
do not benefit from our early learning and child care.
Finally, in Ontario on November 25, the Honourable Marianne Chambers,
Minister of Children and Youth Services, said:
This is great news for Ontario families. This is part of our government's
best start plan to help Ontario children arrive in grade one ready to succeed.
Agreements in principle for the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut were
prepared but were unsigned at the time of the election call. However, federal
funding was allocated for one year. For our northern families especially, we
must hope that this setback is merely a pause in Canada's quest for the best
start for each of our children.
Honourable senators, I have the proposed funding for every province and
territory. Funding agreements were signed only between the federal government
and Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. In all the other provinces, time ran out
before complete action plans could be developed and budgetary allocations could
Today, the Government of Canada is saying no to all of this, with the
exception of an ongoing commitment to Quebec. Prime Minister Harper admitted in
the House on April 5, 2006, that the existing program will end next year.
Canadians are left with a promise for 125,000 child care spaces — no
reference to quality, no money for operating costs or staffing, no educational
opportunities for staff, and no financial assurances toward a greater value
attached to the precious work they do. There will be no community programs to
allow all parents to become empowered through acquisition of early childhood
development knowledge and principles. There will be no focus on preparing
children for school.
Parents will be on their own with a few extra dollars in their pockets, not
even enough for one day each week in a quality child care centre. Those who make
the most money will be the winners in this Conservative plan — very conservative
but certainly not very progressive.
Words change before and after elections. Speaking to reporters in Calgary on
April 29, 2005, Stephen Harper said he would honour any deal made by the
Liberals if his party won the next election, but would still press ahead with
his own child care plans.
Now, Conservative government officials have reached out to a coalition of
socially conservative lobby groups in an effort to help sway public opinion in
the coming battle over the Tory daycare deal. And more press:
Rural child care experts pan Conservatives' plan
The highly respected Vanier Institute for the Family has had its own data
misconstrued by proponents of the Conservative plan. And just today, in the
Moncton Times & Transcript:
Child care debate lively
and this quotation:
The cute moppets in child care could damage the federal Conservative
The head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Catherine Swift,
says that Conservative plans to lure employers into the child care game will
fall flat. In response, Minister Finlay said: "But perhaps the owner of a strip
mall who has several tenants who each have several employees, maybe the owner of
that strip mall wants to get together with these businesses and create spaces."
That is not a vision for Canada!
Honourable senators, I do not think it is too late to look at the possibility
of achieving our two visions: first, a direct contribution to families, and,
second, a national system of quality child care with programs that promote early
childhood development, for all parents in Canada.
To my colleagues on the government side I would like to say that it is
possible to convince the Prime Minister to abandon his intention to cancel the
agreements in principle with the provinces.
In my heart I believe that many members of the Conservative Party want the
same thing for all children in Canada. We agree that parents have the greatest
responsibility for their children. We want to offer every parent the best
support so that they can be a good parent, the best possible parent.
In Canada, the reality is that 84 per cent of parents work either in or
outside of the home to provide their families with the bare necessities and to
achieve their goals and dreams as individuals.
Seventy per cent of women with preschool-aged children belong to the paid
workforce. For most of these parents, the only choice is a paycheque at the end
of the week.
We can offer the parents of Canada a hand in so many ways. A handout of $100
a month is not enough, as helpful as it may be in the short term for some
parents. Canada in the 21st century is ahead of most countries with respect to
our economy. At the same time, we have been given a low rating compared to other
OECD countries when it comes to early childhood care. Apart from Quebec,
participation rates for children aged three to six years do not reach a quarter
of those of the main European countries.
Honourable senators, the commitment of the Liberal Party of Canada to
childcare and early childhood development began in 1993. It has not been an easy
journey. However, it was never a death bed repentance. In 2006, again there is a
roadblock. There are two visions of how to empower parents, how to ensure all
families have choices and how to apply the fundamental principles of learning,
early learning and child care. Yet, I am optimistic that a continuing dialogue
will find common ground. Canada is a country where family homes are the cradles
of the nation, yet our parents should feel confident that when they must seek
child care outside the home, or when they choose to do so, the interests of
society will provide quality care.
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to advise that the honourable senator's
time has expired. Does she seek the consent of the house for two more minutes?
Senator Comeau: She can have five.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Trenholme Counsell: Thank you, honourable senators.
Above all, Canada must accept the challenge to meet and surpass other nations
in advancing early childhood development as public policy, with an eye to our
individual and collective future, our social future and our economic future in a
caring and progressive society.
Honourable senators, my hope for a response to this inquiry rests with all of
you. Let us put all children ahead of any political bias we may have. Let us
look inward and outward so that, one step at a time, like an infant, we can push
forward to allow the girls and boys of Canada to reach their potential, to allow
parents to make their very own choices and to allow Canada to become stronger,
more vibrant and more just. There can be no greater investment than that for our
children. Thank you for your attention.
Hon. Lowell Murray: The deputy leader of the government kindly agreed
to a five-minute extension for Senator Trenholme Counsell. She has not used
nearly that much time, so perhaps she might accept a question.
Senator Trenholme Counsell: Certainly.
Senator Murray: Does the honourable senator happen to know the
position of the present government of New Brunswick with regard to the decision
of the federal government to abrogate, as it had a legal right to do, the
agreement in principle that the two governments signed on November 24, 2005?
Senator Trenholme Counsell: I thank the honourable senator for his
question. I have great praise for Premier Lord and his wife in so many respects.
We worked together on many things, particularly on early childhood issues and
literacy. I think this time he probably flip-flopped, because I do have the
clippings in my file. It would take some time to find the reference. I know that
he said that he is okay with what the present federal Conservative government is
doing. He was reluctant. I never understood it. I talked to him about it before
he signed in November. I was not twisting his arm; I just wanted to have a
little conversation with him. He said he was concerned because in New Brunswick
so many of our areas do not have regulated child care. Therefore, he was
determined that in the agreement he would sign there would be enough flexibility
for various arrangements to allow our rural families to feel they were a part of
this new agreement.
I know that he said he was okay with it. I do not have a better quote than
Senator Murray: I have a copy of the agreement in principle. It says
that the Governments of Canada and New Brunswick have developed a bilateral
agreement to articulate their shared vision for early learning and child care
and to describe specific objectives and investments to advance this vision.
Later, it states that New Brunswick's vision is to build on its significant
investments to date, creating an early learning and childcare system that
focuses on quality, affordability and accessibility and that New Brunswick will
continue to make strategic investments. Then it states that, in 2004, New
Brunswick announced significant investments in affordability, raising its
maximum subsidy rates, expanding the number of families eligible for financial
assistance, setting the ambitious goal of an additional 1,500 new child care
spaces by 2008. Then it says that the further investment from Ottawa will
complement existing federal and provincial investments in New Brunswick and
contribute to the range of options available to parents.
Does the honourable senator happen to know whether the "ambitious goal" of
an additional 1,500 new child care spaces by 2008 can be realized in the absence
of the federal funding referred to here?
Senator Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, I certainly could not
answer for Premier Lord or for the Minister of Family and Community Services.
Every government decides how they will use their money and what their priorities
will be. I can say with pride that I believe our government is very conscious of
the needs of children and parents, especially parents who choose to or must work
outside the home.
I believe there are many good programs for families and children around the
subject of early childhood development. That may be because of Ms. Lord.
Certainly the premier is aware of the need for early childhood development and
preschool programs. I have been cooperating and working with the Province of New
Brunswick to take their Welcome to Kindergarten program to that province on
behalf of the Learning Partnership in Toronto.
I want to say also that they have expanded a program where home daycare can
be regulated. The important thing is quality, regulation, standards and training
of whoever runs that daycare, not just daycare spaces in a strip mall, which the
federal minister recently mentioned. That is not what we want.
I cannot say whether the Premier of New Brunswick will find the money for
those 1,500 spaces. I hope he does. It will be much more difficult without the
federal money. I doubt he will have the support in terms of early childhood
education and the other supports in place for this agreement that he would have
had and, I believe, would have been quite proud to offer the people of New
On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.
Hon. Madeleine Plamondon rose pursuant to notice of June 7, 2006:
That she will call the attention of the Senate to the importance of
recognizing access to drinking water as a fundamental human right.
She said: Honourable senators, I rise one last time in hopes of making Canada
recognize that access to drinking water is a fundamental human right.
During my short time as a senator, this is the tenth time I have brought the
subject of access to drinking water up in the Senate through statements,
questions, inquiries or speeches.
My maiden speech was on this subject and so will be my last today.
Why is this issue so important to me? I have always been interested in
environmental issues, but something very particular that honourable senators
should know about happened when I was appointed to the Senate. At the same time,
I was asked to be the honorary chairman of Development and Peace in my region
for three years, the same length of time that I was to be in the Senate.
My term in the Senate is ending, but my term to fight for drinkable water
will never end.
The most significant of my early interviews was on Parole et Vie, a
television program hosted by Roland Leclerc, a well-known priest in the Quebec
media. The other guest on that show was there to discuss his new book, J'ai
soif. Obviously, that meant "I am thirsty" on a spiritual level.
The coincidences were only just beginning that week. Roland Leclerc died in
an accidental drowning the following week — water again — and I was asked to
deliver homilies in various churches where everything reminded me of water, the
peace and development campaign, the book about spiritual thirst and the drowning
of a man who received unprecedented tributes at the Notre-Dame-du-Cap basilica.
I still do not understand why Canada refuses to recognize access to drinkable
water as a fundamental human right.
Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of The Council of Canadians, said:
Ever since the powerful players of the World Water Council — the World
Bank, the big water corporations, and the aid agencies and water ministries of
First World countries — declared that water is not a human right, but rather a
human "need" best served by private investors, the issue of the human right
to water has become central to the international struggle for the control of
Having made a commitment to advance this cause, I did extensive reading of
documents, books and articles for more food for thought.
In December 2004, Senator Hervieux-Payette invited Steve Hrudey to the Senate
to talk to us about his research, Lessons from Recent Outbreaks in Affluent
Nations. I went to hear him, along with Senator Cochrane.
Canada has had its share of disasters, and without a push, not only to raise
standards but also to enforce them, our country will remain fragile.
Distribution systems are outdated and require major investments that
municipalities cannot afford on their own. Technicians need more training.
Before we think of exporting water, that rare, precious commodity that our
neighbours to the south have their eye on, we have to assess our risks,
inventory our reserves and protect them.
We must help Canadians who use artesian wells address the problem of water
table contamination from unbridled industrial development. Because we must love
our neighbours as ourselves, we must recognize that the countries to the south
have the right to drinkable water.
I will not go over all the issues I have raised in the past three years.
Suffice it to say that drinking a glass of water is as important as breathing
clean air. It is troubling that in Canada today people are wary of tap water.
Consumers are buying devices to filter water at home, which is giving rise to a
whole industry created out of the public's mistrust.
Bottled water is everywhere as well. I have already mentioned this. It would
be worthwhile to explore in depth the bottled water industry, which is
controlled by four major companies: Nestlé, Pepsi-Cola, Coke and Danone.
Who are the lobbyists for these companies? Are they active in Canada? Will
there come a time when wealthier people will install their own filtration system
or buy bottled water for their own needs, leaving the neediest members of
society to find solutions to the problem of drinkable water?
I hope that the Senate will continue to discuss the issue of drinkable water,
because drinkable water is blue gold. It is an issue of world governance, and
control must not be given to a few companies. Canada must take a stand on the
world stage and not be swayed by covert pressure.
Canadians would be scandalized to learn that their government did not support
the United Nations resolution recognizing the right to water. In fact, Canada
was the only country to vote against it in 2002. The committee report stated:
Canada does not accept that there is a right to drinking water and
Honourable senators, when I agreed to become a senator, it was above all a
public declaration of my love for Canada. I still feel that way. I believe in
the values of Canadians. I hope that, on the international scene, these values
will be affirmed and bring us honour, and that Canada will recognize that water
is a fundamental human right for all, no matter where we live.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, we will undoubtedly have an
opportunity in the fall to bid farewell to the Honourable Senator Plamondon.
However, it may be that she will already have retired by then. I would at this
time — on the occasion of her last speech — wish her all the best in her future
endeavours. She is deserving of our thanks for all her hard work and her
contributions, not only in the matter of drinkable water but in all the issues
that she brought to the Senate.
Thank you and good luck, Senator Plamondon.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, as no other senator wishes
to speak, this inquiry is considered debated.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein, pursuant to notice of April 5, 2006,
That the following Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism which was adopted
unanimously at the 14th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Association,
in which Canada participated in Washington on July 5, 2005, be referred to the
Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights for consideration and that the
Committee table its final report no later than October 30, 2006:
RESOLUTION ON COMBATING ANTI-SEMITISM
Recalling the resolutions on anti-Semitism by the OSCE Parliamentary
Assembly, which were unanimously passed at the annual meetings in Berlin in
2002, in Rotterdam in 2003 and in Edinburgh in 2004,
1. Referring to the commitments made by the participating states emerging
from the OSCE conferences in Vienna (June 2003), Berlin (April 2004) and
Brussels (September 2004) regarding legal, political and educational efforts
to fight anti-Semitism, ensuring "that Jews in the OSCE region can live
their lives free of discrimination, harassment and violence",
2. Welcoming the convening of the Conference on Anti-Semitism and on
Other Forms of Intolerance in Cordoba, Spain in June 2005,
3. Commending the appointment and continuing role of the three Personal
Representatives of the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE on Combating
Anti-Semitism, on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims,
and on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also focusing on
Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other
Religions, reflecting the distinct role of each in addressing these separate
issues in the OSCE region,
4. Reaffirming the view expressed in earlier resolutions that
anti-Semitism constitutes a threat to fundamental human rights and to
democratic values and hence to the security in the OSCE region,
5. Emphasizing the importance of permanent monitoring mechanisms of
incidents of anti-Semitism at a national level, as well as the need for
public condemnations, energetic police work and vigorous prosecutions,
The Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE:
6. Urges OSCE participating states to adopt national uniform definitions
for monitoring and collecting information about anti-Semitism and hate
crimes along the lines of the January 2005 EUMC Working Definition of
Anti-Semitism and to familiarize officials, civil servants and others
working in the public sphere with these definitions so that incidents can be
quickly identified and recorded;
7. Recommends that OSCE participating states establish national data
collection and monitoring mechanisms and improve information-sharing among
national government authorities, local officials, and civil society
representatives, as well as exchange data and best practices with other OSCE
8. Urges OSCE participating states to publicize data on anti-Semitic
incidents in a timely manner as well as report the information to the OSCE
Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR);
9. Recommends that ODIHR publicize its data on anti-Semitic crimes and
hate crimes on a regular basis, highlight best practices, as well as
initiate programs with a particular focus in the areas of police, law
enforcement, and education;
10. Calls upon national governments to allot adequate resources to the
monitoring of anti-Semitism, including the appointment of national
ombudspersons or special representatives;
11. Emphasizes the need to broaden the involvement of civil society
representatives in the collection, analysis and publication of data on
anti-Semitism and related violence;
12. Calls on the national delegations of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
to ensure that regular debates on the subject of anti-Semitism are conducted
in their parliaments and furthermore to support public awareness campaigns
on the threat to democracy posed by acts of anti-Semitic hatred, detailing
best practices to combat this threat;
13. Calls on the national delegations of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
to submit written reports at the 2006 Annual Session on the activities of
their parliaments with regard to combating anti-Semitism;
14. Calls on the OSCE participating states to develop educational
material and teacher training methods to counter contemporary forms of
anti-Semitism, as well as update programs on Holocaust education;
15. Urges both the national parliaments and governments of OSCE
participating states to review their national laws;
16. Urges the OSCE participating states to improve security at Jewish
sites and other locations that are potential targets of anti-Semitic attacks
in coordination with the representatives of these communities.
He said: Honourable senators, I intended to speak on Motion No. 5, but due to
the hour I will defer my remarks to another day.
On motion of Senator Grafstein, debated adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, June 15, 2006, at 1:30 p.m.