Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I
would like to bring to your attention the fact that, last week, one of our
colleagues, Senator Jean Lapointe, achieved distinction by being selected to
receive a Masterworks Award. These awards are given out each year by the
Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada.
The Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada is a partnership between the
federal government and the private sector, whose mandate is to promote the
preservation of Canada's audiovisual heritage and facilitate access to it. Each
year, since the beginning of this decade, the Trust has recognized several
culturally significant classics from the archives of the Canadian radio, film
and television sound recording industries.
The Trust awarded the Honourable Jean Lapointe this prestigious honour in
Toronto on October 26 in recognition of his exceptional contribution to Canada's
cultural heritage as the lead actor in the television series Duplessis.
Produced by Radio-Canada in 1977 and aired across Canada in both official
languages, the Duplessis television series is a masterwork that brings to
life a very important era in contemporary Quebec history. Many commentators have
said that Jean Lapointe's brilliant portrayal of Maurice Duplessis is the one
that Canadians are most familiar with and that best explains the strong and
controversial man who left an indelible mark on his province.
Honourable senators, as an actor, artist, poet, singer-songwriter, troubadour
or parliamentarian, Senator Lapointe never ceases to move us and touch us with
his many talents, his warmth and his modesty.
Not only has he brought honour to the world of arts, culture and performance,
his presence brings great honour to this institution as well.
I would like to express my sincere congratulations to Senator Lapointe on
being selected to receive this prestigious award and I invite all of my
colleagues to give him a big round of applause.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I wish to bring to your
attention a resolution passed on October 24 by the council of the Corporation of
the City of Kingston with respect to Canada-U.S. relations.
WHEREAS the proposal by the US Coast Guard to conduct live-fire training
exercises within designated safety zones on the Great Lakes may constitute a
risk to the quality of the City of Kingston's drinking water supply,
recreational boating and fishing industries and contribute to the cumulative
degradation of the aquatic environment of the Great Lakes;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT City Council direct staff to correspond with
the United States Coast Guard, the United States Environmental Protection
Agency and Environment Canada expressing our concern over the proposed
activity and requesting that exercises not take place until a proper
consultation with all affected parties can take place;
— and further —
THAT City Council directs staff to correspond with the appropriate City
representatives of the City of Windsor, Ontario and Duluth, Minnesota
expressing the City of Kingston's willingness to add our voice to their
opposition to the practice of live-fire exercises within the Great Lakes
— and further —
THAT City Council directs staff to correspond with our Canadian Great Lakes
neighbours in Belleville, Quinte West, Gananoque, Brockville, Prescott and
Cornwall, informing them of the situation and requesting they join us in
voicing concern and opposition to the proposed practice of live-fire
I wish to put on the record, honourable senators, that the lack of discussion
with their Canadian neighbours is a diversion by the Americans from our long
history of naval cooperation. It may be within the right of the Americans to
initiate these exercises. I believe that the close diplomatic relationship we
share should afford us the courtesy of consultation.
The Government of Canada is currently reviewing the environmental and safety
impacts of these tests. I hope that testing will not begin after the November 12
date set by the Americans, that our two countries might come to some agreement
regarding any impact such exercises might have north of the forty-ninth
parallel, and proper consultation will take place on both sides of our common
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, as we mentioned yesterday, a
contingent of 76 soldiers from Valcartier left Quebec City last Monday, on their
way to Afghanistan. These soldiers will join some 3,000 soldiers, sailors and
Air Force members who are already serving on missions somewhere around the
Our Armed Forces are increasingly called upon more and more to endure very
difficult conditions. This situation causes increased stress on Canadian Forces
members, as well as on their families, who must now go through even longer
periods of separation.
More than ever before, given the dangerous context of the missions, support
for the families is extremely important, especially because, without the moral
support of their families, our soldiers could not properly carry out their tours
of duty. I am sure that all senators are proud of our Canadian Forces members
and wish only to demonstrate their pride. Personally, I believe that one of the
best ways to back our soldiers is by supporting the partners they have left
As I have previously stated in this chamber, we recognize that all our
soldiers' spouses are heroes, just as our soldiers are heroes. We do not say
much about these women when we talk about the Canadian Forces, but they are
there always at their spouse's side.
These women are just as dedicated to the Canadian Forces. Their lives, too,
are shaped by the military, with its frequent moves and a lifestyle a world
apart from that of civilians. These women and their children live in unique
circumstances and must often face numerous financial, professional, personal and
These past years, I have noticed the remarkable courage of military spouses,
especially when their partners are on missions overseas. During this period,
their days are filled with the anguish of knowing their spouses are facing
danger. Without complaint they strive forward beyond the debates, rumours and
comments linked to the deployment of their spouses overseas.
Honourable senators, I invite you to show your support for the spouses and
children of our soldiers every time you have the opportunity. There are many
ways to help families feel they are not alone. One of the best ways is to tell
them how much we appreciate their sacrifice and to let them know we recognize
that they do not have an easy life.
Honourable senators, we ask much our troops. In turn, they ask that, during
these difficult times, Canadians stand not only behind them, but beside their
Support our troops by supporting military families.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, a significant event is taking
place on the Prairies. It is so significant that it may do damage to the nation,
or to paraphrase Michael Ignatieff, both our nations. The usually confident —
some might say cocky, if that word is still politically correct — Albertans,
specifically the Calgary Stampeders, are blocking the appearance of the
Saskatchewan Roughrider mascot from appearing at McMahon Stadium this weekend.
Yes, Gainer the Gopher will not be allowed to be there for the semi-final
game. There is still an investigation going on as to whether he is banned from
Calgary, but he is definitely banned from McMahon Stadium.
Some might wonder why this crass discriminatory act is taking place. After
all, gophers are not rats, which Alberta has banned for decades, and
Judging from the reaction to the number one talk show in Saskatchewan,
John Gormley Live, many in our province are deeply concerned that the
Albertans may end up banning people from Saskatchewan next.
Where would we find work? This is not a laughing matter. There are those in
our province who do not care. Rider's defensive back, Scott Schultz, was quoted
as saying: "Gainer does not even wear pants. I would not let him in there,
either." That is easy for him to say. He has a job.
This is the hot topic of discussion. Some in the Saskatchewan legislature are
speculating that it was a Tory plot engineered by the Prime Minister, who has
been rumoured to be beholden to the Alberta football teams, to confuse Gainer
with the income trust announcements. Owing to the Prime Minister's edict, of
course, no Saskatchewan or Alberta ministers are able to comment on this matter.
Ralph Goodale has said that this is all due to greenhouse gases.
Frankly, it is to quiet the thousands of Saskatchewan Roughrider fans who
will be in McMahon Stadium this weekend, cheering for the Roughriders. All those
Saskatchewan expatriates living in Calgary are still cheering for the green and
white. Go, riders, go.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, on July 1, when Canadians
were celebrating Canada Day, a delegation of veterans, parliamentarians,
government officials and students gathered at a war memorial in France to mark
the ninetieth anniversary of tragic and remarkable events in our history. I am
speaking about the battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel during the First
World War, in which many soldiers of the then-Dominion of Newfoundland and
Labrador especially paid the great sacrifice. Of the 801 Newfoundlanders who
went into battle on that morning of July 1, 1916, only 68 were able to respond
to roll call the following day.
Soldiers from the Canadian corps did not join the fighting until late in the
summer, but when they did the carnage was tremendous, and before the main attack
had even begun they suffered more than 2,600 casualties.
This summer's ceremony of remembrance took place at the Beaumont-Hamel
Newfoundland Memorial. Dignitaries attending the ceremony included the Minister
of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Greg Thompson; Minister of Fisheries and
Oceans, the Honourable Loyola Hearn; Newfoundland and Labrador
Lietutenant-Governor, His Honour Edward Roberts; Newfoundland and Labrador
Premier, the Honourable Danny Williams; Senator Bill Rompkey; and the Canadian
Ambassador to France, Mr. Claude Laverdure.
A small group of veterans also were in attendance to remember and pay homage
to their fallen comrades, as well as a group of young Canadians from the
provinces and territories. The depth of emotion and mutual understanding between
the two groups was great.
Honourable senators, as Canadians we honour and respect our veterans, and as
parliamentarians we enact legislation to ensure they have an acceptable quality
of life. However, coming face-to-face with their deeds of epic courage,
dedication to duty and sacrifice, as we did this summer in France, was an
unforgettable experience for me personally. Many tears were shed as words fell
short of adequately expressing our feelings and our gratitude.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, over the last few weeks we
have had a vigorous exchange in the Senate of views, concerns and hopes on the
issue of literacy in Canada. Those discussions will no doubt continue with a
view to offering the best possible opportunities to those who need help in
learning all across the country.
On November 9, all of us will have an opportunity to meet and hear from those
who work with this difficult issue and learners who have benefited from that
help in each province and territory as they make their annual visit to
Parliament Hill for Literacy Action Day. This day is organized by the Movement
for Canadian Literacy and Le Federation canadienne pour l'alphabetisation en
français, with the assistance of our other national organizations — Frontier
College, Laubach Literacy, ABC Canada, the National Adult Literacy Database, and
the newest member, the National Indigenous Literacy Association. Without their
support, we would not have a literacy movement on the ground in the cities,
towns and villages in every province and territory in Canada.
For the past 13 years, members of Parliament and senators have opened their
doors to meet with people from their ridings and provinces who can tell them
directly how the movement is doing and what can be done to make it better. Each
of us has received an invitation to join in the Literacy Action Day luncheon at
noon in room 256-S, where Senator Cochrane and myself will welcome all of you
and representatives from each party in the House of Commons. We hope you will
participate in a day that is greatly appreciated by all those who work in the
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the
Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at
the forty-sixth annual meeting and Regional Policy Forum of the Council of
State Governments, Eastern Regional Conference, held in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, from July 30 to August 2, 2006.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the
Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at
the 2006 annual meeting of the Council of State Governments, West: Alliance with
an Altitude, held in Breckenridge, Colorado, from August 10 to 13, 2006.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the
Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at
the meeting of Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance—U.S./Canadian Border: A
Unified Focus, held in Washington, D.C., from September 10 to 12, 2006.
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the
next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the papers and evidence received and taken by the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in relation to:
Bill C-15B, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and
firearms) and the Firearms Act during the First Session of the
Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals and
firearms) and the Firearms Act, and Bill C-10B, Act to amend the Criminal
Code (cruelty to animals) during the Second Session of the Thirty-Seventh
Bill C-22, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals) during
the Third Session of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament; and
Bill S-24, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals) during
the First Session of the Thirty-Eighth Parliament;
be referred to the Committee for its study on Bill S-213, An Act to amend
the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals).
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the
next sitting of the Senate, I shall move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages have the power to
sit on Monday, November 6, 2006 at 4 p.m., even though the Senate may then be
sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my
question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday,
the Minister of Finance made an announcement that took me by surprise, and I
think all other Canadians, particularly because, in its election platform before
the January 23, 2006 election, the Conservative Party made a commitment, which
could not be clearer, not to do that.
I have several pages of confirmation, but I will quote only one:
A Conservative government will:
Stop the Liberal attack on retirement savings and preserve income trusts
by not imposing any new taxes on them.
So says the Conservative Party of Canada backgrounder entitled, "Security
for Seniors," dated September 9, 2005.
My surprise and disappointment is also reinforced by looking at today's
An Hon. Senator: How much did you lose?
Senator Hays: How much did you lose?
The index for income trusts, which was at well over $200 billion, has lost
almost $30 billion in value in the last few hours. Because it is an income type
instrument, the market is well able to calculate the decreased value of the
asset based on the new tax treatment that was announced by the minister
My question is this: What has changed between the time the Conservative Party
made this commitment to Canadians and the announcement made yesterday?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank Senator Hays
for his question.
First, the portion that the honourable senator read from our platform is
correct. We were specifically dealing with seniors in our policy platform. Of
course, in our platform there was no mention of maintaining a huge benefit on
the income trusts for large corporations.
The fact is — and I think it was borne out by watching the markets this
morning — the income trusts market is volatile, and we knew it would be.
However, other parts of the market are performing strongly.
Minister Flaherty did something that I am sure Minister Goodale in the
previous government wanted to do. However, the conflicting signals coming from
the Department of Finance caused a situation whereby what he wanted to do and
what was done were two different things.
After caucus this morning, I watched a gentleman representing the Canadian
Association of Retired Persons on CBC Newsworld. He was well pleased with
what the government has done in terms of seniors.
First, anyone in an income trust plan at the moment will have four years in
which to handle their portfolios. Second, with regard to income splitting —
something for which seniors have been calling for some time — seniors were
pleased. As well, they were also pleased with the $1,000 increase in the age
credit amount for seniors.
All in all, once people have had a chance to digest this decision, they will
realize that this program could not have continued because the program unfairly
shifted the tax burden onto the backs of ordinary individual Canadians and their
families. We are not in government to create tax havens for large corporations.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Hays: I am sorry, but Canadians would not have put their
confidence in a particular instrument that was marketed had they not believed
that the government of the day meant in its platform in the last election that
it would not change the tax treatment of income trusts. This decision is nothing
more than a broken promise.
On the treatment of resource revenues, Premier Williams and Premier Calvert
have made their complaints known. That was transformed from a promise into a
preference. This decision is a flat-out reversal on a position taken, which I am
sure helped the leader's party a great deal in the last election.
One of the quotes I will read — and I did not see the senior that the
honourable senator saw — is from The Globe and Mail today in an article
by Brian Laghi.
'I would suggest there is going to be a political backlash when the Tory
candidate comes and knocks on the door,' said Sandy McIntyre, senior
vice-president of Sentry Select Capital.
They have just elected a Liberal government. I think it matters that
What has happened to bring about this reversal, which comes at a great cost
to seniors — the ones the honourable senator wants to help? I appreciate that
the government is offering some benefits but they do not hold a candle to the
$30 billion that disappeared in the last few hours.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, since we are into the business
of quoting people, how about I quote from an article by Eric Reguly in the same
edition of The Globe and Mail:
Jim Flaherty is exceedingly brave...the man did the right thing.
Or how about Don Drummond, well known to us all, chief economist at the TD
Bank, who said on Canada AM:
You can debate the merits of the action, but I think that to come out with
a clear statement was absolutely terrifically positive.
Or how about Steven Chase from The Globe and Mail, since the Leader of
the Opposition is talking about today's issue of The Globe and Mail:
The Tories are tackling what the Liberals left unfinished last year.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator LeBreton: Most Canadian seniors whom I know — and I happen to
be one of them — are happy that the government has finally addressed the issue
of income splitting. It will help seniors immensely. As most of the economists
and observers have stated this morning, this situation was shifting the tax
burden, if it were allowed to continue, onto the backs of individual, ordinary,
everyday Canadians, seniors included. Seniors who have money in these income
trusts, as this gentleman pointed out this morning, need not be alarmed. They
have four years to deal with their investments.
This gentleman from the Canadian Association of Retired Persons pointed out
that for the seniors he represents, the major announcement, as far as these
seniors were concerned yesterday, was the income splitting announcement.
Senator Hays: The major announcement was changing the tax treatment of
income trusts and I like my quote better than the honourable leader's.
The question remains: If the government was planning to do something in this
area, many alternatives were offered that are less draconian. The government has
chosen the most draconian approach with the most awful result for seniors and
people who have their savings in these income trusts. These seniors feel
betrayed, having been promised that this change would not happen.
Therefore, for the last time, I ask what has happened to make this the policy
of the Department of Finance in the face of what was promised and in the face of
the other suggestions that would have seen a change in the tax treatment of
income trusts? Any change would also have been a broken promise but other
alternatives would not have produced this disastrous result.
Senator LeBreton: I do not accept that this result is disastrous at
all. The problem, when you cut right down to it, is that the Liberal Party
cannot understand how we could announce a major tax measure like this without
leaking it all over the place. I think that issue is probably what is bothering
the honourable senator more than anything else.
With respect to the matter of seniors, once the market adjusts and we get
through today, and there is no question we knew this day would be volatile for
the markets, the tax fairness plan for seniors will provide over $1 billion
annually to Canadians in new tax relief to Canadian pensioners and seniors
through two major initiatives.
First, we will permit income splitting for pensioners beginning in 2007, and
second, we are increasing the age credit amount by $1,000, from $4,066 to
$5,066, retroactive to January 1, 2006. These two good measures will
significantly enhance the incentives to save and invest for family retirement
Hon. Francis Fox: Honourable senators, yesterday the Speaker of the
Senate handed down a precedent-based ruling precluding questions being put to
the Minister of Public Works on the responsibilities assigned to him by the
Prime Minister as minister responsible for Montreal. In view of the fact that
one of the main reasons for the appointment of the senator from Montreal to the
cabinet was the absence of government representation from Montreal, and given
that the Senate is master of its own proceedings, would the Leader of the
Government in the Senate support changes or an exception to the rules to allow
the minister responsible for Montreal to respond to questions on his Montreal
responsibilities, thereby making him accountable?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): As much as I
appreciate the assistance of my colleague Senator Fortier — a talented
individual whose primary responsibility upon being named to the cabinet was the
Department of Public Works, where he is doing an outstanding job — far be it
from me, in my relatively new role as Leader of the Government in the Senate, to
ever challenge the ruling of a Speaker.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: In 1979, I was in the other place, as we often
say, and I remember when Jacques Flynn was in the Senate. He would answer
questions. I have to go back to 1979 because when Mr. Flaherty talks, I sort of
remember "short-term pain for long-term gain." Is he trying to make Mr.
Crosbie look good?
If you Google "Michael Fortier, minister," nine times out of ten "minister
for Montreal" will show up. I am asking, as did my friend Senator Fox, whether
we can change the rules. If Senator Fortier is the minister responsible for
Montreal, we would like to ask him a few questions. I have a few questions on
Senator Mercer: We want transparency.
Senator Angus: We want change.
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for his question. I
certainly remember 1979. Jacques Flynn was the government leader in the Senate
during the Clark government.
In the Senate, we have rules and we have a Rules Committee. I am quite
certain that the Rules Committee would be happy to hear the honourable senator's
submissions. Perhaps he could refer the question to that committee.
In my position as Leader of the Government in the Senate, the rules are the
rules, as my father used to say to me, and I am not in a position to change
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: I note that the Leader of the Government in
the Senate continually refers to economists when she is looking at the changes
to income trusts. I would remind honourable senators that the definition of an
economist, including the Prime Minister, is an accountant with a bad
We keep hearing about how these changes will help seniors, or that it was all
about the seniors in the last session. I would like to bring to your attention a
quotation from Mr. Solberg:
Mr. Speaker, if the finance minister is really so concerned, then why does
he not do something about it? Why does he not stand in his place right now and
say without equivocation that income trusts are here to stay and he will not
implement taxes on them?
There is no mention of seniors; simply that income trusts are here to stay.
That was from Mr. Solberg. I wonder what his position is on this matter now?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for his question. I suppose that is why Minister Solberg is
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and Minister Flaherty is Minister of
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of
the Government in the Senate. On Monday, Minister Strahl released his task force
report on the Canadian Wheat Board, which recommended that a plebiscite be held
among members on proposed changes to the board's operations. Yesterday, Minister
Strahl announced that a vote would be held among the barley growers. For that, I
congratulate him. However, barley growers represent only a small proportion of
the members of the Canadian Wheat Board. Why not hold a plebiscite among the
wheat growers, too? Is Minister Strahl afraid of the results?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for her question. No, Minister Strahl is not afraid of the
results. We campaigned on marketing choice. The barley producers are a specific
group and they are ready to go. Minister Strahl supports the plebiscite amongst
the barley growers.
As the honourable senator knows, the task force reported to Minister Strahl a
few days ago. He is studying their recommendations and making every effort to
accommodate all points of view on the matter. At the end of the day, the
question is marketing choice.
On the matter of the Wheat Board, I should draw the following to the
attention of honourable senators, because members in the other place have also
been asking questions about this matter. The House of Commons Standing Committee
on Agriculture and Agri-Food report, The Future Role of Government in
That the board of directors of the Canadian Wheat Board authorize, on a
trial basis, a free market for the sale of wheat and barley.
That is recommendation number 14 of this report, which was released in June
of 2002. The committee was chaired by Liberal MP Charles Hubbard and included
current Liberal MPs Paul Steckle and Mark Eyking. Mr. Steckle is currently the
associate agriculture critic.
On this particular issue, there is support for marketing choice not only on
this side but also this view is shared by some of the honourable senator's
colleagues in the other place.
Senator Milne: I thank the honourable senator for her answer. In fact,
honourable senators, the results of any election already have been skewed. The
removal of 16,000 grain growers from the voters list for the Canadian Wheat
Board was based on improper procedure and on slanted and deeply flawed
information. The removal happened after these grain growers had already been
informed, back on September 5, that the election was on and that they would be
receiving their ballots shortly. The removal was based on their production of
grain over two years, 2005 and 2006. For the information of honourable senators,
this year's production is still unknown; it is basically zero at this point.
Much of this year's grain crop is still on the farm; it has not yet been sold.
Last year, 2005, was a disastrous year for grain growers. Because of the
weather, most Western grain growers had to sell their crop as feed grain, which
is of such poor quality that it is not handled by the Canadian Wheat Board at
all. In order to become reinstated on the voters list, each one of these 16,000
farmers must first apply to the Wheat Board election returning officer for an
affidavit form. Second, they must find and pay either a notary public or a
lawyer to witness their signature on the affidavit. I remind senators that these
are rural people who live perhaps 100 miles from the closest lawyer or notary
public. Third, they must send their signed affidavit back to the returning
Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate also aware of how unfairly this
government is treating these 16,000 Western farmers? On their behalf, will the
Leader of the Government in the Senate ask her fellow cabinet members to take
another look at this issue? Will she ask Minister Strahl to call a plebiscite
among the wheat farmers?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for her question. She
is quite right: There are people who are not on the potential voters list for
directors elections who, apparently, have not been producing for two years.
Their names can be reinstated on the list after they make a statutory
declaration that they are currently involved in the grain business.
The Wheat Board is working with an elections coordinator to compile a voters
list on the basis of those who have sold and delivered grain to the Wheat Board
in the last two crop years. These elections are being conducted by an
independent chartered accountancy firm selected by the Wheat Board.
I simply wish to express my confidence that this is a fair process. It is
being conducted, as I mentioned, by independent chartered accountants. I believe
that anyone who makes the statement and can prove that they are still operating
in the industry will have the right to vote.
Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson: Honourable senators, for clarification I
wish to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate this question: How is it
that the Ontario farmer can sell his wheat to the United States? In fact, 80 per
cent of the grain grown in Ontario is presently sold to the United States. A
Western farmer cannot do that. Why is it that our farmers should be prohibited
from doing that?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): That is one of the
reasons why I was interested in the questions posed by Senator Milne, an Ontario
senator. The thought crossed my mind that there is no Wheat Board in Ontario,
although Ontario does grow a considerable amount of wheat.
Senator Gustafson is quite right: Farmers in Ontario are free to sell their
product on the common market. That is exactly what some producers in Western
Canada want to do. That is exactly why we campaigned quite openly and fairly
prior to the last election on the whole issue of marketing choice.
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, I would like to know
exactly where the leader is coming from. On the one hand, we are beating back
big business with income trusts. On the other hand, we are promoting big
business by getting rid of the Wheat Board.
I would ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to request of her
colleagues that they allow independent observers from another country to watch
the Wheat Board elections, in order to ensure impartiality. Furthermore, I would
ask that they consult with the Chief Electoral Officer to assist in choosing the
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I was raised on a
farm, honourable senators. Although we thought we were pretty big, we were not
I simply go back to what I said: Prior to the last election, the government
campaigned on marketing choice. That is exactly the option that we want to
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of
the Government in the Senate. First, I wish to say that the answer given about
Minister Solberg is the best answer I have heard for a long time from anybody,
My question, however, is on a different subject. I am holding in my hand an
act of Parliament called the Law Commission of Canada Act. This is an act of
Parliament that was assented to on May 29, 1996, and came into force on April
21, 1997. This is not a resolution, or a motion, or a suggestion: It is an act
of Parliament. In the same sense, Moses did not come down from the mountain with
10 suggestions; he came down with Ten Commandments. In a way, this is a
commandment. As I understand it, although I may be disabused of this impression,
the government executive is a function of Parliament. Parliament is not a
function of government. In the case of this act, the government has defied, if I
may say, the express will of Parliament. This act of Parliament set into place
the Law Commission of Canada, which was up and running and providing a
well-known and valuable service to government.
Rather than come to Parliament when the government disagrees with the
existence of this act and its resulting organization to ask Parliament to
reconsider the matter and to rescind the act, which is Parliament's prerogative,
it decided to end, not merely reduce, the budget of the Law Commission of
Canada. The government seeks to do indirectly something that it may not do
directly, and has not even asked to do it directly.
How is it possible that this government has decided to do what it wishes to
do, notwithstanding what it may have been obliged to do by an act of Parliament?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
Honourable Senator Banks for his question. Like many policy areas of government,
no matter what the political stripe, there comes a time when such agencies or
commissions are no longer relevant or required. The decision of the government
in its cost-savings initiative was to not continue funding to the Law
Commission of Canada.
In respect of the legality of Parliament rescinding, not pursuing, not
following through on or applying a sunset clause to certain acts, I shall obtain
the information for the honourable senator in a delayed answer as soon as
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: My question is to the Leader of the
Government in the Senate. Will her government commit to restoring the funding
for legal aid? When the Minister of Justice met with his provincial
counterparts, it is my understanding that no commitment was made to restore the
funding. Will the government restore some legal aid funding on a permanent
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
Honourable Senator Jaffer for her question. Our government and the previous
government are well aware that the provinces and territories are experiencing
considerable pressure in the area of legal aid, for which the federal funding
was scheduled to end on March 31, 2006. However, this government decided to
extend the existing funding levels for one year. The extension will allow the
Government of Canada to work closely with the provincial and territorial
officials to develop a long-term approach to legal aid. Many are aware that the
problem is not only the money but also the entire structure of the legal aid
system, which needs to be looked at by the provinces and territories.
The funding has been extended to March 2007 so that the government can work
with the provinces and the territories to develop a long-term approach to a
legal aid system.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting a response to a question raised in the
Senate by Senator Rompkey on October 17, 2006, regarding the Fallow Field
(Response to question raised by Hon. Bill Rompkey on October 17, 2006)
The Government of Canada is committed to promoting competitive market
principles and working to provide investors with long-term stability and
transparency, especially with respect to predictable fiscal and regulatory
We are interested in growing the Atlantic Canada offshore oil and gas
industry for the benefit of Canada and the Atlantic region in particular. The
Atlantic Canada offshore oil and gas sector makes an important contribution to
social and economic well-being of the region.
The Government of Canada has been working closely with our provincial
government partners and other stakeholders in a forum called the Atlantic
Energy Roundtable in making the Atlantic Canada offshore a more attractive
The roundtable has proven to be an effective forum for governments,
offshore operators, supply and service companies, labour and regulators to
discuss issues and opportunities of common interest.
Together, we have brought about significant achievements in the three areas
of focus: developing effective and efficient regulatory systems, reducing
exploration and development costs, and increasing opportunities for local
supply and service companies.
The Government of Canada continues to discuss opportunities and challenges
in the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador offshore area with the provincial
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, pursuant to rule 27(1), I give notice that, when we proceed to
Government Business, the Senate will address the items beginning with Item No.
1, under Reports of Committees, followed by the other items in the order in
which they stand on the Order Paper.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Stratton, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Comeau, for the adoption of the fourth report of the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill C-2,
providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing
and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and
accountability, with amendments and observations), presented in the Senate on
October 26, 2006.
That the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs be not now adopted but that it be amended at amendment
No. 146(a) by adding, in the French version, after the word
"Commission," the following:
"ou le renouvellement de son mandat."
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators will recall that amendments
by way of a house order can be made, and we will deal with them subsequently.
Senator Cools, on a point of order.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: This is not particularly relevant personally to
Senator Milne, but yesterday I noted that the leaders rose in their places and
spoke of the agreement to allow amendments to be stacked. That is my
recollection. I know that the Senate has done this sort of thing before,
particularly at third reading.
My question in respect of my point of order is that this is not the bill per
se; this is a report that is before us. Could the leaders or someone explain to
me this novel process whereby a Senate committee report will be amended here on
the floor? I know it has happened once or twice, but it certainly cannot be
described as a practice.
It seems to me, in olden times, if it were the will of the house and of the
senators that the committee report was in need of amendment, that report had to
go back to the committee to be amended therein.
I am not speaking against Senator Milne's amendment at all. I am just
inquiring about the process. Perhaps we could have some sort of clarification on
this phenomenon of, willy-nilly, amending a report of a committee here on the
floor of the house.
A committee report is the creature of the committee and does involve the
committee to a large extent. Maybe there is an explanation. Maybe I am just a
dinosaur or maybe this is something from even more distant olden times. Most
parliamentary practices are slipping into dissuasion, as they say.
The Hon. the Speaker: I thank the honourable senator for raising that
point. Perhaps the chair will be able to bring clarification.
On page 678 of the Journals of the Senate, you will read the order of
the house. It says:
... with respect to the debate on the motion for the adoption of the fourth
report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs,
motions in amendment and subamendment be allowed for debate simultaneously
without setting aside debate on the motion for the adoption of the report,
and, at the conclusion of the debate, all questions be put to dispose of any
and all subamendments, amendments and the main motion.
Senator Cools: That is not the point.
The Hon. the Speaker: As amendments are made to the report at the end
of that debate, there will be a determination by the house as to what that
report will look like. If amendments are made to parts of the report that
effectively change the shape of the report as far as the bill is concerned, when
it gets to third reading we will still have an opportunity to move amendments.
We are at report stage. It is the house order that we proceed this way. It
has also now been confirmed by the chair.
Senator Milne: Honourable senators, perhaps in explanation I should
say that this amendment is a technical amendment that corrects a mistake in the
French translation of the report; it was caught by our Senate legal counsel.
I sincerely hope this discussion is not taking from my time, honourable
senators, as I am now pleased to explain some of the amendments that were made
in committee to this far-reaching legislation, Bill C-2.
Before I begin my comments in earnest, I want to thank the chair of the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, the Honourable
Senator Oliver, for both his contributions during our investigation into this
bill and for his exhibition of grace under pressure. His fair and balanced
approach during our meetings was much appreciated and I look forward to working
with him and the other members of the committee during future examinations of
this government's law and order agenda.
I particularly want to extend both my thanks and my gratitude to the staff of
the committee and the Library of Parliament for their extraordinary efforts on
Honourable senators, this act presented a significant challenge for your
committee. Bill C-2 contains 317 legislative clauses spelled out over 214 pages
and was the subject of over 100 hours of committee testimony from almost 150
witnesses. During our 30 meetings on this bill, it became increasingly apparent
that this legislative project was in dire need of a thorough review, regardless
of what was said in the media and by some members in the other place.
The legislation that was brought before your committee amends 45 acts of
Parliament. I want to comment on one of the many topics covered in Bill C-2 in
which I took a particular interest, the proposed changes to the Access to
A number of provisions found in Bill C-2 will expand the coverage of the
Access to Information Act to include foundations created under federal statute,
Crown corporations and a number of officers of Parliament. I believe this
expansion is a good thing. However, after reviewing these provisions, members of
your committee believe that there were cases where the balance between
Canadians' right to know and what information needs to be withheld for the
greater good was not properly struck in Bill C-2. In some cases, the bill does
not go far enough.
However, in other cases, honourable senators, this bill, as it was presented
to your committee, goes too far and does not protect confidential and
commercially sensitive information that has been gathered, in the past, by
foundations, Crown corporations and officers of Parliament.
A case that symbolized this argument was the one brought to the attention of
your committee by Sustainable Development Technology Canada, SDTC. This entity
was created to help bring to the market new technologies that create solutions
for clean air, greenhouse gas reductions, clean water and clean soil. Ninety per
cent of SDTC's funding recipients are small- and medium-sized enterprises whose
future is entirely dependent on SDTC's ability to keep their intellectual
property secret until it can be patented.
We found that their organization is similar in nature to Export Development
Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada in that their ability to
function is based on handling third-party confidential information. In
addition, it was noted that since SDTC's inception, they have had a mechanism
established for handling confidentiality, which was stipulated in their original
Until the introduction of Bill C-2, they had always been able to provide a
guarantee that they would not release their clients' confidential information.
Therefore, your committee unanimously agreed to provide increased protection to
this foundation to ensure the confidentiality of their applicants' information.
However, there was one amendment proposed by SDTC that all committee members
could also agree upon, and that amendment concerned the removal of the
retrospective and retroactive nature of the Access to Information Act changes in
Bill C-2. Before being amended by your committee, Bill C-2 provided access-to-information requesters with access to all the records in their possession held
by officers of Parliament and the foundations, once the bill came into force,
regardless of how long ago they were obtained or produced, or under what
guarantee or expectation of confidentiality.
Therefore, past applicants for financial assistance with one of the listed
foundations, for example, would now run the risk of having their information
disclosed, even though, at the time their application was submitted, the
foundation in question was not subject to the Access to Information Act. Both
the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation and SDTC commented that they will
have great difficulties dealing with this unintended consequence. After hearing
these concerns, members of your committee felt that Bill C-2, as proposed, did
not go far enough in protecting the rights of applicants who, in the past, have
entered into agreement with various foundations and Crown corporations under the
condition that their commercially sensitive information remain confidential.
In a similar vein, your committee found that in the first reading version of
Bill C-2, there was a provision allowing the head of the National Arts Centre to
refuse to disclose documents that would reveal the contract terms of a performer
or the identity of a donor who made a donation in confidence. At the committee
stage in the other place, this provision was removed.
When the National Arts Centre appeared before your committee, they testified
that it is necessary to provide protection against the disclosure of the amount
the National Arts Centre pays a director, designer or performer.
Artistic contracts vary based on the size of the venue, the discipline, the
size of the role, and the reputation of the artist. As all artists are not paid
the same fees, there is a need to keep individual contracts confidential. Many
leading artists would not want to perform at the National Arts Centre if this
information were to be made public. In addition, if the fees the NAC pays for
artists became public, it would seriously undermine the ability of the NAC to
secure certain artists and to negotiate fair terms. As well, many donors who
provide financial assistance to the National Arts Centre do so under the
condition of anonymity. Therefore, it was decided that the clause providing this
protection should be reinserted into Bill C-2.
You will recall earlier in my remarks, honourable senators, I noted that this
bill, as it was presented to your committee, did not adequately protect
information that was gathered by foundations, Crown corporations and officers of
Parliament. Unfortunately, members of your committee also found that there were
also occasions where this bill goes too far in keeping secret some information
that Canadians have a right to know, under the correct circumstances.
When I first reviewed the bill, I was alarmed to learn that 10 new exemptions
were added that would effectively limit the information that Canadians could
obtain regarding the operation of Crown corporations, boards, agencies and
officers of Parliament.
The exemptions outlined in Bill C-2 would remove the present ability of a
requester to seek a judicial order to access information requested from any of
the following officers of Parliament regarding an investigation or audit: The
Auditor General, the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Information
Commissioner, the Privacy Commissioner, the Commissioner of Lobbying, the Chief
Electoral Officer and the Public Service Integrity Officer.
In fact, the only limitation provided in Bill C-2 to this ban is that
information being withheld by the Information Commissioner or the Privacy
Commissioner during an investigation would be subject to the normal process,
commonly referred to as an injury test, once their investigations were
concluded. This means that all of the information that would be gathered by all
of the other officers of Parliament during the course of an investigation or
audit could be kept secret forever, with no possibility for Canadians ever to
obtain this information. Even cabinet documents are not kept secret forever, so
why should officers of Parliament need to be so secretive?
To my mind, the ability to keep documents secret forever is contrary to the
spirit of the Access to Information Act. The former Information Commissioner,
during a recent appearance before the Standing Committee on Access to
Information, Privacy and Ethics in the other place, noted:
The core purpose of the Access to Information Act is to make governments
accountable and to ensure the health of our democracy by enabling citizens to
know the real story of what governments are up to and to deter and expose
corruption and mismanagement.
Does keeping documents secret forever sound like something that would make
governments more accountable and ensure the health of our democracy? I suggest
It was with this sentiment in mind that a number of these exemptions were
amended so that these officers would retain their ability to withhold
information during their investigations, but then that information would be
subject to an injury test once their audits and examinations were concluded.
This injury test would be based on a determination by the officer of Parliament
in question that it is reasonable to expect that some injury, harm or prejudice
will occur to the government, to an individual, or to a third party commercial
entity, if the information is requested or released.
The Information Commissioner noted in his submission to your committee that
officers of Parliament do not need a blanket of secrecy over their work when
there are already injury test-based exemptions in the Access to Information Act.
The Canadian Bar Association, in their written submission, noted that:
While the underlying concerns about providing access are understandable,
the choice of language pertaining to an "investigation, examination or
audit" in a number of instances does not seem justifiable, especially in
light of the lack of time limits on the exemption. One can understand the need
to protect sources in an investigation to encourage full disclosure of
information, but it will be in the public interest to obtain information as to
how an audit or investigation was conducted, aspects unrelated to the impetus
behind such exemptions.
The committee also heard evidence supporting this change from the Public
Service Integrity Commissioner, the Canadian Newspaper Association and the
Registrar of Official Lobbyists. To my mind, honourable senators, the changes
that were proposed during clause-by-clause consideration of this bill will help
stem the tide of secrecy that was about to sweep away the right of Canadians to
know how their officers of Parliament operate.
A second example where this government fails to prove its case is its attempt
to include the Canadian Wheat Board as a government institution subject to the
Access to Information Act. The Canadian Wheat Board was not mentioned in the
first reading version of Bill C-2 in the other place. The federal accountability
act was amended at the committee stage in the other place to make the Canadian
Wheat Board subject to the Access to Information Act. In response, the Canadian
Wheat Board argued before your committee that it is not a Crown corporation,
since their board structure was changed in 1998 so that it would be governed by
an independent board where 10 of the 15 directors are elected by farmers, and no
government money is involved in their operations.
The act that created the new Canadian Wheat Board specifically states that it
is neither an agent of the Crown nor a Crown corporation. The Canadian Wheat
Board is accountable to the farmers of Western Canada who sell their grain
through the Canadian Wheat Board. Those farmers, not the taxpayers of Canada,
pay the corporation's operating costs. They claim to not possess government
information, nor is their information under the control of the Government of
Canada. Armed with this information, it was felt by your committee that the
Canadian Wheat Board should not be subject to the Access to Information Act at
this time. I do not wish to speculate here on why the Canadian Wheat Board was
included in Bill C-2. However, it does raise an interesting question for future
At the heart of this balance between the right of Canadians to know and the
protection of confidential information collected by government institutions sits
the final amendment that I wish to bring to your attention today: The inclusion
of a public interest override to the Access to Information Act.
A number of witnesses, including the Canadian Bar Association, the British
Columbia Freedom of Information and Privacy Association and the Canadian
Newspaper Association, proposed adding a general public interest override for
all exemptions. This would authorize the head of the government institution in
question to disclose information that is, for any other reason, clearly in the
public interest to do so.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Milne's allotted
time has expired.
Senator Milne: Honourable senators, I ask for leave to continue my
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): We will agree
to a five-minute extension.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Milne: Thank you, honourable senators.
These people proposed adding a general public interest override for all
exemptions. This would authorize the head of the government institution to
disclose information that is, for any other reason, clearly in the public
interest to do so.
On this subject, the Canadian Bar Association concluded:
In short, the proposed legislation lacks sufficient definition in the areas
of scope and time limits that paradoxically will restrict accountability and
transparency in government. The addition of a broad "public interest"
override to the Access to Information Act would also assist in ensuring
that the legislation does not operate contrary to these goals.
The inclusion of a public interest override builds on the public interest
provision already contained within section 20 of the Access to Information Act
regarding third party information, and it mimics similar provisions found in the
access to information legislation in many provinces.
As you can see, honourable senators, your committee has been clearly focussed
during its study of the access to information provisions of Bill C-2 on how to
maintain the proper balance between the right of Canadians to know and the
protection of private individuals and commercially-sensitive information.
Unfortunately, perhaps due to the wide scope of this legislation, it became
apparent during your committee's deliberations that neither the Access to
Information Commissioner nor the Privacy Commissioner could have been consulted
during the drafting phase of this bill. They both confirmed this fact when they
appeared before us.
In conclusion, honourable senators, these amendments are sincerely intended
to address this oversight, to improve this bill, to make it actually do what the
government has stated time and again is its intent: To open government
departments and entities up to public scrutiny.
Finally, they are a sincere attempt to treat both the new entities being
brought under the Access to Information Act and their past customers fairly.
Entities such as the SDTC and the NAC must be allowed to fulfil their mandate.
Past customers have entrusted privileged information to these government bodies
under different rules, and that commercially valuable information should be
properly protected. It would be a disservice to the people of Canada and to the
corporations that have chosen to conduct business here to treat them in any
I had also wished to comment on the establishment of a public appointments
commission. This is a section of the bill that received very little attention,
but I feel it is important enough to warrant specific mention. Therefore, I
intend to address the provisions creating this commission during the third
reading of this bill.
With all of this in mind, honourable senators, I urge you to support these
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, Senator Milne used
the words "the members agreed" and "the members said." With respect, the
bill was reported on division. There was unanimous agreement on some amendments,
and on some we strongly disagreed.
With regard, in particular, to access to information by the Auditor General,
the senator used the term "the members stated and agreed." Would it be fair to
interpret that as referring to Liberal senators?
Senator Milne: The honourable senator is quite right. Many of the
amendments were passed unanimously. I believe that about six of the proposed
amendments were defeated, and the rest were passed by the majority of the
committee. One may read into that "the majority of members of the committee."
Senator Andreychuk: There were many sequential amendments. One
amendment, which was passed unanimously, led to over 20 very substantive
amendments. I did not use the term "technical," because Senator Day did not
wish me to use that term. Nonetheless, they were sequential amendments to which
we agreed, but they were very substantive. The amendments that Senator Milne
quite rightly pointed out today were substantive, and on those we disagreed.
Therefore, the term "the members" is somewhat misleading. It includes members
of the committee from the governing party, and we would not want to be included
in that description.
Senator Milne: Senator Andreychuk is quite right. Many of these
amendments are sequential in nature. However, there were substantive amendments
proposed by the other side to which we agreed. I still say "the majority of
members of the committee."
Senator Cools: On a point of order, honourable senators, it is my
understanding of the process that once votes are cast and counted, the end
result is a decision of the committee, not of the minority members or of the
majority members. At the end, it is the decision of the committee.
Any time a vote is taken on any question in this house, the decision is a
decision of the whole house. One cannot say that any decision is passed by a
majority. A decision is passed by the committee, or adopted by the committee. It
becomes the committee's decision, even if one dislikes it.
Perhaps we should clarify the confusion.
The Hon. the Speaker: We will take that as a clarification.
Hon. Rod A. A. Zimmer: Honourable senators, I rise today in support of
the amendments proposed by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs to the portion of Bill C-2 on the federal accountability
act, which deals with political financing.
I was humbled and honoured to be part of the deliberations on this
legislation, which will be the boilerplate for political financing for years to
come. It is critical that we get this right. I therefore make my remarks today
with candour and respect.
Bill C-24, which came into effect in 2003, was the most significant reform of
political financing since the Election Expenses Act of 1974, and consequently
contained a clause that called for a House of Commons committee to conduct a
review "to consider the effects of the provisions of this Act, concerning
political financing." According to section 63(1) of Bill C-24, that review
would take place after the Chief Electoral Officer submitted his report to the
House of Commons following the first general election held under the new
Honourable senators, that report was tabled by Mr. Kingsley in September of
2005, and to date no review has been conducted. To now proceed with further
changes without having the benefit of that review does not appear to be the most
logical way of dealing with such critical elements of our democratic electoral
Although we agree that the imposition of certain donation limits may
discourage the improper influence of parties, after hearing from a diverse group
of stakeholders we have concluded that the maximum amounts proposed for
donations by individuals could have unintended negative consequences,
particularly for small political parties. Furthermore, we have serious
misgivings about the prohibition on political donations by corporations and
trade unions for the same reason, and because its constitutionality is
In his testimony before the committee, Arthur Kroeger, Chair of the Canadian
Policy Research Network, an expert in the field of public governance, rightly
questioned whether we have hit the right balance between control and being
sensible. We have no evidence that abuses are occurring at the current donation
limits. Therefore, what justification do we have for curbing freedom of
political expression as drastically as is proposed by this bill?
The government did no comparative studies on how the provinces treat
political donations. Such a comparison would have revealed that federal
contribution limits proposed by Bill C-2 represent a significant downward
departure from those imposed by most of the provinces where the vast majority of
constituencies are smaller than federal constituencies. Several provinces have
absolutely no contribution limits. Those provinces that do have contribution
restrictions normally have limits much higher than what is proposed in Bill C-2.
The limits in Alberta, for instance, for individuals wishing to contribute to
the electoral process within their province during a provincial election would
be up to 30 times higher than limits for Canadians wishing to support, during a
federal election, the political party that they thought could best represent
their interest. It is difficult to justify a measure producing such disparity,
particularly when a scheduled federal review of the political financing system
is cancelled in order to bring about this result.
Honourable senators, witnesses before the committee and representatives of
smaller political parties were concerned that the reduced political contribution
limits would severely impair their ability to raise needed campaign funds. Some
of the smaller political parties in particular noted that they are dependent
upon relatively large contributions from a small number of contributors. Instead
of the current $5,000 limit under Bill C-2, Canadians will be permitted to
contribute a maximum of only $1,000 to leadership hopefuls as well as to
candidates of unregistered parties.
Honourable senators, Will Arlow of the Canadian Action Party described the
new limits as punishing and hostile to the small parties. Marvin Glass of the
Communist Party of Canada added that the main point is that this makes small
parties a self-fulfilling prophecy. He said that the proposals are almost
guaranteed to keep them small.
We also heard concerns that the proposed limits will be inadequate if the
frequency of general elections increases. Professor Errol Mendes of the
University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law noted that while several witnesses
testified that the average contributions by individuals are under $1,000 in this
country, these limits do not seem to take into account the possibility that
Canada may move towards more frequent elections due to unstable minority
governments. A $1,000 limit today may be totally inadequate in a few years'
With respect to donations by corporations and trade unions, only two
provinces — Manitoba and Quebec — prohibit them. We have heard from Mr. Pierre
Côté, Quebec's Chief Electoral Officer for 20 years, that he and others in
Quebec are beginning to question whether the total prohibition on corporate
contributions was a good idea. He noted that "financing by the public, or going
door to door, is no longer enough to cover the increasingly high costs of
election campaigns, especially, the ever-increasing cost of television
Furthermore, the Supreme Court of Canada has stated in several cases that
political contributions are a form of protected expression and can only be
subject to reasonable limits, demonstrably justified, in a free and democratic
society. The question requiring further analysis is: Can the government show
that only a full prohibition will enable it to achieve its objective?
Honourable senators, we have concerns that, if challenged, the prohibition on
political contributions by corporations and trade unions may not pass the
constitutionality test. We therefore submitted a strong observation on this
Political donations play an important role in our democratic electoral
system, and it is important that we ensure a balanced approach, where adherents
of all political parties can participate equally. The motivation behind measures
to enhance the accountability of government and improve the electoral process
should not be motivated by partisan, political considerations, as was suggested
by a number of our witnesses.
Professor Leslie Pal of Carleton University testified:
For me, as a matter of democratic practice, one of the most fundamental
aspects of democracy is for people to be able to support political parties and
other representatives of their political interests.... The political party in
power has a better capacity to raise individual donations as compared with its
competitors... the introduction of these limits plays well politically. It
also plays well strategically to the capacities of the current government.
The committee believes that reductions proposed in this legislation need to
be improved, particularly after hearing the virtually unanimous testimony from
representatives of smaller parties about the serious harm these limits would do
to their ability to participate in the political process. Consequently, the
contribution limits to leadership contestants and to candidates of unregistered
parties should be decreased to $2,000, instead of to $1,000 as is proposed in
Bill C-2. Likewise, the contributions for registered political parties, local
constituencies and their candidates should be $2,000.
Honourable senators, we have also recommended that the government reconsider
its proposed ban on the already modest amounts unions and corporations may
donate at the local constituency level, particularly in view of evidence
presented by the smaller parties who, it appears, may be unevenly affected. In
light of what we have heard, the committee believes that this total ban on union
and corporation contributions needs to be re-examined carefully, in a larger
review of political financing that the government should initiate, as was
provided for in Bill C-24.
Honourable senators, we did not recommend any changes to the provision that
states that the Chief Electoral Officer will appoint returning officers in each
of the electoral districts. We feel that this provision in the government's
legislation is good.
It is vital to examine this piece of legislation closely and not make
dramatic decisions on donation limits so that we do not strangle the democratic
process as it affects smaller parties.
We agree that, while it is important to engage the grassroots of all
political entities, it is equally important to allow others to partake in the
process at a modest level, because political financing is the life-blood of the
democratic process in this country.
Honourable senators, the current government is a good example, as its party
was able to evolve into its current position from modest beginnings through an
amalgamation of two democratic processes. It is important for all of us to have
individual communion and to recognize that the strength of our system in this
great adventure we call Canada makes the democratic process work.
Historically, parties that eventually become the government of all the people
have had humble beginnings and, through an open and transparent way, the
democratic process gained power. Honourable senators, it is the Canadian way.
In conclusion, I want to join Senator Day and Senator Stratton in thanking
the chair, Senator Oliver, and all other members of the committee from both
sides of the chamber for their dedication and commitment to this enormous task.
As a rookie senator, I witnessed senators on both sides put aside other
responsibilities and engagements, and sacrifice their personal time for the
overall good of this important piece of legislation.
Once again, I extend my sincere appreciation to the many others who worked on
this legislation, including legal draftspeople, parliamentary counsel, the
committee clerk and his team, and all staff members who researched, advised and
supported the committee through this historic journey. They were unflinching in
their support, particularly through the clause-by-clause adventure, a necessary
and vital experience. They were reliable and ensured that our days began on the
most productive note. Long after we adjourned for the evening, they were still
there, preparing for the next day. To all of them, I offer a heartfelt thank
you. Your contribution to this historic legislation has not gone unnoticed.
Finally, to the more than 150 witnesses who made an effort to attend and
share their insight, I say "mille fois merci." You have provided an invaluable
assistance to this committee in improving this important piece of legislation
that will continue to improve the freedoms and lives of Canadians for
generations to come.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Di Nino has a
question. Will Senator Zimmer accept a question?
Senator Zimmer: Yes.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Thank you kindly. Let me first say I was not
part of the committee. Therefore, my questions may have been covered by
The honourable senator gave information about contributions. During the
hearings, was there any discussion about the myriad of tax credits, refunds,
rebates, tax deductibility, et cetera, available to those who make
Senator Zimmer: I thank the honourable senator for the question. Yes,
there was. We went through a variety of those issues, as far as tax receipts go,
and it came up when we discussed convention fees. We looked at exempting
convention fees, because in the current existing legislation of Bill C-24, the
individuals that crafted the legislation admitted that they made an error in not
including in legislation the fees and costs of conventions and also donations to
leadership candidates. We looked at making an exemption from that. We decided
that would be the wrong way to go because doing so is not open and transparent.
Therefore, we added the provision to the first portion of a donation to a
registered party. We felt that would be the most open way of doing it.
In addition, a question was raised in the amendments, and it was raised in a
way where it talked about convention fees. We discussed the issue in that venue
at that point.
Senator Di Nino: That is helpful. My question was a little wider than
that. Honourable senators who have been here long enough will know I was one of
the few people who applauded Prime Minister Chrétien when he introduced the
legislation, because I had suggested for a long time that that legislation was
appropriate, and I would have gone even further.
The issue really is the perception that the taxpayers of this country are not
bearing the cost of running the political system. I do not have a scientific
analysis of this point but I had my numbers checked by an accountant. When you
add the tax credit, the tax rebates to candidates and to political parties —
that is, refunds that they receive after each election — and you add the
deductibility of corporations for events that they attend with clients in
support of political parties —
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
Senator Zimmer's time is over. Are you asking for more time, Senator Zimmer?
Senator Di Nino: I would just like to complete the question and then I
will deal with this matter at another time, if that is in order. Do I have
permission to do so?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Zimmer, are
you asking for more time?
Senator Zimmer: Yes, please. I would request more time.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Five minutes.
Senator Di Nino: I do not need that long.
My contention is that the perception that taxpayers are not paying for
political contributions when they are made by corporations or individuals is
incorrect. When you add the amount of money that we give back in tax credits,
tax refunds, tax rebates and allowance, I suggest to you that taxpayers are
paying for every nickel of the cost of the political system in this country.
Will the honourable senator agree with me that we should adjust the rebates and
the per-vote allowance? Otherwise, you are increasing the taxpayers'
contributions to the political system. Does the honourable senator have an
opinion on that?
Senator Zimmer: That is a very interesting proposal. I have not looked
in that direction because I have followed the vein of Bill C-24 and Bill C-2.
However, that is at the other end of the teeter-totter; it is an interesting
aspect. I am not a tax expert in that area but I recently reviewed some
legislation. I pulled up some information about that point on the tax credit
system in the last few days. I have not explored that, but it is an interesting
concept and something which I would enjoy discussing at a future point.
Hon. George Baker: Honourable senators, I will not be as long as 15
minutes. I have just a few words to say concerning this bill. I have been asked
to say a few words concerning the section dealing with the Director of Public
Before I do that, I would like to congratulate the members of the committee.
I have spent 30 years in the House of Commons, as you all know, and I was an
active committee member. However, I must say that the Senate committees are far
more impressive in their manner of carrying on business than are the committees
of the House of Commons. Evidence of that is found not just in the senators on
the committee. I must congratulate the chair of the committee, Professor Oliver.
I am sorry, but I always call him "professor" because we had a page here
recently whose mother and father were both taught at law school by Senator
Oliver. One of them ended up being a minister of justice and the other one a
director of prosecutions, so Senator Oliver must have been a fairly good
Members of the committee representing the government side with their leader,
Senator Stratton, and the Liberal side as well did a commendable job in a
Also, honourable senators, I wish to point out that we heard from some
witnesses who were not heard in the House of Commons committee; for example, the
Canadian Bar Association. Can you imagine passing a bill as complicated as this
— one that changes the law so dramatically — and the Canadian Bar Association is
not heard in the House of Commons? That is not so strange, though, because that
has happened in the past. The Canadian Bar Association said, "We sent along a
few comments but, because that committee was in such a rush, we could not make
their schedule." This is the Canadian Bar Association. The amendments that
arose from that committee hearing were all suggested by the witnesses.
Honourable senators, I can tell you that for a fact.
I have been asked to speak today on the Director of Public Prosecutions. When
I looked at that section of the bill, the first thing that came to my mind was:
Here is the Americanization of the Canadian system of justice. That is the first
thing that came to my mind. I went to that committee looking at the section that
said the Director of Public Prosecutions could initiate a prosecution. What does
"initiate" mean? In other sections it was "institute prosecutions". What
does "institute" mean? The witnesses all said that there is no precedent for
this language. There is such a thing as "commence proceedings" in section 2 of
the Criminal Code for the Attorney General, but that is not to "institute
When the specific bills were looked at in Bill C-2, it was discovered that
under the Elections Act, what does "institute" mean? By law, the Director of
Public Prosecutions makes the decision on whether or not charges will be laid.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, and only the director, can make the
decision on whether or not to lay a charge. The Director of Public Prosecutions
then assumes the prosecution after the charge is laid and carries out the
We had the Donald Marshal inquiry into a wrongful conviction of first degree
murder in Nova Scotia, and we had a commission of inquiry into the wrongful
conviction of three persons on first degree murder in Newfoundland. Imagine the
gentleman being in jail for several years and then discovering that someone else
admits to the crime. Those commissions of inquiry were headed first by T. Alex
Hickman, former Chief Justice of Newfoundland and a good friend of Senator
Furey's — I remember him well — and John Crosbie. I was the Clerk of the
Newfoundland legislature and I taught them parliamentary procedure back in the
When they conducted their commissions of inquiry, I read them very carefully.
I also read the Newfoundland commission of inquiry into wrongful convictions
very carefully. They both came to the same conclusion about one fact, and that
is that a public prosecutor, a Crown solicitor, a Crown attorney, should not
become too closely associated with an investigation and the laying of charges
because it removes from the Canadian system of justice what is called that
objective, hard second look that is made by a Crown prosecutor when they receive
a case on which the police have charged, and they look at it again to determine
whether they should proceed, and how. Should it be first degree murder or second
degree murder, or should it be something less, or should they stay the charge?
That is part of the Canadian system of justice.
I was reading Justice Binnie 2002, in R v. Regan. That is the way
Justice Binnie defined it, and that is the way all the justices of the Supreme
Court of Canada identify that crucial hard, second look. The Americans do not
have that system in the United States. They have something else called the
fifth, which means that they do not have to answer a question. We do not have
that in Canada. You must answer a question in Canada, but we have other
protections. This is one of them, as the Supreme Court of Canada has pointed
out; that second look that a Crown prosecutor takes. I read this bill and said,
"Oops, what is this? This is an Americanization. I will move that this entire
section be taken out."
Honourable senators, I did not do that, and I will tell you why. The
honourable senator is saying, "shame," but perhaps a court in the future will
say that this violates the Charter and takes away something that we have in our
system. That might happen. What did we do in the committee? We heard from the
Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of
Canada. He said that there is nothing wrong with the system in this bill. Is
that right, Senator Stratton? Is that right, Mr. Chairman? The committee heard
from the Deputy Minister of Justice, John Sims, that great author from Manitoba,
who said that there is nothing wrong with this bill. We heard from two justices
from courts of appeal, one from British Columbia and one from Ontario, who said
nothing was wrong with this bill. What clinched it for me to not do anything
about it was a comment by the Chairman of the Criminal Lawyers Defence
Association of the Canadian Bar Association. He said that they could not find
anything wrong with it. Honourable senators, the point is that the changes made
in the bill came from the suggestions and recommendations made by the witnesses
and vetted through the Senate committee.
Another thing jumped out at me when I read this: five- to ten-year delays
are found in four pieces of legislation. Do honourable senators know that under
Bill C-2, a cabinet minister could be found guilty of breaking the law but the
commissioner need not charge him for five years? Three bills use the words, "summary offence" and the fourth one uses
"administrative law." It can be as
long as five years before the laying of a charge is necessary by the
commissioner. In the Criminal Code, what does it say about summary conviction
offences? It is six months for all other Canadians. Former Chief Justice Lamer
said that, under the Criminal Code, it is six months. What is five years doing
in this bill?
There was another provision in the bill that would allow them to wait ten
years from the moment an offence took place until the laying of a charge for a
summary conviction offence. For example, an election worker three elections ago
could be charged ten years after the fact with a minor offence. Imagine that.
Memories fade and people fade. You cannot lay charges for summary conviction
offences ten years after the fact.
The committee looked at the issue and decided to be consistent. There are a
couple of laws in Canada, such as the Fisheries Act, the Environment Act and a
section on deleterious substances in rivers, whereby there is a two-year period
before a charge needs to be laid so that scientists have time to identify the
substance in their laboratory. That was the excuse for the two years delay in
laying charges for a summary conviction offence.
This bill says five years. We suggested reducing it to two years. Senator
Nolin is not in the chamber but I am sure he would have raised this point if I
had not done so. The Department of Justice said that there are two precedents
for this delay. They are in the Old Age Security Act. I looked at the Old Age
Security Act and searched for the reason for bringing in the delay. It was there
because very old persons also in receipt of Canada Pension Disability might have
made an error, and officials wanted five years to determine whether they should
lay charges. No case has ever been litigated and yet the Government of Canada,
with the five-year inclusion, was saying: You give us this old age security
section to protect our cabinet ministers. That was the reality. The committee
changed it, not back to six months but back to two years in the four sections
that were changed, and five years being the extension in which a charge must be
laid under that section.
Objectively, all of the amendments were made after the committee heard from
the witnesses. I commend all senators on the Legal Committee. It was a real
experience. Every committee member deserves our congratulations.
Hon. Terry Stratton: I would ask the honourable senator if he would
take a question?
Senator Baker: Yes.
Senator Stratton: With respect to the five-year delay, as the
honourable senator well knows and as Mr. Joe Wild, attorney for the Treasury
Board, put quite clearly, some events relating to the Geometry inquiry go back to
1995. All of the mentions of delay are linked to those activities examined by
the commission. The time frame is five years after the discovery of the event.
Once one discovers the event or the malfeasance or whatever, one may need to
take five years to develop and research the case efficiently. Thereafter, one
has an additional five years to lay a charge. That is the intent of this bill,
as a result of the complications in Geometry that led to the five and the ten
years. Does the honourable senator have a response?
Senator Baker: Certainly, I have a comment. The Chief Electoral
Officer was the first witness to appear before the committee. The first question
asked by me was: Do you intend to go back and lay any charges in connection with
the Geometry inquiry or the findings of the commission? Senator Stratton will
agree, I am sure, that Mr. Kingsley said, no.
Senator Stratton: Do not put words in my mouth.
Senator Baker: He said, no, he would not do it. He went outside the
room and said to the media that he did not intend to do that.
I know the subject of five-year and ten-year periods fairly well because I
read about all the relevant reported cases. I subscribe to Quicklaw and Westlaw
Carswell, and have read every case pertaining to the two-year period, but there
are no cases pertaining to the five-year period. The Supreme Court of Canada in
R.B. Gateway described exactly what was in the law.
The five and ten means exactly this: From the time the commissioner is aware
that an offence has been created, he or she has five years to lay a charge.
However, the time from the time the offence took place until the laying of the
charge shall not exceed ten years. The point is: a commissioner who looks at
conflict of interest and is aware that an offence has taken place does not need
five years to accumulate more evidence if they know the offence has taken place.
They do not need to go into a laboratory to examine the chemical substance, and
they do not need to consult with senior citizens.
Senator Fraser: Would Senator Baker accept another question?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I
advise that Senator Baker's time has expired. Is the honourable senator asking
for leave to continue?
Senator Baker: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is there an agreement
on more time? Five minutes?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Fraser: My question will not take that long and I doubt that
the answer will.
I listened with fascination to the legal precedents and whatnot that have
been cited, but not being a lawyer, I am a little lost. However, in my
non-lawyer's mind, one principle that has become embedded is that justice
delayed is justice denied. It seems to me that a stretch of 10 years for what
might have been, in the beginning, a truly minor offence, would — does the
honourable senator see where I am going, and do I have a point here?
Senator Baker: Absolutely, the honourable senator has an excellent
point. For example, it is just like getting off a bus and bumping into someone
on the sidewalk, but not realizing you bumped into someone. Then, a few years
later, that person finds out you are a senator and decides to charge you with
If you touch someone, that is common assault. You could be assaulted by words
under the definition of common assault. That would be a hybrid offence, which is
summary conviction if they would not make it indictable; indictable is forever,
but summary conviction is six months.
The honourable senator makes an excellent point. It is a denial of what is
called, quite simply, fairness. Many things break down into fairness. You read
the case law — should a search warrant be thrown out? Should the evidence be
dismissed under section 24(2) of the Charter? Should it be excluded, if it goes
to the fairness of trial? That means exclusion, in simple terms.
The honourable senator is absolutely right. Memories fade. You do not know
who the witnesses were 10 years ago.
An excellent example is R. v. Nunziata. John Nunziata was running for
the mayoralty of Toronto and in the middle of his campaign, he was charged with
a violation of the Elections Act — he and his official agent. The judge started
his judgment by saying, It is unfortunate that something that happened two
elections ago, which Mr. Nunziata is pleading innocent to, should come to haunt
him in the middle of a mayoralty contest.
He was judged to be not guilty. When you read the reasoning of the judge, it
talks about the passage of time and how that passage of time is contrary to the
Charter. In this bill, we are looking at a 10-year time period and completely
disregarding what was in law recognized as being unfair and violating the
Charter — in fact, it is section 7 — so the honourable senator is absolutely
right; it is fundamental justice.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Comeau, for the second reading of Bill S-4,
to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate tenure).
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, I rise today to join the
debate at second reading of Bill S-4, to amend the Constitution Act, 1867, on
It is my genuine belief, honourable senators, that we all recognize in our
hearts of hearts that this fine institution, the Senate of Canada, requires
revision and renewal so that its structure is once again appropriate to the
contemporary state of our Canadian democracy, and is responsive to the needs of
an effectively functioning parliamentary system accountable to and in the best
interests of all Canadians.
I was summoned to this place in June of 1993, at a time when the image of
Canada's upper chamber was at an all-time low. Canadian senators were, at the
time, considered by the general Canadian public as flacks, hacks, fat cats and
retired bag men. In short, the public viewed us as a tired bunch of old fogeys
who added no value and were a useless strain on the public purse.
The deplorable spectacle of the GST debate, complete with noisy kazoos,
raucous behaviour and unprecedented insults ad hominem was a recent memory; and
then the Senate was faced with the indefensible, unexplained and ongoing
absenteeism of a senator who failed to show up in this chamber for as many as 11
months at a time.
As well, there existed an unsavoury aroma surrounding the activities of some
senators and ex-senators who had run afoul of the law or were accused of
unethical conduct and conflicts of interest. To make matters worse, there was
the poorly presented and weakly defended $6,000 stipend affair.
Canadians across the land were clamouring for Senate reform and the outcry
was loudest from Western Canada, where the Triple-E Senate movement was at its
height. Many citizens, including members of the NDP, were calling for outright
abolition of the Senate.
Preston Manning and his new Reform Party were strident proponents of Triple-E
— elected, equal and efficient. They claimed there was no place in a modern
democracy for an appointed, non-elected legislative body. As well, they rightly
pointed to the fact that as Canada had developed and grown westward, its
demographics had changed substantially, such that the Senate regions were no
longer equal, as contemplated by the Fathers of Confederation.
Furthermore, they said, the Senate was not fulfilling one of its key original
missions of representing regions and minorities. In fact, it had become nothing,
in their view, but a sometimes obstructive and frequently cantankerous and all
too partisan legislative review body.
The public was upset, honourable senators, and in no mood to be placated by
minor changes or inaction. They called the Senate a home for the aged, a
reactionary, autocratic and immoral body, a fifth wheel on the Canadian coach, a
pension scheme for party warriors, a reward for wealthy party contributors and,
generally, an anachronism.
Honourable senators, less than 10 years after Confederation in 1867, our
Senate had already become the subject of great controversy; and calls for Senate
reform have been continual and often strident ever since. In 1883 even, Senate
reform was the main plank in the Liberal Party's election campaign platform.
However, except for abolition of life tenures, replaced by mandatory
retirement age of 75 in 1965, and the watering down in 1982 of the Senate's
original veto power on constitutional amendments, there has been no concrete
legislative reform or renewal of our Senate whatsoever. This notwithstanding
numerous studies, including two major joint parliamentary studies on the
subject, plus the failed attempts at reform by comprehensive constitutional
change as set forth in the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords.
Senator Cools: I remember it well.
Senator Angus: Honourable senators, it is now time for effective
action, and I sense that we all feel this way. I sure hope so.
The Conservative government in its election platform, Stand up for Canada,
and later in its Speech from the Throne, promised to address Senate reform and
renewal in a tangible way by starting a process of modernizing our institution
so that it better reflects the democratic values of Canadians and the needs of
Canada's regions. True to its word, the government, on May 30, introduced in
this place, Bill S-4, with a view to limiting senators' terms to eight years,
renewable. In so doing, the government made it clear that this was but the first
step in an incremental process of renewal. As well, it started the process here
in the Senate so as to give us, as senators, an opportunity to be directly
involved in the process of renewal, an opportunity to have a significant measure
of control over our own destiny, or at least some ownership of the renewal
As well, the government evidently chose to proceed this way as opposed to
resorting directly to a comprehensive constitutional amendment pursuant to the
Constitution Act 1982 because it recognizes that Senate reform is a delicate
process which needs to be proceeded with carefully and only after serious study
and reflection each step of the way.
Also, it is clear from the preamble to Bill S-4 that the government wants to
retain the Senate. It recognizes, as did Senator Hays on Monday evening when he
spoke in this chamber, that the Senate has rendered excellent service to
Canadians over many years, and it continues to play a useful and important role
in our parliamentary system, notwithstanding the fact that it has unfortunately
been permitted to endure for 140 years without being reformed, upgraded,
adjusted, modernized and/or renewed as necessary along the way.
The Senate itself, honourable senators, has prudently come to recognize its
own shortcomings over the years, and has, especially since 1993 from time to
time, demonstrated that it must not exercise its full constitutional powers,
such as those of disallowance. If it wishes to survive, it must change its ways
or at least find more favour with Canadians.
However, honourable senators, it is no longer acceptable to Canadians that
the Senate continue in this manner. Our citizens wish to see real renewal and
change. It is in our best interests to respond to wishes and requirements such
as these without further delay.
Therefore, honourable senators, Bill S-4 represents a fresh start at Senate
reform. I earnestly believe it is a sane and sensible first step. As the Prime
Minister said recently, honourable senators, there are basically three options
for our Senate: One, the status quo; two, abolition; or three, reform and
renewal in a productive way. For me, honourable senators, neither the status quo
nor abolition are realistic or reasonable options. I submit, therefore, that we
must get on with the process of renewal and I urge all honourable senators to
support the "Fresh Start" incremental process initiated by Prime Minister
Harper's government with Bill S-4.
I am comforted in this regard with the Senate's reaction so far. We have
demonstrated a willingness to listen and to participate in a process involving
being masters of our own destiny. The creation of the Special Senate Committee
on Senate Reform, that committee's study of the subject-matter of Bill S-4 and
the subsequent report tabled here last week, the Murray-Austin motion and the
study and report on the same, are activities that indicate to me, honourable
senators, that we certainly can, and indeed are willing to participate
constructively in a fresh, new renewal process.
I have had the privilege of serving as deputy chair of the special committee
and working cooperatively with Senator Hays, chair of that special committee,
and with all our colleagues on the committee, Liberal and Conservative alike. I
thank Senator Hays for his kind words of Monday evening on this subject and
about the committee generally, and more particularly about our fine staff and
backup people from the parliamentary library. I fully concur with his laudatory
I wish to say, honourable senators, that the more we heard the evidence and
reviewed the historical record, the more my personal interest in and support for
Senate renewal was reinforced.
I fully support the two reports which the special committee has issued, and
if it is in order, I would be pleased that these second reading remarks could be
construed as well to be enthusiastically in support of adoption of these
reports, but I leave it to honourable senators in that regard.
In more recent years, I have detected a trend whereby the Senate has toned
down its partisan rhetoric.
Senator Cools: I did not notice.
Senator Angus: I have noticed, and obstructive tactics, and
particularly in Senator Cools' case, in my view, she asked for it.
Senator Cools: No, I did not.
Senator Angus: I withdraw any reference to the honourable senator. She
is right; I withdraw the reference, with deep respect. she is on the ball, just
checking. Just checking.
Senator Cools: Act like a senator.
Senator Angus: The senators appear to be awake, let the record show
Senator Cools: The record is quite clear.
Senator Angus: In my humble opinion, the Senate has been acting in a
fashion that indicates our awareness of the negative views that Canadians have
held about the Senate. I hope we are not reversing this trend today.
Senator Cools: I think the honourable senator is.
Senator Angus: I do not want to.
Positive and effective public relation measures have been taken with a view
to highlighting the very good work being done by the Senate in developing sound
public policy, in carrying out our legislative review role in a responsible and
independent, sober-second-thought mode, and in demonstrating sensitivity to our
duty of representing regions and their diverse minority interests. This latter
function is more important, honourable senators, than ever before, given the way
Canada has evolved and developed over the years into a marvellous mosaic of
cultures and people, in our pluralistic and multicultural society.
The Canada of today is a vastly different place than it was in 1867. If the
Fathers of Confederation could see us today, be sure, honourable senators, that
they would have come up with a vastly different-looking upper chamber.
Honourable senators, we have demonstrated of late our realization of these
factors. Canadians have taken note of our new attitude. They believe that we
will take positive action for Senate renewal. The clamour for Triple-E reform,
especially in the West, has abated. The subject was not even mentioned in the
recent Alberta leadership convention of the Conservative Party. As well, I do
not believe it has been mentioned at all as an issue in the federal Liberal
In short, the national atmosphere today is much more conducive to a sober,
constructive process of Senate renewal such as the measured, incremental and
fresh approach initiated by the Harper government with Bill S-4 so that the
Senate may evolve in accordance with the principles of modern democracy and the
expectations of all Canadians.
Thus, honourable senators, I urge you to keep up this constructive attitude
and to approve Bill S-4 in principle, and as soon as other senators have spoken
at second reading, that the bill then be referred to the Special Senate
Committee on Senate Reform.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: I have a question for the honourable senator.
Will he accept a question?
Senator Angus: Of course.
Senator St. Germain: The Honourable Senator Angus brings to this place
legal expertise. He talks of fresh renewal, and I concur with what he has said.
During the committee's work, did the honourable senator determine how many steps
can be taken before the constitutional aspects need to be taken into
consideration? Was that discussed during this process? Has the committee
indicated whether there are any other steps that could be taken without
requiring actual material changes to the Constitution?
Senator Angus: I thank the honourable senator for that question. Yes,
a substantial amount of time was devoted during the committee hearings to
listening to the constitutional experts and political scientists from across the
country as to what would be in the competency of Parliament alone under section
44 of the Constitution Act, 1982. It seemed to be the better view, and the
report that has been filed speaks for itself, that this Bill S-4 is within the
competence of Parliament.
It is also in the suggestion of the report that has been tabled by Senator
Hays that there may well be other issues that could be dealt with by Parliament.
I believe it is the intention of this government that, as these issues come
into focus and measures can be taken to further the incremental process of
Senate renewal, they will be acted on. I am confident and excited about this
Hon. Norman K. Atkins: The honourable senator keeps referring to
Canadians in the general context. Has the new Conservative government done any
polling to confirm the opinions that the honourable senator has expressed here
Senator Angus: I have the sense that that question should more
properly be addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Hon. Pat Carney moved second reading of Bill S-220, to protect
She said: Honourable senators, this bill represents the sixth attempt in as
many years to grant protection to heritage lighthouses of Canada. It was
introduced five times previously, including during the Second Session of the
Thirty-sixth Parliament, the First, Second and Third Sessions of the Thirty-seventh Parliament, and the First Session of the Thirty-eighth Parliament, and
it has proceeded to committee stage in the other place. It never received Royal
Assent before those parliaments rose.
While this bill was co-authored by me and the late Senator Forrestall, it was
introduced five times by him, and it is in his memory that I speak today.
Despite the broad support in Parliament for this bill from all parties, the
fact that we have not been able to enact it thus far represents a legislative
embarrassment. It should be noted that this bill is supported in principle by
the Departments of the Environment, Heritage and Fisheries and Oceans. Aside
from the obvious negative political optics of such failure, even more
regrettable is the practical damage being sustained by the lighthouses no longer
in operation and the loss to the communities they have served, and where they
stand as a proud pillar of heritage. Each day that goes by without the kind of
legal protection afforded by the heritage lighthouse protection bill is a day
that lighthouses are left exposed to neglect.
This bill addresses the problem that lighthouses, once deemed to be surplus
to operational requirements, have no mechanism for their preservation. In the
past they have been blown up, burned down, jack-hammered or left prey to
vandalism, because the operational departments have no means of transferring
them to interested community groups that are prepared to take on their
maintenance. The present heritage designations are too restrictive to apply to
most and do not provide a public consultation process.
The main feature of this bill is to facilitate the designation and
preservation of heritage lighthouses as part of Canada's culture and history,
and to protect them from being altered or disposed of without public
consultation. The bill defines heritage lighthouses as any lighthouse, together
with all buildings and other works belonging thereto and in connection with
which, as designated by the minister on the recommendation of the board as a
The board referred to is the National Historic Sites and Monuments Board.
It defines "alter" as "to change in any manner" and includes "to restore
or renovate" but does not include the performance of routine maintenance and
Honourable senators, I could take the time of the Senate to read the other
main purposes of this short bill, but it would serve the interests of the Senate
better to move this bill into committee where these aspects can be addressed.
The key to this bill is that the Canadian public will be consulted before any
lighthouse is disposed of or destroyed, because currently there is no method by
which to protect those structures.
The substantive provisions of this bill remain the same as they were the past
five times it was introduced, and each time it received unanimous support in
this chamber. I have been in communication with the government and believe that
there may be minor amendments made to the bill at committee stage to align it
with other legislation that was passed since this bill was first proposed.
I hope this bill can be referred to committee today.
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I agree that this bill should be
sent to the appropriate committee today. I have a keen interest in this bill. My
great-great-uncle, James Munson, was the first lighthouse keeper in Cape Enrage,
New Brunswick. It is a wonderful place just outside of Fundy National Park. It
is the home of regulation-sized Munsons. I somehow got short shrift.
It is a great historical story which must be put on the record. I would like
to speak to this bill at report stage when it returns from committee.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): I move the
adjournment of the debate.
Senator Carney: Honourable senators, it was my understanding from my
house leader that this bill would go to committee today. Can I be told why the
deputy leader has moved the adjournment of the debate when it has been agreed
with the opposition and the committee that it be sent to committee?
Senator Comeau: There is no agreement that it would be sent to
Resuming debate on the consideration of the third report (interim) of the
Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, entitled:
Agriculture and Agri-Food Policy in Canada: Putting Farmers First!, tabled
in the Senate on June 21, 2006.—(Honourable Senator Gustafson)
Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson: Honourable senators, I rise to speak on
this interim report of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and
Forestry. The subject matter of this report is possibly the most important issue
that Canada faces today. I cannot think of one that is more important. Some may
say that I am a biased farmer. That may be true, but agriculture is facing the
most difficult years in the history of this country, with the exception of the
Canadians have a responsibility. There is nothing more important than the
land; there is no more being made. All the exports of our country — fish,
lumber, oil, gas, minerals and agricultural products — come from the land. In
Canada, there are 167 million acres of agricultural land. Canadians must realize
that this wealth is useless without our farmers, who are the best in the world.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it is four o'clock. There
is a house order. I believe that all honourable senators will agree that Senator
Gustafson hold the adjournment of the debate on this item. He has about 13 and a
half minutes remaining.
On motion of Senator Gustafson, debate adjourned.
The Hon. the Speaker: Pursuant to the order adopted by the Senate on
April 6, 2005, I declare the Senate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, November 2, 2006 at 1:30 p.m.