Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 30
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- House of Commons Ethics Commissioner
- Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relations to Maher Arar
- The Estimates, 2006-07
- Official Languages
- Legal and Constitutional Affairs
- Senate Reform
- National Defence Act
- Social Affairs, Science and Technology
- Study on Issues Relating to New and Evolving Policy Framework for Managing Fisheries and Oceans
- National Finance
- Human Rights
- Anti-Terrorism Act
- Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
- QUESTION PERIOD
- National Defence
- Delayed Answers to Oral Questions
- Foreign Affairs
- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
- Foreign Affairs
- The Environment
- Public Works and Government Services
- Answers to Order Paper Questions Tabled
- Library of Parliament Scrutiny of Regulations
- Point of Order
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Criminal Code
- Criminal Code
- State of Literacy
- Conflict of Interest for Senators
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before we proceed, I ask honourable senators to rise and observe one minute of silence in memory of the Canadian soldiers who have lost their lives over the last few months while serving their country in Kandahar.
Thank you, honourable senators.
Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before beginning our deliberations, I ask you to rise and observe one minute of silence in memory of the victims of the tragic events at Dawson College, in Montreal.
Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I received a notice earlier today from the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who requests, pursuant to rule 22(10) of the Rules of the Senate, that the time provided for the consideration of Senators' Statements be extended today for the purpose of paying tribute to the Honourable Senator Madeleine Plamondon, who retired from the Senate on September 21, 2006.
I would remind honourable senators that, pursuant to the Rules of the Senate, each senator will be allowed three minutes and may speak only once. The time for tributes shall not exceed 15 minutes. However, the 15-minute time limit does not include the time for response by the senator to whom tribute is paid.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, Senator Madeleine Plamondon was appointed to the Senate in September 2003. She sat as an independent for just over three years and represented the magnificent Laurentian region, which is a real gem at this time of year.
Senator Plamondon's appointment crowned a long and dedicated career devoted to consumer protection and social justice. She worked tirelessly her entire life in the fields of financial services, protection of privacy and consumers' rights.
Our honourable colleague was well known in her region as the director general of the consumer assistance service in Shawinigan. She founded that not-for-profit agency in 1974 and has helped hundreds of people.
Her greatest achievement is without a doubt Bill S-19, which she introduced in November 2004. The purpose of the bill was to correct a 25-year-old problem by reducing the criminal interest rates defined in the Criminal Code so that the interest charged on loans could be no greater than 35 percentage points above the rate set by the Bank of Canada. The Senate unanimously passed Bill S-19 in June 2005, but the bill died on the Order Paper in the House of Commons.
During her short time in the Senate, Senator Plamondon also spoke often to the issue of drinking water, an issue of particular importance to her. She went to Indonesia after the tsunami and spoke out strongly about the water supply problems that arose after the tragedy.
Honourable senator, your departure leaves a great void in the Senate. In my own name and on behalf of my colleagues in the government caucus in the Senate, I wish you a well-deserved retirement in the company of your family and friends. You will be missed.
Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, as the work of the Senate resumes this fall, it saddens us to bid farewell to our friend and colleague, Senator Madeleine Plamondon, as she takes her retirement.
Although she sat among us for only three years, Senator Plamondon set an example for us all. We will remember her as a parliamentarian who fought for environmental, social justice and consumer rights issues with passion, tenacity and intelligence.
Appointed by Prime Minister Chrétien in 2003, this mother of seven children brought to our chamber and to our committees the vast knowledge, skill and experience she acquired over a long and distinguished career in the field of consumer affairs. In particular, she pursued her work here on behalf of underprivileged women and the elderly with exemplary courage and dedication.
Among her many successes in the Senate, I would like to highlight the unanimous adoption of her Bill S-19 to reduce the criminal interest rate. Also of note was her significant contribution to the Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, especially with respect to consumer protection.
Her commitment to and passion for social justice earned her numerous prestigious honours, including the Ordre national du Québec and the Prix de la Justice du Québec.
She is a woman of heart and compassion, as the Quebec minister, said in awarding her the Prix de la Justice du Québec. Her dedication has helped give a voice to the underprivileged and proven that justice is not only a matter for courts and lawyers.
Senator Plamondon, we will remember you as a woman of heart and conscience, a woman who served this institution with grace and devotion. Best wishes to you and your family.
Hon. Nancy Ruth: Senator Plamondon, you are a model for me. You are caring and tough on difficult issues — truly people-centred issues — and, madam, I got it: water, water, water. Thank you.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to join with you in recognizing Senator Plamondon. For much of her life she has worked tirelessly and enthusiastically as an advocate for consumer rights. She founded the Consumer Aid Services of Shawinigan more than 30 years ago, served on countless committees and boards, and has been honoured on numerous occasions with awards for her good work and dedication to the rights of consumers.
Although I did not serve on any Senate committees with the senator, I had the opportunity to work with her on the payday loans legislation. It was then that I recognized her commitment, dedication and intense desire to achieve positive results.
Today, we are losing a vocal and hard-working parliamentarian. However, knowing her commitment to the well-being of her fellow Canadians, I am sure she will continue her good work in the next stage of her life. Senator, I wish you continued success in everything you do, and good health and happiness in your retirement.
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to you about Senator Madeleine Plamondon. She was appointed to the Senate in September 2003 as an independent senator, after a long and remarkable career in Quebec. In 1974, she founded the Consumer Aid Services of Shawinigan, which she has managed since its foundation.
She was the proud recipient of the 2000 Prix de la Justice du Québec. Madeleine, you truly are a great citizen of "la belle province."
I had the opportunity to work with Senator Plamondon when she joined the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce during the first session of the 38th Parliament in 2004.
As soon as she joined the banking and commerce committee, I immediately noticed her dedication to the causes dear to her, such as protecting consumer rights.
Senator Plamondon was determined to help the most underprivileged and powerless individuals, including the poor and the elderly, against any injustice. With perseverance and elegance, she introduced Bill S-19, the aim of which was to amend the Criminal Code to reduce criminally-high interest rates.
Thanks to her bill, the members of the committee discovered a peculiar and unregulated financial industry. Her conviction and gentleness were enough to convince each of the committee members of the importance of her bill and the gaps that existed in the industry.
Accordingly, the committee unanimously passed Bill S-19 and returned it unamended to this chamber where it was given third reading unanimously.
Senator Plamondon, we will miss your presence in the upper chamber very much. With your children and your 26 grandchildren, you form an extraordinary family, one that is typical of Quebec. You have accomplished a great deal here in the Senate of Canada in the space of three years, and even though you are leaving this place, your contribution to consumer protection and social justice is far from over.
Dear Madeleine, I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
May God bless you, Madeleine, and thank you for having passed our way.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Dear Madeleine, I was coming back from Montreal when I heard that you had been appointed as a senator representing Quebec by the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien. That proves, once again, how very wise that Prime Minister was, as he demonstrated on many occasions.
I immediately got in touch with you and, for more than half an hour, described in detail what you could expect in Ottawa as an independent senator. I think I gave a very honest description, but only you can attest to that.
As you yourself have said, independent senators have fewer services at their disposal. When you arrived, you watched, listened and observed. You told me that upon you arrival at the Senate, you were amazed to hear Senator Phalen alert us to all the shells remaining from the war that posed a hazard in his region.
His comments struck you. That is what a senator who watches and listens can pass on to his or her colleagues. These may be local problems, but they take on a greater importance and sometimes require that we look at them to find solutions. An attentive senator can often play a leadership role and make us aware of issues so that steps can be taken immediately to address them.
For the benefit of my colleagues from other regions who have not yet met Senator Plamondon, allow me to say that she is no stranger to the residents of Shawinigan or to Quebec consumers. Although she is leaving today, I am convinced that she will be even more renowned — not only among the residents of Shawinigan and consumers, but also among the citizens of Canada — for the activities she plans to undertake.
She has managed her personal life — her husband was ill and passed away recently; she has seven children and thirteen; grandchildren — while at the same time stricking fear among the exploiters, the bankers and others who take advantage of the many ordinary citizens who need a champion. That is what we saw when we met you; that is what we liked about you when we got to know you. I am wondering about my colleague, Senator Campbell: how much is he going to miss you?
Come back often and take our best wishes to your entire family. We will be nominating you for the Order of Canada.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure to speak to you about our colleague, the Honourable Madeleine Plamondon. When she was appointed to the Senate, Senator Plamondon was seated next to me. I can assure you that even though she did not have parliamentary experience, she quickly learned the ropes. I mention this because Senator Plamondon very quickly mastered the rules of the game both in the Senate and in committees.
Thank you, Senator Plamondon, for your attention, your dedication and for bringing forward all the issues that were dear to you, especially loans made to Quebec and to Canadian consumers at usurious rates. Thank you for speaking to us on many occasions about potable water, another one of her passions. Thank you for sharing all this with us. In the years to come, she will continue to do the same.
Rest assured that, even though you were only in the Senate for a short while, you made your mark and we are all the better for it.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, our 15 minutes for tributes has expired. We will, however, have an opportunity when the Senate rises later today to greet Senator Plamondon on a one-on-one basis. Knowing she is in the gallery, perhaps we can collectively extend our best wishes.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, today I wish to pay tribute to a great Saskatchewanian, the late Walter Podiluk, who died at the age of 79 on Sunday, September 10.
I first met Mr. Podiluk in 1971 when he interviewed me for a teaching position with the Catholic school board, and what an intimidating meeting that was. Mr. Podiluk, as we knew him, had already established a formidable reputation.
Walter served as the Director of Education of the Saskatoon Catholic School Board until 1982 where he oversaw the tremendous expansion of Catholic education and its excellence in our city. He was a leader in establishing bilingual French education in our city in the 1960s and the 1970s so that by the early 1970s the St. Paul's school district already had immersion elementary schools, clearly a leader in Western Canada. Both my children benefited from that work.
In 1982, Walter became the Deputy Minister of Social Services and, later, in 1984, he became Deputy Minister of Health in the government of Progressive Conservative Premier Grant Devine.
Following his distinguished career, Walter's dynamism and expertise in health and social affairs eventually carried him to the post of President and CEO of St. Paul's Hospital from 1991 to 1995.
My respect and admiration for Walter has been echoed by many Canadians, within and outside Saskatchewan. This humble grandfather, who could often be found giving putting lessons to the grandchildren he was so proud of at a local Saskatoon golf course, was also honoured with the Order of Canada, an Honorary Doctor of Law from the University of Saskatchewan, the Saskatoon Century Award of Recognition, the Saskatchewan Centennial Award, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress National Builders Award, the College of Education Founders Award, the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association Honorary Life Membership award and the Rotary Golden Wheel Award for Excellence. I have named but a handful of awards from a long list of his outstanding achievements, commendations and honours.
Walter also represented, as a Ukrainian Canadian, how great a contribution immigrants can make to their communities and Canadian society in general.
As a role model, as a man with a tireless work ethic and enthusiasm for getting things done, and as a pillar of our community in Saskatoon, Walter's vibrant presence will be sorely missed. What we do have are all the achievements, structures, organizations, initiatives, good practices and mentoring that he has left with us.
To those of you who may be wondering, he did hire me.
Walter was predeceased by his wife Annie. To his children and grandchildren, on behalf of all honourable senators, thank you for sharing your father and grandfather with Canadians. We are all the richer for him. May God bless him.
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, the tragic loss of member of Parliament Benoît Sauvageau on August 28 took us all by surprise and saddened us deeply. I have known Benoît for many years, and I had the opportunity to work more closely with him as part of the Canada-France Inter-Parliamentary Association, of which he was a member and, since 2004, Vice-Chair. He was the sort of person everyone liked and wanted to spend time with.
Benoît was an extremely hard worker, but he did not seek the limelight. As a member of Parliament, he focused mainly on accomplishing certain specific missions to which he dedicated himself completely. Protecting and promoting the French language, strict spending control, integrity in the management of public funds and working in the best interests of his Repentigny riding are excellent examples of what he cared about most as a member of Parliament.
Benoît was a perfect example of an effective parliamentarian who conscientiously represented his constituents' best interests while keeping a close eye on government and bureaucratic activity. In principle, it is the responsibility of all parliamentarians, government and opposition members alike, to keep a close watch on the activities of the executive branch. In that respect, Benoît's time in Ottawa was not spent in vain, nor was it spent idly, for he did exceptional work.
People who knew him remember him as kind, generous, and sensitive to the people around him. During the years he contributed to the activities of the Canada-France Inter-Parliamentary Association, his professionalism and non-partisanship, as well as his integrity, made as great an impression on our French colleagues as on the Association's Canadian members, regardless of their political affiliation.
Benoît was one of those rare individuals everyone could appreciate. That is why, on behalf of myself and all members of the Canada-France Inter-Parliamentary Association, I would like to pay tribute to Benoît Sauvageau and emphasize his remarkable contribution to parliamentary life in Canada since 1993.
I invite you to join me in expressing our sincere condolences to his wife, Jacinthe, and his daughters, Laurence, Catherine, Élizabeth and Alice. We will remember Benoît as a devoted person who faced every test with integrity and kindness. He will always have a special place in our hearts.
Hon. Roméo A. Dallaire: Honourable senators, I want to take this opportunity today to commend Canada's youth and young adults under 30 who took part, on September 17, in the large demonstrations in support for those who suffer human rights abuses and draw attention to the humanitarian disaster still going on in Darfur.
Thousands took to the streets of the big cities to show their support for these victims. If we decide to take action, to help and protect the people in Darfur and in other countries, it will be these young people, for the most part, who will have to pay the price with their blood to advance these great theories that must be put into practice by great powers such as ours.
Unlike what happened at Dawson College, where we were shaken by a person who fundamentally abused the rights of our country, just 12 hours away from here a population of more than two and a half million people is brutalized daily, raped and killed by individuals who abuse their rights. The African Union is at the end of its rope.
The Hansards of both this chamber and the other are riddled with great statements about what we should do to prevent genocide and massive abuse of human rights. We even initiated the responsibility to protect. However, we are currently witnessing, and will continue to witness in grander scale, a genocide right in front of us at a slow pace. We are seeing Rwanda II in action right now.
What will motivate us to take action as those in the paintings hanging in this chamber did years ago?
At one time, I considered bringing a flak jacket I wore during the Rwandan genocide — a jacket that is blood-soaked from carrying a 12-year-old girl who had been mutilated and repeatedly raped — into this red chamber and throwing it into the middle of the room, to bring to the attention of the political elite of this nation that human rights is not a privilege of only those who have the money to buy it and sustain it, but rather equally the privilege and right of every human being.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, please permit me to record the passing, on August 23 last, at the age of 87, of the Honourable Edwin A. Goodman — Privy Councillor; Officer of the Order of Canada; Queen's Counsel; World War II veteran; Chevalier in the Order of the Legion of Honour of France; leader in religious, cultural, scientific and charitable activity; and pillar of the Ontario and federal Progressive Conservative parties for more than 50 years. His prodigious service to so many parts of Canadian life was well chronicled in the nation's media in the days following his death. Even more gratifying to those who knew and loved him were the spontaneous published recollections contributed by people who wrote in to tell of a single encounter or of a particular incident that illuminated his generosity, his humanity, his sense of humour.
Eddie Goodman was a formidable, multi-talented political strategist and organizer who cared most deeply about the policy of his party. He broke with the Diefenbaker government in 1962 on an issue of foreign and defence policy and resigned as national vice-president of the party. Several elections later, and in subsequent elections, he returned to his prominent place and campaigned for the PC party.
The so-called wedge issue, or hot button issue, was no part of his thinking. He insisted on an electoral program that was coherent, unifying, detailed and always leaning to the progressive. If he thought the platform lacking on a particular subject, a call would go out to some of his numerous acquaintances conscripting them, irrespective of party affiliation, to bring their expertise to bear on the drafting of a suitable policy. If time did not permit such a wider consultation, he would take pen in hand and, with the help of one or two friends, fill the policy vacuum himself.
Political life in Canada was enlivened and enriched by Eddie Goodman's service, and for that I believe we are all in his debt.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I rise today to call your attention to the benefits and opportunities the Port of Halifax offers Canada as the Atlantic hub for global trade.
The rise of Asian trade provides greater opportunity for Canadian ports. Traditionally, ports on the Pacific coast have conducted most of Canada's trade with those markets due to the shipping time and costs. As the volume in trade at Vancouver and Prince Rupert is expected to increase by 300 per cent in the next 15 years and current infrastructure is in the process of development to preserve demand, the Port of Halifax can act as a catalyst to maintain, if not increase, North America's trade with Asia.
Halifax enjoys several key advantages over other ports. As the first port of call across the Atlantic, the terminals, cranes and equipment are operating only at 60 per cent while the railways are operating only at 30 per cent. The Port of Halifax, with infrastructure in place to increase capacity, is a cost advantage for Canada to supply and meet the global demand.
More importantly, the Port of Halifax is the only port deep enough on the East Coast to handle the exceptionally large intermodal vessels that are quickly becoming the mainstream in the world's shipping fleet. Last year alone, records were made by the Port of Halifax by receiving and allocating over 550,000 single intermodal containers coming off more than 2,000 ships. Halifax is the Atlantic gateway for Quebec, the Midwest, Winnipeg and even to the shallow ports of our neighbours in New York and New Jersey, which need Halifax to transship U.S.-bound imports from Asia.
Traditionally, Halifax has not been considered to be an attractive location as an entry and exit point for increasing trade. Why, then, honourable senators, is the Port of Halifax so important? The answer is simple: to be ahead of the competitionin global trade, Canada requires robust and reliable ports on both the east and west coasts. Halifax, as the Atlantic hub, can easily be poised as the new back door for Asia.
Honourable senators, with global trade as significant as it is, we must recognize the opportunity the Port of Halifax offers Canada. The Port of Halifax has been very successful in its achievements, but it is our duty to ensure that the rest of the globe takes notice and allows the Port of Halifax to take the stage.
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, I would like to draw your attention to a wonderful event that happened to me last Tuesday morning. As you know, I live on a farm in the province of New Brunswick, and normally in the morning the birds wake me up. However, on this Tuesday morning, I was wakened by the sound of happy voices singing, "Happy days are here again; the skies are bright and clear again," and it was the people of New Brunswick celebrating a Liberal win the night before.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Shawn Graham, but also still, at least until October 3, Premier Lord and his team. The campaigns were energetic, clean and thoughtful. One could not really call them "titans" because neither one of them is very big, but they fought hard battles. After it was over, I think they respected each other. As I said when Premier Lord won his first election, I was not at all disturbed that he was as young as he was. I am equally comfortable with the fact that the new premier, Shawn Graham, is 39 years of age and has earned this position by recruiting one of the finest teams that I have known in the Liberal Party in New Brunswick.
I want to finish up, Your Honour, and I know you will let me because we are neighbours. We come from the same place and I appreciate your unbiased position in this regard.
We have established a red beachhead in a sea of blue in Atlantic Canada. We have done this before, and the beachhead will expand to P.E.I., Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and, lo and behold, on up the way.
Yes, it is just one beachhead, but there is someone in this chamber from whom I have heard the expression, "Yes, but we can take a first step." This is a first step for the Liberal Party in Atlantic Canada. It has been a pleasure for me to be associated with Shawn Graham and his team.
I wish Premier Lord and his young family every success in the future, whether he decides to stay in the legislature of New Brunswick or he aspires to greater things.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report on the activities of the Ethics Commissioner with regard to public office holders for the year ending March 31, 2006, pursuant to section 72.13 of the Parliament of Canada Act.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, in accordance with section 4 of the User Fees Act, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a new fee schedule for services associated with radios and telecommunication devices, provided by Industry Canada.
After consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, the committee with responsibility for studying this document is the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications.
The Hon. the Speaker: Pursuant to rule 28(3.1), adopted on June 27, 2006, this document is deemed referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar, entitled: Report of the Events Relating to Maher Arar.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, two copies of Part III of the 2006-07 Estimates, report on plans and priorities.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, in accordance with section 49 of the Official Languages Act, R.S.C., 1985, chapter. 31 (4th Supp.), the Senate approve the appointment of Graham Fraser as Commissioner of Official Languages for a term of seven years.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with the permission of the Senate, and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), I move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs have the power to sit at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 27, 2006 and at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 4, 2006 even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted?
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, to every objection there is always an exception. It is reluctantly that I say yes, but the gentleman had the courtesy to consult with those who could have said no. I appreciate the courtesy of Senator Comeau, who informed me as to why this request was being made. However, I would not like this to be taken as a blank cheque for every other committee that wants to sit while the Senate is sitting. It is difficult to say no to one request and yes to another one. Some day we will end up without a quorum. Exceptionally, I say yes for the reason that I have just expressed, but I reserve my judgment on future requests.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it the pleasure of honourable senators to adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006, the date for the Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform to submit its final report be extended from September 28, 2006 to October 26, 2006.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Senate calls upon the Government of Canada:
(a) to cause the bringing into force of section 80 of the Public Safety Act 2002, chapter 15 of the Statutes of Canada 2004, assented to on May 6, 2004, which amends the National Defence Act by adding a new Part VII dealing with the reinstatement in civil employment of officers and non-commissioned members of the reserve force;
(b) to consult with provincial governments as provided in paragraph 285(13)(a) of the new Part VII with respect to implementation of that Part; and
(c) to take appropriate measures in order for the provisions under the new Part VII to apply to all reservists who voluntarily participate in a military exercise or an overseas operation, and not to limit the provisions to those reservists who are called out on service in respect only of an emergency.
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: 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 which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 to examine issues concerning mental health and mental illness be authorized to extend its power to publicize its findings from September 30, 2006 until March 31, 2007.
Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence, I will move:
That the Second Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, tabled in the Senate on June 22, 2006, be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the Government, with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the President of the Treasury Board being identified as Ministers responsible for responding to the report.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to examine and report on issues relating to the vertical and horizontal fiscal balances among the various orders of government in Canada; and
That the Committee report no later than June 30, 2007.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence, I will move:
That the following Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance which was adopted at the 15th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Association, in which Canada participated in Brussels, Belgium on July 7, 2006, be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights for consideration and that the Committee table its final report no later than March 31, 2007:
RESOLUTION ONCOMBATING ANTI-SEMITISMAND OTHER FORMS OF INTOLERANCE
1. Calling attention to the resolutions on anti-Semitism adopted unanimously by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly at its annual sessions in Berlin in 2002, Rotterdam in 2003, Edinburgh in 2004 and Washington in 2005,
2. Intending to raise awareness of the need to combat anti-Semitism, intolerance and discrimination against Muslims, as well as racism, xenophobia and discrimination, also focusing on the intolerance and discrimination faced by Christians and members of other religions and minorities in different societies,
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
3. Recognizes the steps taken by the OSCE and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to address the problems of anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, including the work of the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Unit at the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the appointment of the Personal Representatives of the Chairman-in-Office, and the organization of expert meetings on the issue of anti-Semitism;
4. Reminds its participating States that "Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities", this being the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by representatives of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) and ODIHR;
5. Urges its participating States to establish a legal framework for targeted measures to combat the dissemination of racist and anti-Semitic material via the Internet;
6. Urges its participating States to intensify their efforts to combat discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities;
7. Urges its participating States to present written reports, at the 2007 Annual Session, on their activities to combat anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination against Muslims;
8. Welcomes the offer of the Romanian Government to host a follow-up conference in 2007 on combating anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination with the aim of reviewing all the decisions adopted at the OSCE conferences (Vienna, Brussels, Berlin, Córdoba, Washington), for which commitments were undertaken by the participating States, with a request for proposals on improving implementation, and calls upon participating States to agree on a decision in this regard at the forthcoming Ministerial Conference in Brussels;
9. Urges its participating States to provide the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) with regular information on the status of implementation of the 38 commitments made at the OSCE conferences (Vienna, Brussels, Berlin, Córdoba, Washington);
10. Urges its participating States to develop proposals for national action plans to combat anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination against Muslims;
11. Urges its participating States to raise awareness of the need to protect Jewish institutions and other minority institutions in the various societies;
12. Urges its participating States to appoint ombudspersons or special commissioners to present and promote national guidelines on educational work to promote tolerance and combat anti-Semitism, including Holocaust education;
13. Underlines the need for broad public support and promotion of, and cooperation with, civil society representatives involved in the collection, analysis and publication of data on anti-Semitism and racism and related violence;
14. Urges its participating States to engage with the history of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism and to analyze the role of public institutions in this context;
15. Requests its participating States to position themselves against all current forms of anti-Semitism wherever they encounter it;
16. Resolves to involve other inter-parliamentary organizations such as the IPU, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in its efforts to implement the above demands.
Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on Tuesday, May 2, 2006, the date for the presentation of the final report of the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act be extended from October 5, 2006 to December 22, 2006.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on Thursday, April 27, 2006 the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, which was authorized to examine and report on the review of the italic; Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999, c.33) pursuant to Section 343(1) of the said Act, be empowered to extend the date of presenting its final report from October 2, 2006, to March 31, 2007.
Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday, the Conservative government announced with much enthusiasm that the budgetary measures from the previous Liberal government produced, once again, a sound fiscal environment for Canadians. Thanks to the responsible financial management of a Liberal government, the Conservatives inherited a $13.2-billion surplus, announced yesterday. However, honourable senators, on the same day the government chose to cut $1 billion from 66 programs that have proven effective in helping individuals and communities. Literacy skills programs, youth employment initiatives, the Canadian volunteerism initiative, Status of Women Canada, to name a few, are programs that the President of the Treasury Board referred to as "wasteful programs"; cuts that the Minister of Finance described as "trimming the fat."
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us if she agrees with her colleagues, and whether other vulnerable Canadians will be on the Conservative's target list next?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for his question and for correctly stating that the $13.2 billion surplus was used to pay down the debt. As I reported in the Senate, Minister Flaherty is committed to budgeting Canadian taxpayers' hard-earned dollars in such a way that similar huge surpluses do not occur again. Much of the $13.2 billion was the result of the fiscal management of the previous government, the groundwork for which was laid by the Conservative government prior to that. Former Prime Minister Mulroney used to say that he planted the garden, and Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien picked the flowers.
A portion of the $13.2 billion surplus, more than was mentioned in Minister Flaherty's budget, was the direct result of this government, unlike the previous government, not succumbing to "March madness" — the annual last-minute government spending spree before fiscal year end.
These were not cuts but savings, and they represent less than 1 per cent of the overall spending of the government. I was honoured to sit on the special committee of cabinet over the summer to identify these savings. We began our work with four objectives in mind. First, we wanted to know whether Canadian taxpayers were receiving value for money. Second, once we determined that information, we eliminated programs that did not achieve results. Some of the savings were realized in unused funds, by eliminating programs already achieved or because the expected take-up did not occur. Third, we brought in efficiencies by reducing or streamlining programs, such as Status of Women Canada. Programs were not cut, but we did make administrative changes because there had been duplication of work between the administration of SWC and the Department of Canadian Heritage. Fourth, we eliminated non-core programs that did not serve the general overall priorities of Canadians in any way.
Senator Hays: My supplementary question for the honourable leader is in two parts so that honourable senators might pose specific questions on some of these programs. The Leader of the Government used the value-for-money criteria, which, of course, is the Auditor General's standard on a comprehensive audit. Necessarily, that standard involves a careful examination of the program in the form of a consultation with the persons in receipt of funds and those who deliver the program. As well, some kind of objective judgment must be formed to determine whether the program served its purpose. Were those kinds of steps taken in each of these cases?
Senator LeBreton: I can assure the honourable senator that over the summer, each minister looked at the spending within their own departments, came to the table with monies that fell within the four categories I just mentioned, and satisfied themselves that there were communications with the various stakeholder groups. In fact, the savings that we have implemented, which is less than 1 per cent of the overall spending of the government, does not take away, in most cases, from the good work that many of these programs provide to Canadians.
Senator Hays: As time passes I know we will hear from the organizations affected, and it will be told just what the practice was in regard to these cuts.
At this point I understand the position of the leader, but I wonder if this is the end. These programs are mostly directed to aid vulnerable Canadians. Is this the end of these kinds of cuts to programs that have been benefiting vulnerable communities in Canada, or does the government have more to come?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, in life, as in most things, there is never an end, except in death, but while still on this earth we have to continue to improve things. The government is committed to $1 billion in savings this year and $1 billion next year. I would simply say to the Honourable Senator Hays that the Minister of Finance will be giving his financial update in the fall and, of course, delivering a new budget in 2007.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, it is with great sadness and deep frustration that I ask the Leader of the Government on behalf of citizens in all parts of Canada why the federal government has chosen to withdraw $17.7 million from the federal adult learning and literacy program across this country. I know that the President of the Treasury Board, Minister Baird, referred to his cuts as wasteful programs, that they were not delivering value for money, that they needed to be streamlined or consolidated, or that they did not focus on the new government's priorities. Surely the effort to help the 42 per cent of our adult citizens, who are faced every day without adequate skills to find a job or help their children to learn, cannot be considered wasteful.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I thank Senator Fairbairn for the question. The fact is that the government will be investing a total of $81 million this year and next year in adult learning, literacy and essential skills. In the future we will focus on federal learning and literacy resources in areas of national interest and core federal responsibility. We are eliminating, as Minister Baird mentioned yesterday, $17.7 million over two years for funding to local and regional literacy programs because we are withdrawing from activities being performed by other levels of government. I want to assure the honourable senator, however, that all existing, signed agreements will be honoured.
Senator Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I am glad to hear the second part of the answer, but I would like to go back to the first part. I speak, obviously, of the highly respected National Literacy Secretariat. It was created under the guiding wisdom of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and has now been buried in the restructuring of the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development.
Was it regarded as a wasted product? Was it regarded as something that was not, within the federal judgment, a significant part of helping a huge number of our population, which cannot get through a day with the kinds of basic skills that we all take for granted? Is this evidence again of a group and an issue that does not really count?
Senator LeBreton: I thank Senator Fairbairn for that question. I do not think anyone in the country or in this chamber would say that a government that intends to invest $81 million in this area does not care, or that the people involved do not count.
In terms of some of the restructuring of government, when the new Conservative government was sworn in, Prime Minister Harper drastically reduced the size of cabinet. Therefore, the various programs of government needed to be restructured and put under the smaller cabinet, which, by the way, also saved the taxpayer $47 million.
Senator Fairbairn: I have a final question and comment, honourable senators.
I am pleased to a point to hear that the federal government today is not abandoning this issue; I do not see how it possibly could. One thing at the heart of the successful development of the literacy programs across this country has been the very partnership with the federal government in the beginning when Prime Minister Mulroney brought in the National Literacy Secretariat. That was an innovative thing to do, and he was probably criticized by some for doing it.
In the end, it has caused the federal and provincial governments to work together on an issue that absolutely pulls our country down. We must not only use federal dollars and cents, but also the wisdom and the advice that comes from those who know how to do this, people who are still in the National Literacy Secretariat but buried away somewhere. We need to support and expand that initiative in our country, not pull back at a time when, if ever, we need it.
One can read in every newspaper and hear on television each day of the week that Canadians do not have a sufficiently-skilled workforce. If 42 per cent of our adult citizens are unable yet to find their way in that workforce, then that must be the case. That is what these programs fundamentally try to do: to lift people up. That amount of money is huge in literacy circles. Taking it away does not help and it does not lift the hearts and the courage of the people who come to the little places in towns and cities where they actually learn to read. It is one of the few occasions where the Government of Canada has been able to reach down to the streets of this country and be part of a learning experience, and it was done with great support and enthusiasm from the provincial governments.
Senator LeBreton: There is no denying that Senator Fairbairn has a very passionate and long-serving commitment to this issue.
Having said that, I can see nothing in what the government is doing, or will be doing, that in any way will deter anyone working in this area from continuing their work in the area, if he or she feels passionate about it. Honourable senators, $81 million is a lot of money. Like many of these programs, everyone involved in them will continue to be involved.
I would ask the honourable senator to give the government a chance to work through this new initiative in the manner it has been restructured in Minister Finley's department.
There is no question that Canada has a shortage of skilled workers — and this is a very important issue. I do not for one moment accept that programming undertaken by other levels of government will fall by the wayside.
In fact, I do believe that an injection of $81 million this year into the Adult Learning, Literacy and Essential Skills Program is a significant amount of money that, properly used, will greatly assist people in developing skills and entering the workforce as viable and successful Canadians.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Honourable senators will recall that, at the end of June, I asked some questions about a project involving a support group for people with dyslexia. They were granted the project. Under the current program, they can submit a new request to have the project continue for a period of three years, but the funding they received covers only one year.
Can these people submit a request to have their program extended for two more years? Considering all the work that remains to be done, one year is certainly not long enough to achieve the goals they have set. It is very important for these individuals — and I imagine for all other groups in the country — that these programs can be extended for a certain period of time. I would like to know if this can be done.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for his question. He may remember that, when he previously posed that question, I undertook to get an answer.
I have been informed just today that an answer is expected shortly. I hope tomorrow to be able to table that answer.
Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, in its financial statement on Monday, the Conservative government announced, with no valid reason and without consulting the communities affected, the elimination of the Court Challenges Program.
The Fédération des communatués francophone et acadienne issued a statement indicating, and I quote:
... is extremely disappointed and displeased, and that with its program review the federal government is failing in its obligations under the Official Languages Act.
The outgoing Commissioner of Official Languages, Dyane Adam, said and I quote, "this announcement marked a dark day, given that the program is essential to our country's democracy."
My question for the minister is this: Are official language minority communities to understand that the programs supporting their development and their language rights are considered ineffective by the federal government?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank Senator Tardif for her question. I hope honourable senators will notice that we have put before Parliament our nomination for a new Commissioner of Official Languages. We hope to have the new Official Languages Commissioner appear before the Senate fairly soon, something about which Senator Comeau gave notice earlier today.
With regard to the honourable senator's question concerning the Court Challenges Program, I refer to Minister Flaherty's budget earlier this year wherein the new Conservative government promised to review programs to ensure that every tax dollar that is spent achieves results, provides value for money and meets the needs of Canadians. As a result of the review I just mentioned, the Court Challenges Program has been eliminated. This organization is the single recipient of this funding and it will be directed to stop making further commitments. This represents savings of up to $2.8 million annually for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 fiscal years.
We take our responsibility as legislators seriously. If we did a better job in this place and in the House of Commons to ensure that our laws are constitutional, it perhaps would eliminate the necessity for having groups challenge laws before the courts.
Having said that, there are many organizations that do challenge our laws. They have done so successfully without having a specific federal government program designated for such activities.
Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, this program was intended to reinforce respect for linguistic rights. It allowed francophones from across the country to open schools that would give them access to services in their language.
Cutting this program — is that the response we get from a government that claims to adopt positive measures under Bill S-3, which was introduced and unanimously passed in the Senate and received Royal Assent last November?
It is not a matter of efficiency or savings. It is a matter of rights that are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We know that, in many cases these rights could not have been attained without this program, especially for official-language minorities.
Senator LeBreton: I thank Senator Tardif for her question. As the honourable senator has stated, the Court Challenges Program provided some good work.
After consultation with various ministers and officials of government, it was decided, around the cabinet table, that this was one of those programs that could be eliminated as part of our savings.
I take the honourable senator's strong representations to heart. I will inform my colleagues of her views, which the honourable senator has expressed very well.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
In November 2005, the federal, provincial and territorial ministers of justice met in Whitehorse. At that meeting there was a unanimous resolution by the provincial and territorial ministers calling for an increase in federal funding for legal aid. The former federal minister acknowledged the resolution, indicating that he would pursue a comprehensive approach to legal aid at the federal level. Is this government continuing the work of the previous government regarding legal aid funding for provinces and territories?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I presume Senator Callbeck is referring to the former Minister of Justice in the Liberal government.
Senator Callbeck: Yes.
Senator LeBreton: I will simply take notice of the honourable senator's question and endeavour to find an answer for her.
Senator Callbeck: Honourable senators, I am pleased that the minister will take that issue to the Minister of Justice, but, certainly, work was done by the previous Liberal government. In fact, a week after that minister's meeting, the government of my province indicated in a Speech from the Throne that it was working with federal partners to ensure fair access to legal aid.
I think we all agree that every Canadian, regardless of financial means, deserves equal access to our justice system. Therefore, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate press this issue of increased funding for legal aid with the Minister of Justice, and will she report back to this chamber?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for her question. I will not press someone to do something that I have absolutely no knowledge of, so I will simply take it as notice.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I have a question for the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Finance which I will direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. My question has to do with the last budget and the defence minister's major announcements on the procurement of strategic aircraft for the Canadian Forces.
Back in 1987, Mr. Beatty indicated in his white paper that certain equipment had to be purchased to meet our needs and that these purchases would be funded through a process of new funding based on what was referred to at the time as the "bumps."
Therefore, the "bumps" of the 1987 white paper for major Crown projects went the same way as the measles, and the bumps of the measles on my face disappeared without any acquisition.
The Minister of National Defence indicated in the budget that these projects would come with new money. Has there been an exercise in the Department of National Defence to rejuggle the priorities of funding in the near years to take seed money from those already essential projects for the troops in the field? Did they take money from those projects to provide the seed money for the major Crown projects that will be funded, we hope, with new money in years to come?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. The issue of buying equipment for our Armed Forces is very much in the forefront. Obviously, the situation is changing, almost as we speak, in terms of what is required. I remember the honourable senator asking me this question. I believe that I got a partial answer on this question, but I will consult with the Minister of National Defence. I will draw his attention to the question.
Suffice it to say that it is well known that this government has already lived up to its commitment to strengthen our forces, both in the human resources area and in equipment. The results are already well known. In any event, I will consult the Minister of National Defence on the specific question.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table five answers to oral questions raised by Senator Dallaire on May 9, 2006, concerning the Arms Trade Treaty; by Senator Fraser on May 17, 2006, concerning the public service staffing process for the position of Vice-President of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency; by Senator Munson on June 6, 2006, concerning the death of former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer Mark Bourque; by Senator Banks on June 27, 2006, concerning the cancellation of environmental programs; and by Senator Banks on June 28, 2006, concerning proposed procurement policies.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire on May 9, 2006)
The Government of Canada (GOC) is an active voice calling for the responsible transfer of small arms and light weapons, and continues to work with our multilateral partners towards the ultimate goal of addressing the illicit trade of these weapons. The GOC is broadly supportive of the core concepts of the proposed Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The Government will continue to work with the stakeholders of the proposed ATT to ensure that any global principles governing the transfer of small arms and light weapons are strong enough to address the illicit trade in these weapons and are realistic enough to actually be implemented. The GOC continues to review all export authorizations regarding small arms and light weapons with the utmost scrutiny to ensure that any exports of these weapons are not diverted into illicit trade.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Joan Fraser on May 17, 2006)
The authority to appoint someone to a position in the federal public service lies with the deputy minister of each department or agency. As such, the president of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is responsible for following a staffing process that complies with the values of equity of access, fairness and transparency.
The linguistic profiles of positions within the federal public service are determined based on the job duties. In the case of the position of ACOA Vice-President, P.E.I., an objective review of the job duties led to a recommendation of a profile that remains "English essential," as it has been since the position was created. Following an investigation, the Commissioner of Official Languages supported this decision.
As practice dictates during the appointment of positions within the federal public service, the official responsibilities of the position were reviewed and updated before the job was posted in order to translate the agency's current priorities and the specific needs of the regional office.
The position of ACOA Vice-President, P.E.I. was posted by the Public Service Commission (PSC) in both official languages on the public service website, www.jobs.gc.ca. Positions are rarely advertised in newspapers or other media forms. All external staffing processes are posted on the PSC website. (In rare cases, the PSC can advertise positions in newspapers or specialized publications when a unique position is difficult to fill, such as scientist.)
(Response to question raised by Hon. Jim Munson on June 6, 2006)
The UN has already launched a criminal investigation. An investigation committee has been established, as advised by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Canadian authorities are cooperating fully with the United Nations to conduct this investigation.
The Foreign Affairs Minister immediately contacted the family and CANADEM to ensure that the family's needs were being met, and that CANADEM could return the body as soon as possible. At the time of the incident, CANADEM — in cooperation with Foreign Affairs — made all of the necessary arrangements, including the official medical report and funeral services. CANADEM also ensured that Ms. Bourque was quickly paid the insurance sums and compensatory payments established by CANADEM for retired officers who are deployed. Until recently, CANADEM maintained regular contact with Ms. Bourque, and the family was kept up to date about Canada's steps with the UN in order to closely monitor the work of the investigation committee.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Tommy Banks on June 27, 2006)
The Government of Canada is developing a Made in Canada environmental plan that will include measures to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
As part of the development of the Made in Canada approach, we have not renewed sixteen of the previous government's climate change programs. The majority of these programs have finished their activities (for example, they supported specific research, pilot projects, or demonstrations). In two specific cases — the One Tonne Challenge and the EnerGuide program — we have determined that a new approach is required.
We are examining all of the government's current environmental initiatives to ensure they make sense and represent value for money to taxpayers. We will only pursue measures that have clear environmental benefits and that will achieve meaningful results for Canadians.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Tommy Banks on June 28, 2006)
In September 2005, the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA) provided PWGSC with their requirements for the provision of broadband satellite communications to remote land border crossings throughout Canada. It was necessary for the CBSA requirements to be translated into a Statement of Work, suitable for contracting through a limited competitive process that used pre-qualified suppliers of satellite services.
A competitive Request for Proposal (RFP) was released on the Government Electronic Tendering System — MERX — on March 10, 2006. There were some challenges within the procurement process and minor delays in order to ensure that all necessary security requirements were satisfied. An omnibus contract to provide for the CBSA requirements was awarded to RAM Telecommunications of Ottawa, on 30 May 2006.
Two CBSA trial sites were installed and tested at Wildhorse, Alberta, and Stewart, British Colombia, on 13 and 19 June 2006, respectively. CBSA has indicated their full satisfaction with the service performance at both locations. On June 22, 2006, orders were placed by CBSA to connect four additional sites: Little Gold Creek, Yukon; Wolfe Island and Sand Point Lake, Ontario; and Chief Mountain, Alberta. The target installation date for these sites is July 2006. CBSA has indicated the likelihood of connecting another 10-15 sites.
Consistent with the reform of PWGSC acquisition processes and the Business Transformation initiative, additional capacity was provisioned, on a non-interference basis, to ensure that other Government of Canada departments and agencies requiring similar services would be able to take advantage of this contract and benefit from the economies of scale obtained from contracting for the CBSA requirements. This additional capacity will provide other Government of Canada departments and agencies connectivity for approximately 50 remote sites.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour of presenting answers to the following written questions on the Notice Paper: on April 4, 2006 by Senator Downe regarding the government appointment practices; on April 5, 2006 by Senator Downe regarding the guaranteed income supplement; and on June 22 by Senator Carstairs regarding the Museums Assistance Program.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 7 on the Order Paper—by Senator Downe.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 1 on the Order Paper—by Senator Downe.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government) tabled the answer to Question No. 14 on the Order Paper—by Senator Carstairs.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the following message has been received from the House of Commons:
ORDERED,—That the list of members and associate members for Standing Joint Committees of the House be as follows:
Library of Parliament
Members: Mike Allen, Gérard Asselin, Colleen Beaumier, Blaine Calkins, Joe Comuzzi, Cheryl Gallant, Peter Goldring, Gurbax Malhi, Fabian Manning, Jim Peterson, Louis Plamondon, Denise Savoie—(12)
Associate Members: Jim Abbott, Diane Ablonczy, Harold Albrecht, Dean Allison, Rob Anders, David Anderson, Vivian Barbot, Dave Batters, Carolyn Bennett, Leon Benoit, James Bezan, Steven Blaney, Sylvie Boucher, Garry Breitkreuz, Gord Brown, Patrick Brown, Rod Bruinooge, Ron Cannan, Colin Carrie, Bill Casey, Rick Casson, John Cummins, Patricia Davidson, Dean Del Mastro, Barry Devolin, Paul Dewar, Norman Doyle, Rick Dykstra, Ken Epp, Ed Fast, Brian Fitzpatrick, Steven Fletcher, Gary Goodyear, Jacques Gourde, Nina Grewal, Helena Guergis, Art Hanger, Richard Harris, Luc Harvey, Laurie Hawn, Russ Hiebert, Jay Hill, Betty Hinton, Charles Hubbard, Rahim Jaffer, Brian Jean, Randy Kamp, Gerald Keddy, Jason Kenney, Ed Komarnicki, Maka Kotto, Daryl Kramp, Mike Lake, Guy Lauzon, Pierre Lemieux, Tom Lukiwski, James Lunney, Lawrence MacAulay, Dave MacKenzie, Inky Mark, Colin Mayes, Ted Menzies, Rob Merrifield, Larry Miller, Bob Mills, James Moore, Rob Moore, Rick Norlock, Deepak Obhrai, Brian Pallister, Christian Paradis, Daniel Petit, Pierre Poilievre, Joe Preston, James Rajotte, Scott Reid, Lee Richardson, Gerry Ritz, Gary Schellenberger, Bev Shipley, Joy Smith, Kevin Sorenson, Brian Storseth, David Sweet, Myron Thompson, David Tilson, Bradley Trost, Garth Turner, Merv Tweed, Dave Van Kesteren, Peter Van Loan, Maurice Vellacott, Mike Wallace, Mark Warawa, Chris Warkentin, Jeff Watson, John Williams, Lynne Yelich
Scrutiny of Regulations
Members: Robert Bouchard, Ron Cannan,Dean Del Mastro, Paul Dewar, Ken Epp, Monique Guay, Derek Lee, John Maloney, Rick Norlock, Paul Szabo, Garth Turner, Tom Wappel—(12)
Associate Members: Jim Abbott, Diane Ablonczy, Harold Albrecht, Mike Allen, Dean Allison, Rob Anders, David Anderson, Dave Batters, Leon Benoit, James Bezan, Steven Blaney, Sylvie Boucher, Garry Breitkreuz, Gord Brown, Patrick Brown, Rod Bruinooge, Blaine Calkins, Colin Carrie, Bill Casey, Rick Casson, John Cummins, Patricia Davidson, Barry Devolin, Norman Doyle, Rick Dykstra, Ed Fast, Brian Fitzpatrick, Steven Fletcher, Cheryl Gallant, Peter Goldring, Gary Goodyear, Jacques Gourde, Nina Grewal, Helena Guergis, Art Hanger, Richard Harris, Luc Harvey, Laurie Hawn, Russ Hiebert, Jay Hill, Betty Hinton, Rahim Jaffer, Brian Jean, Randy Kamp, Gerald Keddy, Jason Kenney, Ed Komarnicki, Daryl Kramp, Mario Laframboise, Mike Lake, Guy Lauzon, Pierre Lemieux, Tom Lukiwski, James Lunney, Dave MacKenzie, Fabian Manning, Inky Mark, Pat Martin, Colin Mayes, Réal Ménard, Serge Ménard, Ted Menzies, Rob Merrifield, Larry Miller, Bob Mills, James Moore, Rob Moore, Deepak Obhrai, Brian Pallister, Christian Paradis, Daniel Petit, Pierre Poilievre, Joe Preston, James Rajotte, Scott Reid, Lee Richardson, Gerry Ritz, Gary Schellenberger, Judy Sgro, Bev Shipley, Joy Smith, Kevin Sorenson, Bruce Stanton, Brian Storseth, David Sweet, Myron Thompson, David Tilson, Bradley Trost, Merv Tweed, Dave Van Kesteren, Peter Van Loan, Maurice Vellacott, Mike Wallace, Mark Warawa, Chris Warkentin, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Jeff Watson, John Williams, Lynne Yelich
That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their Honours of the names of the Members to serve on behalf of this House on the Standing Joint Committees.
The Clerk of the House of Commons
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I am ready to give my ruling on a point of order concerning the use of a third language.
Earlier this year, on Thursday, June 22, just days before the Senate adjourned for the summer, Senator Corbin rose on a point of order concerning an incident that had occurred earlier in the sitting during Senators' Statements. Before getting to the point of order, I would like to briefly review the incident.
At the start of the sitting, I had asked the chamber whether there was leave for Senator Watt to make a statement in Inuktitut. After leave was granted, Senator Watt proceeded to make his statement. Immediately thereafter, Senator Comeau rose to caution fellow senators as to what had just happened. As he explained, the Senate should be careful in consenting to requests to use a third language when it is not possible to ensure simultaneous interpretation in both official languages.
It was Senator Comeau's remarks that prompted Senator Corbin to raise his point of order, in which he sought to raise several issues. First, he claimed that his rights as a senator had been infringed because he was unable to listen to Senator Watt's statement in his mother tongue. As it turned out, the French channel was mostly silent throughout the statement, while the English interpretation was sporadic. Second, he claimed that Senator Comeau's statement violated rule 22(4) since it anticipated debate on Senator Corbin's own Order Paper motion advocating the right of Aboriginal senators to speak their native language in this house.
Finally, he asked for a ruling as to whether Senator Watt was indeed allowed to exercise "his ancient and Aboriginal right" to speak in Inuktitut and, consequently, whether the Senate must oblige and provide interpretation of Inuktitut in Canada's two official languages.
By way of response, Senator Comeau stated that he was prepared to leave the matter in my hands for a decision. As it appeared that no other Senator sought to contribute their views on this point of order, I then agreed to take the matter under advisement. During the summer adjournment, I have had ample opportunity to review the Debates as well as the procedural authorities and am prepared to give my assessment of what transpired.
Let me begin by addressing the three specific issues that Senator Corbin raised before exploring in greater detail some other aspects of the use of third languages in the Chamber. First of all, Senator Corbin's dissatisfaction with the lack of adequate translation echoes the comment that Senator Comeau made. On this point, both Senators appear to be in agreement. There is, however, a real challenge for the interpretation service when a third language is used, especially without sufficient notice. While French and English are, in law, the official languages of the country and their use in Parliament is guaranteed, no rule of the Senate prohibits the use of third languages.
Indeed, there is precedent for permitting the use of third languages with leave of the Senate. At the same time, it must be stressed that no resources are allocated for the provision of translators for these third languages, whatever they may be.
When Senator Watt successfully obtained leave to speak in Inuktitut, he also had an English translation of his text. Unfortunately, the current configuration of the Chamber's interpretation booth does not readily permit translation of a third language simultaneously in both English and French. Even if Senator Watt had also provided a French translation, there would still have been a problem for the interpreters since both interpreters share the same booth and sit side by side. Since only one microphone can be on at a time, it is not possible for the English and French interpreters to speak at the same time. In other words, only the English or the French microphone can be used at any given time. This explains why the French channel was mostly silent throughout Senator Watt's statement. This is a real problem and there is no easy remedy.
Senator Corbin also contended that Senator Comeau infringed the rule against anticipation in that his comments raised issues more properly addressed through debate on Senator Corbin's motion supporting the use of aboriginal languages in this Chamber. Senator Corbin has raised a valid issue. Rule 22(4) provides that when making a statement "a Senator shall not anticipate consideration of any Order of the Day ..." Senator Comeau himself acknowledged the fact that there was a motion before the Senate dealing with the issue of aboriginal languages. Nonetheless, I think it is fair to say that Senator Comeau did not intend to address specifically the subject of Senator Corbin's motion which involves, in part, the recognition of "the inalienable right of the first inhabitants of the land ... to use their ancestral language ..." In fact, both Senators, as I have already noted, were concerned with the circumstances of the incident that included the difficulties which Senators experienced in the provision of interpretation of Senator Watt's remarks.
The third part of Senator Corbin's point of order had to do with his motion on the Order Paper. The Senator asked me if I thought that, when Senator Watt spoke in Inuktitut, he was in fact "exercising his ancient and Aboriginal right as a member of the Senate to speak his living language..." This is a question I decline to answer as part of the point of order. To do otherwise would inappropriately prejudge a decision which belongs to the Senate itself under the terms of the motion which the Senator has placed before this Chamber for its determination.
With respect to the broader question of the use of third languages, it might be helpful to remind honourable senators of the long tradition that we have of seeking to accommodate special needs and interests so long as it is within our capacity. This practice of reasonable accommodation involves not only requests to use a third language, but also when Senators have sometimes asked if other Senators might read their prepared speeches on their behalf because of illness. More recently, Senators will know that our reporters have applied their stenographic skills to enable real time bilingual captioning of the proceedings here in the Chamber for the benefit of hearing impaired Senators and visitors in our galleries. This captioning service is also provided to the televised proceedings of committee meetings.
If we draw on these examples, perhaps there is a way that we can reasonably accommodate senators who wish to speak in a third language. In such a case, I would recommend that an English and French translation be provided to the Senate chamber staff well in advance of the sitting to allow for distribution to all senators in the chamber in a similar way that Speaker's rulings are distributed. Nonetheless, it is important to bear in mind that when a third language is used in the chamber, meaningful debate is rendered more difficult given that few senators, if any, will understand what is being said, and the ability to provide English and French interpretation remains a challenge. On this basis, I find that the concerns of Senators Comeau and Corbin are well founded. Senators should be able to follow all deliberations in this chamber in the official language of their choice. This does not necessarily mean that third languages can never be used. However, given the current circumstances, if they are to be used, they should be relatively brief and preferably in the form of a statement, tribute or other similar intervention, not substantive debate.
In the absence of any established rules or procedures with respect to the use of third languages, the concerns shared by Senator Comeau and Senator Corbin are real. At the same time, in keeping with the principle of reasonable accommodation, I suspect the Senate will do what it can to accommodate such future requests as best it can.
Hon. Jean Lapointe moved the third reading of Bill S-211, to amend the Criminal Code (lottery schemes).
He said: Honourable senators, first I would like to thank the Speaker, Senator Kirby and the members of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology for reviewing this bill so quickly and for reporting to us in very good time.
Honourable senators, for more than four years I have been striving to convince you to support this bill. I have introduced it in this chamber four times, I have appeared before our committees three times and I have been interviewed by the media from across Canada over fifty times.
I have also had the opportunity to meet with several associations that help compulsive gamblers and with interest groups that care for the suffering of individuals and families whose lives have been ruined by these infernal machines known as video lotteries.
I am somewhat saddened by how slowly the legislative process of our parliamentary system moves. I am an emotional person, and my sadness occasionally transforms into anger because the sole focus of this bill is to diminish a social ill that affects too many of our citizens.
I know full well that one cannot change the world overnight, even if the change is for the better. My few years as a senator lead me to believe, on the basis of a number of surveys and statistics, that the goal of this bill is achievable.
In fact, this bill has nothing to do with prohibiting gaming. It simply seeks to relocate a form of gaming that is too accessible, too harmful and too damaging to our society, and I am thinking especially of our young people and seniors.
Honourable senators, over 70 per cent of Canadians and over 80 per cent of Quebecers support this bill. We find ourselves in a situation where the public is calling on us as the federal government. Animosities may arise between the levels of government, because agreements on gaming were reached in 1979 and 1985, giving the provinces almost complete control over gaming.
For the benefit of those who may have a problem with the federal government's intrusion into provincial affairs, I would point out that, according to Canada's Constitution, gaming comes under federal jurisdiction.
Under the Constitution, the federal government has jurisdiction to legislate with respect to gaming, as an exercise of the federal criminal law power. While gaming can only be conducted and managed by a provincial government or pursuant to a licence granted by a provincial government, it is the provisions of the Criminal Code that established this arrangement.
Under the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, Parliament is free to modify the code to reassert the federal government's right. Also, it was echoed by witnesses that there will be no breach of contract if a statute is enacted to reduce or restrict provincial rights and that no such liability will arise by the introduction of a bill by the Government of Canada to achieve this end.
Honourable senators, in conclusion, I ask you to vote for this bill and send it to the other place today so that our elected representatives can study it and pass it in turn, which would greatly relieve the suffering of too many of our fellow citizens.
On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Bryden, seconded by the Honourable Senator Baker, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-213, to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals).—(Honourable Senator Stratton)
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, if there are no other speakers, I am rising to close debate at second reading.
The Hon. the Speaker: I wish to inform honourable senators that, if the Honourable Senator Bryden speaks now, it will have the effect of closing the debate.
Senator Bryden: Basically, I wish to acknowledge and thank honourable senators for the cooperation and support this chamber has given to an issue that has been very difficult and very fractious over a long period of time. I had proposed an attempt at finding an accommodation that would allow what appeared to me and to many other people, including various ministers of justice, and so on, to get the most important part of this issue dealt with, namely, to increase the penalties when the offences under the Criminal Code are committed. That is what this bill does.
I want to particularly comment on the speech in support of Senator Nolin. I was not able to be here on the day that he made the speech, but I read it carefully and a number of times.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, are you ready for the question on second reading of this bill?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to and bill read second time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?
On motion of Senator Bryden, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn rose pursuant to notice of June 28, 2006:
That she will call the attention of the Senate to the State of Literacy in Canada, which will give every Senator in this Chamber the opportunity to speak out on an issue in our country that is often forgotten.
She said: Honourable senators, as most of you know, the issue of literacy across this country has been at the heart of everything I have done as a member of this chamber. Today I am bringing a message to you that we need to accelerate our efforts and heighten our resolve to elevate the opportunities for our citizens who are struggling with this issue at a time when our country and all of its parts needs their skills and ability to participate in a new age with demands that go far beyond the levels of learning in the past decades.
Twenty-two years ago, I began my first Senate assignment as a member of the Special Committee on Youth, led by our former colleague Jacques Hébert. We travelled across the country at a time of tough circumstances for young Canadians and we heard it all — alcohol and drugs, teen pregnancies, family breakdown, violence, school dropouts, scarce jobs. However, in every region, we were stunned by something we did not expect and knew virtually nothing about, the lack of literacy skills and the enormous impediment to social and economic participation that such an absence of learning opportunity posed, to say nothing of the psychological anguish and the shame.
Senators Cools, Corbin and Stollery are the only remaining members here who participated in that journey. We produced a report called "A Plan of Action," which proposed a national campaign to improve the opportunity and the results for literacy among young people across Canada. Nothing happened and time moved on.
I was stunned by the depth of this issue and the fact that, over time, somehow the federal government had no role to play. That was not acceptable.
I decided to advocate that the federal government offer leadership to promote the benefits of improved literacy skills, working with all levels of government and public and private sectors to create a nationwide capacity to raise the levels of learning for Canadians and tackle vigorously what I believed was our country's hidden shame.
Back then, we did not even have our own statistics. We had to extrapolate from the United Nations and the American data, which indicated a level of one in five Canadians at risk. Sheer frustration sent me speaking across the country with anyone who could listen; and often some would shout out, accusing me of lying.
Thankfully, other voices became involved in 1987 when, with the help of literacy advocates across this country, I decided to bring the issue to a place where it would be heard and respected, here in the Senate of Canada, thus starting a discussion of many voices, as I hope will begin again today.
At that time, Southam News was preparing to launch the first Canadian literacy survey, introducing a process based on functionality in its questions, seeking the levels of learning at which citizens could manage fundamental tasks of daily life — basic reading, writing, numeracy, communications — that others simply take for granted.
The result in its first-class report, called "Broken Words," came out at one in four citizens at risk. This report was followed by a Statistics Canada study that produced a result of one in three Canadians at risk.
"Broken Words" shook the social conscience of the government in power. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney assigned his trusted colleague, Secretary of State David Crombie, to create an instrument of government to get a grip on this shocking situation. A year later, in September 1988, the National Literacy Secretariat, or NLS, was launched in Toronto.
Supporters like Frontier College, who had been toiling away on this stubborn issue for years, were out in force, including myself; whom the then Prime Minister cheerfully introduced as his "token Grit", and so I was. In my view, it has remained Mr. Mulroney's finest legacy.
It was one that was rigorously carried on by Mr. Chrétien, who gave me a chance to represent the issue in his cabinet. The issue continued on a bit of a roll with Mr. Martin; and now, today, the legacy is being amalgamated into a larger entity.
It is difficult to understand why we should now change an entity that knows what it is doing and has helped to achieve real progress and understanding throughout Canada and beyond our borders. The NLS and its outstanding public servants over the years have had the skill and understanding to anchor a new nationwide process of alignment with all the provinces and territories, which has been an extraordinary vehicle of progress. The NLS has reached into every corner of Canada, where so many citizens were in the shadows, with no programs to help them move forward and take advantage of a new chance to learn and contribute to a greater quality of life for themselves, and throughout our country.
Joint funding was created with partnerships in a variety of levels of governments in every province and territory. National literacy organizations were expanded and created to push the effort on the ground to include educators, business, large and small, organized labour, the voluntary sector, the faith community, writers, entertainers, journalists and the general public.
This support has also included politicians with years of wisdom, experience and advocacy, who are represented vigorously on both sides of this chamber. If I tried to name all of them, it would take up a whole afternoon; but they have given the Senate a strong and supportive image as activists in every province and territory in Canada, and I hope we will hear from them during this discussion.
This, senators, is an issue that crosses all party lines. We have successfully worked together to support our governments across the country and in Parliament. I have no doubt that we will continue to work together, because we have a memory that will guide us in looking closely and fairly at the changes that are taking place within the federal government on this troubling issue.
We do not want to fight about it. We want to help Minister Finley and her parliamentary secretary, Lynne Yelich, by connecting with the skills of advocates, workers and learners. With the best will in the world, mutual understanding cannot be easily routed in the corridors of Ottawa.
Some of the changes have sent waves of anxiety across the country among organizations and advocates who keep the progress of literacy alive and growing, and those of us, including myself, who have been engaged and listening to these concerns. As I said on the last day of our sitting in June when I moved the motion to begin this discussion, the new reconstruction of the Department of Human Resources and Social Development has produced changes that are not fully understood and have caused significant concern to those in our national organizations, our joint coalitions in the provinces, and among those who are actually on the ground as trainers and tutors, teaching and making a difference. The concern also extends to the learners themselves, who are very much the activists within our movement, having been inspired to come forward into the programs, which is not an easy thing to do.
The literacy movement in the last two years has been engaged, along with government, to finally respond to the report of the House of Commons Committee on Human Resources, which held a vigorous set of hearings for the first time in parliamentary history and produced a thoughtful, powerful and activist report in 2003. It was supported by members of all political parties.
In the spring budget in 2005, the previous government had chosen to significantly increase assistance across the broad span of this issue for Aboriginal people and children, who require it desperately, for immigrants' settlement needs, for workplace training and upgrading and, finally, a special increase in the budget of the National Literacy Secretariat, which, for the past 18 years, has been at the heartbeat of the literacy movement.
Only days before the last election, leaders from throughout the literacy movement met with federal government representatives to follow up a plan aimed at launching a pan-Canadian literacy agreement that would take this issue well beyond what we have already achieved, and other discussions had been held with people in the provinces.
In addition, a proposal was put together to place before cabinet, supporting the overall advancement of a cross-Canada plan. The proposal was to meet the ever-burgeoning demand for lifting the barriers that prevent our workers from accessing the kind of opportunities that can open doors at every level. The proposal was to give Canadians a fair chance to learn, to get a job, and to build a good life for themselves and for their families. The proposal reflected the recommendation of the House committee and the money required to make it work.
At the moment, our national literacy associations are in a state of anxiety about their future. Although funding for programs is moving, for some it is late — the Aboriginal association in Canada is barely able to keep its doors open with a volunteer.
In the case of the Movement for Canadian Literacy, the resources that support the annual Literacy Action Day on Parliament Hill have not yet been received and the date to meet with parliamentarians has shifted into another month. Voices from the provinces and territories are deeply concerned that the federal effort to join learning programs under one roof will end up shutting doors in their communities. They do not understand how the new Adult Learning Essential Skills and Workplace Literacy Initiative program will replace the skill and the wisdom of the National Literacy Secretariat, which knew the issue and had the connections to deal with it on the ground, on behalf of our federal government. The secretariat is now embodied in the larger entity but it is not clear to what degree it will continue its role.
I do not stand here today to obstruct any government. Like many Canadians in the literacy business I do not understand how the new combined entity will work. With all the large issues of each day, the focus on this issue could easily be lost in the rush. I stand here today to urge that we open the doors and windows of Ottawa, take a deep breath, carefully consider the concerns of our partners and form a common front to bring down this horrendous barrier that causes 42 per cent of our adult citizens in Canada to be at risk every day. These citizens are at risk from the lack of an ability to cope with the kind of reading, writing, numeracy and communications skills that the rest of us take for granted in today's world.
We simply have to work together, and I know we will do that in this chamber. Without the foundation of appropriate skills, lack of literacy becomes a daily barrier for adults who cannot help their children at their earliest age. It becomes a barrier for workers; for seniors at risk with health care needs; and for the overall economy of our country in dollars because we lose millions, even billions, as a result of the added cost through lack of skills and the unintended problems they cause in what we think of as a prosperous and caring country. We bring down the prospects for a future if we do not accelerate our support in a fair and generous way.
Surely we can all work together with goodwill and commitment to erase what I still believe is our hidden shame. I hope that all who share these concerns will join in this debate to send the message that literacy needs resources, continuing support and guidance from those in the old National Literacy Secretariat, wherever they are. These people have the skills and experience to understand it best.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and I thank you for your support and participation. I believe there is not one person in this chamber who is not pulling for the same cause, the same people and the same future as I am.
On motion of Senator Segal, debate adjourned.
Hon. Serge Joyal, pursuant to notice of June 28, 2006, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators have power to engage the services of such counsel, technical, clerical, and other personnel as may be necessary for the purpose of its examination and consideration of such matters as are referred to it by the Senate, or which come before it as per the Conflict of Interest Code for Senators.
He said: Honourable senators, I do not need to explain because this motion is a standard one for any committee to receive authorization to hire the technical, professional and clerical staff as needed for the consideration of matters referred to it by the Senate for study.
The Hon the Speaker pro tempore: Honorable senators, is it your pleasure to adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Serge Joyal, pursuant to notice of June 28, 2006, moved:
That the papers and documents received and/or produced by the Standing Committee on Conflict of Interest during the First Session of the Thirty-eighth Parliament and the Intersessional Authority during the period following dissolution of the 38th Parliament, be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators.
He said: Honourable senators, I have a word of explanation for this simple issue. The Senate Standing Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators is the only committee whose existence between the session of two Parliaments is formally confirmed under the Rules of the Senate. In other words, when Parliament is dissolved, there has to be an "authority" to remain charged with the responsibility of implementing the conflict of interest code because an issue of conflict of interest might arise in the interim of two Parliaments. The Rules of the Senate provide for the establishment of an Intersessional Authority that sits during the period of time between two Parliaments. The committee met during the previous Parliament and this new Parliament, and minutes and documentation of the meetings were produced. Those minutes and documentation of the authority should be referred to the current Standing Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators to provide a link between the former Senate standing committee and the new Senate standing committee that was formed in this Parliament. It is merely an administrative issue to ensure we can refer to the documentation and information provided by the Intersessional Authority.
The Hon the Speaker pro tempore: Honorable senators, is it your pleasure to adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, September 27, 2006, at 1:30 p.m.