Skip to Content
Download as PDF

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 33

Tuesday, October 3, 2006
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker



THE SENATE

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.

Prayers

[Translation]

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Gun Control

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, following the tragic events at École Polytechnique in Montreal, where a gunman targeted female students and shot them to death, the recent events at Dawson College, and even more recently events in Pennsylvania, where a man wielding a firearm singled out young girls and deliberately killed them, please allow me, as a woman, to convey our sincere condolences to the families of the victims, the Amish community, and our American neighbours. I urge them to appeal to the authorities to institute strict gun control in the United States, and I demand that the Conservative government implement the gun control program, as requested by all Canadian women, in particular.

(1405)

[English]

International Day of Older Persons

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, October 1, 2006 was the fifteenth International Day of Older Persons. The General Assembly of the United Nations designated October 1 as International Day of Older Persons in 1990 and it was observed for the first time throughout the world on October 1, 1991.

By designating a special day for seniors, the assembly was giving recognition to the contributions of seniors and also drawing attention to the challenges countries face with an aging population.

Aging is a privilege of the developed world. In underdeveloped countries around the world, people are considered aged much earlier in life than here in Canada. However, about two-thirds of all older people live in the developing world. By 2025 it will be 75 per cent.

In the developed world, the very old — aged 80 plus — is the fastest growing population group. Women outlive men in virtually all societies. Consequently, in very old age the ratio of women to men is two to one. In 2000, there were 600 million people aged 60 and over; there will be 1.2 billion by 2025; and 2 billion by 2050.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2001, one in eight Canadians was 65 years of age or older. By 2026, one in five Canadians will be 65 years of age or over, accounting for 8 million Canadians. As baby boomers age, the seniors population is expected to constitute 23 per cent of the Canadian population by 2041.

Aging is a privilege, but it is also a challenge, a challenge that will impact on all aspects of 21st century society, such as transportation, health care, housing and the economy. With such an increase in the number of seniors, society must prepare to be able to adequately meet the challenging needs of so many people. It is a challenge that cannot be addressed by the public or private sectors in isolation. It requires joint approaches and strategies to ensure our seniors age well.

The Senate

Dr. Gary O'Brien—Tributes on Retirement

Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, I would like to pay tribute this afternoon to Dr. Gary O'Brien, the Deputy Clerk of the Senate, who retired on August 31.

Dr. O'Brien started working on the Hill 31 years ago in 1975, a mere year after getting his Masters of Arts and Political Science from Carleton University. He began his career in the Library of Parliament and soon moved on to what we have all come to know as his specialty — procedure.

Dr. O'Brien became a procedural analyst in the other place in 1976 and by 1984 was made the Chief of Journals in the Senate. While at his post, he did only what he could do and managed to find time to complete his Ph.D. at Carleton University.

His dissertation was entitled: "Pre-Confederation Parliamentary Procedure: The Evolution of Legislative Practice in the Lower Houses of Central Canada, 1792-1866." No doubt, with this work under his belt, he was ready to take on anything we could throw at him.

In 1999, Dr. O'Brien stepped into the position of Deputy Clerk, and for the past seven years he played a big part in helping to keep this place running smoothly.

[Translation]

I believe we have a very good idea of how much work Dr. O'Brien has done for us in the Senate.

[English]

To be sure, please allow me to read the job description of the Deputy Clerk as stated in the Annual Report of the Senate of Canada. It says:

The Deputy Clerk supports the Speaker, the Senate and all senators in carrying out their duties in the Senate. The Deputy Clerk's office publishes the official record of Senate proceedings, (Journals of the Senate) and the Senate's daily program (Senate Order Paper and Notices), — provides documents and advice to Senate staff and organizes regular briefings. The Deputy Clerk also serves as recording secretary for the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and as clerk of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, and supervises all legislative services.

That is quite a job description.

(1410)

Clearly, this is no simple task but it was not enough to keep Dr. O'Brien busy. In addition to his day and sometimes night job, Dr. O'Brien has published several articles and book reviews and presented papers to the Canadian Political Science Association as well as other professional organizations at events such as the Canadian Presiding Officers Conference, the Joint Canadian-American Clerks Conference and the Inter-parliamentary Conference and Meeting of the Association of Secretaries General.

We have been well taken care of by Dr. O'Brien, and his shoes will be very large ones to fill. I want to thank him personally for everything he has done for me over the years, and for the Senate. We wish him well in the future.

World Mental Health Day

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, on October 10, 2006 we will be marking World Mental Health Day for the fifteenth time. On this day, we come together to recognize the importance of mental health in our world and work to promote awareness of mental health issues.

This year's theme will be "Building Awareness — Reducing Risk: Mental Illness and Suicide." In the spirit of this theme, I want to draw your attention to a truly great initiative that began right here in Ottawa: eMentalHealth.ca.

The site eMentalHealth.ca is an online mental health resource directory where anyone can find out where to get help with mental health questions, problems and concerns in Ottawa. It provides a searchable list of services, as well as an online mental health events calendar where one can find out when mental health-related events such as workshops and programs will occur. This site offers an ideal format for mental health questions. It allows people to get information and connect with resources they need for themselves and their friends, and to confront difficult mental health issues quickly and directly.

Our own Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology pointed out the stigma and denial that often surrounds issues of mental health in its recent report, Out of the Shadows at Last. That is why I believe it is crucial that services such as eMentalHealth.ca be able to exist and flourish.

The website eMentalHealth.ca is an initiative of Crossroads Children's Centre, a non-profit charitable organization serving children with severe behavioral and emotional difficulties. Partnering organizations include the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Provincial Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health at CHEO. It was founded by Amy Martin, a clinician at Crossroads Children's Centre, and Dr. Michael Cheng, a psychiatrist at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario. It was developed by John Withnall of Webcanvas.ca, with funding from the City of Ottawa and the Community Foundation of Ottawa. These are individuals who have taken the challenge embodied in World Mental Health Day to heart, and they need help.

Honourable senators, I ask you to consider promoting this system in your own region so that all Canadians can have access to these kinds of resources.


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw to your attention the presence in the gallery of representatives of a number of member states of la Francophonie participating in the fall 2006 Parliamentary Officers' Study Program.

On behalf of all senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.

Public Accounts of Canada

Volumes I, II and III Tabled

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Public Accounts of Canada for 2006, Volumes I, II and III.

[English]

Study of Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act

Interim Report of Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee Tabled

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, which is an interim report entitled: Stemming the Flow of Illicit Money: A Priority for Canada.

On motion of Senator Grafstein, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.

(1415)

[Translation]

Public Service Employment Act

Bill to Amend—Report of Committee

Hon. Joseph A. Day, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, presented the following report:

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has the honour to present its

FOURTH REPORT

Your Committee, to which was referred Bill S-201, An Act to amend the Public Service Employment Act (elimination of bureaucratic patronage and geographic criteria in appointment processes), has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Thursday, June 22, 2006, examined the said bill and now reports the same with the following amendment:

Pages 1 and 2, clause 3:

(a) Page 1: Delete lines 16 to 25.

(b) Page 2: Replace lines 1 to 10 with the following:

"3. (1) Section 34 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (2):

(3) When establishing a geographic criterion in an advertised external appointment process, the Commission shall establish a national area of selection.

(2) Subsection 34(3) of the Act, as enacted by".

Respectfully submitted,

JOSEPH A. DAY
Chair

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

On motion of Senator Day, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.

[English]

Scrutiny of Regulations

Second Report of Committee Tabled

Hon. J. Trevor Eyton: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the second report of the Standing Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons for the Scrutiny of Regulations, which deals with the legal challenge to broadcasting licence fees.

[Translation]

Official Languages Commissioner

Notice of motion to receive Graham Fraser in Committee of the Whole and Authorization to Permit Electronic Coverage

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, notwithstanding rule 58(1)(i), I give notice that, later today, I will move:

That the Senate do resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole when it reaches Government Business at the start of Orders of the Day, on Wednesday, October 4, 2006, in order to receive Mr. Graham Fraser respecting his appointment as Official Languages Commissioner;

That the Committee of the Whole report to the Senate no later than 3:50 p.m. on Wednesday October 4, 2006; and

That television cameras be authorized in the Senate Chamber to broadcast the proceedings of the Committee of the Whole, with the least possible disruption of the proceedings.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I hope that CPAC, which will provide coverage of the sitting of the Committee of the Whole, will not run out of film this time.

[English]

Honourable senators will remember that when the famous Mr. Radwanski came to the Senate and I started to question him and CPAC ran out of film, which was very unusual. Even though I requested a vote and I voted with the Leader of the Government in the Senate in opposition to the nomination, I think we could visualize what was coming.

CPAC said it was a mistake but they never apologized. They said, "That is life," I did not push the matter further. I hope that this time there will be plenty of film so that none of my colleagues will have to go through what I did in silence. I assure honourable senators that there will be no more silence on my part.

I am very happy that Mr. Fraser will appear before Committee of the Whole. I believe His Honour asked another commissioner to appear before the Senate some years ago. I agree that it is good practice to televise proceedings such as this from gavel to gavel.

(1420)

[Translation]

Tax Conventions Implementation Bill, 2006

First Reading

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government) presented Bill S-5, to implement conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Finland, Mexico and Korea for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

Bill read first time.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?

On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.

[English]

Heritage Lighthouse Protection Bill

First Reading

Hon. Pat Carney presented Bill S-220, to protect heritage lighthouses.

Bill read first time.

The Hon. the Speaker: When shall this bill be read the second time?

On motion of Senator Carney, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading on Tuesday, October 24, 2006.

Scrutiny of Regulations

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Permit Electronic Coverage

Hon. J. Trevor Eyton: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next sitting of the Senate I shall move:

That the Standing Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Commons for the Scrutiny of Regulations be authorized to permit coverage by electronic media of its public proceedings with the least possible disruption of its hearings.

Anti-Terrorism Act

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Meet on Mondays

Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next sitting of the Senate I will move:

That the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act be empowered, in accordance with rule 95(3), to meet on any Monday which immediately precedes a Tuesday when the Senate is scheduled to sit even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.


(1425)

QUESTION PERIOD

Treasury Board

Termination of Court Challenges Program

Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. My question concerns the recently announced cuts to programs, in particular the Court Challenges Program.

It has come to everyone's attention how disappointed, shocked and — I think not too strong a word — outraged Canadians are that the Court Challenges Program funding has been abolished. It is perceived as taking away the rights of minorities to defend themselves against a government, not only the government of the day, a minority government, but governments of the past where mistakes have been made. This relates not to all minorities, but only to those minorities who do not have sufficient funds to proceed with the expensive court actions that are necessary to gain their rights.

In particular, we have heard from Guy Matte, a francophone activist who is currently the President of the Court Challenges Program. Mr. Matte has indicated that no discussion occurred with him. Apparently even before the announcement, Mr. Matte sought opportunities to discuss the matter of the Court Challenges Program with the appropriate minister, the President of the Treasury Board.

Honourable senators, I put to the Leader of the Government in the Senate the question, having regard to the reaction to the cuts generally, but in particular to the Court Challenges Program: Is there a willingness on the part of the government to meet with Mr. Matte and to reassess their announced cuts to the Court Challenges Program?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for his question.

I have read some of the comments about the Court Challenges Program. I do not agree with the Leader of the Opposition that the outrage is quite as widespread as he indicates. I think that most Canadian taxpayers understand that the Court Challenges Program was brought in around 1982 to address issues with regard to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is now at least 24 years later, and I do not think that any taxpayer who would have supported the original Court Challenges Program would think that there would be anything left to challenge with regard to the Charter 24 years later.

With regard to the honourable senator's question as to whether the President of the Treasury Board would be prepared to meet with Mr. Matte, I cannot answer specifically for him as to who he will or will not meet.

Senator Hays: I am glad that the Leader of the Government in the Senate has drawn to our attention that the program is, I think, some 26 years old. It has served Canadians well. While this is somewhat speculative on my part, I would suggest that the caseload in our courts is as heavy, if not heavier, on Charter cases now as it was at the beginning.

The fact of the matter is that this particular program, in the case of Mr. Matte, has afforded francophones in Canada rights that they would not otherwise have had. Those rights are still at risk, with respect not only to francophone rights but to anglophone rights as well, and the whole spectrum of issues where the government has laws, either intentionally or unintentionally, which affect the rights of Canadians.

I put it to the Leader of the Government in the Senate again: Would someone in the government meet with Mr. Matte and representatives of communities who feel that they have not been given a fair hearing?

I am also advised that this program is subject to the oversight of the Auditor General and that there has never been any concern or complaint from the Auditor General about the way in which the program has been administered, which I think puts an end to any comment or discussion that the program has been terminated because of not providing value for money or not being a good program for Canadians.

Would someone on the government side please give these people an opportunity to be heard and to have this cut reassessed?

Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for his question.

This type of debate could go on and on. Just because a program has been brought in does not mean that it has to be there forever for the Canadian taxpayer to fund. We believe that, for people who wish to have a court challenge, there are other means by which to fund those challenges. It is time for the government to move on. We feel that the laws of this country should be produced and written in such a way as to prevent challenges in the future.

(1430)

In terms of the honourable senator asking me or a member of the government to meet with individual people, I do not know whether that is the way to properly assess these matters. As I said, I will have a look at what Mr. Matte had to say. If he is interested in meeting with the President of the Treasury Board or someone who could address his concerns, I will simply pass on that request without any commitment whatsoever as to whether we will be able to accommodate it.

[Translation]

Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest: Honourable senators, the Leader of the Government in the Senate is aware that Canadians who are members of linguistic minorities, whether they be anglophone Quebecers or francophones outside Quebec, have derived enormous benefit from this program and that the battle for language rights in Canada is not over. It will never be over until there is linguistic equality.

Having spoken to and, like all our colleagues, received numerous communications from various communities, including linguistic minority communities, I wonder whether it would not be advisable for the minister to try to convince her colleagues to reverse this decision, given that these cuts do not represent a huge portion of the federal budget. We are talking about a fairly small amount, but it is extremely important to these people.

It would be wonderful if this error could be corrected. I would add, as a friendly aside, that I would have been very surprised if former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had made such a cut after the program had been in effect for 10 or 15 years.

[English]

Senator LeBreton: I thank Senator Rivest for his question.

Honourable senators, I do not think there is anyone on either side of the house who is not fully committed both to the Official Languages Act and to supporting minorities. I do not believe that the termination of the Court Challenges Program would in any way undermine the government's commitment to minority language rights or to the Official Languages Act.

However, I do take what the honourable senator has to say very seriously. I feel that these savings for the government will not in any way undermine the rights of minority languages or the rights of any minority in Canada.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I would remind honourable senators that the Court Challenges Program is used not only by persons who are making challenges to the Charter having to do with languages. Other matters are dealt with, too. To presume, as the Leader of the Government has suggested, that we have dealt with all of the challenges that might arise under legislation having to do with the Charter presumes that there will be no more law made. When we make new law, there is a chance of Charter challenges under that law being brought by individuals.

The specific question to the leader is that she has responded to the Leader of the Opposition by saying that there are other means and other places to which citizens can go to obtain assistance so that they can have a more level playing field when they are taking the government to task, when the government has at its fingertips literally limitless resources and access to the best legal advice. I am hopeful that the Leader of the Government can give me an example or two of where those citizens might go for that kind of assistance.

(1435)

Senator LeBreton: In terms of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I do not know how many times I have sat on committees dealing with legislation when we always seemed to be answering the question: Will this stand a Charter challenge?

With respect to the premise that there would be no new laws, I totally disagree. To answer the question about the time for dealing with potential Charter challenges, it is when we are formulating the laws. In terms of people using other means, there are any number of groups and non-profit organizations in the country that sometimes need to challenge the laws, and they do not require the use of the Court Challenges Program. An example happens to be a group that I am very much involved with, namely, Mothers Against Drunk Driving have made many challenges to the Supreme Court and other courts, and we have not relied on the Court Challenges Program.

Senator Banks: When a case involves an individual, that is quite a different matter than one involving an organization, which has the capacity to raise money. Where can an individual go to obtain a level playing field?

Senator LeBreton: Obviously the honourable senator has not been paying attention to what Mothers Against Drunk Driving has been doing, because there was a challenge right to the Supreme Court. That case involved an individual, and her name was Zoe Childs. She was an individual; she went to an organization such as MADD and as an individual she was able to challenge a law in Canada and did not use the Court Challenges Program.

Health

Comments of Minister to International Congress on Care of the Terminally Ill—Termination of Secretariat on Palliative and End-of-Life Care

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I spent last week in Montreal attending the International Congress on Care of the Terminally Ill, ensuring that I bring only the most up-to-date information to this place about an issue that is of concern not only to me, but also to a great many in this chamber.

When I picked up my information booklet and registration at two o'clock on Monday afternoon, I was delighted with the letter from the Minister of Health, the Honourable Tony Clement, who went on to say:

As professionals involved in care for the terminally ill, the work that you do — both in isolation and as part of multidisciplinary teams — is remarkable. Palliative and end-of-life care is selfless, difficult and emotionally draining...

I thought, "The minister gets it!" He went on to say:

Your discussions this week are also of great interest to all levels of government, as we work with you to improve the quality and timeliness of our health care system.

Having read that, can you imagine my horror, two hours later, to learn that the secretariat for end-of-life care had been cut by 50 per cent?

Can the Leader of the Government explain to me why the words and actions of the minister do not match?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): First, I thank the honourable senator for reading that excellent letter of the Minister of Health into the record of the Senate.

The fact is that on all matters of health, the government is expending a considerable amount of money, as did the government before, on all issues with regard to health care. I believe, as I am sure everyone here does, that as the population ages, the government will be expending considerable efforts and revenues on this new, emerging demographic in this country.

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, that is all very interesting, and I would like to think that that might be the case, but what was cut in this particular initiative by the Minister of Health were all of the working groups that had been disseminated over the last four years, involving such things as public awareness and standards accreditation.

Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell me how the quality of end-of-life care will improve in this nation with cuts such as that to the secretariat which, by the way, was not funding bureaucrats but was funding the work of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who were delivering programs?

(1440)

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, during expenditure reviews the government often looks for ways to save money in areas where there would not be a direct effect on the delivery of services to individual Canadians.

With regard to the organizations to which Senator Carstairs has referred, I have my doubts that they were directly affected but I will inquire to make certain. More often, savings are found around groups and organizations that were thinking about these issues but not yet delivering direct services to individuals.

I will take the definitive part of the honourable senator's question as notice and reply at a later date.

Senator Carstairs: I have a final question to the Leader of the Government. In his last paragraph, the Minister of Health said:

On behalf of Canada's new government, I thank each of you for the work that you are doing.

How can he thank them in one letter and then cut the funding for the work that they are doing, to the absolute shock of the 1,560 people who attended that conference?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I am sure that the Minister of Health was thanking people for the good work that they are doing. As I said in my earlier response, I will inquire as to the facts to find out whether Senator Carstairs' interpretation is correct in respect of this group.

Treasury Board

Termination of Secretariat on Palliative and End-of-Life Care

Hon. Larry W. Campbell: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I have been involved in palliative care for at least 30 years. The members in the other place do not seem to realize that planning is involved in all of these instances. End-of-life care, in many cases, revolves around families, not hospitals. The planning conducted by these organizations is the very action that saves health care dollars.

Does any honourable senator find it just slightly unnerving that while this is the year of the senior and there is much talk about how old Canadians are getting, yet honourable senators are debating cuts to the very services that are required by the people who are in absolutely the worst shape?

Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate ask the Honourable John Baird, President of Treasury Board, to reconsider these cuts? It is not a great deal of money but it goes such a long way in helping those people who are the most vulnerable, contrary to what the senator from Saskatchewan had to say.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for his question.

Senator Tkachuk: What did I say exactly?

Senator Stratton: What did he say? Point of order.

Senator Campbell: He made a joke of my comment about who was the most vulnerable.

The Hon. the Speaker: The Honourable Senator LeBreton.

Senator LeBreton: Although the disbursement of health dollars is the responsibility of the federal government, health care is delivered by the provinces. On this particular matter, I will obtain clarification for the honourable senator in the form of a delayed answer.

[Translation]

Spending Cuts to Museums Assistance Program

Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, upon learning of the decision to axe the Museums Assistance Program, the Canadian Museums Association stated it was shocked and perplexed and felt betrayed by these spending cuts. This government is speaking out of both sides of its mouth with regard to the future of our museums because, during the last election campaign — as the Leader of the Government in the Senate will recall since she followed her leader across Canada — increased funding to museums was promised and deemed a priority.

How can the Leader of the Government in the Senate explain this betrayal of Canada's 2,500 museums?

(1445)

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I do not think $245 million is a betrayal. Canada's new government has invested over $245 million in museums because we believe we have an important role in preserving the heritage of Canada and Canadians.

Heritage Canada spends $1.8 million annually on the Museums Assistance Program. As a result of our recent review, efficiency measures within this particular program will allow the government to save $2.3 million for each of the next two years. The Museums Assistance Program provides project funding rather than operating funding.

[Translation]

Senator Bacon: Honourable senators, according to Michel Perron of the Société des musées québécois, some Quebec museums have been waiting for an answer for many months. He said that if they wanted to get rid of inefficiency, they should have started with that.

Why say one thing during an election campaign and later do the exact opposite?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: I wish to assure Senator Bacon that we have done no such thing. We made a commitment and we have announced our intentions to invest over $245 million. What one individual in one part of the country says, wherever it may be, does not override the fact that we are investing these kinds of dollars in Canadian museums.

[Translation]

Senator Bacon: How much is the government going to invest in the photography museum?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: I have no idea at the moment, but I will take that question as notice.

National Security and Defence

Delays in Responses to Request for Information

Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, last week I asked a number of questions of the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. I thought his answers were fulsome and I appreciated his candour.

Today I would like to ask the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence a few follow-up questions that I posed just before summer recess. Is the chair available to answer questions at this time?

Hon. Colin Kenny: I would be pleased to answer the questions of the honourable senator to the best of my ability.

Senator Tkachuk: I asked a few questions concerning how the committee is organized and who works for the committee. Specifically, I noted that there was a special budget of $128,650 for consulting and salaries for committee staff, which the chair answered in brief and I believe satisfactorily.

I then followed up that line of questioning with questions regarding individual trips to conferences in places such as Zurich and London, where often there was only a place for one senator. I asked who selects the senator and who had gone in the past; and if there were spaces for two senators if that always included one from each side of this chamber.

While he answered my question briefly, we agreed that the committee staff would provide me with a list of trips over the last five years, including the names of the senators on each trip, so that we would be able to table this information in the Senate. I recognize that this is an administrative question and I did not receive anything in writing over the summer.

I contacted Senator Kenny's staff on September 14 to remind him that I am waiting patiently. I would hope the honourable senator would answer here to all honourable senators, as I believe all senators should be informed in this chamber.

Senator Prud'homme: The clerk is very busy.

Senator Kenny: I would like to thank the honourable senator for his question. The clerk of the committee brought it to my attention last week and is preparing a response for the honourable senator that covers off the points he has in mind.

I regret I do not have it with me; I was not aware the honourable senator was intending to ask the question today. However, there is a draft on my desk and I can provide it, possibly as early as tomorrow but certainly by the end of the week.

Senator Tkachuk: Is the honourable senator telling me that the clerk did not spend any time on this matter, or does he not think it was important enough to answer this question until last week?

(1450)

Senator Kenny: The clerk was extraordinarily busy doing a number of things. The committee had an extensive trip to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates that occupied a good deal of time. The clerk has been extraordinarily busy, as we have been working on a number of reports. We also had a number of witnesses from whom we heard testimony yesterday.

We are very conscious of issues that require our clerks to put in unusual hours of overtime. People in this chamber were concerned about the amount of overtime. The work is coming once we get the other work done. It was not completed as quickly as I would have liked, not through the fault of the clerk. The clerk had holidays this summer, which she was entitled to take, and when the committee came back following the break, we had other business to deal with the week before the Senate reconvened. In fact, some of us on the committee had been working almost daily for three weeks before the Senate came back. Much has been happening.

Senator Tkachuk: I am sure my honourable friend has been extremely busy, but now he is telling me that he has a draft copy of the answers on his desk. Since the draft already sits on his desk, can he give me some assurance that he will table it this week before the chamber rises for the Thanksgiving break? I am sure the clerk has done an accurate job.

Senator Kenny: Honourable senators, I thought I just made that commitment.

Treasury Board

Spending Cuts to Government Programs

Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Over the last several days we have been talking about cuts to the literacy program across this country. Could she indicate exactly where the $81 million she speaks of is targeted over the next two years to help our citizens learn to read for themselves, their families and the workplace?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I will undertake, as much as possible, to provide an answer. However, I did notice in the paper today that an organization in New Brunswick received $1.8 million of that $81 million.

Senator Fairbairn: That is very good news for New Brunswick, but it does not quite lead to the same exuberance across the country.

While the Leader of the Government is looking up the $81 million she speaks of, could she find out what has happened to the amount set aside by former Finance Minister Ralph Goodale in his 2005 budget? This amount added up to something like $673 million and included efforts to help the National Literacy Secretariat, which is no longer. Could the leader indicate where the money went to improve special education for First Nations children living on reserves; or the $398 million over five years, for the first time ever, to enhance settlement and integration programs and improve client services for newcomers to Canada; or the $125 million over three years for the next steps in the Workplace Skills Strategy; or, finally, the $30 million for the National Literacy Secretariat? It would be very helpful if she could dig into those amounts as well.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, New Brunswick received $1.6 million, not $1.8 million. I do not know whether I made that clear.

(1455)

As we know, there was money promised all over the place by the previous government and the previous Minister of Finance. That does not necessarily mean it was to be implemented.

I will take the honourable senator's specific question as notice.

[Translation]

Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary. The Leader of the Government in the Senate just told us that an amount was announced for New Brunswick, but that amount will only go to the provincial organization. No funds will support community projects. That was a possibility under the present program that this government is about to abolish. Could the minister tell us whether or not community projects will be funded by the $81 million?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: As I mentioned last week, we will be following through with any programs we had already committed to, including the program that interests the honourable senator.

I also indicated with respect to money towards the literacy programs that much of the savings were in areas where the work was being done by another level of government.

As I said last week, one of the things we made clear during our last election campaign was that we would not interfere with other levels of government. We were clear in defining our responsibilities, and hopefully we did not tread on the turf of other government jurisdictions.

As I indicated in a delayed answer to the honourable senator, the proposal he was interested in was approved.

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before proceeding to Orders of the Day, the chair would like to remind all honourable senators of the ruling we had occasion to bring before the house a few months ago concerning the rule that proscribes bringing into the chamber electronic devices that make noise.

That is the order of the house. I am your surrogate. I know of no change or challenge to the rule or ruling. Therefore, I ask all honourable senators to be extra vigilant. Let us keep those things out of here.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Correction to Comments

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, last Thursday I answered a question posed by the Honourable Senator Tkachuk relating to the work of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. I stated:

...the committee in the other place sat for a total of 90 hours, including four days of clause-by-clause consideration from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. They heard from perhaps less than 80 witnesses...

I was advised afterward that the committee in the other place in fact sat for 61.62 hours, including clause-by-clause consideration, and heard from 69 witnesses. Therefore, I seek leave of the Senate for the debates of September 28, 2006, to be amended to reflect the correct number of hours.

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Could I ask a question about that correction?

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Oliver is asking for a correction to be made to the Hansard. Do you have a comment on that, Senator Mitchell?

Senator Mitchell: I want to get the answer and the corrections in context, Your Honour. The honourable senator is making a political point and trying to say we are delaying that bill. We are not trying to delay the bill. The fact is, had the government consulted the appropriate groups before they brought in that piece of legislation, we never would have had to take the time consulting them now. It now falls on the Senate because the proper consultation process was not followed in the beginning. I should say it falls on the opposition side of the Senate to do that because the government side is taking very little interest in consulting properly, even at present.

An Hon. Senator: Hear, hear!


(1500)

ORDERS OF THE DAY

International Bridges and Tunnels Bill

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. J. Trevor Eyton moved second reading of Bill C-3, respecting international bridges and tunnels and making a consequential amendment to another Act.

He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-3, the International Bridges and Tunnels Act. Bill C-3 was introduced in the House of Commons on April 24, 2006. It was passed in that House on June 22, 2006, and received first reading in this place on the same day.

Bill C-3 is not the first attempt by the federal government to legislate in this area. Two previous bills, Bill C-26 and, more recently, Bill C-44 were introduced in the House of Commons. The intent of both these bills was to amend the Canada Transportation Act, Canada's omnibus transportation legislation to include provisions dealing with international bridges and tunnels. These provisions were a small component of the overall amendments these bills sought to introduce, with the result that the provisions dealing with international bridges and tunnels did not attract much attention. The Senate was never called upon to consider either of these bills, as they both died on the Order Paper.

Bill C-3 is an improved version of these other bills. It contains certain provisions that were not in Bill C-26 and Bill C-44 but, more importantly, it is a stand-alone bill. Unlike its predecessors, it does not propose to amend the Canada Transportation Act by simply adding a section on international bridges and tunnels. I would suggest that this, in itself, is an improvement as the legislator's message on this important subject is not lost this time in a multitude of amendments.

It is now our task to consider this bill. To do so properly, honourable senators, it is important to understand the legislative history regarding our country's international bridges and tunnels, starting with the Constitution. It is the Constitution Act, 1867 — the same act that created this house — that determined that the federal government would have exclusive legislative authority with respect to works and undertakings that extend beyond provincial borders, such as our international bridges and tunnels.

There are currently 33 international bridges and tunnels in Canada: 24 accommodating vehicular traffic and nine railway traffic. These bridges and tunnels are found in only three provinces: Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec, and link with the states of New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Maine and Vermont. Many of these bridges and tunnels are exceedingly busy — and vital — international crossings.

As we know, there is a big difference between a constitutional power and legislation that sets out the manner in which that power is exercised. That is the importance of this bill because, as we speak today, and until such time as this bill becomes law, there exists no one law that sets out a regime that governs all of Canada's international bridges and tunnels, or that gives the federal government the power to make regulations with respect to these structures. Bill C-3 seeks to rectify this lack by proposing to introduce a regime of consistent rules and regulations that will apply to all structures, regardless of whether these structures are owned publicly or privately.

This is not to suggest that legislation dealing with international bridges or tunnels has never been adopted, for that is not the case. However, the majority of this legislation exists in the form of special acts of Parliament adopted over the years, mainly for the purpose of authorizing the construction of these structures. In fact, most of Canada's international bridges and tunnels existing today owe their existence to these special acts. No less than 52 special acts are listed in the schedule to the bill, and this list is not exhaustive.

More important than the number of acts is the fact that these special acts, for the most part, came into force many decades ago. While these acts served a specific purpose when they were enacted, they have not evolved to address the issues of concern to today's bridge and tunnel user, issues such as maintenance, safety and security.

Honourable senators, Bill C-3 seeks to offer several simple solutions in this regard. First, it proposes an approval process that is administrative rather than legislative. It removes the need to pass special legislation in order to approve the construction of new international bridges or tunnels.

My fellow senators I am sure will understand, as well as do I, that time to consider legislation is limited in the Senate, as it is in the Lower House. As this time is precious, it should preferably be spent considering legislation of national importance and reach, rather than overloading the system seeking approvals that can be better dealt with by administrative process.

In the case of Bill C-3, this approval will be given by the Governor-in-Council on recommendation of the Minister of Transport. Practically speaking, a person wishing to build a new international bridge or tunnel will have to make an application to the Minister of Transport, who in turn will recommend to the Governor-in-Council whether or not this application should be approved.

The process envisaged is somewhat similar to the approval process that currently exists in the United States, where applicants who wish to build a new international bridge apply to the U.S. Department of State for a presidential permit. That department reviews the application in conjunction with other stakeholders, including state departments and foreign governments including, of course, the Canadian government, to ensure that all necessary permits have been applied for and obtained. It is likely that Transport Canada will play a similar coordination role in the process proposed by Bill C-3. Bill C-3 goes even further, since any alterations to existing bridges and tunnels will also require Governor-in-Council approval.

If we understand why approval for the construction of a new international bridge is required, it is relatively easy to understand why alterations to a bridge would also require approval, particularly major alterations that may affect the bridge structurally. It must be kept in mind that Bill C-3 is a transportation bill, and of particular concern to Transport Canada are traffic and, more particularly, traffic disruptions that these alterations may cause. One of the main goals of this legislation is to keep the traffic of goods and people moving over and through these structures so that if a project has the potential to disrupt traffic, prior government approval may have to be sought.

Considering that many of these structures were built in the 1950s and 1960s, it is not hard to imagine why they require regular maintenance and updating to respond to today's needs. These approval processes are therefore an important part of Bill C-3. On this note, another objective of Bill C-3 is to supplement the special acts to which I made reference by giving the government the power to make regulations in the areas of safety, maintenance and repair, issues that are not generally dealt with by these acts.

In the exercise of this power, the government could choose to regulate the frequency with which safety inspections must be undertaken and the obligation to provide copies of these reports to the government. Bill C-3 even gives the government, through the Minister of Transport, the right to demand that certain repairs be made to a particular bridge or tunnel in order to ensure that the structure is kept in good condition.

Bill C-3 also speaks to security. This summer's thwarted terrorist attacks in London, England, served to remind us that terrorism is a reality with which we must learn to live. It was also a reminder that security against these potential threats must be a priority for all nations. There is tremendous pressure on governments to put in place measures that will protect its citizens and are cost-effective and reasonable when compared to the risk.

Minimizing security threats directed against our country's critical infrastructure, such as our international bridges and tunnels, is a major part of our nation's security plan and a focus of this bill. Much has been done in this regard by the bridge and tunnel owners and operators following September 11, 2001, but this risk must be regularly re-evaluated and new measures implemented when justified.

Bill C-3 allows the government to make specific regulations regarding security, such as obligating owners and operators to develop and implement security plans and security management systems, and to undertake threat and vulnerability reports and to update these reports on a regular basis.

The critical aspect of these international bridges and tunnels lies in their importance to trade. The United States is by far Canada's largest trading partner. In 2005, Canada traded over $580 billion with the United States, representing over 70 per cent of our total trade in value. Approximately 84 per cent of our exports went to the United States and 56 per cent of our imports came from the United States; 60 per cent of this trade, or 76 per cent in value, was transported by truck. According to these same statistics, the four busiest crossings through which these trucks passed are all international bridges. Based on these impressive statistics alone, it is undeniable that Canada's international bridges and tunnels are vital trade links and, as such, should be protected.

(1510)

Our trade relationship with the United States has been strengthened by agreements such as NAFTA, now 10 years old, and other important bilateral trade agreements; and while there are trade issues and initiatives that are cause for concern because of their potential negative impact on trade, such as the U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, it must also be noted that 95 per cent of our trade relationship with the United States is dispute-free — a remarkable fact!

While much of the focus is on the bridges and tunnels that carry vehicles, we must not forget the railway international bridges and tunnels, as they also play an important role in Canada's economy. In 2005, 17 per cent of Canada's trade was carried by rail, the second preferred means to carry trade.

It is trite to say that our railroads built this country, but before there were highways, there were railroads. Today, rail is still the cheapest way to ship goods. These goods are shipped using a large and intricate railway network composed of long and short rail systems that extend across Canada and into the most southern United States. Rail fits in perfectly with today's multi-modal approach to transportation where goods are shipped by boat and then by rail into the country's interior, or shipped by rail and then truck, or combinations of these.

Bill C-3 contains two new provisions that did not appear in either of the previous bills. The first relates to the construction of new bridges or tunnels that will cross the St. Lawrence River. As it currently stands, the Navigable Waters Protection Act prohibits all construction over navigable waters without government approval. The original intent of this prohibition was to ensure that navigation not be unduly disrupted. Approval, however, cannot be obtained for construction over the St. Lawrence River under that act, since originally this was the responsibility of the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority. When the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority Act was repealed in 1998, and the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority dissolved, so too was that power that this body had to issue approvals for construction over the St. Lawrence River. This means that in order to build a bridge over the St. Lawrence River, the government must pass special legislation for this purpose. For the reasons I have already mentioned, this is not the best or most timely solution. The bill, therefore, sets things straight by confirming that despite what the Navigable Waters Protection Act says with respect to the St. Lawrence River, approval may be given under that act. This is a void in the current federal legislation that the bill proposes to rectify.

The second provision — or set of provisions — deals with transactions that affect the ownership or the operation of an international bridge or tunnel. Bill C-3 proposes that transactions of this type be first approved by the government. This approval process will be similar to the proposed approval process for new construction or alterations in that this approval will need to be given by the Governor-in-Council on recommendation of the Minster of Transport. By submitting these transactions for government approval, the government will be able to monitor who owns and operates these structures and ensure that they are owned and operated in a manner that is consistent with public policy and the interest of the Canadian public.

Bill C-3 also proposes a mechanism for incorporating companies charged with the construction or operation of an international bridge or tunnel by way of letters patent. The issuance of letters patent under this act is simply another way to incorporate a company, and this system will exist in parallel with other legal methods of incorporation, such as incorporating under the Canada Business Corporations Act and other acts that may be available.

Finally, several amendments were made to the bill when it was being considered in the other place. In particular, several sections were amended to include consideration of local community interests by providing for the federal government to consult with other orders of government, including local municipalities, before approving the construction of new international bridges or tunnels. At the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, the government will be moving to make some minor technical amendments to these sections to ensure consistency of language in the bill while still supporting these amendments.

Honourable senators, there are some who will say that this bill does not go far enough in some areas and goes too far in others. I think that most people, however, critics included, will agree that this legislation is needed in order to give the federal government the power to exercise its constitutional jurisdiction and oversight over international bridges and tunnels, as these structures play an important role in our sovereignty as a nation and are important to trade and tourism as well as to the many industries that rely on these activities.

This is an important piece of legislation, and I would support a quick endorsement of it by this chamber so that the federal government will be provided with the necessary tools to ensure that these critical bridges and tunnels are safe and secure, and efficiently operated and maintained.

On motion of Senator Fraser, for Senator Grafstein, debate adjourned.

Official Languages Commissioner

Motion to receive in committee of the whole and Authorization to Permit Electronic Coverage Adopted

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to notice of earlier today, moved:

That the Senate do resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole when it reaches Government Business at the start of Orders of the Day, on Wednesday, October 4, 2006, in order to receive Mr. Graham Fraser respecting his appointment as Official Languages Commissioner;

That the Committee of the Whole report to the Senate no later than 3:50 p.m. on Wednesday October 4, 2006; and

That television cameras be authorized in the Senate Chamber to broadcast the proceedings of the Committee of the Whole, with the least possible disruption of the proceedings.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question!

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Motion agreed to.

[Translation]

National Blood Donor Week Bill

Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mercer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cochrane, for the second reading of Bill S-214, An Act respecting a National Blood Donor Week.—(Honourable Senator Stratton)

Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, I am pleased to inform the members of the Senate and all Canadians that I support the designation of the week in which June 14 falls as National Blood Donor Week.

The current government recognizes the importance of encouraging and promoting blood donation because each donation can save several lives. Thousands of Canadians regularly count on the blood supply system to stay alive and healthy, and many others need transfusions after operations or accidents.

[English]

In many countries throughout the world, blood transfusion is neither available nor safe. In Canada, we have access to high-quality blood products and alternatives that are available to everyone. Canada can count on approximately 3.5 per cent of the eligible population to donate blood annually.

[Translation]

By designating the week in which June 14 falls as National Blood Donor Week, we want to celebrate and thank those people who, by their generosity, altruism and kindness, are helping to save the lives of people they do not even know.

I would like to express my particular gratitude to frequent donors. They are part of a small group that provides a critical resource, the gift of life.

(1520)

[English]

By creating this national blood donor week we would also have the opportunity to encourage individuals who are not regular blood donors or individuals who have never donated blood to become regular blood donors. Honourable senators, blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another individual. It is the gift of life.

Taking the time to go to a blood clinic and donate blood can save the life of one to several people. It gives a feeling of well-being and the accomplishment of something special and positive.

[Translation]

The Government of Canada recognizes that the need for a continuous blood supply is permanent because blood can only be stored for a limited amount of time before being used.

Take platelets, for example. They are essential for clotting and are administered to patients with prolonged bleeding associated with certain diseases, such as serious wounds, hemophilia, cancer and so on. Did you know that platelets have a shelf life of only five days?

Furthermore, the demand for blood and blood products is constantly increasing and our beloved system relies on the generosity and goodwill of Canadians prepared to give blood to help their fellow citizens.

[English]

Honourable senators, this dedicated week will serve to inform the Canadian population that it is important to become a blood donor. For various reasons, regular donors may not be in a position to continue to donate blood, maybe because of sickness or absence from the country, and without new individuals becoming regular blood donors the pool of donors will decrease, which could have dire consequences on these recipients of blood and blood products.

The demand for blood and blood products is continuous throughout the year. However, it is important to know that during the summer there is an increase in the demand due to the number of road traffic accidents. During the same period there is a marked decline in blood donations. Regularly, during the summer season, on the radio and in newspapers, demand for certain types of blood is announced, and potential donors are required to get in touch with the blood operators as the supply is getting low. Declaring the national blood donor week in June is anticipated to have a positive impact on the number of blood donors during the summer season.

[Translation]

Some 192 World Health Organization member states, 181 national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and 50 voluntary blood donor organizations have agreed to support World Blood Donor Day each year.

In many countries blood transfusion is either not available or not safe. The bill we are debating today reiterates the importance of donating blood and provides an opportunity to thank and honour the people in this country who give blood regularly.

National Blood Donor Week will allow us to express our gratitude to the individuals in our country who make this effort and donate their blood. Without them, the gift of life would be impossible.

I strongly encourage each and every one of my colleagues in the Senate to vote in favour of this bill in order to allow the government to promote blood donation more vigorously.

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question!

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt this motion?

Motion agreed to and bill read the second time and passed.

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: When shall this bill be read the third time?

On motion of Senator Cochrane, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

Agriculture and Forestry

Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the Senate

Leave having been given to proceed to Motion Item No. 100:

Hon. Joyce Fairbairn, pursuant to notice of September 28, 2006, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry have the power to sit at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 3, 2006, even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I understand that this is for the purpose of hearing the minister; is that correct?

Senator Fairbairn: Yes, honourable senators, the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry has just launched the study on rural poverty, which we have approved in this chamber. The Minister of Agriculture is one of our first and very important witnesses and because of his portfolio, he is always under a great deal of pressure. He is able to visit with us for one hour starting at 5:30 p.m. this afternoon, and we are eager to hear him.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question!

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Motion agreed to.

Scouts Canada

Private Bill to Amend Act of Incorporation—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino moved second reading of Bill S-1001, respecting Scouts Canada.

He said: Honourable senators, this is the third time I have introduced this bill in the chamber. Both previous attempts resulted in the bill dying on the Order Paper because of election calls. Perhaps we have too many elections.

Colleagues, 2007 will mark the centenary of the scouting movement. Scouts Canada has served Canada's youth for a century. It has guided, mentored and educated millions of Canadian boys. In 1974, girls were admitted to the Rover program for young men and women. After opening the movement to girls in the Ventures program in 1984, Scouts Canada became fully co-ed in 1998, opening up all its programs to girls as well. Scouting has helped prepare generations of Canadians become compassionate, productive citizens and leaders of our country.

(1530)

The principal purpose of this bill is to change the organization's official name from the Boy Scouts of Canada to Scouts Canada, to reflect the co-ed nature of the movement. I urge honourable senators to participate in the debate and I hope we can refer this bill to committee at the earliest possible time when an appropriate analysis can be undertaken, and provide an opportunity for interested parties to express their views and opinions.

I hope, honourable senators, that this legislation will be granted passage in both Houses of Parliament, will receive Royal Assent and will be proclaimed into law in time to help Scouts Canada celebrate its 100th year of service.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Will the honourable senator accept a question?

Senator Di Nino: Yes.

Senator Banks: The honourable senator has said, in respect to his speech on this bill, that its principal purpose is the changing of the name of the organization. Are there elements of this bill that have to do with the governance of the organization?

Senator Di Nino: I have taken a very close look at the bill and I have even consulted with legal counsel, and what I am told is that the changes that are being made are not of any significance. They are things that would normally be done on a regular basis. This is the opportunity, but it will not affect the structure of the organization nor any substantive issue dealing with the governance of the organization.

Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: I was wondering if there would be a conflict with the Girl Guides. Whatever happened to the Girl Guides, if the name has changed?

Senator Di Nino: I am delighted to say that there is a very close relationship between Scouts and Girl Guides. They often will be involved in initiatives and programs together and they are very supportive of each other. As you know, I am quite active in the organization. I can tell honourable senators from personal experience that we will often participate in their events, in their initiatives and in their celebrations, and when Scouts are having similar events, the Girl Guides are there.

They are a totally independent, separate organization. The changes in the program, which have now been in effect for 20 or 30 years, depending on which program one looks at, are changes that involved consultation with the Girl Guides and to which the Girl Guides gave their support and confidence. I may add that, to the best of my knowledge, the Girl Guides have not done badly at all by the changes. It does not seem to have affected their organization. Although I cannot provide any specific statistics, certainly the change from an all-boy organization to a co-ed organization was done in consultation with the Girl Guides, and from my own personal experience and from everything I know, there was never any opposition.

On motion of Senator Jaffer, debate adjourned.

State of Literacy

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Fairbairn, P.C., calling 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.—(Honourable Senator Segal)

Hon. Joan Cook: Honourable senators, today I would like to bring to your attention the ongoing issue of literacy in Canada. As you know, last Monday the federal government announced $17.7 million in cuts over the next two years to adult learning, literacy and the Essential Skills Program nationwide. This means that local and regional literacy programs will no longer be funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, or HRSDC, yet 42 per cent of Canadians struggle with basic reading and writing. This change jeopardizes the delivery of programs to many learners whose literacy challenges hinder their ability to function fully at home, in the community and in the workplace.

Honourable senators, $5.8 million in cuts for this year is not a lot of money in relation to government spending. However, this has had a huge and sudden impact on the thousands of local and regional literacy coalitions across Canada. Programs are now relying on surplus money from the previous year, and many will be unable to survive. Organizations in the Yukon and Saskatchewan are looking at closing their doors, and Newfoundland and Labrador say that they may not last five months without federal funding.

The HRSDC's national office of literacy and learning does have a budget of $81 million over two years, which addresses adult learning, literacy and essential skills in Canada. However, the catch is that the department's new mandate is to concentrate on national and federal programs alone. Therefore, if local coalitions want to tap into these funds, they must switch their mandate's direction from local to national, which means that there will no longer be community-based or client-oriented programs. I believe that this defeats the purpose of serving the community and I fear that, with this new shift in direction, we will end up in a Catch-22 situation.

Regional coalitions are oftentimes the only thread of infrastructure that links national projects to the community, deeming them essential to a literate future. This translates to $785,000 in cuts to my home province of Newfoundland and Labrador, a province that historically has not fared well against the national average on literacy. More than 64,000 people there need help to improve their literacy skills.

Naturally, Canadians are upset by this change and see this as a shift in priorities away from literacy, a fundamental skill for all Canadians. Currently, five provinces and territories — Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., New Brunswick, Quebec and Nunavut — have more people with lower literacy rates than the national average.

Canadians are not meeting the minimum skills level suitable for coping with the demands of everyday life and work, and typically hide their challenges with elaborate coping mechanisms. Many people live in fear of exposing their weaknesses. Subsequently, lower literacy can affect health directly. For example, such a simple thing as the inability to follow a doctor's written order can be detrimental. I have been told at home that coalitions may have access to Health Canada funding, but this will take time.

Many people with low literacy skills feel ashamed of their inability to read, which often leads to low self-esteem, stress and potential for additional mental health problems. The nine million Canadian adults who have low literacy skills are about twice as likely to be unemployed, and it is very difficult for them to find or to keep a job. If they do manage to maintain employment, it is likely to be a poorly paid position, and more often than not they live on a fixed income.

Though the majority of Canadian youth aged 16 to 25 attain the minimum level of literacy skills needed to cope with the demands of everyday life and work, anywhere from 18 per cent to 38 per cent of youth, depending on the region of the country, do not attain that minimum proficiency.

(1540)

In Canada, our track record is improving. However, the services offered to those who do need help need more attention, of which most is achieved through voluntary organizations at the community level.

Less than half of those who contact a literacy organization actually enrol in a program. Of those who enrol, 30 per cent drop out, and 43 per cent of those who do not enrol in a program cite barriers such as the program contact person not calling them back, long waiting lists and inconvenient times.

Dramatic regional variances in program delivery exist. For example, more than one third of the service locations have no full-time staff, more than two thirds have one or less full-time staff and close to 40 per cent are open less than 35 hours a week. This circumstance suggests that there is a greater need for funding and for significant infrastructural change.

Honourable senators, we need to look at ways that will ease financial problems and enhance opportunities to improve literacy skills at the regional level. Community-based organizations and coalitions are absolutely essential and need support.

Honourable senators, we need a vision for a literate future.

On motion of Senator Comeau, for Senator Segal, debate adjourned.

The Senate

Motion Urging Support for Stabilization and Reconstruction of Afghanistan Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Dallaire, seconded by the Honourable Senator Day:

That the Senate expresses its support of Canada's diplomatic, defence and development contributions for the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan; and

That the Senate commends Canadian Forces personnel, diplomats and humanitarian assistance officials for their contribution in re-building a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.—(Honourable Senator Fraser)

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I move the motion standing in the name of Senator Dallaire.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is it your pleasure to adopt the motion?

Motion agreed to.

Banking, Trade and Commerce

Committee Authorized to Extend Date of Final Report on Study of Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act—Motion in Modification

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein, pursuant to notice of September 27, 2006, moved:

That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on Tuesday, May 16, 2006, the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, which was authorized to undertake a review of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, be empowered to extend the date of presenting its final report from September 28, 2006 to October 5, 2006; and

That the Committee retain until October 31, 2006 all powers necessary to publicize its findings.

He said: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 30, I ask leave of the Senate to modify the motion by replacing the words "October 5, 2006" with "June 29, 2007" and "October 31, 2006" with "July 31, 2007."

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion, as modified?

Motion agreed to, as modified.

The Senate

Motion to Urge Government to Reconsider Decision to Discontinue the Court Challenges Program—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Serge Joyal, pursuant to notice of September 28, 2006, moved:

That the Senate urge the Government of Canada to reconsider its decision to discontinue the Court Challenges Program which has enabled citizens to seek redress and assert their rights guaranteed under the Constitution and particularly the Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

That the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages be authorized to study and report on the benefits and results that have been achieved through the Court Challenges Program;

That the Committee submit its final report no later than December 22, 2006; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons informing it that the Senate regrets the Government's decision to terminate the Court Challenges Program and urges it to take action to persuade the Government to reconsider that decision.

He said: Honourable senators, the issue of minority rights in Canada is a fundamental one. If we want to reflect on the impact of the Court Challenges Program, we have to remind ourselves where we come from as a country and what is the constitutional duty of this chamber of Parliament.

To allow honourable senators to reflect on that program, I feel there is nothing more eloquent than to quote from a book published in 2005, with the help of some senators in this chamber, entitled Canada's Francophone Minority Communities, edited by Professor Michael Behiels.

I had the privilege of writing the foreword of that book, the first two paragraphs of which read as follows:

The recognition of minority rights has been at the core of our identity as a nation. It is what makes Canada unique. The representatives of the four colonies from which the Canada of today emerged recognized the need to guarantee the rights of the French- and English-speaking minorities. A vision of minority rights inspired our federal structure of government.

(1550)

[Translation]

Our Constitution, the fundamental law of the land, was based on the idea of a new nation that would see the coexistence of both English and French. In this new country, the majority would not assimilate the minority, eventually grinding down any differences. Instead, the constitution was inspired by a more generous and more humanistic vision of the relationship among human beings. The law, in providing the foundation of our political union, enshrined the right of citizens to be different and challenged the majority to moderate its force and restrain its levelling powers.

[English]

Minority rights issues in Canada, and especially in the Senate, are especially important. When we look back into the history of our country since 1867, there have been major achievements and there have been sad moments. The history of linguistic minority rights in Canada has not been exemplary. Through the years, especially since the 1970s, there has been an effort among politicians of all stripes to try to right the wrong. That became quite obvious after the election of the Parti Québécois in 1976 and the adoption of Bill 101.

Bill 101 had a very important impact on the francophone identity in Quebec and on the self-assurance of Quebecers in affirming their differences. I think that all of us praise that initiative. However, at the time it was proposed in the legislative assembly in Quebec, its impact on anglophone minority rights was questioned. Within the debate at that time, it was determined that there was a need to bring matters to the attention of the court — a more neutral forum where the measure of rights of Quebec francophones and anglophones who could live side by side in peace, in social cohesion and share a common nationality.

At that time, the government saw fit to support court challenges that would address the scope of section 133 of the British North America Act, or the Constitution of 1867, and section 93 dealing with education rights. It is not for me today to recall the details of those cases.

The wisdom that stems from the Supreme Court of Canada in relation to those two issues, the judicial rights and the education rights under the Canadian Constitution, have been the object of extensive court pronouncements. Following the enactment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, it became obvious that the new education rights, especially in section 23 of the Charter, would restore the status of francophones and anglophones in their education rights. It became a very important issue.

At that time, I had the privilege of holding the office of the Secretary of State of Canada. I convinced my colleagues in the cabinet to widen the financial support for court challenges that would seek the implementation of section 16 to section 23 of the Charter. Let me remind honourable senators that, you section 16 to section 20 deals with the status of languages in Parliament and government institutions, while section 23 addresses the issue of education rights.

The program, from 1982 to 1985, concentrated on linguistic rights, but the new government in 1984, the government of Mr. Mulroney, had an opportunity to revise the program. Under the chairmanship of the then Secretary of State, Mr. Benoît Bouchard, and the Minister of Justice, John Crosbie, the program was expanded to add equality rights, section 15, the gender equality status of section 28, and section 27, the section recognizing multiculturalism in Canada.

It was decided to entrust the government decisions on those court challenges to an arm's length body. In that way, there would not be any political intervention involved in the financing of the court decisions. It is in that context that the government entrusted the Canadian Council on Social Development to administer the program for five years.

After five years of the program, in 1990, still under the leadership of Mr. Mulroney, the government asked the standing committee of the House of Commons to review the impact of the program. In 1990, the standing committee of the House of Commons unanimously recommended that the program be renewed for 10 years and to entrust the administration of the program to the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa. The administration of the program was given to an outside body administered by an agency of the law faculty of the University of Ottawa. All senators in this chamber will remember the outstanding service that former Senator Beaudoin made to that university, and I think it was appropriate, considering the interest of the University of Ottawa in the study of official languages in Canada. That was the unanimous decision of the standing committee of 1990, a recommendation which the government accepted.

However, as was stated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, in February 1992, the then president of Treasury Board, the Honourable Gilles Loiselle, announced that the program was to be cancelled. The standing committee of the House of Commons reviewed the decision of the government of the day and, in a June 1992 unanimous report entitled Paying Too Dearly, recommended that the program be maintained but restructured.

Honourable senators will remember what happened the following year. We were at the end of the term of the government. There was a new Prime Minister, Prime Minister Kim Campbell. Prime Minister Kim Campbell in August 1993 announced that the government would improve and reinstate the cancelled program under a new name, the Charter Law Development Program. Prime Minister Campbell took that decision after having received the advice of the Canadian Bar Association, the gender committee of the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian panel on violence against women.

We all know that the next general election brought a new government, and the new government reinstated the program in 1994. When the program was reinstated, it kept its two objectives, linguistic minority rights plus the rights to equality encompassing section 15 of the Charter, sections 27 and 28, the gender equality provisions and the multiculturalism nature of Canada, plus section 2 of the Charter, which deals essentially with freedom of speech and freedom of conscience or freedom of religion. Those two objectives are domains that the Court Challenges Program covered.

This, honourable senators, is important. I outlined the historical context to you so you know where we come from in this regard. When the program was abolished, or the announcement was made in 1992, the then Commissioner of Official Languages, Dr. Victor Goldbloom, who happens to be a friend of many senators in this chamber, looking particularly at Senator Bacon, requested an evaluation of the program to determine if the program was meeting its objectives insofar as the official languages minority rights are concerned. In his August 1992 report entitled, Language Rights and the Court Challenges Programs: A Review of its Accomplishments and Impact of its Abolition, Professor Richard Gorham gave a thorough evaluation of the program. I would speak to one important point in chapter 5, Summary of Unresolved Issues, at page 38.

(1600)

As I heard the Honourable Leader of the Government in the Senate say this afternoon, many issues have been dealt with through the financial support of the Court Challenges Program, but many more identified by the study have yet to be addressed. Those were outlined in the report by Professor Gorham. The report clearly states that some of these issues deal with section 23 of the Charter on education rights. The report quotes the former Chief Justice Brian Dickson of the Supreme Court in the 1990 Mahé case, wherein he said:

In its view, the purpose of section 23, education rights, was to correct on a national scale the progressive erosion of minority official language groups and to give effect to the concept of equal partnership of the two official language groups in the context of education.

The court said that the very nature of section 23 is a remedial section of the Charter. This provision tries to correct the wrong of 100 years or so of erosion of minority rights. It is not for the court to pronounce on the political and social context of the day. Rather, its role is to take an existing situation and try to improve upon it.

Between 1982 and 1992, 77 cases have been supported through the Court Challenges Program, 39 of which dealt with official minority language issues. When the CCP was reinstated in 1994, there was a change in its administration such that it was trusted with a non-profit corporation administered by a seven-member board. The board members were representatives of the Canadian Bar Association, of law faculties across Canada and of the two official linguistic minorities in Canada. The board administered two subcommittees, one dealing with official languages and the other dealing with equality rights. It is important to review some of the cases that were financed over the years by the CCP board.

I reviewed the report on the decisions of the Court Challenges Program cases that were financed between 1994 and 2006. I will provide the house with an outline of some of the cases by category. What kinds of cases find their way through that program? What are we dealing with? Certainly, there are women's issues because of section 28 of the Charter.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: I regret to inform the Honourable Senator Joyal that his time has expired.

Senator Joyal: With leave of the Senate, honourable senators, I would ask for five minutes.

Senator Comeau: Not more than five minutes.

Senator Joyal: I thank honourable senators.

Honourable senators, I would outline some cases and their decisions. On women's issues, there were two cases, one dealing with sexual inequality and violence which, of course, involved the Criminal Code; and the other was on the status of women and children as sexual assault complainants, again involving the Criminal Code. As well, visible minorities, which is an important issue, find support in this program. I have found five court cases dealing with visible minority status in Canada. I know that some honourable senators in this chamber have a great interest in that subject.

The first case deals with systemic racism in employment practice, 1996-97; second is the scope of "reasonable doubt" as applied to an African Canadian youth and the relationship with the racial dynamic of the social context, 1997-98; third is the evaluation of racial prejudice of potential candidates for the jury, 1998-99; fourth is the ordering of a new trial following the decision of the previous case; fifth is the issue of determining criminal behaviour based on racism, 2003-04. That outlines a few of the cases dealing with visible minorities under section 15 on equality rights of the Charter; it has nothing to do with language rights, per se.

As well, honourable senators, there are issues dealing with Indians and, in particular, Metis. One case dealing with Metis concerned the exclusion of the Metis from the operation of the specific claims policy. There is a system to deal with claims policies for Indians but it excluded the Metis. As honourable senators are aware, the Metis have territorial rights established by recent decisions in law. Another case concerned the recognition of equality rights for Aboriginal women and another, equality rights of Aboriginal members living off-reserve.

There are other cases dealing with the rights of the handicapped and with eligibility criteria that effectively bars people from progressive disability. Of course, there have been cases of banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, which was debated in the house in a previous Parliament.

There are numerous cases on minority language rights. If I may, I will read 10 of them so that honourable senators will have a better sense of the importance of this motion. The first is the right to an education of equal quality, a case in Newfoundland and Labrador; second, the right to homogenous school programs, a case in Nova Scotia; third, the continuity of language instruction, a case in Quebec; fourth, the language of work communication and service delivery, a case in New Brunswick; fifth, the delegation of federal government powers and language rights, a case in Ontario; sixth, the territorial government linguistic obligation, a case in the Northwest Territories and Yukon; seventh, judicial rights, a case in Manitoba; eighth, the language of municipal bylaws, a case in New Brunswick; ninth, the underlying constitutional principle of protection for minorities, a case in Ontario; and tenth, the importance of language and culture in the context of instruction.

I had only to glance at cases throughout the report of decisions to know that if the government proceeds with the abolition of the Courts Challenges Program, this house of sober second thought must refer the matter to committee for review of the last 10 to 12 years and report back to the Senate with recommendations, just as it did in 1990 when it was announced that the program would be abolished. In that way, senators could review the program, measure its impact, evaluate where it is still necessary and conclude the matter.

Honourable senators, this issue calls upon the very nature of our country, a place where the status of one minority reflects on the status of other minorities; where the commitment to support visible minority rights and remedial initiatives to establish them in their home country with the pride of being in Canada exists as much for Metis, for Indians, for the handicapped, for women, for francophones and for anglophones. Honourable senators, this is an extremely important issue.

I do not want to impugn motive for the reason for that decision to discontinue the CCP. However, I will ask honourable senators for the opportunity to review and reconsider the impact of the program openly and in an objective context by referring the matter to committee or committees of the Senate. That is the best approach.

I thank honourable senators for allowing me to draw their attention to this issue.

On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.

The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, October 4, 2006, at 1:30 p.m.