Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, on October 26, the National
Advisory Council on Aging released their Seniors in Canada: 2006 Report Card.
This report is a continuation of the study begun seven years ago, an interim
report presented in 2001.
The National Advisory Council on Aging, NACA, was created by an
Order-in-Council on May 1, 1980 to assist and advise the Minister of Health on
issues related to the aging of the Canadian population and the quality of life
of seniors. The advisory committee members consulted with gerontology experts,
national seniors' organizations and federal government officials.
They focused on five key areas of concern: health, access to health care,
economic success, living conditions and societal participation.
Honourable senators, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight some
of their findings.
Seniors — those of us over 65 — now account for 4.2 million people in Canada,
or 7 per cent of the population. With respect to health, the organization gave
seniors a B-minus. Since the information reported in 2001, life expectancy at
age 65 has improved, as have rates of chronic pain and incidents of underweight.
However, there have been increases in obesity and chronic disease, no
satisfactory changes in physical activity, injuries and falls and, surprisingly,
honourable senators, suicide rates in men remain high.
The council highlights that in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories,
Aboriginal life expectancy at age 65 was almost four years lower than the
In health care, the council rated seniors a C-plus; in living conditions,
they were rated a B grade. In societal participation, 17 per cent of all
volunteers come from seniors, and 72 per cent of seniors reported a strong sense
of belonging to community.
In conclusion, honourable senators, we will witness over the next several
decades an alarming increase in the number of seniors and potential retirees. We
cannot afford to sit back and watch this segment of our population struggle with
the bare essentials of life — a roof over their heads, the promise and certainty
of food on their table, the certainty of accessible and affordable health care
treatment and the acceptance of self-esteem that comes from being active in
their family and community.
I believe we owe it to these important citizens of our country to take this
report from the National Advisory Council on Aging and work on definitive,
Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I stand today, as we
approach remembrance week, to honour the men and women who have lost their lives
so that we can enjoy liberty in Canada.
Of course, some of the sacrifices are fresh in our minds. These are the 40
Canadian men and women who lost their lives in Afghanistan, including Captain
Nichola Goddard, the first woman to lose her life in a combat role for our
After Captain Goddard's tragic death, the Canadian Islamic Congress contacted
her family, and with their consent, set up the Captain Nichola K.S. Goddard
Scholarship in Peace and Conflict Studies.
Captain Goddard's father, Tim Goddard, and his son-in-law, Jason, discussed
whether the scholarship should be set up and determined it would be an
absolutely fitting tribute to her memory.
On Monday at the Canadian Islamic Congress' annual gala, Mr. Goddard said:
I believe that this work will help further the hopes and dreams held by
Nichola, that peaceful resolution of conflict can be achieved and thus prepare
the way for reconstruction of civil society and the establishment of stable
His words came as the recipient of the newly created scholarship, designed to
further the study and promotion of conflict resolution and prevention skills,
Ahmad Syed, a 27-year-old Master's student in globalization and international
development at the University of Ottawa, has become the first recipient of this
scholarship, and in his acceptance he outlined its importance, saying:
It is truly an honour to be considered for, and ultimately receive, this
scholarship. In accepting it, I would like to thank the scholarship committee
and hope that I am able to incorporate in my academic work the ideals that
Captain Goddard espoused.
Honourable senators, I believe this award is a touching tribute to Captain
Nichola Goddard, as well as a chance to build on the values of peace that Canada
has come to represent on the world stage.
I hope you will join me in congratulating Ahmad Syed, and the Canadian
Islamic Congress, for this award in Nichola's memory.
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, November 5 marks the
beginning of Veterans Week, a week devoted to honouring the men and women who
have served and continue to serve our country. Events and ceremonies will take
place across our land and Canadians from all walks of life will have the
opportunity to say thank you to those who have fought to ensure our values and
Before I pay tribute to those in uniform, I want to bring to the attention of
honourable senators an individual who served those who serve for us.
Jack Stagg, the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, passed away on August 9,
2006. Mr. Stagg was a champion of veterans' issues and played a large role in
the establishment of the New Veterans Charter and the 2005 Year of the Veteran.
As the son of two veterans, Mr. Stagg understood firsthand the challenges
that veterans face and the unique programs that they require. His countless
efforts to improve the programs at Veterans Affairs Canada resulted in great
enhancements to the services that are provided to our honoured veterans. His
hard work and strong leadership in his department were definitely second to
none. He will be remembered for his compassion and dedication to veterans by
those who knew him and by those he served so selflessly.
As Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, Mr. Stagg oversaw a considerable
commemoration project that is nearing completion. The Canadian Battlefield
Memorials Restoration Project, a five-year colossal undertaking led by Veterans
Affairs Canada, began in 2001. The project is an effort to repair, restore and
rehabilitate all thirteen of Canada's First World War battlefields in Europe. Of
these memorials, of course, the restoration of the Canadian National Vimy
Memorial in France is by far the most challenging element of this endeavour. I
am happy to hear that the project is on schedule and that the restoration is
scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. The memorial will once again
serve as a reminder of the sacrifice and courage of Canadians who fought for our
country so many years ago.
As we commemorate the past, it is important to recognize the contribution of
those men and women serving in the Canadian Armed Forces today. From now on, the
term "veterans" will designate more than the military personnel who fought in
the two world wars and in Korea.
Veterans Week is our chance to pay tribute to and commemorate members of the
Canadian Armed Forces who have participated in more recent conflicts and who are
now among the veterans. Many of them returned home after serving in conflict
zones, but the wounds and scars of war will forever mark them.
Sadly, Canadian soldiers have been killed while posted in Afghanistan and
Lebanon. Veterans Week gives us an opportunity to honour their memory as well.
The theme of this year's Veterans Week is "Share the Story," and I
anticipate that many stories will be shared by our veterans. I encourage all
Canadians to speak with veterans and with serving members of the Canadian Forces
to learn their stories so that they in turn can be passed on to others.
As the years go by, fewer traditional veterans of both World Wars and the
Korean War remain. However, their spirit remains since their stories will live
forever. We owe a great act of gratitude to those who fought for us and, without
the sacrifice and courage of those in uniform, our great country would not be
what it is today.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, recently the
Conservative government announced just over $1 billion in funding cuts to
valuable and necessary government programs, even though the federal government
posted a surplus of $13.2 billion for the past year.
One such cut is to the Summer Career Placements Program, whose funding has
been cut in half. That means a decrease of $55.4 million over two years. This
program hired some 50,000 secondary and post-secondary students across the
country last year. In my home province of Prince Edward Island this past summer,
400 students were given the opportunity to develop their skills and gain
valuable work experience. For those continuing with their post-secondary
education after the summer, this income was especially vital because it helped
them to pay for their education and avoid long-term debt.
However, it is not just the students who benefit. I would like to point out
that many non-profit community-based organizations depend on the SCPP to hire
students. Many such organizations will not be able to afford the extra help
without this program.
Last fall, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills
Development, Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities did
a study on the Summer Career Placements Program. They made recommendations that
would expand the program, such as extending the work period for participating
students and a higher wage subsidy for those pursuing post-secondary education.
These cuts to the SCPP contradict the recommendations of that committee.
The Conservative government has also totally eliminated the $10-million
budget for the International Youth Internship Program. This program was managed
by the Canadian International Development Agency and provided young Canadians
with the opportunity to work in a developing country. It provided these young
people with valuable work experience while contributing to Canada's
international development goals.
Honourable senators, in a world where knowledge, education and global
experience are becoming increasingly important, it is disheartening that the
Conservative government is taking these opportunities away from young Canadians.
Instead, this government should be investing in their futures and helping
provide Canada's youth with the skills and experience needed to thrive on the
Honourable senators, I urge the Conservative government to reconsider these
unacceptable decisions and reinstate full funding to both these valuable
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today
to report on a week-long lecture tour on diversity and pluralism that I just
finished and undertook at the request of the governments of Norway and Denmark.
I was asked to speak about Canada's multicultural framework as a model for
integrating racial and ethnic minorities in Scandinavia. I outlined to the
Scandinavians some facilitating conditions that make it easier in Canada to
accommodate diversity than it is for many Scandinavian countries.
My trip is perhaps best explained by Canada's Ambassador to Norway, Her
Excellency Jillian Stirk, when she wrote in her welcoming letter to me:
Canada and Norway have much in common in terms of social policy, foreign
policy and our natural like-mindedness we share. We can also learn from each
other on the issue of how to integrate immigrant communities and visible
minorities into societies. This is something Canada has a direct advantage
with because, as the Norwegian population becomes more diverse, officials at
all levels are tackling the challenges this can bring. They are keen to learn
from the Canadian experience.
In attendance in Oslo and Copenhagen were senior government officials,
journalists, professors, business leaders and students from the University of
The lectures were prescribed to broaden the dialogue on some of the causes
and potential cures for the social and economic integration difficulties that
exist in much of Scandinavia. In Denmark, for instance, we discussed and
analyzed the now infamous cartoon incident.
Honourable senators, I explained the historical background of Canada's
foundation by the British and the French, the accommodation of two laws, two
cultures, two languages and two religions, and raised the possibility of
accepting additional cultures, languages and religions. This biculturalism has
predisposed Canadians to being more accepting of other cultures.
I also stressed that economic incentives can also promote diversity. I
emphasized that one of the greatest challenges facing Western democracies today
is to find talent and skilled labourers. As baby boomers begin to retire, we
will face a shortage of talented and skilled labour across all sectors. Because
of low fertility rates and the phenomenon of the inverted age pyramid, we do not
have enough young Canadians to fill our research institutions and factories, so
we must look to immigration.
Honourable senators, I also explained that the inverted pyramid is affecting
other developed countries too. Fertility rates across Europe, for example, are
so low that demographers predict that the number of Europeans will drop
dramatically over the next five decades, even with immigration. Specifically,
Italy's population is expected to fall from 57 million in 2000 to about 45
million by 2050. Spain's will drop by 3 million in the same period. In just 25
years, over almost half of all German adults will be 65 years of age or older.
In conclusion, honourable senators, my lecture tour in Denmark and Norway
proved to be intellectually stimulating and challenging and enough of a catalyst
that I have been asked to give another lecture to senior Danish bureaucrats in a
month or so.
Honourable senators, I believe the most pressing crisis confronting the
Western world is the looming skills shortage, and immigration is and will
continue to be critical to our labour force growth. I appreciated the
opportunity to discuss this topic with so many willing ears in Scandinavia.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government
response to the sixth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Official
Languages entitled French-Language Education in a Minority Setting: A
Continuum from Early Childhood to Postsecondary Level.
Hon. George J. Furey, Chair of the Standing Committee on Internal
Economy, Budgets and Administration, presented the following report:
Thursday, November 2, 2006
The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has
the honour to present its
Your Committee recommends that Senate SEGs and MMG-2s receive a 2.5 per
cent increase to salary ranges, effective April 1, 2006, as well a 1.1 per
cent increase to at-risk pay for 2006-2007, parallel to increases adopted by
the Treasury Board for Public Service executives and Deputy Ministers.
GEORGE J. FUREY
The Hon. the Speaker: When shall this report be taken into
On motion of Senator Furey, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Art Eggleton, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:
Thursday, November 2, 2006
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has
the honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-5, An Act respecting the
establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and amending certain Acts
has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Thursday, September 28, 2006,
examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.
Attached as an appendix to this Report are the observations of your
Committee on Bill C-5.
ART EGGLETON, P.C.
Observations Appended to the 6th Report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology
(The Committee) has heard testimony on Bill C-5, The Public Health Agency of
Canada Act and has passed the bill without amendment. It would like however to
take the opportunity to make the Senate aware of various issues which need to
be addressed in the operations of the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Specifically, the Committee wants more recognition of First Nations and Inuit
health issues and it wants recognition of the First Nations and Inuit in
Therefore, your Committee appends to this report certain observations on
A. Link to Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch
The Committee is concerned that there is no obligation for the Chief Public
Health Officer or the Agency to include the First Nations and Inuit Health
Branch of Health Canada in its consultations or operations as the Bill is
currently written. It requests that a formal and ongoing link be established
between this branch of Health Canada and the Agency
The Committee emphasizes that the Agency should report on the public health
status of First Nations and Inuit. As a component of this it wants the Chief
Public Health Officer to consider appointing medical officers, as provided for
under clause 13 of the Bill, who will represent First Nations and Inuit
concerns and who will report regularly on their activities.
The Committee asks that there be an obligation for representation of First
Nations and Inuit on the advisory and other committees established by the
D. Privacy and Data Collection
The Committee is aware that the issue of privacy in data collection has
been raised by First Nations. The Committee wants assurances that data will be
collected and disseminated only with appropriate consent and privacy
safeguards for First Nations and Inuit individuals.
E. First Nations and Inuit Public Health Act
The Committee notes that there is no legislative basis for the Federal
Government's role and responsibility for provision of health services for
First Nations and Inuit. The Committee wants the Government to work
collaboratively with First Nations and Inuit in the development of a First
Nations and Inuit Public Health Act and other relevant statutes. The Committee
intends to be seized of this matter of dealing with public health issues with
respect to First Nations and Inuit.
F. Review of the Agency
The Committee will recall the Agency for a full review of their operations
after six months in order to determine the extent to which it has implemented
these observations and, specifically, to confirm the Agency's commitment to
the First Nations and Inuit.
The Hon. the Speaker: When shall this bill be read the third time?
On motion of Senator Eggleton, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been
received from the House of Commons with Bill C-19, to amend the Criminal Code
(street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to the Corrections and
Conditional Release Act.
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second
reading two days hence.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the
next sitting of the Senate I will move:
That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by
the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Bill
S-39, An Act to amend the National Defence Act, the Criminal Code, the Sex
Offender information Registry Act and the Criminal Records Act during the
First Session of the Thirty-eighth Parliament be referred to the Committee for
its study of Bill S-3, An Act to amend the National Defence Act, the Criminal
Code, and the Sex Offender Information Registration Act and the Criminal
Hon. Art Eggleton: 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 Social Affairs, Science and Technology on the study of mental
health and mental illness in Canada in the Thirty-seventh and Thirty-eighth
Parliaments be referred to the Committee for its study on the issue of funding
for the treatment of autism.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next
sitting of the Senate I will move:
That notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on Thursday, June 22,
2006, the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology,
which was authorized to examine and report on the issue of funding for the
treatment of autism, be empowered to extend the date of presenting its final
report from November 30, 2006 to May 31, 2007.
Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my
question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Standing
Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration was made aware this
morning of an email exchange between a member of her staff and the
administration of the hotel where the Standing Senate Committee on National
Security and Defence stayed during their travels to Dubai. In those emails,
specific information that was later leaked to the media was requested. Was this
done at her request?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the
honourable senator for his question.
I was not listening to the testimony this morning. I was told about this
allegation, but I have no knowledge that it is true.
Senator Hays: Honourable senators, if I could quote from the documents
that were brought forward at the Internal Economy Committee meeting this
morning, they refer to the Renaissance Dubai Hotel and a member of the
government leader's staff asking a specific question about invoices rendered by
the hotel in the name of Senator Kenny, a detailed breakdown for each room and,
if possible, information on room charges. I am summarizing to some extent. Does
that help the honourable leader in terms of what it is that I am referring to?
Senator LeBreton: Is the honourable senator asking me whether I was
aware of this request to the hotel, or is he asking me whether I was aware that
this information was leaked to the media? I am not clear about the question.
Senator Hays: My question was: Was the inquiry made to the hotel and
the leak of that information to the media done at the request of the Leader of
Senator LeBreton: The answer is no.
Senator Hays: Having said what I said, and having the record of
today's meeting of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and
Administration, has the Leader of the Government begun an inquiry into this
matter both in terms of the correspondence to which I referred, and which was
brought forward in the Internal Economy Committee, and in terms of it being a
matter coming out of the leader's office?
Senator LeBreton: What the honourable senators asks, if this is the
subject of an inquiry, I do not understand the premise of the question. We all
know that the committee was in Dubai. We all know they stayed in a hotel. What
does the honourable senator want me to inquire into? The fact is that I was
aware of this testimony this morning and, as I stated a moment ago, I had no
knowledge that in fact this information was true. The honourable senator has
documents produced to the Internal Economy Committee, but what is the issue
here? Did the committee travel to Dubai? Yes. Did they stay in a hotel? Yes. Is
there some reason the public should not be aware of this information? That is my
Senator Hays: Honourable senators, first, I thank the Leader of the
Government for her answer that she had no knowledge of, and that she had nothing
to do with, this matter. The fact is, however, that the correspondence
establishes clearly that a staff person in her office requested the information.
It was placed on October 17, as I understand it, and on October 18 a television
network carried a program on this subject, releasing information that was in
this correspondence. The television network's website indicates that the source
of that information was a leak.
Based on that knowledge, is the leader making an inquiry in her office as to
the source of this leak, as to whether the leak was her staff person? I ask this
question because, as she has heard me say before, she represents the government
here and she represents the Senate to the government. She is also, after the
Speaker, the most important person in this chamber in terms of the model that
she presents and what she does.
This matter that has come forward in the Internal Economy Committee is
serious. It deserves her attention. My question to the leader is: Is the matter
getting her attention and, if not, will it?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Senator Hays talks about my
responsibilities to the Senate as the Leader of the Government. Let me say that
I have been a senator since 1993. I consider it a great honour. I do not
consider myself to be part of a closed society and I do not think I am entitled
to any special privileges. I take my responsibilities seriously, but I happen to
belong to a government and a party that believes in openness and transparency.
The public demands openness and transparency, and I think the public expects
those qualities of the Senate as well.
Senator Hays: Honourable senators, I am not sure that is an answer
but, in any event, I will leave it at this: I have not heard from the leader and
I would like to hear from her that, if this matter originates from her office —
and that is well documented — she will look into this matter and answer the
question I have asked. She has answered that she had nothing to do with the
matter and did not know about it, but can that also be said about her office?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, in his previous question
Senator Hays talked about a leak to the media. When something is a leak, it is a
leak of a secret document. I think there were four senators and several staffers
on this particular trip. I presume all of them stayed in the same hotel.
It is an assumption to say that my office staff was responsible for the leak.
The documents seem to indicate that some inquiries were made in this regard.
After all, it was well known, even before this story broke about the trip to
Dubai. I will not initiate any kind of investigation. I have a small staff and
they work hard. I point out that my predecessors had 20 to 22 people working in
their office; I have nine. I will not go on a witch hunt against a member of my
staff about how some media outlet obtained a document. The media could have
gotten it from a member on the honourable senator's side.
Some Hon. Senators: Shame!
Senator Hays: I regret that the honourable senator's answer is that
she does not care. She should care and I urge her to reconsider. If this kind of
information is needed or wanted, there are sources within the Senate — the
Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the
officers at the table — and in future, I urge her to use those sources. I do not
feel comfortable with the leader's answer that she does not care about it and I
urge her to reconsider.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I did not say I did not care. I
said that this information could have been made available to the media by
several sources. Three or four senators were on that trip and there were clerks.
I will not leap to a conclusion as to the source of the leak on the basis of
information that was tabled before the Internal Economy Committee this morning.
I take no lessons from anyone on that side about my responsibility as a
senator, because I take my job seriously.
Senator Fraser: What has that to do with it?
Senator LeBreton: It has a lot to do with it. Senator Hays says I do
not care. I do care about the Senate. Having said that, I do not believe that
the Canadian public expects government nor an institution that is paid for by
the taxpayers to be exempt from being open and transparent about the tax dollars
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I do not envy the Leader of the
Government today, and I appreciate the position in which she finds herself.
Senator Tkachuk: What is going on here?
Some Hon. Senators: Sit down!
Senator Tkachuk: Point of order, Your Honour.
Some Hon. Senators: No point of order.
The Hon. the Speaker: Order. Honourable senators, we will continue
with Question Period in the manner that this chamber is accustomed.
The Honourable Senator Banks has the floor.
Senator Banks: When did the leader first become aware of the fact that
Mr. Jeffrey Kroeker, who works in her office, corresponded with the Renaissance
Dubai Hotel and asked them for specific details on the hotel bills of senators
who were there on Senate business?
Senator LeBreton: In his preamble the honourable senator said he does
not envy me. I have no problem standing here as the Leader of the Government in
the Senate defending my staff and defending what I believe the Canadian
taxpayers expect of their senators. That is openness, honesty and transparency.
In answer to the question, I heard about the testimony this morning. I did
not listen to the testimony. As I said in an earlier answer, I have no knowledge
whether this testimony is in fact true. Senator Hays claims to have documents.
Senator Banks asked me whether Mr. Kroeker was the source of the leak. There is
no evidence to suggest that Mr. Kroeker is the source of the leak.
Senator Banks: That is not the question. When did the government
leader first become aware that Jeffrey Kroeker telephoned and subsequently wrote
to the Renaissance Dubai Hotel asking for specific details about the hotel
charges of senators who were there working? When did the Leader of the
Government in the Senate first become aware of that irrefutable fact?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, first, I do not think it is a
terrible act for a staff member to make inquiries. I answered previously that I
was not aware that Mr. Kroeker had made any inquiries. However, I support his
right, as a person working on such files, to make any inquiries he wishes.
Having said that, and in answer to the specific question, I was made aware of
what was said in the committee this morning. I have no reason to believe it was
true, but the honourable senator claims to have documents. I stand by my staff.
With regard to the concern raised earlier about the source of the leak, as I
said, I have no proof, nor does Senator Banks, that the said staff member was
responsible for these leaks.
Senator Banks: The Leader of the Government in the Senate used the
word "leak," and she has not answered my question. She spoke about when she
first heard about what was said in committee today.
I asked the government leader when she first learned of Mr. Kroeker's
inquiries. I shall ask the question again, as well as a supplementary question.
The government leader just said that she expects her staff to make inquiries.
Bear in mind that a detailed hotel bill includes such things as the telephone
numbers that were called from a room. The government leader has just said that
her staff is expected, and that she believes Canadians expect her staff, to make
inquiries of a hotel in Canada — be it in Regina, Vancouver, Tuktoyaktuk —
details of senators' hotel bills, bills that contain privileged information.
In fact, the correspondence from the Renaissance Dubai Hotel to Mr. Kroeker
says "privileged and confidential" right at the top of it. If I make a phone
call from a hotel anywhere in the world to another politician or to a member of
the press, the fact that I have made that phone call is not public information,
nor is it Mr. Kroeker's business. I do not think senators should expect that
they will be spied on in this way.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator LeBreton: I agree with that comment. I have no knowledge of
what information was given. I have not seen the documents. I do not know whether
the information given included details of phone calls that were made, movies
that were watched, or any other services. My point was that when information of
this kind is on the public record I have no problem with people trying to verify
it. I do not know what the policies of hotels are.
Obviously, the inquiry was made. I do not know what kind of information the
hotel provided; I have not seen it. I would be surprised if a hotel would
include a list of individual charges, such as telephone numbers that were
called. I have not seen these bills, so I do not know what Senator Banks is
Senator Banks: I have one final question, honourable senators. The
questions and answers that immediately precede this one speak for themselves,
and I will ask one last question, which includes a number of things.
I have documents that I will table if it pleases the house, but I will refer
to them nonetheless. I believe all members have seen the document, which is a
letter dated October 19, from the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. It is
redacted in the form in which it has found its way into the public domain, but
it is widely distributed to all news media and, conveniently, has been on the
Internet since October 19.
It turns out that this letter was addressed from the Vice Chief of the
Defence Staff directly to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This
version, as I said, has been redacted. I presume it is a private and personal
piece of correspondence. I am left to wonder at whose behest it was written. I
doubt whether the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff decided one day, "I think I
will write to the Leader of the Government in the Senate." Notwithstanding the
reason for the letter, here is a private communication from the Vice Chief of
the Defence Staff addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, which
has found itself onto the format of every media outlet, press and electronic, in
this country and is widely distributed on the Internet. I wonder how that is so
and whether that, too, is a matter that her government regards as a proper way
of doing things.
I will ask the same question about this hotel bill, which was generated on
October 7, long after these senators left this hotel. This hotel bill is in the
hands of every media outlet in every form in this country and on the Internet.
It was obtained by a person in her office, and it has since found its way as I
described, and is widely distributed in this country.
Minister, how is that possible? We are left only to ask how it is possible
that a private communication from the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff to her, a
letter — not an email — has found its way into the public domain.
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator. He is right. I have
the letter and I will be happy to table it. It was sent to me on October 19, and
I circulated it because it was not private and confidential. At the time, a
question of privilege was raised by my colleague with regard to the travels of
this particular committee, so I circulated the letter. I did not solicit the
letter. I received the letter, and I made the assumption that the assistant
Chief of Defence Staff sent it to me as a result of the news stories that were
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator LeBreton: I wish Question Period was televised on a day like
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
An Hon. Senator: Careful what you wish for!
Senator LeBreton: The fact is, this letter was received by me. I did
not solicit this letter. I took it as an effort by this gentleman to put the
facts on the record because of the misinformation being circulated in the media
by various people in this place, who will remain unnamed. He sent me this
letter. It was not a personal and confidential letter. I had it photocopied and
sent it to my colleagues, and I would be happy to table the letter. You will see
my name is there; I did not blank it out. I do not know who did that. I was
grateful to receive the letter as it clarified a lot of things.
With regard to the hotel bill, I have not seen the hotel bill.
Senator Banks: The minister is the only one in Canada, then.
Senator LeBreton: Obviously, the honourable senator is very sensitive
about this hotel bill. I do not know what kind of detail is included on the
hotel bill, but I do not understand why there is such concern. The committee
went to Dubai, they stayed in a hotel, they spent taxpayers' dollars, and the
taxpayers have a right to expect proper accounting for their tax dollars. No one
in the Senate, provided his or her activities are all above board, should be
concerned about public scrutiny, it would seem to me.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before I proceed to the
next questioner, both Senator Banks and Senator LeBreton have indicated their
intention to table a document.
Senator Corbin: We can do that later, I believe. At the end of
Question Period, not now.
Hon. Colin Kenny: Did the Leader of the Government in the Senate ask
the Minister of Defence to have the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff send the
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator thinks I have powers way
beyond what I possess. I did not.
Senator Kenny: Then did the Minister of Defence ask the Vice Chief of
the Defence to send the letter?
Senator LeBreton: Perhaps that is a question the honourable senator
could ask the Minister of Defence.
Senator Kenny: The Minister of Defence is not in the chamber. Will the
government leader take notice of the question and advise the chamber whether the
request came from the minister's office to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the military are very much in
control of their own letter-writing activities, I am sure, but I shall take that
question as notice.
Senator Kenny: I shall restate my question to the government leader:
Did the minister's office ask the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff to write the
letter? Mark those words and give us the answer.
Senator LeBreton: I wish the Honourable Senator Kenny would improve
his tone when asking these questions. Senator Kenny is not the king of the
Senate. I said publicly — and I mean it with all sincerity — and I wish to say
it here: Senator Kenny is well known in this chamber as a person who will not
take no for an answer. I said I had nothing to do with receiving the said
letter, and I have already indicated to Senator Kenny that I will take the
question as notice.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): The Leader of the
Government in the Senate says she believes in transparency, openness and,
indeed, accountability; so do all of us. The government leader says she is proud
to be a senator; so are all of us. We all believe in the integrity of this
institution, but this institution has well-established and very rigorous
procedures to guarantee appropriate accountability, openness and transparency
about its spending. In light of that, instead of having the Internal Economy
Committee and the Senate's administrative procedures verify the appropriateness
of spending, does the Leader of the Government in the Senate actually believe
that it is appropriate for staffers to short-circuit that process, to go around
poking into what senators have done in the course of their senatorial business?
In the event the government leader is uncertain as to the rigorous nature of
the Senate's administrative services, there have been numerous occasions where I
have submitted expenses, in good faith, believing them to have been incurred in
the course of my senatorial work but where those expenses have been refused. As
a result, I have, of course, paid.
This is a good system we have going for us.
What is appropriate? What is fair, open, transparent and respectful of the
Senate and its work in having staffers go snooping?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I believe we have a process in
place in the Internal Economy Committee. We obviously had a full hearing this
morning, so I am told; I do not know exactly what time it ended. I believe this
matter must be resolved still by the Internal Economy Committee.
I will take no lessons or lectures from anyone on that side about the proper
behaviour of a senator. I am fully aware of my responsibilities. I have
conducted myself with integrity and honesty, and I will not take lectures from
anyone, especially senators on that side.
Senator Fraser: My question was not about the behaviour of the Leader
of the Government. It was about what is appropriate behaviour for staffers.
Most of us, I think, would be shaken to discover that our staffers were
poking into how other senators performed their job, when that job had been
dually authorized by the Senate in subcommittee, in committee and in the full
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator is making a lot of
allegations about the activities of my staff. As I said in my first answer to
Senator Hays, I had no knowledge that any of this matter that was before the
Internal Economy Committee was true.
We have many issues before us as senators, and we certainly are responsible
for our staff. I have great faith in my small and very good staff. I do not
believe that anything improper was done here in terms of openness and
As I said in my earlier answer, I am awaiting the findings of the Standing
Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. Like all matters in
this chamber — and we have had other matters recently before the Internal
Economy Committee — I am anxiously awaiting the findings, deliberations and
recommendations of the committee. Ultimately, all questions honourable senators
were posing here today relate to the matter before the Internal Economy
Committee, and the committee has not had time to adjudicate on them, as far as I
Senator Fraser: As a final supplementary, would the Leader of the
Government in the Senate take it upon herself to read the document that was
tabled in Internal Economy, and if she conclude that there is reasonable
evidence — and it was a public hearing — that some staffers believed it was
appropriate for them to do this kind of work, would the honourable senator
undertake to establish a system of principles and practices in her office to
indicate to all staffers that this is not appropriate behaviour?
Senator LeBreton: I will not dignify that with an answer.
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, I rise to make an apology
to the Senate. Words escaped my lips that were both unprofessional and
inappropriate, and I would like to apologize to anyone whom I offended. Thank
Senator Banks: Honourable senators, I would ask leave to table in the
house the documents to which I referred in Question Period.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator LeBreton: I will do likewise.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: On that point, honourable senators, Senator
Corbin was correct. It is also the practice that during Question Period one does
not refer to documents. It is in debate that senators make reference to
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;
And on the motion in amendment by the Honourable Senator Milne, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Cook, 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,".
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to
Bill C-2, the proposed federal government accountability act.
It has been both a pleasure and a privilege to work with honourable senators
and to hear from the diverse group of witnesses that appeared before us. The
committee worked tirelessly, hearing from as many witnesses as possible to
ensure that unintended consequences were minimized by this bill. I would like to
thank the chair, the clerk and Senator Day and his staff for helping with the
organization and scheduling of witnesses when the committee needed additional
testimony to inform their decisions.
I, like other members of this committee, strongly support the aim of Bill
C-2, to strengthen accountability and increased transparency. Unfortunately,
spelling mistakes and grammatical and translation errors aside, this piece of
legislation received from the other place was flawed. The committee has made 156
amendments, 42 of which were introduced by the government. The changes to the
legislation introduced by the committee will improve this bill for all
The proposed amendments before honourable senators are the recommendations of
the committee that represent some of the discrepancies found between the stated
policy of increased accountability and the actual effects of the legislation. My
purpose in speaking today, honourable senators, is to underline the importance
of the amendments in this bill, specifically as they relate to lobbying.
The committee heard from a variety of witnesses from the lobbying sector.
They raised numerous concerns with respect to the legislation and outlined the
detrimental effect that increased reporting, a five-year ban and the reporting
of trade secrets will have on lobbying. The government's attempt in this bill to
create a pseudo-ban of lobbying by changing the lobbying restrictions from a
one-year ban to a five-year ban negates the important role that lobbyists play
in the public sphere. The five-year ban was described by numerous witnesses as a
prohibition on lobbying. The Honourable Joe Jordan, now working with the Capital
Hill Group, described the change as a "prohibitive ban" and that "two years
would get you where you want to go in terms of what this legislation is trying
I raise this issue because I believe that in not only this area but also many
other sections of the bill, the government, in its haste to do something, has
not taken the time to understand the implications of its actions. The committee
has respected the government's decision in terms of the five-year ban. We have,
however, included a strong observation on this issue, and we would like
government to revisit the implications and the length of the ban.
I reiterate that the rest of the committee and I believe that the government
needs to restore faith and trust in institutions, but I caution against
knee-jerk reactions over the careful study of the issues and the effects that
new regulations will impose on the government, the private sector and Canadian
Lobbyists have received bad press in recent years and lobbying is often
viewed in the public sphere as a negative vocation. Contrary to popular belief,
lobbyists acting on behalf of their clients frequently act as an educator and
are able to navigate the maze which is Parliament to bring the attention of
parliamentarians to issues that affect their clients, the government and the
public at large.
A clear example of the benefit that lobbyists provide would be the various
agricultural lobbyists who advocate for important issues surrounding farming and
predominantly rural issues. The urban and insulated group of politicians located
in Ottawa rarely hear of the plight of rural farmers firsthand. The need to have
a representative who understands the process of government and the various
methods of contacting officials is vitally important to maintaining an informed
Lobbyists serve an essential purpose. However, their voices should not be
heard above the public good. This is why it is necessary to have legislation
that allows lobbyists' activities to be monitored and forces individuals who try
to influence government to do it publicly rather than secretly.
Under the lobbying section of Bill C-2, the government has created a greater
reporting regimen, which is beneficial in monitoring lobbying activities. These
new regulations will minimize the number of unregistered lobbyists, thereby
creating a more transparent environment where senior public officials can
confirm the registration of lobbyists and uncover unregistered lobbyists who are
contravening Lobbying Act regulations.
The success of this section of the bill is dependent on the powers and the
funding that will be given to the commissioner of lobbying and his office. The
ability to demand information from senior public officials or lobbyists is
essential to guarantee that those who break the rules take responsibility for
Bill C-2 will require that:
No individual shall obstruct the Commissioner or any person acting on
behalf or under the direction of the Commissioner in the performance of the
Commissioner's duties and functions under this Act.
If the lobbyist decides to go underground and ignore a ban imposed by the
commission, the amendments made by the committee will now make it an offence:
Any person who fails to comply with a prohibition of the Commissioner...is
guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding
With these new powers comes the responsibility to report on wrongdoing when
it occurs. The commissioner, under these amendments, will now be required to
report infractions in either an annual or special report to Parliament.
One of my concerns with respect to this bill is the ability of the
commissioner to carry out his duties with the current level of funding allocated
to the department. I point to the testimony of the Honourable Joe Jordan and Mr.
You have 4,700 to 5,000 registered lobbyists who now register their clients
twice a year. We met with a representative of the office and have learned that
the process is becoming more robust. They are questioning entries. We used to
simply change the name on the top of the sheet and register five people. They
are doing their job, or trying to, but they are stretched in terms of
If you are now going to require filings for phone calls and meetings, that
will be between 300,000 and 400,000 filings per month. The government is
running a registry. Think of our experiences with this. I agree with Mr.
Duguay. Take the current budget for this office, and, if all you want them to
do is the paperwork, multiply it by 30.
For your information, the budget is now $3.5 million.
If you want them to analyze the paper and take action on problems, multiply
it by 50. The budget is $3.5 million.
I am not saying that transparency decisions should be made based on cost. I
am only saying to get your chequebook out because this will be expensive.
I would like to draw the attention of honourable senators to the logistics of
what we are attempting to do with this legislation. I believe the government
needs to carefully consider how the actual reporting will be conducted. The
current budget for the lobbying commissioner is $3.5 million for current
operations with a provision for more funding. The government must consider what
it wants from this office and fund it accordingly. There is a great probability
that unforeseen circumstances will create ballooning costs. Conversely, if the
funding is not available, we will have created a department that files paperwork
but does not have the resources to look into wrongdoing.
I believe the amount of funding in the drafting of the reporting mechanism
for lobbyists is an extremely important issue for this government to consider if
it really wants accountability or merely the perception of accountability.
In addition, the Senate committee recognized the difficulties faced by
not-for-profit organizations who, with limited budgets and staff, would struggle
to fulfill reporting requirements set out in Bill C-2. The committee has amended
the bill by equalling the reporting requirements of organizations and
corporations, making it a more consistent and fair process for all involved.
The amendment proposed by the Senate committee will strengthen the
commissioner's power, close loopholes in the legislation, and clarify and
improve the wording throughout the bill. This amendment will make the act more
consistent, guaranteeing the reporting of wrongdoing, all the while ensuring
that the reporting requirements are not so onerous as to drive lobbying
The changes that the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs made to Bill C-2 have improved this legislation. It will, with the
government's amendments, make government more transparent and accountable to
all. Thank you.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I welcome the opportunity to
address this legislation. The opportunity to work on this legislation, to work
as hard as the committee has worked and be part of that work to improve and
enhance the ability of this legislation to actually work, was a fulfilling
experience for me in my short time here. I hope that we have many other
opportunities to work in this way. It was an exceptional experience.
I would like to thank and recognize Senator Oliver for his work as chairman
of this committee. It is clear from some of the statements that he made in the
Senate and elsewhere that he was probably not fully in favour of us taking the
time we took to consider this legislation carefully. Nonetheless, he rose above
that viewpoint in administering and managing the committee through what was a
complex series of amendments. I think he is to be congratulated for that.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Mitchell: I would also like to recognize Senator Day, who
provided outstanding leadership in managing the efforts largely of the Liberal
senators to analyze this legislation and to present what I believe, and what I
believe Canadians will also understand, to be exceptionally worthwhile
amendments to a piece of legislation that was clearly flawed.
Having said that, it is clear the government in the other place does not
fully understand that the legislation was flawed, or is making every effort to
deny that by attacking us in the absence of making concerted substantive
comments outlining why this bill in fact was not flawed.
I want to express my disappointment at the statements of the Prime Minister
that have been destructive of this institution, not just of the Senate but also
of Parliament generally. Many people do not discern the difference. His attack
on our credibility was unfounded, unnecessary and was disappointing to me.
Equally, if not more disappointing, was the fact that to some extent the
Leader of the Government in the Senate actually abetted those attacks. We saw
residue of that today. Somehow, because the Senate, in undertaking its
constitutional obligation with constitutional legitimacy to review and provide
sober second thought on a bill that is so clearly flawed and needs that sober
second thought, in spite of that, even the Leader of the Government in the
Senate has been part of an attack on this institution.
It is a particularly debilitating attack when we begin to attack ourselves.
We can have a particularly destructive effect on the credibility of this
institution. I believe we should be more than willing, in fact, driven, to rise
above that kind of behaviour.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Mitchell: I think the behaviour of the Leader of the
Government in the Senate was unbecoming. I hope it does not become a habit.
The interesting thing in all of this is, despite the fact that the Prime
Minister and members of the government in the Senate will not admit, publicly or
expressly, that there are serious flaws in this legislation, they proposed more
than 40 amendments.
While one of the senators was quick to point out that the amendments were
technical, one was so fundamentally basic that they actually needed to clarify a
significant group of people to whom this legislation would apply because they
had misdefined the group to whom this legislation would apply. I refer to the
amendments that changed senior public office-holder to designated public
office-holder. That change seems to me to be far more than a technical mistake.
In fact, it underlines the need for us to have spent the time we did in
reviewing this legislation in the detail this committee reviewed it,
particularly the Liberal members of the committee.
I was shocked to hear earlier this week another member of the Senate say that
it was not our role to question government legislation or to change it. Surely,
that is exactly what our role was. This legislation was a clear-cut case for
where we should have applied that role.
Let me provide examples of how clear-cut it was. Not only does this complex
legislation cover a massive number of pieces of legislation and make many
changes, but there are also clear indications of where it was flawed.
First, there was a direct conflict between the cooling-off periods mentioned
in two different places in this legislation with respect to conflict of
interest. One part said two years, and another said five years. How is that to
be reconciled if we do not amend the bill?
With respect to the creation of a procurement auditor, one would expect if
such a position was created in this legislation, the legislation would give the
auditor auditing powers. However, there is no mention of auditing powers.
In fact, this legislation creates a procurement ombudsman who can question
and deal with people's complaints about the procurement process, and so we
naturally amended it to name it what it is: procurement ombudsman.
What is more disconcerting about the procurement auditor-ombudsman position
was that despite the fact that this government wants true accountability,
openness and transparency, this legislation would have left the power with the
Prime Minister to limit where the procurement audit could look. The Prime
Minister could simply say it is an area we do not want the procurement
auditor-ombudsman to investigate.
Not only that, but the procurement auditor position was further limited by
the fact that while the procurement auditor could review contracts — in fact,
that is about all the procurement auditor will be able to do — that person would
not have been able to cancel any contracts. What is the purpose of the function
rather than to look, after the fact and perhaps without the jurisdiction, into
those areas that require careful consideration?
This legislation deals with lobbying, limiting lobbyists and regulating what
lobbyists can do. At the same time, the bill fails to define what a lobbyist
This omission was glaring with respect to the National Citizens Coalition. Is
there anybody in this chamber who actually believes that the National Citizens
Coalition is not a lobbyist organization? Of course the coalition is a lobbyist
organization. The group refused to appear before that committee, ironically.
Not only is the organization clearly a lobbying group that tries to influence
public policy from a specific point of view, but we have no idea who contributes
to them with taxpayer deductions. We have no idea who pays for them to perform
that lobbying, and there is no requirement in Bill C-2 for the coalition to be
registered. If ever there was a lobby group that should be registered as a
lobbyist group, it would be the National Citizens Coalition. I do not know that
it is a coincidence that the Prime Minister was the former President of that
There are some places, honourable senators, where I should like to highlight
our improvements. Much has been made of the proposed cuts to party financing and
of our initiative to track the government from $5,200 limits now to $1,000. Our
proposed amendment puts that back to $2,000. There is much umbrage on the part
of the government with respect to that.
If I can share my opinion in this regard, political parties in this country,
despite the fact that some hold them in disrepute, play an exceptionally
important institutional role in this successful parliamentary system. I have
said in this chamber on a number of occasions that the parliamentary system as
we know it in Canada is the most successful system of government on the face of
the earth today. It has lasted hundreds of years, longer than any other system
of government. There are reasons for it being so successful, one of which is
that it has many mechanisms to develop consensus and to allow for consensus
decisions, which in turn allow for change but not precipitous change in our
democracy. Democracies that change in that way evolve successfully and are
successful democracies. However, if this government lowers the funding of
parties too far, the ability of political parties to participate in that
important public policy debate and political democratic debate will be stifled.
Ironically, again, while this proposed legislation would serve to do that,
the National Citizens Coalition can raise unlimited amounts of money and spend
unlimited amounts of money. While slightly limited during elections, for many
years between elections they can spend unlimited amounts of money, can literally
put billboards on every corner of every street in this country without any
restriction and participate fully in the political public policy democratic
debate. On the other hand, this government would have it that political parties
should be limited and stymied in their ability to do that.
Senator Austin: Well said.
Senator Mitchell: Therefore, we have proposed an increased to the
funding that has been prescribed in Bill C-2 — and not for a specific partisan
reason. The proposed increase would affect all parties, including small parties.
It is essential to the political process that we allow political parties to
function properly and adequately.
I will add that it is offensive to me that so much of what is done in this
proposed legislation and in this particular part of the bill is based upon some
fundamental suspicion that this government seems to have of government and of
people in the political process. Perhaps that is the experience of people in the
Conservative Party. My experience with people in the political process is that
almost every last one of them is well motivated to do what is right and fair and
to make this country better. I find it offensive that this proposed legislation
is so fundamentally premised upon suspicion of people who even dare to enter the
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Mitchell: I am not surprised, honourable senators, by this
government's sensitivity about this particular portion of the proposed
legislation. The reason for the government's sensitivity around this particular
issue is that they are in serious difficulty with the Chief Electoral Officer of
Canada as a result of their failure to properly register delegate fees to their
Senator Nolin made an aggressive statement that somehow Canadian taxpayers
should not be funding conventions. I beg to differ, honourable senators. If the
Conservative Party's methods were to be followed, there could be a $2-million
convention, and no Canadian outside the fundraisers and bag people in the
Conservative Party would have any idea of who bought and paid for that
convention. In other words, without a requirement for delegate fees to be
registered as proper contributions under the political contributions legislation
of this country, we would have no idea who funded their convention.
Senator LeBreton: We funded it ourselves.
Senator Mitchell: What companies funded it? Honourable senators, we
still do not know the majority of people who funded the Prime Minister's first
leadership convention. We still do not the majority of people who funded the
Minister of Foreign Affairs' leadership convention.
How do we know, honourable senators, what companies are benefiting from this
government's lack of an environmental policy? What companies are benefiting from
that that might have given money to the Prime Minister in his first leadership
race? I can understand why this government is so sensitive about that and why
they are trying to distract from the topic by alleging that the Liberals are
unnecessarily or inappropriately proposing to increase the reduced limits under
Bill C-2. Honourable senators, nothing could be more appropriate than what we
are attempting to do to amend the proposed reduction of limits under C-2. We
have to make the political process in this country fair and open and we must
allow people to participate as they should be able to participate in a properly
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, let me also say that I am
equally disappointed when I hear cheap political shots about how we, Liberals,
want to delay the implementation of this proposed legislation for some reason to
do with our leadership race. Let us talk about fairness.
First, small political parties, ones that are at the stage where the Reform
Party was in 1988 or 1989, who need to be nurtured to make this democratic
process work properly, have said that it would be onerous, difficult and
destructive for them to have to retroactively assess the impact of this bill, if
it is done retroactively.
In a sense of fairness, let us look at the following example: If an
individual contributed $6 to the Liberal Party earlier this year, under the
expectation that the contribution limit was $5,200, that individual would not be
able to attend the leadership convention, under Bill C-2 as it stands The
individual would be disenfranchised; he or she would need $995 but would only
have a remaining contribution amount of $994. Even the most partisan of these
senators — and many of them are on the Conservative side — would admit that that
is unfair and uncalled for, honourable senators.
The procurement auditor —
The Hon. the Speaker: Is Senator Mitchell requesting additional time?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Mitchell: I alluded earlier to the procurement auditor.
Clearly, it is not an auditor, if an auditor needs to have auditing powers,
because they are not in the legislation. We have proposed the name ombudsman,
because the function for this person will be to respond to any complaints that
are submitted by contractors in the public about the procurement process.
Interestingly enough, one could argue that this is just more expensive
bureaucracy that is probably not necessary. There were 416,000 contracts last
year and 50 complaints, 10 of which were seen to be legitimate by an external
tribunal. Who knows how much money the Conservatives will spend on this —
Conservatives who want less government and want to spend less money on
government. They do not even have a budget. They have no idea what this will
cost. We are calling it what it is — that is, an ombudsman. Not only that, we
will ensure that the Prime Minister does not have unlimited powers to limit what
that position does, and we are ensuring that that position actually has power to
do what it should be able to do if. If it finds a problem, it can cancel the
Finally, the parliamentary budget officer is not a bad idea. Before I sit
down, I wish to say that the idea of this bill is quite commendable, and we
support and embrace it. We just want it to work properly. The parliamentary
budget officer is a great idea. The problem is, once again, the government has
approach avoidance — that is, they want it but they are afraid of it. Under Bill
C-2, the parliamentary budget officer will be highly levered and influenced by
the government side and not by Parliament as a whole. Under Bill C-2, the input
of the opposition side of both Houses into the choice of that person is limited.
Under Bill C-2, the officials, the departments to whom that person might request
information, can give the information requested to the parliamentary budget
officer at their convenience. If the purpose is to have a parliamentary budget
officer who can do something in an objective and independent way, then the
individual must have the power to get the information and he or she cannot be
put off by a department or a minister who simply finds it inconvenient.
Finally, I shall turn to the subject of the Canadian Wheat Board. This is
very, very sneaky. Under this bill, the Canadian Wheat Board falls under the
Access to Information legislation. That is a guise to expose the Wheat Board to
competition because the release of some of this information would give
competitive advantage to international or multinational U.S. firms that would
come in here and compete and weaken the Wheat Board in a surreptitious way. Why
not just have a real vote and find out what would happen to the Wheat Board. The
answer, honourable senators: Because the Wheat Board will be supported by
western Canadian farmers. That is why. The government is afraid of that.
Thank you very much, honourable senators, for your attention and the extra
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: The honourable senator from Alberta is very
young, and I cannot believe that he is losing his memory. He talks about why we
are going through the process of accountability in Canada. Has he forgotten?
Just yesterday, I believe, was the anniversary of the Geometry report, which
triggered this accountability debate.
What did Canadians say in the last election, honourable senators? They said
it is time for change. I agree with Canadians. I cannot believe that any
honourable senator would stand in this place and question why we require the
proposed federal accountability act as it is. Maybe there are reasons for
questioning this bill and maybe there is good reason for some amendments;
however, for the honourable senator to stand there and accuse the other side,
while we stood and watched the entire scandal that unfolded just prior to the
last election, is totally unbelievable. How can he stand here, as an honourable
member of this place, and fail to mention that part of Canadian history, and the
darkest part of Canadian history, as far as I am concerned, which was attributed
totally to the Liberal Party?
Senator Mitchell: First, if they were responding to the Geometry
inquiry, why is it that Justice Geometry himself has said that there is not a
single feature of this piece of legislation that accommodates his
recommendations? Is that not an irony?
Second, yes, the Canadian people exercised accountability. They held us
accountable. What this government forgets is that electoral accountability is an
important feature of our democratic process.
Canadians are not stuck in the past. I do not know how many times I have to
listen to these people who should be standing up and proudly saying: We have
this idea to fix this problem or that problem. Instead, they dwell on the past
and tell us what we did wrong, without offering any solutions to do it better.
Third — and this is worth listening to — the Prime Minister stood in front of
public servants and said: It was not your fault. Of course, the Liberals are not
there anymore, so we do not have to be censured by this kind of thing. Who is
left? The government is left, and clearly they do not trust themselves.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to introduce
three new pages who will be working with us this year.
First, Stéphane von Rhyn, who was born in Zurich, Switzerland. After living
there for two years, he and his family moved to Canada. He was a very active
child and played many sports, as well as playing the piano for a number of
years. He is a second-year business student, specializing in accounting, and
says he is very honoured to have been selected to serve the Senate of Canada.
Second, Colleen Leminski was born in New Westminster, British Columbia, and
raised in Nepean, Ontario. In June 2006, Colleen participated in the
Canada-Washington Parliamentary Internship Program and travelled to Washington,
D.C., to work with a senator on Capitol Hill. Colleen is currently in her fourth
year at the University of Ottawa, studying psychology.
Finally, Valerie Tso was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. Valerie spent
her formative years cultivating interest in vocal music and the French language.
In the Toronto-wide OMLTA French contest in 2005, Valerie placed second overall
and won first place in written composition. Valerie is currently in her second
year at the University of Ottawa, studying psychology.
Also, honourable senators, I am pleased to introduce one House of Commons
page who has been participating in the page exchange this past week. Tessa
Button, of Surrey, British Columbia, is enrolled in the Faculty of Arts at the
University of Ottawa, majoring in English.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Carney, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Murray, P.C., for the second reading of
Bill S-220, to protect heritage lighthouses.—(Honourable Senator Comeau)
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I was seconder of the motion
yesterday on the second reading of Bill S-220. As was pointed out, it is a bill
that is now here for the sixth time. The urgency and timeliness of the matter
will, I think, be obvious. May I ask whether there is a timeline in terms of its
referral to committee? Yesterday I heard the Liberal senator, Senator Munson,
indicate that he would reserve his comments until third reading, and I wondered
whether the act of second reading and referral to committee will be very long
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): No, it will
certainly not be a long delay. We have a process by which internally we on this
side look at when private members' bills are placed before us. We try to get an
indication from ministers as to their thinking on it, and then we request one of
our members to speak on the bill.
There is a process that we go through, and it is a due process. We do not
delay bills unduly. Yes, this bill has been before previous Parliaments. That
does not mean that this new Parliament will automatically accept every bill that
was before the previous Parliament. Each Parliament must approach these bills in
its own fashion, and this Parliament should not be any different from previous
Senator Murray: In terms of having one of the government supporters
speak to this bill, one of the members of my honourable friend's caucus, I
simply wanted to remind the deputy leader that the bill was sponsored by Senator
Carney. I want to confirm that he still regards her as one of his colleagues.
Senator Comeau: We treat our colleagues with the best of deference as
a leadership should, for both sides, including some of our former members who
used to be supportive. The future leader of the Liberal side notwithstanding, we
give best consideration to all private members' bills, as we should. I think
Senator Murray knows that I am from a region that has a great deal of interest
in lighthouses. One of the most famous is close to my home in Yarmouth, Cape
Forchu lighthouse, with which I have a lot of attachment. I live within a short
distance of a number of lighthouses, and some that we have lost over time that
are still there. I attach a lot of importance to this bill, as do people on the
West Coast, the East Coast and, I am sure, people who do not live on the coasts.
Senator Murray: I will close by saying that my favourite lighthouse in
northern Cape Breton ended up on St. Laurent Boulevard here, at the Canada
Science and Technology Museum. I hope the honourable senator's lighthouse is
spared the same fate, which it will be if we pass this bill.
Hon. Jack Austin: Regarding Bill S-220, I ask the leader whether it is
the position of the government to support that bill.
Senator Comeau: Once it goes through the Senate, and once we send it
eventually to committee, we will try to get an indication about whether the
current government accepts this current bill. We will find out at that point.
This is the process that we go through.
Senator Austin: Honourable senators, it would be of great assistance
to this chamber and to those interested in lighthouses to know that the
government supports the bill at least in principle so that we can apply
ourselves to the task.
Senator Comeau: This kind of question eventually can be discussed at
the committee; that is, whether the current minister accepts the principle of
the bill. We are going through the process and we do not rush through bills
quickly because —
Senator Mercer: Oh, we can take time?
Senator Comeau: Would Senator Mercer like to answer the question or
would he like to hear what I have to say?
This bill will be treated with the due respect it deserves, as I indicated to
Senator Murray a few minutes ago. I think it has great potential.
Senator Austin: I wanted to confirm, honourable senators, that, in
accord with Senator Murray's comments, it is not only her former colleagues on
that side or her present colleagues on the opposition side but even senators
from British Columbia on this side who are aware of the impatience that Senator
Carney can bring to any issue.
Senator Comeau: Senator Austin, I think, has indicated a reality of
which a lot of people in this chamber are aware.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it the agreement of the house that the matter
stands adjourned in the name of Senator Comeau?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette,
P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Rompkey, P.C., for the second reading
of Bill S-207, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children).—(Honourable
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, the protection of children is a matter of utmost importance to all
Canadians, which is why we must debate this bill in detail. I therefore move
adjournment of the debate.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-208,
An Act to require the Minister of the Environment to establish, in co-operation with the provinces, an agency with the power to identify and protect
Canada's watersheds that will constitute sources of drinking water in the
future.—(Honourable Senator Comeau)
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, protecting Canada's watersheds that will constitute sources of
drinking water for future generations is very important to all Canadians. That
is why this bill warrants a thorough debate and should receive our full
attention. I therefore move adjournment of the debate.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-204,
respecting a National Philanthropy Day.—(Honourable Senator Prud'homme,
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, as chair of a charitable
foundation and someone who has been active in that field all my life, I believe
this bill is a worthwhile endeavour. I was planning to speak to this bill after
Senator Prud'homme. I notice that the item is to fall off the Order Paper
tomorrow, so I would like to adjourn and reserve my time for next week when I
intend to speak to the bill.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Meighen, for the second reading of Bill S-218, An
Act to amend the State Immunity Act and the Criminal Code (civil remedies for
victims of terrorism).—(Honourable Senator Meighen)
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I rise today to speak about Bill S-218 introduced by Senator Tkachuk
I would first like to thank our colleague for all the work he has done to
bring his bill to the attention of the Senate and express his conviction that
this legislation is absolutely necessary.
This is not the first time that such a bill is introduced by Senator Tkachuk.
In the spring of 2005, he introduced Bill S-35 which, despite the differences
between it and Bill S-218, had practically the same objective: defend victims'
rights and provide them with a civil remedy against persons who engage in
His efforts are starting to pay off, and he constantly reminds us of the
benefits of this legislative measure. Two similar bills are currently on the
Order Paper in the other place: one in the name of Liberal member Susan Caddis
and the other in the name of Conservative member Nina Grewal.
The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce published an
interim report on October 3, with recommendations for eliminating the loopholes
that allow money laundering to occur and whose application could contribute to
limiting the funds terrorists can draw from to finance their activities.
All parliamentarians are unanimous in recognizing the importance of adopting
measures to dry up the sources of funding used by terrorists and to help victims
of terrorism. I hope this consensus will translate into legislative solutions
that will benefit Canadians.
In his speech in the Senate on June 22, Senator Tkachuk provided the original
context for introducing these bills. He explained it quite well, quoting David
Hayer, a member of the B.C. Legislative Assembly, who said terrorism is all
pervasive and touches us all in varying degrees.
Senator Tkachuk also pointed out that, in February 2002, Canada ratified the
International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism,
through UN Security Council resolution 1373. As the senator said:
...Article 2 of the convention obligates Canada, as a signatory, to take
the necessary measures against any person that, by any means, directly or
indirectly, unlawfully and wilfully, provides or collects funds with an
intention that they should be used or in the knowledge that they are to be
used in full or in part in order to carry out offences under the convention.
The reality is quite simple: we cannot escape terrorism. We are obliged to do
everything in our power to dry up the funds used by terrorists to finance their
I will digress for a moment just to give you an idea of the significant
amounts of money used by terrorists.
Between 2004 and 2005, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre
of Canada, or FINTRAC, traced some $180 million in transactions that were
potentially related to terrorist activities.
The purpose of this legislative measure is to ensure that these monies,
rather than serving terrorists, benefit the victims of terrorist activities. The
bill essentially proposes two amendments to that end. First, it amends the State
Immunity Act, adopted in 1982, to prevent foreign states that engage in
terrorist activity from claiming immunity from the jurisdiction of Canadian
courts. This is a radical departure from the current wording of the legislation,
whereby proceedings may be brought against foreign states only for breach of a
commercial contract. They enjoy immunity in matters of civil responsibility.
There is nothing really new about the amendment proposed in Bill S-218. The
U.S. Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, for example, provides for the establishment
of a system of shared public and private compensation for insured losses
resulting from acts of terrorism. There have been cases where Americans have
instituted proceedings against a state because of terrorist activities.
As Senator Tkachuk said:
When the Canadian government became aware of the damages that Canadians
face through the breach of commercial contracts, it ensured that the State
Immunity Act did not include absolute immunity with regard to commercial
activities. The same must be done to combat the state-sponsored terrorism that
exists today to prevent foreign states that engage in terrorist activity from
claiming immunity from the jurisdiction of the Canadian courts.
The debate on this bill will be useful because it will help us gain a better
understanding of the extent to which Canadians are harmed by state-sponsored
terrorism. By amending this legislation, we can put an end to these activities.
Bill S-218 amends the Criminal Code to provide victims who suffer loss or
damage as a result of terrorist activity contrary to that act with a civil
remedy against the person who engaged in the terrorist activity.
There are precedents for this in other jurisdictions. For example, British
Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta have introduced legislative measures
giving their governments the right to seize the proceeds of criminal activities.
British Columbia is seeking to authorize the conversion of these assets into a
fund to compensate victims of crime.
According to our Criminal Code, courts can order an offender to compensate a
victim. Section 737 of the Criminal Code also authorizes the court to impose a
"victim surcharge" in addition to any other punishment imposed. The surcharge
is deposited into a fund, as determined by each province or territory, to
provide assistance to victims of crime.
Bill S-218 will apply "retroactively." It will not change the legal
consequences of a past case, but it will change the future legal consequences of
that case. This means it will be possible for victims of terrorist acts, such as
the events of September 11, 2001, to initiate legal proceedings.
I would emphasize that this bill is in line with the government's commitment
to reduce crime and support victims of crime. Bill S-218 deserves more thorough
consideration. It is difficult to disagree with its underlying principles, which
are that we must help victims of terrorism and stop those who commit these
I urge honourable senators to send Bill S-218 to committee, without delay,
for further study. We want justice to be served. We want to do everything in our
power to put a stop to terrorist activities. We want to fulfil our obligation
under the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of
Bill S-218 gives us a tool with which to protect Canadians and fulfil our
obligations. We must act immediately. We owe it to Canadians. For these reasons,
I strongly support Senator Tkachuk's bill.
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, I would first like to
congratulate Senator Comeau on his speech. I have very little left to add, apart
from expressing my support for Bill S-218.
Indeed, during the last session I supported a similar bill, Bill S-35, which
unfortunately did not see the light of day and died on the Order Paper.
I last spoke on the issue a mere two weeks after the July 7, 2005, terrorist
attacks in London. We were reminded once again of the constant threat of
terrorism that our society faces on September 16 of this year when a Canadian
lost his life in Thailand. Separatists had detonated bombs outside two shopping
malls, a hotel, a pub and a cinema, taking the lives of innocent civilians.
These types of attacks continue to threaten Canadians and like-minded nations
in this new era of global terrorism.
Honourable senators, when such an incident occurs, it is more than the direct
victims who suffer. Anytime Canadians are victims of terrorist activities, their
family and friends, and Canada as a whole, all suffer with them.
The family and friends of the 154 Canadians killed in the Air India blast,
and all Canadians from coast to coast to coast, continue to mourn their loss.
Everyone who knew them will never forget those Canadians who lost their lives on
September 11, 2001.
Canadians need the necessary means to bring those responsible for supporting
terrorism to justice. Under the State Immunity Act, victims of terrorism and
their survivors now lack the necessary means to hold foreign states accountable
for supporting the killing of innocent Canadians. Currently, under the State
Immunity Act, Canadians can hold to account foreign states that breach
commercial contracts. This provision was not always the case. However, the State
Immunity Act was amended and modernized to provide the tools necessary to deal
with the breaches of contract. As I have stated before, it is time for the State
Immunity Act to evolve once again in order to deal with the ever-growing threat
of terrorism to our citizens.
Canadians should and must have the right to hold accountable those foreign
states that sponsor terrorist activity. No longer should states be immune from
the consequences of harbouring or permitting terrorist groups to train on their
Bill S-218 will send a message to the entire international community that
Canada is a country that does not stand for state-sponsored terrorism.
Bill S-218 improves upon the former Bill S-35. I support these small, yet
significant, changes. For instance, the limitation period with respect to a
terrorist attack will not begin to run until after a victim is capable of
commencing a proceeding. Factors such as physical, mental or, indeed,
psychological injuries, or being unaware of the identity of those responsible,
would therefore not impede justice.
Judgments by a foreign court in favour of a person who has suffered from
terrorist activity prohibited under the Criminal Code would be given full force
and credit. These changes make Bill S-218 an even more powerful tool for those
who seek justice.
Honourable senators, we are fighting a new kind of battle and Canadians
require the necessary tools to hold those responsible for supporting terrorism
accountable. In the present context, our nation's laws stand in the way of
justice being done.
I encourage all honourable senators to support Bill S-218. Canada must send
an unequivocal message to the world that we will not tolerate actions by foreign
states that support terrorism. Bill S-218 sends that message loud and clear, and
I ask you to support it.
The Hon. the Speaker: I advise the house that if Senator Tkachuk
speaks now it will have the effect of closing the debate.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I would like to thank Senator
Grafstein and colleagues on the other side as well as colleagues on this side
who have given support to this bill. I also thank Senator Meighen and Senator
Comeau on this side for speaking on Bill S-218.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report of the Special
Senate Committee on Senate Reform (motion to amend the Constitution of Canada
(western regional representation in the Senate), without amendment but with
observations), presented in the Senate on October 26, 2006.—(Honourable
Hon. Daniel Hays (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I
move the adoption of this report.
Honourable senators, today we are examining the second report of the Special
Senate Committee on Senate Reform, which deals with the Murray-Austin motion
proposing to increase western regional representation in the Senate.
Honourable senators, although you are familiar with the Murray-Austin motion,
at least I assume you are, our report having been on the Order Paper for a few
days, I will explain for the record what provisions of the Constitution it
addresses and my understanding of how the motion will proceed if adopted by the
Section 38(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, provides the general amending
formula for our Constitution. This section requires that the legislatures of at
least two-thirds, or seven of the provinces, representing 50 per cent of the
population, as well as the Senate and the House of Commons, pass resolutions
authorizing amendments such as the one proposed by the Murray-Austin motion.
Furthermore, section 42 of the Constitution stipulates that an amendment to
the Constitution in relation to the number of members by which a province is
entitled to be represented in the Senate can only be made in accordance with
section 38(1). Should this motion be adopted by the Senate, the next step, as
Senator Murray noted on June 27, will be to refer it to the other legislatures,
which is to say the House of Commons and the provincial assemblies, who would
have three years to consider it as stipulated by section 38(1) of the
Moreover, as Senator Murray underlined in his speech, provisions of what was
Bill C-110 and is now the 1996 federal Constitutional Amendments Act on regional
vetoes would not apply since the amendment is not proposed by a minister of the
Senator Murray and Senator Austin introduced their motion because they
believe there is an imbalance in regional representation in the Senate that
should be addressed and they propose a constitutional amendment that would
create British Columbia as a fifth region and increase the number of western
senators. Accordingly, if the resolution passes through all the required stages,
British Columbia will have 12 senators from six, Alberta will have 10 from six,
and Saskatchewan and Manitoba will each have seven from their current six.
I believe the intention behind the Murray-Austin motion to be in keeping with
several precedents in our history. Indeed, since 1867 several changes have been
made to the number and distribution of Senate seats. As we said in our report,
most of these changes increased the size of the Senate as new provinces were
added to the federation, starting with two senators for Manitoba in 1870, three
senators for British Columbia in 1871 and four senators for Prince Edward Island
in 1873. In 1887 the territory then known as the Northwest Territories was given
two seats in the Senate. In 1905 the newly created provinces of Alberta and
Saskatchewan were given four seats each.
Moreover, the addition of new provinces prompted an increase in the number of
Senate seats assigned to some existing provinces while producing a reduction for
others. The most important change, however, occurred in 1915, with the creation
of a fourth division known as the West.
Other changes include the six Senate seats assigned to Newfoundland and
Labrador upon its entry into our federation in 1949, along with the addition of
two seats to the Northwest Territories and Yukon in 1975, and one seat for the
newly created territory of Nunavut in 1999.
Although several changes have occurred in the number of Senate seats since
1867, this institution, as Senator Murray noted on June 27, has not evolved in
more than 90 years with regard to western representation. Given the important
economic expansion and population increases in the west over the last several
decades, it certainly seems that the issue of under-representation needs to be
addressed sooner rather than later.
Honourable senators, although the members of our committee were not
unanimous, most support the Murray-Austin motion.
As our report indicates, the members of this committee urge senators from all
regions of Canada to support the motion, in order to give the government and the
legislative assemblies a starting point for providing the western provinces with
more equitable representation in the Senate.
Besides addressing western representation our committee also dealt with the
issues of whether the motion went far enough, whether the distribution of Senate
seats was a serious cause of alienation and whether the proposed new
distribution would dilute representation of other regions of the country. None
of the concerns raised caused the committee to change its support for the
motion, although it did generate lively discussion.
To comment in passing, we are familiar with a number of modern proposals on
the distribution of Senate seats. The Triple-E movement that is basically an
Alberta movement for an equal, effective and elected Senate strongly recommends
a Senate that has equal numbers from each province. In fact, the Charlottetown
accord provided for equal numbers from each province but did not pass the test
of a referendum.
We in the committee heard interesting discussion of another proposal under
discussion. It was discussed primarily by Professor Resnick of the University of
British Columbia. It would involve a model different from Triple-E or from the
four or five regions proposed in the Murray-Austin motion. It is a model
somewhat like the German Bundesrat where the provinces would be divided into the
categories of large, medium and small and would be allocated, as they are in
Germany with respect to the Länder, a certain number of seats according to their
population. This model is very interesting and important, and hopefully this
will become part of our longer-term discussion on this issue.
I have also noted that since the reallocation of Senate seats 90 years ago,
we now have remarkable under-representation in the Senate from the West. It is
interesting to look at that in the context of representation by population and,
in particular, the effect of the constitutional guarantee of seats in the House
no less than seats in the Senate and the Representation Act, 1985, which
guarantees no fewer seats for a province than it held in 1976.
Honourable senators, if the Murray-Austin motion is adopted and then
submitted to the federal and provincial assemblies, it would officially launch
the amendment ratification process established by our Constitution which, as I
mentioned earlier, has provision for a three-year deadline, along with the
accompanying controversy and issues to which such a matter would give rise.
However, aside from the motion's precise wording, an opportunity would also
arise for a full and open discussion that would not be constrained by external
deadlines. Some of the witnesses who testified before the committee suggested
that exploratory discussions take place to sound out the opinion of Canadians
and determine whether a consensus could be established on the broader issue of
Senate reform. Members of the committee were optimistic and felt the time was
right for such discussions, believing that the Murray-Austin motion's proposal
to increase western representation offers an excellent starting point.
In support of that, Alberta's Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Gary
Marr, demonstrated a degree of openness and optimism in this regard when he
appeared before our committee. He said:
...on previous occasions, when attempts were made to reform the Senate, we
came close, and compromise was made by all provinces. This situation, in the
right circumstances, may be the case again at some point in the future.
Time will tell whether this is that point. In any event, that is the spirit
behind the Murray-Austin motion and one which I applaud.
Honourable senators, the under-representation of the West in the Senate is a
matter that must be dealt with seriously. As indicated in our report, the need
to increase the proportion of seats attributed to the western provinces is a
recurring theme in most of the main proposals for Senate reform brought forward
over the past 40 years.
All the serious proposals since 1984 have had the goal of substantially
increasing western representation in the Senate.
That concludes my remarks. I would be pleased to answer any questions.
Hon. David Tkachuk: I thank Senator Hays for that speech. On the
question of the number of senators for each region, it is my understanding that
prior to Confederation, when it was thought that Prince Edward Island would be
part of the federation, an agreement was made for the Maritimes to have 24
senators. Therefore, in 1871, when Prince Edward Island joined the federation,
they knew how many senators they would have.
At that time, the three Maritime provinces were recognized as a region and a
fundamental decision was made to give equality to regions by giving them each an
equal number of senators. There were 24 from Quebec, 24 from Ontario and 24 from
Senator Hays: That is my understanding as well, honourable senators.
Senator Tkachuk's example of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
is an interesting one in that I believe it is the only example of provinces
giving up seats that were allocated to them to accommodate another province.
Prince Edward Island received two from each of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. It
is my understanding that that has happened at no other time in our history. The
willingness of the statesmen in Charlottetown to make that kind of accommodation
is a remarkable example of the spirit of that time.
I am not sure whether that region was called the Maritimes when it consisted
of only Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and became the Atlantic region when Prince
Edward Island came into the federation or whether the three provinces were
called the Maritimes and the region became the Atlantic region when Newfoundland
joined. In any event, it is known to me now as the Atlantic region, which is a
simpler way of categorizing it post-1949.
Senator Tkachuk: I stand to be corrected, but I thought there was an
agreement for 24 senators, that P.E.I. did not become part of Confederation, and
that it just regained the senators it had lost in 1871 that were given to the
two other provinces. Perhaps Senator Murray, who has been in the Maritimes a
long time, could help us poor westerners through that.
Senator Oliver: He is an Ontario senator.
Senator Tkachuk: However, he spends a lot of time in Nova Scotia. That
is his real love.
British Columbia will be recognized as one of five regions by virtue of being
given a veto. Some of the discussion in the West about proper representation and
equality has been about our lack of senators, considering our wide expanse and
the fact that B.C. is recognized as a region in the Constitution.
Does the honourable senator support giving B.C. and the Prairies each 24
seats, therefore creating a regional balance that I believe would make most
Canadians feel very positive about the direction in which the Senate is going?
Senator Hays: Senator Murray has commented in a helpful way, and I
agree with him. The proposal would bring the Prairie region up to 24 — 10, seven
and seven — with B.C. having 12 seats. It reflects the situation that occurred
in the 1870s when the provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba originally
joined the federation and did not receive six seats. They did not have six seats
Throughout our history we have seen the allocation of Senate seats to
provinces evolve until 1915 when the West was given 24 seats. The Murray-Austin
motion is an invitation to revisit that situation almost 100 years later, but
allocating 12 seats to B.C. rather than 24.
Currently, the province of British Columbia has one senator for every 700,000
people, compared to Alberta which has one senator per 500,000 people. Today,
there is one senator for every 526,000 citizens in Ontario, one senator for
every 500,000 citizens of Alberta, and one senator for every 700,000 British
If Murray-Austin were implemented, it would smooth that out, perhaps not by
looking at those statistics but by sensing that, if they went to 24, that would
be quite distorted, that 12 is the number arrived at.
Senator Tkachuk: There should not be 24 in the picture, and I
certainly do not buy the message that senators should be allotted on the basis
of population. Senators should be allotted on the basis of lack of population.
That was the whole idea. Alberta is getting many more members in the House of
Commons because its population is growing. At the same time, it is getting more
senators. Saskatchewan and Manitoba, having a million people, are getting only
one more. I would buy three times eight for 24 on the basis of equality and,
certainly, on the basis that B.C. should have 24. However, with respect to the
idea of allotting senators by population, perhaps Ontario should have 100,
certainly, as compared to Prince Edward Island. That is exactly where we are
going with this formula where senators will be chosen on the basis of population
rather than on the equal regions being given an equal number of senators, which
was the original intent in 1867, and this thing is taking it out of whack.
Senator Hays: That is a very good point of discussion.
Senator Tkachuk: It is!
Senator Hays: Honourable senators will recall that Senator Adams said
that, based on territory, Nunavut should have three senators. I am not sure
whether we would go there. In any event, if the number is based on land mass,
then that would make some sense.
If we use historical numbers, we have the suggestion to make some changes
that would be much appreciated in the West and would make sense to me at the
present time, even on a stand-alone basis.
However, it is a combination of things: area, the economy and the passage of
time since an adjustment was made. Of course, Bill C-110, the regional veto act,
which is quoted at length in our materials that were distributed by the Library
of Parliament, makes the case for B.C. being a region. Having made that case,
Senator Murray and Senator Austin have come up with, as we did in the 1870s and
later in 1915, a very practical suggestion. I am sure it takes into
consideration, to some degree, population. I do not think there is any hard and
fast rule on population.
With regard to the House of Commons, there is not true representation by
population there, either. I would not interfere with that in any way. However,
we do not look at that strictly in terms of population. We recognize the
historic right of some provinces to more seats than they would be entitled to by
just dividing the number of seats in the House of Commons by the population.
Murray-Austin does not interfere with that, which is probably a good idea.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, the only way I can do what I
want to do and remain within the rules is to ask whether Senator Hays would mind
reminding Senator Tkachuk of a couple of matters. I cannot ask Senator Tkachuk a
It is the point that Senator Hays has just made, with regard to
representation by population in the House of Commons, which is certainly
modified rep by pop. Senator Tkachuk mentioned Alberta, and it is supposedly
growing and, I am sure, will be growing representation in the House of Commons.
However, because it is modified rep by pop over there, Alberta, British Columbia
and Ontario are the only three provinces that are not overrepresented in the
House of Commons.
With regard to the question of whether it should be 12 or 24 senators from
British Columbia, I would defer to Senator Austin on the matter. We came to the
conclusion that the formula we came up with was more likely to attract the
necessary support. However, if Senator Hays would remind Senator Tkachuk that if
another and better consensus emerges, Senator Austin and I will be quick to
clamber aboard the band wagon.
Senator Hays: Senator Murray can take it as said.
The honourable senator raised the issue of the House seats. Using the current
population, if one were to divide Canada's population by 308 seats, there would
be 105,000 per seat. As Senator Murray said, British Columbia, Alberta and
Ontario are underrepresented by that measure, where each of them has an average
number of 119,000 per riding, compared to what it would be if we had true rep by
pop throughout the country of 105,000. Saskatchewan has 70,000 per seat.
Perhaps it has been the genius of Canada, or I am not sure what. It reflects
what we do in so many ways. We do not follow a precise, rigid rule. We tend to
have flexibility, and it has served us well. The Murray-Austin motion
demonstrates that kind of flexibility.
Senator Tkachuk: I do not argue with the fact that there should be
more senators. What I argue with is that there is a principle behind how many
senators each region should have. If Western Canada is a region, then it should
have 24. However, if we say that B.C. should have 12, Alberta should have 10 and
Saskatchewan and Manitoba should have seven each, as soon as that can of worms
is open, we are treating people differently. I am not interested in the West
receiving the crumbs given by somebody as if they are giving the Prairies and
B.C. something. They are not giving anybody anything. We either have a principle
that we follow, and if B.C. is recognized as a region, then it should get 24. If
the Prairies are recognized as a region, they should get 24, and they should be
equally divided between the three prairie provinces. That is my argument, and it
is a strong argument to make. Senator Murray would find a lot of consensus for
that argument in this place. I do not think anybody in Eastern Canada, Ontario
or Quebec wants to deny equal representation amongst all five regions in Canada,
which would go a long way to keeping the country together.
Senator Hays: The argument of the honourable senator is an example of
why it can be difficult to reach agreement on these matters. That is probably
why we have now focused not on divisions but rather on provinces as the base.
Professor Resnick's comments were helpful in support of that, and, of course,
the strongest movement we have had in modern times on Senate reform is the one
that the honourable senator alluded to, the Triple-E movement, which is the same
for each province. It was achieved in the Charlottetown Accord, but at a very
high price, by increasing the number of House seats in each of Ontario and
Quebec by the number of Senate seats that they would lose, if I am not mistaken.
I would not trade a Senate seat for a House seat today. However, you can do
these things. They are hard, but too much rigidity can make it difficult to
reach agreement. I appreciate the motion of Senator Murray and Senator Austin
recognizing the Canadian tradition of flexibility.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: I have a question for Senator Hays. I am
concerned that any time we talk about Senate reform and changing how this place
is configured, we get into the discussion of representation by population. That
is not what this place is about. Senator Tkachuk and I do agree it is about
regions. If British Columbia is to be a region then I look forward to the day of
having 18 more Senator Campbells in this place. That ought to end the debate on
I am concerned that the fundamental principle, from my point of view, is the
Maritimes. There are two definitions of people from east of Quebec. There are
Maritimers such as those of us from the great province of Nova Scotia, from New
Brunswick and from Prince Edward Island. Then there is another province further
east called Newfoundland. When you put the four of us together, we are Atlantic
Provinces and Atlantic Canadians with 30 senators.
However, when we came into Confederation, the original provinces, Ontario,
Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, were a region, as defined at the
beginning. I love the topic of Senate reform because listening to the public,
they condemn Mr. Martin, Mr. Chrétien, Mr. Trudeau, Mr. Pearson, Mr. Mulroney
and everyone else for the inequity of this place, but no one talks about good
old Sir John A. It was not his fault either. He did not know that regions would
evolve. He did not know there was oil in Alberta. He did not know we would have
a Pacific gateway to the Far East or that the Okanagan would develop the way it
My question is: How do you protect the region of the Maritimes? This question
is also important to Quebec. We see these 24 seats as giving us an equal status
in the Senate and this is the only place we will be equal. We will never, ever
be equal in the House of Commons in numbers because our population will never
grow that large, certainly not in the foreseeable future. How do you maintain
our strength and importance in this place when you talk about population,
expanding regions and perhaps making another province a single region? How do we
maintain the balance for the Maritimes?
Senator Hays: It depends on what you mean by balance. Many of these
models for Senate reform, none that we have spent any time on, involve a major
reallocation of seats that would interfere with constitutional guarantees with
House seats no fewer than Senate seats and so on. We should protect the Maritime
region, the Atlantic region.
However, we cannot have change and no change at the same time. We have had a
long period of no change and I think we need to be prepared to change and to
make adjustments. The Murray-Austin motion gives us strength. We have had 100
years without change, but at some point there will be change; it will become
more and more of an issue. It is not a huge issue now, which is why it is a
great time to have it under discussion.
I am in favour of full and fair protection for the historic rights of the
Maritime and Atlantic region, but at the same time if it means that we simply
never change the Senate or the number of seats in the Senate, I think over time
that would be a dangerous approach.
Senator Mercer: My final question.
The Hon. the Speaker: I wonder whether Senator Mercer would let me
make a procedural observation for the house.
I think it is important that all honourable senators are focused on the fact
that the motion that is before us is to adopt the second report of the special
committee. The effect of adopting that would be like adopting the report of
another committee that is seized with a bill. If that report comes in from
another committee with no amendments we adopt that, and it means the bill has
been adopted at report stage.
However, with a bill, there is one more step and that is third reading of the
bill. In this instance, my understanding of the procedure is that if the report
was to be adopted it would be to adopt the resolution. There is no third reading
phase. I wanted all honourable senators to be fully aware of that.
Senator Oliver: All they are looking at was the subject matter.
Senator Mercer: The comments of the Speaker tie in with my final
comment to Senator Hays. Are you happy with the piecemeal way that we are going
about Senate reform? We are talking about the Austin-Murray motion, about
limiting terms of senators to eight years or however it will end up when we
finish with that bill. We have heard from the Prime Minister publicly musing
about some form of election process, formal or informal, in the provinces to
select replacements for the vacant seats in this place.
Are you happy that we are approaching Senate reform piecemeal? Does it not
make more sense to say that we all accept the need for changes to Western
Canada, maybe we do need term limits on senators' terms and yes, maybe we do
want to talk about elections. Perhaps, then, we want to talk about our
responsibilities as representatives of regions. Yes, maybe we want to talk about
the fact that if we are elected and we are effective and maybe equal, then what
other powers do we have that we presently do not have. How are the powers that
rest in the national Parliament distributed so that this place has a different
power, or do we get some powers from the provinces?
I was content that the council of first ministers evolved and has taken some
of the powers. How do you feel about this piecemeal approach? To me it seems
silly. I think it is political from the point of view of the current government,
and I think we are better off standing back and attempting to do the whole
package right. We will talk about an elected Senate; we will talk about an equal
Senate; and we will talk about an effective Senate. We will make sure we cover
all the bases, then come back to this place with a proposal that covers all of
this package, not just fixing a problem in British Columbia, in the Prairies and
with term limits.
Senator Hays: I am almost happy, if I can put it that way, because it
is an opportunity to talk about the enormous challenge we face in institutional
reform in Canada. I think that we do not talk about it enough in a dispassionate
way. We often wait until there is a grievance. The 1982 Constitution Act gave
rise to a grievance in Quebec and also attracted a grievance in Western Canada,
which was the heart of the Triple-E movement.
I agree with you the reform of the Senate is a major project and once you get
into it you become drawn into all elements of it. I do not think what Senator
Murray and Senator Austin propose does that. I think that the matter is a
stand-alone one that could be taken under consideration and would address,
before it becomes a huge issue, the under-representation in the Senate of the
When the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs for Ontario was here, she said
do not do anything — a little bit like the honourable senator's comment — and if
you do anything, give us more seats. She said, "We want rep by pop in the
Senate. We have 30-some odd per cent of the population and 22 per cent of the
Senate seats; we want to have 30 per cent of the Senate seats." I suspect that
that is a negotiating position more than a real final position.
Anyway, I think it is good we are talking about it in a context where there
is not a huge amount at stake. Whether it succeeds or not will not be a big
issue, but it does introduce the subject and, hopefully, takes us along the way
to something that is much needed, that is, understanding and appreciating that
things are unlikely to remain the same. The protections we built in the 1870s
and the early 1900s are important, but now, in the 21st century, it is an
appropriate time to look at them and see if there are some adjustments that
would head off problems down the line.
Senator Oliver mentioned that it was a subject-matter study, when the Speaker
explained what was happening here — that the study of Bill S-4 was a
subject-matter study; it is not. This was a reference to the committee of the
resolution moved by Senator Murray and seconded by Senator Austin to increase
seats and create a new division.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, the last part of
Senator Hays' reply is of interest to me. I agree that the historical evolution
of Canada requires that the way we look at our institutions must evolve as well.
That being said, I would like to remind you that proportionality between
Quebec and Ontario changed during the time of the union. Although Quebec had the
plurality, during that entire period Ontario rejected a central government for
reasons that are obvious to us but were also obvious to the Quebecers who were
negotiating. This gave rise to the compromise of a Parliament with a first
chamber having proportional representation and a second chamber where Ontario
and Quebec would be equal.
Given the last part of your answer, do you believe that we must distance
ourselves from the nature of this compromise in order to evolve or — and I add
my voice to that of my colleagues from Atlantic Canada — must we re-examine this
compromise to draw maximum benefit from it without losing sight of its
importance, given that it resulted in the birth of Canada?
Senator Hays: Compromises are important. We need to make compromises,
and we have, and they should be respected.
The Representation Act, 1985, is an important one for Quebec. It came in when
a new Conservative government was formed after 1984. As I said earlier, it
guaranteed provinces no fewer seats than they had in 1976, which was based on
the 1971 census.
Quebec has, as I understand it, 75 seats. Had there not been that compromise,
Quebec would have 65 seats — and that was important to Quebec. It addressed a
concern at the time and represented an important compromise at that moment.
There will be the need to make compromises in the future. In this particular
case, it is not as pressing; but it is, in the case of Murray-Austin, a moment
for reflection on what is happening in the provinces of British Columbia and
Alberta, in particular. There is some advisability of looking at it on a
Is it a compromise? Of course. It would be a compromise, as well, because it
would reduce Quebec's percentage of seats in the Senate — but not by a lot. I
think part of the reasoning of Murray-Austin, and part of the reason for 12 and
not 24 for British Columbia, is that it could be done without a remarkable
change in terms of the compromises of the past. I do not know whether that helps
Senator Nolin: I have no problem with compromise. Where I have at
least a question mark is about great compromise. It is known as "the great
compromise" that gave birth to Canada.
That is why — if we look into the rebalancing, because that is exactly what
the report is proposing —it raises a question for Atlantic Canada. The
honourable senator just mentioned the reaction from Ontario, as well. I can
assume what the reaction was from Quebec.
We cannot isolate proportionality and say that we are going to solve that
and, after that, rejig all the powers and the structure of the institution.
My mind is not fixed on whether we should only go that way, and fix the rest
afterwards, or whether we should fix everything at the same time. That is why I
had a question. History is there to help us try to understand where we are
trying to go. That is why, for me, the great compromise was the beginning of
everything. I do not think we can separate ourselves from trying to understand
why French Canadians, not only in Quebec but also outside the Province of
Quebec, fought for that great compromise. Therefore, I do not think we can
forget that — but I can be convinced otherwise.
Senator Hays: I will just agree with you. I do not think we should
forget that compromise. We should respect it and continue on in the spirit of
The country has changed and requires us to rethink some of those things that
were well settled at that time with a group of enlightened leaders who were
prepared to recognize competing interests and finding ways of respecting them.
At the same time, there must be a will to support the federation and to make it
successful. The great tribute to what they did is the success of this country
today — but it is not static.
There come periods in our history when we must go back and seek the same
enlightenment, the same kind of spirit to re-examine and readjust. We will, at
some point, reach that again. I think Senators Murray and Austin's motion is
kind of a harbinger of that or a way of being proactive.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, I must admit that I
have started to read the document released by the committee and that I have some
serious questions on a number of items.
First, we have before us today a motion to change the fundamental composition
of this chamber while, last May, I put forward a motion to have the Senate focus
on its fundamental duties toward the regions and minorities in this country. My
motion is still on the Order Paper and has not even been referred to a committee
yet. Today's motion was tabled at the end of June 2006 and is already at report
stage. It is a motion that calls for constitutional changes.
Something is happening in this chamber that I do not like. I cannot accept
that motions fundamental to the current operation of this chamber are delayed,
while others calling for constitutional changes are passed with great speed.
That is the first change.
Second, I remember quite well my involvement in the negotiations in
Charlottetown, where Senate seats were redistributed and the Atlantic provinces
gave up seats in the Senate to ensure that we got a new Constitution and that
Quebec was recognized, and so forth.
Only one Canadian province voted against the Charlottetown Accord, and that
was Alberta. I remember it well. Today, this motion recommends granting them
More importantly though, such a fundamental change to our Parliament would
dramatically change the House of Commons and the Senate.
Allow me to review how representation by population has evolved in
Parliament. Forty years ago, from 1953 to 1957, there were 268 members in the
House of Commons. Now, 40 years later, there are 308. Forty seats have been
added to the House of Commons in the past 40 years. I am quite certain that not
one of those additional seats in the House of Commons represents a riding
anywhere east of Montreal, and probably not even east of Ottawa.
We are talking about a parliamentary system with two Houses, but both Houses
of Parliament cannot be based on the same representation because that would
betray our history and the solemn commitment made in the earliest days of our
Currently, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia account for
30 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons and they would account for 30.8
per cent of the seats in the Senate if the changes proposed in this motion go
through, which is an increase of 0.8 per cent.
Quebec holds 24 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons. The proposed
changes would reduce Quebec's representation in the Senate by 2.3 per cent to
20.5 per cent.
Ontario holds 34 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons. The proposed
changes would reduce its representation in the Senate by 2.3 per cent to 20.5
Finally, Atlantic Canada, which holds 10.4 per cent of the seats in the House
of Commons, would be left with 7.4 per cent of the seats in the Senate — 3 per
cent fewer than it has now — if the proposed changes go through.
With 10 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons and 28 per cent of the
seats in the Senate, the people of the Atlantic region are already having
difficulty making their needs known and making themselves heard by the federal
government, regardless of the party in power.
In this context, how can one imagine that, with such a reduction in the
number of Senate seats — and we are not likely to get more seats in the House of
Commons — we could possibly assert our rights and our needs any more aptly?
We must ask ourselves fundamental questions, and I am doing just that. I ask
this question in the context of this debate and I anxiously await a response.
Senator Hays: Perhaps I will deal with a point raised by the
honourable senator and her initiative in the Senate to change the orientation in
the Senate so that it has greater regional representation.
Senator Ringuette: It is so senators can do their jobs.
Senator Hays: If the Senate is not receiving the attention it needs,
that is the fault of senators, who should, therefore, pay more attention and do
something to bring the matter forward. I cannot apologize for doing the work on
this. We received the reference, we did it, and it is done. Senator Ringuette
says that it highlights the fact that a lot of other work in the Senate has not
been done. The answer to that is to get busy and do the other work.
I understand the senator's point to be that increasing the number of seats
anywhere in the country would change the percentage of seats that the Maritime
region and New Brunswick would have. It would affect the region's power in the
Senate. The only way not to have that problem is not to change the number of
seats. Senator Nolin and others have touched on the history of our country in
the report, and I touched on it in my remarks. We dealt with that problem when
we brought more seats to the West when the provinces of Manitoba and British
Columbia were added between 1870 and 1915. At that time, discussions were
entered into, as we are doing today, to address the specific needs of a region
that are not being met and how they can be better addressed.
Therefore, I do not have an answer. If we change one seat in the Senate, we
will change the percentages. We need to look at the concerns and grievances of
the different regions and try to address them at the same time, which is Senator
Mercer's point. The minute you get into this, you get into the larger issues.
The experience of trying to do comprehensive reform has produced no change in
the Senate in 140 years, and we have not had much incremental change either.
In answer to Senator Mercer's question, I said that I am almost happy. I am
glad to talk about it because, like him, we have many passionate people from my
region who express themselves as Senator Mercer does. The sooner we recognize
that passion, direct it positively — because it has the potential to be
otherwise — and enter into discussions to try to make accommodations that we
need for change, the better off we will be. This particular motion proposes a
change that brings that issue to the table. We are talking about it together,
and certainly we have much more to say, and that is healthy.
Senator Ringuette: I have a supplementary question. Essentially, my
question concerns representation by population in the Atlantic provinces.
I am reminded of my experiences during the discussions on the Meech Lake
Accord and the Charlottetown Accord, and I know from the testimony before your
committee and from the media, that Ontario and Quebec do not want any changes
with respect to representation.
Those provinces could not possibly agree with a 2.3 per cent decrease,
although, if we look at the percentage of population, Ontario's population is
greater than that of Quebec. If we are going to meddle with these tools, we must
not be naïve. We have been debating this issue for 20 years, and from one region
to the next, a consensus cannot be reached. Among other fears, I am afraid we
are, once again, opening Pandora's box.
Senator Hays: I do not know that it has ever been closed. The
Honourable Senator Ringuette feels aggrieved by the fact that she does not have
more now. We had projections in our materials of populations going up to 2031.
British Columbia's population is presently at 4.3 million, and in 2031 they will
have 5.5 million citizens.
As those dynamics change with the growth of the economy, I was reading that
in 2008 Alberta will have a bigger GDP than Quebec. We cannot let those
forecasts go by without taking into consideration how passions in those areas
Therefore, if we want to continue this extraordinarily successful federation
we presently have, where in the past we have been able to address these
differences and make changes and respect one another's legitimate objectives, at
times we may leave it a bit too long and then change becomes more difficult.
I do not have a problem talking about this. In fact, I think it is healthy to
do so. I am happy to know the honourable senator's feelings, and hopefully I
have made an impact by expressing myself as well.
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, I have reviewed
the report. I realize that no one has spoken for Ontario, although I know that
one or two members on the committee are from Ontario.
We cannot hold the cap on forever. In 1931, Maple Leaf Gardens was built.
There were 500,000 people in Toronto at that time. Montreal had a larger
population. Today there are 2.5 million people just in the city of Toronto, and
that is not including Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington or Oshawa.
We have big problems in Toronto like you would not believe. We have murders
there like we have never experienced previously. We need representation.
Even if we must divide Ontario into two regions, we cannot be listening to
someone from Saskatoon telling us about regions. Ontario is large enough to have
two regions. We need about 48 senators to properly represent Ontario.
Senator Hays: That may be the way to go. We have two rep by pop
houses, but that was not the original idea. The honourable senator has an
advantage of the redistributions in the House of Commons as far as Ontario is
In my answer to Senator Ringuette, I outlined that in our materials we have
population projections extending to 2031. At that time, Ontario will have a
projected population of over 16 million, which means there would be 672,000
Ontarians for every Senate seat. British Columbia at that time is projected to
have a population of 5.5 million, and it will have roughly a million people per
every Senate seat.
I know that is not the way to look at the issue, but I am speaking in terms
of the strength of the economy and growth. You are better off starting out with
24 than with six, which reflects British Columbia's situation. When looking at
the representation in the House of Commons, because of Ontario's population,
they will always have at least a third or more.
Senator Mahovlich: The honourable senator can do a lot with figures. I
know that. I have had a lot of experience with figures. The point is that
Ontario is larger, more populated, has more problems and needs more
representation. I just wanted to speak for Ontario.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, this discussion is long
overdue. I suspect that if we had engaged in this discussion over the years, we
would likely not be dealing with some of the issues we are dealing with today.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Fairbairn, P.C.,
calling the attention of the Senate to the State of Literacy in Canada, which
will give every Senator in this Chamber the opportunity to speak out on an
issue in our country that is often forgotten.—(Honourable Senator Cochrane)
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, I would like to add my voice
to the inquiry into the state of literacy in Canada.
At the outset, I wish to commend our honourable colleague, Senator Fairbairn,
for initiating this important debate. I know that she is a genuine and
passionate supporter of the literacy movement and, like many of us here, is
driven by a desire to see all Canadians benefit from improved literacy skills.
It has troubled me deeply that talk about literacy in recent weeks has been,
in my opinion, shrouded by politics. I feel very sincerely that our attention
has focused too sharply on the recent literacy spending announcements by the new
government and the supposed untruths that have been propagated about them.
More importantly, however, by adopting this focus, we have turned our
energies away from the people behind the statistics: the learners, the volunteer
tutors and the people in the literacy network. The struggles of these people,
especially the millions of Canadians whose literacy skills rank at unacceptably
low levels, are far too great and leave too deep of a mark on our country to be
exploited for partisan purposes.
Today I would like to shift the attention of this chamber to where I believe
it rightfully belongs; back to the people behind the numbers. I would like to
share a few stories with you to help humanize an issue that has become mired in
political rhetoric and confusing data.
I will start with Dianne Smith's story. It is a very powerful one. To
continue the theme identified by Senator Segal and others, it inspires hope.
I had the honour and the privilege of meeting Dianne last year at Literacy
Action Day on Parliament Hill. She told us about the role that literacy has
played in her life.
Dianne had spent most of her life burdened by weak reading skills. As a child
in school, she remembers getting strapped by her teacher; a punishment that was
not uncommon at that time. She was often scared and nervous in the classroom.
Her reading suffered as a result. She was under great stress because she felt
she simply could not read fast enough and she could not understand what she was
As honourable senators know, it is simply not enough to be able to voice the
words on the page. You must also comprehend the meaning.
Later in life, after years of hard work, Dianne realized she needed to, and I
am quoting her, "work smarter rather than harder." She also felt compelled to
set a good example for her children, so she found a volunteer in her community
who tutored her one-on-one and later went on to Holland College.
On the day before her fiftieth birthday, she obtained her GED. That stands
for General Education Development certificate. That was in 1999. She continued
her schooling, along with working in the home-care field, and ultimately decided
that she wanted to start her own business. In 2002, Dianne opened Smith Lodge, a
licensed community care home that she owns and operates.
Honourable senators, this summer I had an opportunity to visit Dianne in
Prince Edward Island. She took me on a tour of Smith Lodge. I can tell you it
was simply second to none. It does not surprise me that business is booming for
her and she has already expanded her facility.
As I toured the premises, talking with residents and taking in all the
details, I was struck by the fact that not so long ago this opportunity would
not have existed for Dianne. Despite her many talents and abilities, she simply
did not have the literacy skills. Yet, today, she has a thriving business,
employs 15 people, provides an important service to her clientele, a home for 27
people, and makes a significant contribution in her community. Such astounding
success could never have been hers had she not improved her literacy skills. Not
only did she realize her goal of working smarter rather than harder, she also
set a wonderful example for her children. In fact, they both pursued post-secondary education themselves.
Let me tell you about another literacy learner, this one from my own
community. Jamie Garland's story provides another great example because it
illustrates how someone can spend years in the school system but still function
at a low literacy level. I know those of us who have not faced similar
challenges in our own lives often lack insight into the realities of such
situations. Jamie is 25 years old and says, "Reading was a problem for me from
early on. Teachers or friends would read for me, and I relied on my memory for
the answers in exams. They would advance me every year, even though I could not
read." When her mother passed away, Jamie's family moved, and she was
transferred to a new school. She says, "A few weeks before final exams, teachers
told me I should quit school because they did not give verbal exams. Having to
quit school after all the years of struggling was heart breaking. It felt like
my whole youth was a waste of time."
After leaving school, Jamie had a child and then worked at Fort McMurray for
a while where, she explains, "It was very hard for a single mom with a literacy
problem to maintain health and living for myself and daughter." She decided to
go back to school because she wanted desperately to be able to read bedtime
stories to her daughter. She wanted a better education. She felt it would lead
to a higher paying job and a more comfortable life for her daughter. Above all,
she wanted to be able to pick up a book and read to her, something many us take
I would like to read for you in Jamie's own words some of the benefits that
she has seen as a result of her hard work in the classroom. She says, "I have
better speaking skills. I get to travel and meet new people. I have an award for
trying my best at school. My self-esteem is up. I can teach things to my
daughter and read to my daughter a lot more."
This is something else that she adds: "I know my daughter will have a good
education. I will make sure of it, so she doesn't have to struggle with
literacy. She will be able to look to her mom's deeds as an inspiration... I
will have a better future because of my education. My daughter will have a
better future because of my education. That makes all the hard work worthwhile."
I could not agree with her more, and I could not say it better myself.
Jamie's story highlights a reality for many children. They live in homes where
there is simply little or no reading. Fortunately, there are programs and
centres around the country that match volunteer tutors with children and adults
who sometimes lack the resources to be able to read at home. These programs
simply could not exist without the significant contributions and the gifts of
Amanda Marchment is one of many Canadians who freely gives of her time to
help promote literacy in her community. She is a reading practice volunteer with
the Toronto Public Library's "Leading to Reading" program. For the last five
years, she has set aside one evening a week to help young children with reading
challenges. Over the years, she has worked with three different students, each
one from an immigrant family and each one facing serious difficulties with
reading in their primary school classes. For example, the children that
volunteers like Amanda help could have reading skills already a full year or
maybe two behind their classmates and behind their grade level.
Amanda is proud of the great improvements she has seen firsthand in these
children. While the reading practice builds the students' reading abilities, she
says one of the most impressive changes she observes is in their attitude. She
notes that, as reading skills improve, so too do attitudes toward reading. While
in the beginning the children are distant and reluctant learners, by the end
they are eager. They really want to be at the sessions, and they continue their
practice reading even when they go home.
This example, honourable senators, reminds us why literacy skills are so
important at an early age. It is all well and good for children, especially
those who are new to Canada and new to our official languages, to learn to read
and write in school, but we need to foster an environment where these children
can be supported in their reading at home. Programs like these clearly
illustrate how building confidence and instilling a love of reading in children
early on in their education will encourage them to be ambassadors for literacy
in their own lives and in their families.
I should like to give honourable senators a sense of the people and the
organizations that provide front-line literacy action in my province. Tom Dawe
is one prime example from St. John's. He has a Master's degree in education and,
as executive director of Teachers on Wheels for the last 13 years, he has worked
really hard to build a career in the literacy field. The organization that he
leads has been active in the community for more than three decades, and the
organization has seen significant changes in the profile of the typical client
in that time. In the 1980s, Tom says senior-aged men comprised the main
demographic of learners. Now it is younger women and heads of single-parent
families; women like Jamie from my earlier example.
While the organization has not compiled numbers recently, Tom says that,
anecdotally, demand for literacy help today is as high, and maybe even higher,
than it ever was. Despite changing demographics, some aspects of the literacy
issue have not changed at all. One need look no further than the important role
confidentiality plays in supporting learners in their work. He notes that he
cannot call the homes of clients because husbands and wives do not know that
their spouses have difficulty with literacy or have enrolled in one-on-one
tutoring. This point is important to highlight. Many people with low literacy
levels simply do not admit or feel they cannot admit that they have reading and
writing difficulties. As I have said in this chamber before, Jacques Demers is a
classic example. This secrecy makes it difficult, if not impossible, to compile
accurate numbers and get a true picture of the magnitude of the challenge out
While Teachers on Wheels is a well-established adult literacy organization in
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Tom is the group's only staff member. As
such, he is responsible for program management and for the implementation of
projects. He performs these duties and more, under the supervision of five
people. They are a volunteer board of directors. The organization survives on an
annual budget of $70,000, with about half from the federal government. This is
the level of funding we are talking about here. This program represents a
$35,000 investment from federal coffers. In my view, this is an area where
political spin can distract us from reality.
Honourable senators, I have seen their financial statements. The statements
are publicly available. I can tell you where they spend the money. They spend it
on basic operations, paying rent, phone, Internet service, electricity and
It is paying a humble salary for this great educator, Tom, in the low $50,000
range, to someone with extensive professional credentials and experience. It is
paying for postage, for printing materials, as well as textbooks and workbooks
for the adult learner.
I have heard some cynics say that organizations like these are spending
significant funds on extras, such as travel. I was interested in seeing for
myself whether that was indeed true. I can tell honourable senators
unequivocally that this particular group has spent $356 and $206 in the last two
years respectively. I know that other groups have larger travel budgets, which
typically reflect the province-wide nature of their services, but in cases from
my province, at least, these costs appear meagre.
Frankly, honourable senators, much of the remarkable work that is done in
literacy costs Canadian taxpayers very little. As a taxpayer, I must say that I
feel I am getting unparalleled value for my money when it comes to literacy
spending. Truly, much of the work in this field is performed at no cost, by
At last count, there were 25 volunteer tutors at Teachers on Wheels, and not
surprisingly, they are always looking for more. Tom suggests that one area where
the government could play a very powerful role — and one that I do not think I
have ever heard mentioned — is in raising public awareness about the need for
literacy volunteers. He says that, although he currently has just 25 volunteer
tutors, his work would be the same if he had 100.
Governments could provide support for volunteers and help organizations like
Teachers on Wheels to attract and train new volunteers. This is what Tom says:
"If they really want to do something about literacy, then help us with
volunteers. Help us get more people out there tutoring. That would really make a
Another significant literacy service provider in my community is the
Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council. Melanie Callahan is the
executive director, and her organization, just like Tom's, has an annual budget
of around $70,000. It is funded roughly 60:40 between the federal and provincial
governments. However, it should be noted that provincial funding is often tied
to federal funding, so that if there are less federal funds committed, the
provincial funds will also be reduced.
As a provincial organization with 21 councils in communities on both the
island and the mainland, Melanie's organization is required to travel more than
Tom's. She visits with councils at sites across the province and is responsible
for training. She also oversees the annual meeting and conference.
Currently, Laubach has a couple of hundred volunteers in our province. Over
the years, Laubach has trained literally thousands. At the moment, there are
about 200 active tutor pairs that have been facilitated by the organization.
In about a week, Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council will host
its annual general meeting in Corner Brook. They expect to have 100 volunteers
from communities across the province in attendance. This meeting provides an
opportunity, annually, to get together to exchange ideas and information and to
share experiences, concerns and knowledge. The meeting also provides an annual
opportunity for training.
Honourable senators, I have learned that members of these local councils have
been fundraising. They have been selling tickets on prizes, and they have been
selling cookies and baked goods to fund their way to the AGM. I should like to
stress that it is activities like these, not strictly tax dollars, that provide
the financial means for participation in meetings like this.
These volunteers are working hard, not only to help learners in a one-on-one
setting, but to improve the literacy services that are available by promoting
training and information exchanges among tutors. I think very often it is easy
to lose sight of the great work that volunteers are called to do. It is clear
that the burden and responsibilities placed on these people is great, and yet we
all benefit when they accept the challenge to serve.
Honourable senators, I would be remiss if I did not comment on the recent
cuts to literacy funding.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable Senator
Cochrane, I am sorry to interrupt you. Are you asking for more time?
Senator Cochrane: Yes, five more minutes.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Cochrane: The Honourable Leader of the Government in the
Senate has made assurances to me, and has repeated numerous times, as have
others in the government, that no programs will be cut as a result of this $17.7
Indeed, I regard media reports out of Prince Edward Island yesterday — which
indicated that the federal government has approved the P.E.I. literacy
association's proposal for two-year funding — as evidence of that commitment to
literacy. Just this afternoon, I learned that Literacy Newfoundland and Labrador
has been informed by HRSD officials that they will move ahead with reviewing all
proposals that were submitted under all federal literacy funding streams on
As they understand it, the review will be done in partnership with the
provincial government. It has always been that way. The Minister of HRSD will be
providing additional guidance in the review process to ensure tangible results,
and that is fine.
I applaud this and I hope the fears voiced by literacy advocates across this
country are now put to rest.
Honourable senators, I believe Canada's lagging literacy rates constitute a
national tragedy. We simply need to do better and we need to do more. We need to
harmonize the efforts being made across the country and we need clear,
measurable indicators of progress.
The key to success, I believe, may be as simple as bringing all the
appropriate stakeholders in the country together to sit around the same table.
This is the discussion that can and should take place.
Honourable senators, I wanted to speak today to give voice to people like
Jamie and Dianne and to commend the efforts of all those working in the literacy
field. I know in the current climate it has seemed a thankless job to many of
them, especially over the past few weeks. These stories and experiences need to
be shared, and that is why this inquiry is so important.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Stollery:
That the following Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism which was adopted
unanimously at the 14th Annual Session of the OSCE Parliamentary Association,
in which Canada participated in Washington on July 5, 2005, be referred to the
Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights for consideration and that the
Committee table its final report no later than October 30, 2006:
RESOLUTION ON COMBATING ANTI-SEMITISM
Recalling the resolutions on anti-Semitism by the OSCE Parliamentary
Assembly, which were unanimously passed at the annual meetings in Berlin in
2002, in Rotterdam in 2003 and in Edinburgh in 2004,
1. Referring to the commitments made by the participating states emerging
from the OSCE conferences in Vienna (June 2003), Berlin (April 2004) and
Brussels (September 2004) regarding legal, political and educational efforts
to fight anti-Semitism, ensuring "that Jews in the OSCE region can live
their lives free of discrimination, harassment and violence",
2. Welcoming the convening of the Conference on Anti-Semitism and on
Other Forms of Intolerance in Cordoba, Spain in June 2005,
3. Commending the appointment and continuing role of the three Personal
Representatives of the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE on Combating
Anti-Semitism, on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims,
and on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also focusing on
Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other
Religions, reflecting the distinct role of each in addressing these separate
issues in the OSCE region,
4. Reaffirming the view expressed in earlier resolutions that
anti-Semitism constitutes a threat to fundamental human rights and to
democratic values and hence to the security in the OSCE region,
5. Emphasizing the importance of permanent monitoring mechanisms of
incidents of anti-Semitism at a national level, as well as the need for
public condemnations, energetic police work and vigorous prosecutions,
The Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE:
6. Urges OSCE participating states to adopt national uniform definitions
for monitoring and collecting information about anti-Semitism and hate
crimes along the lines of the January 2005 EUMC Working Definition of Anti-Semitism and to familiarize officials, civil servants and others working in
the public sphere with these definitions so that incidents can be quickly
identified and recorded;
7. Recommends that OSCE participating states establish national data
collection and monitoring mechanisms and improve information-sharing among
national government authorities, local officials, and civil society
representatives, as well as exchange data and best practices with other OSCE
8. Urges OSCE participating states to publicize data on anti-Semitic
incidents in a timely manner as well as report the information to the OSCE
Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR);
9. Recommends that ODIHR publicize its data on anti-Semitic crimes and
hate crimes on a regular basis, highlight best practices, as well as
initiate programs with a particular focus in the areas of police, law
enforcement, and education;
10. Calls upon national governments to allot adequate resources to the
monitoring of anti-Semitism, including the appointment of national
ombudspersons or special representatives;
11. Emphasizes the need to broaden the involvement of civil society
representatives in the collection, analysis and publication of data on
anti-Semitism and related violence;
12. Calls on the national delegations of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
to ensure that regular debates on the subject of anti-Semitism are conducted
in their parliaments and furthermore to support public awareness campaigns
on the threat to democracy posed by acts of anti-Semitic hatred, detailing
best practices to combat this threat;
13. Calls on the national delegations of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
to submit written reports at the 2006 Annual Session on the activities of
their parliaments with regard to combating anti-Semitism;
14. Calls on the OSCE participating states to develop educational
material and teacher training methods to counter contemporary forms of
anti-Semitism, as well as update programs on Holocaust education;
15. Urges both the national parliaments and governments of OSCE
participating states to review their national laws;
16. Urges the OSCE participating states to improve security at Jewish
sites and other locations that are potential targets of anti-Semitic attacks
in coordination with the representatives of these communities.—(Honourable
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, all Canadians find anti-Semitism deplorable. It is important for us,
honourable senators, to speak out on this issue. I believe that all senators
should condemn such behaviour.
I will likely wish to speak about this subject again in future. However, I
would like to adjourn the debate, in my name, to a later date.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Ringuette, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Cordy:
That the Senate urge the government to accompany all government bills by a
social and economical impact study on regions and minorities in accordance to
the Senate's role of representation and protection of minorities and regions.
—(Honourable Senator Tkachuk)
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, the social and economic impact of decisions made in Ottawa is
definitely another matter for our attention. I know that many of you, including
Senator Tkachuk, are interested in this matter.
For my part, I have very little to say on this subject. For that reason, I
would like to adjourn the debate, in my name, to a later date.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Adams calling the
attention of the Senate to issues concerning the fishing industry in Nunavut
related to the use of fishing royalties, methods of catch, foreign involvement
and a proposed audit of Inuit benefit from the fishery.—(Honourable Senator
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, as an Atlantic Canadian, I
feel compelled to speak in support of Senator Adams and the attempts being made
by the Inuit people to realize greater economic benefit from the Nunavut turbot
fishery. It is an important issue for all of us and I would now like to adjourn
the debate in my name and speak to it later in the time I have left.
Hon. Lowell Murray rose pursuant to notice of October 30, 2006:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the faithful and exemplary
service to Canada, during his entire adult lifetime, of the late Honourable
Howard Charles Green of British Columbia.
He said: Honourable senators, should I pause for a moment so that those who
wish to head for the airport or elsewhere may now leave? I do not intend to
adjourn the debate after a moment's intervention but, rather, to make the speech
which I had intended to make.
Senator Comeau: They will not go to the airport; we are sitting
Senator Murray: Yes, we are sitting tomorrow. I had forgotten.
Honourable senators, I prepared a notice of inquiry last week. However, once
Senator Segal had spoken so well on the subject during Senators' Statements, I
decided it was no longer necessary to pursue it. Later, I was persuaded by two
considerations to go ahead with this inquiry.
First, several honourable senators indicated to me that they, too, wished to
offer their appreciation of the life and public career of the late Honourable
Howard Green. Second, the decision to name a building in Vancouver for Mr. Green
is now being reconsidered by an advisory committee at the direction of the
Minister of Public Works and Government Services. I would hope that these
speeches in the Senate, together with public interventions by other Canadians,
will help place matters in their proper perspective and ensure that Howard Green
is honoured as he should be.
As to his views regarding Japanese Canadians during World War II, Mr. Green
was dead wrong and he had plenty of company being wrong. Canada was to some
degree in the grip of hysteria, not for the first time — and not, as the
intervening years have sadly shown, for the last time. The political class, from
the federal government on down, responded hysterically — not for the first time
and, sadly, not for the last time.
Most MPs, particularly those from British Columbia, supported and in some
cases called for the action taken by the government of Prime Minister Mackenzie
King. Those British Columbia MPs included the federal minister, the Honourable
Ian Mackenzie; the great provincial and great federal CCF parliamentarian Harold
Winch; and they included Mr. Green. I am told on good authority that the only
British Columbia MP who opposed the government's action was the late Angus
MacInnis, long-time MP for Vancouver East and Vancouver Queensway, whose widow
Grace MacInnis later served in the House of Commons.
Howard Green ought to be judged, as all of us would want to be judged, in
light of our entire careers and of our total contribution. By any reasonable
standard, that judgment on Howard Green's service can only be overwhelmingly
I knew Howard Green personally. I knew him in Ottawa and in Vancouver, for I
had been chief of staff to one of his British Columbia cabinet colleagues, the
Honourable Davie Fulton. I knew Mr. Green the way a young political assistant
would know a senior minister, which is to say we were not on first name terms —
at least I did not call him by his first name. I should say that among his many
attractive qualities was a warm and encouraging attitude to young people. Those
of my generation who served in his ministerial office or worked on his campaigns
in Vancouver revered him.
I admired him also because he was steadfast in his convictions and
indefatigable in defending them. The late Blair Fraser, the journalist, once
described Howard Green as the lone pine of Parliament Hill because he stood
apart and would not bend. Mr. Green had been one of that small and, I think,
heroic band of Conservatives who kept their party alive in Canada through the
most daunting circumstances from 1935 when he was first elected, through all the
war years and through three losing elections in the post-war period. With
nothing but their own stubborn intelligence and determination, they became
formidable parliamentarians in the House of Commons and discharged their
constitutional duty as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition loyally and with great
effectiveness. Howard Green, and later John Diefenbaker, George Drew, George
Pearkes, Douglas Harkness, Gordon Churchill, Davie Fulton, Léon Balcer, Ellen
Fairclough, Alfred Brooks and George Nowlan fought on, underpaid, unstaffed —
and, as it turned out, greatly underrated — until eventually they turned the
I say to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services: If there is
any institutional memory in his department, the Honourable Howard Green must
have a place of honour. By the mid-1950s, the culture of the Department of
Public Works had not much changed since the days of poor old Sir Hector
Langevin, who had been tainted by the Pacific scandal at the beginning of his
career and the McGreevy scandal at the end of his career and whose name today
adorns the very seat of power in Ottawa, the Langevin Block. Prime Minister St.
Laurent was determined to clean up Public Works and to that end appointed Robert
Winters as minister and Major-General H. A. Young as deputy minister. The
Winters-Young team made a good start at it, and Howard Green finished the job
with the redoubtable General Young at his side.
On the very first day in June 1957 that the new government took office after
22 years in the desert, Mr. Green — to the consternation of many — declared that
there would be no political patronage in the awarding of Public Works contracts,
and he proved to be as good as his word. Those were the days.
I was going to say — perhaps there would be too much levity — that by the
time Fulton and I got there in 1962, there was no fun left in the department.
In his statement last Thursday, Senator Segal spoke of Mr. Green's commitment
as external affairs minister and of his tireless international work in the cause
of nuclear disarmament. It must be said that disarmament was not a high priority
in the country or in the government when he became minister. He created a
disarmament division in the department and by the time he left office four years
later, that issue was front and centre in government, Parliament and the
country. In achieving this, Howard Green made common cause with citizens and
organizations in whose company more traditional politicians would not usually be
This son of British Columbia quickly realized that the decolonization of
francophone Africa presented Canada with an opportunity to make new allies in
the United Nations and new connections abroad for French Canadians. His
determination to establish diplomatic relations with these new francophone
nations was stalled by the conspicuous absence of a critical mass of
francophones in our diplomatic service. To correct the problem, a new language
policy would need to be established. In the meantime, the minister found a way
to improvise by appointing ambassadors with multiple mandates to ensure that
Canada was represented in the new francophone African nations.
Mr. Green also recognized the growing importance of foreign aid in the
foreign policies of industrialized nations. It was he who created the External
Aid Office as part of the old Department of External Affairs. That office is now
known as CIDA.
During the debate in the Commons about the dispatch of troops to Cyprus some
years after Mr. Green had left Parliament, Prime Minister Pearson reflected on
the difficulties government and Parliament confront in such matters, and he
referred to the decision of an earlier government regarding the Congo. Said Mr.
Pearson: "It is not inappropriate for me to recall tonight that in those days
one of the strongest and most sincere supporters of the United Nations action in
this field was the man who was secretary of state for external affairs in those
days, Mr. Howard Green."
Honourable senators, the unnecessary and unfortunate controversy that arose
following the naming of a federal building in Vancouver in his honour may yet
have served a good purpose in that it provides occasion for some of us to
express our appreciation and for others to more fully understand the truly
exemplary and faithful service and the lasting contribution to our country of
the Honourable Howard Charles Green, an outstanding parliamentarian and a fine
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I was going to take the adjournment of the debate in the name of
Senator Campbell, but I believe Senator Downe has a question.
Hon. Percy Downe: Honourable senators, I did not know Mr. Green, but I
have listened to the speeches about him. It is important to emphasize that, when
he spoke, he spoke in the period in which he lived. Those of us who have read
about various times in Canadian politics know that at different times there are
different contemporary views that are not accepted today. The senator covered
that in his early statement, that he was wrong at the time. His view today might
be very different.
I have always been concerned that the naming of federal buildings seems to be
restricted to the names of former politicians. Many Canadians who have made
contributions to this country do not have a building named after them. There are
many great examples. In Charlottetown, there is the Daniel J. MacDonald
Building. Mr. MacDonald was a former Minister of Veterans Affairs. He suffered
injuries in the Second World War. It is a good building. My old friend Joe Ghiz
has a building named after him in Summerside, although I am not sure a
politician would want a tax office named after him. That was a good choice as
The recent naming of the new federal building in Charlottetown created a
controversy. Using the same procedure Senator Murray mentioned earlier, maybe he
could pass on to the Leader of the Government in the Senate who might pass on to
the Minister of Public Works that we should consider broadening the base beyond
politicians. There are many people who could have a federal building named after
them. Most of the politicians in this country have been men; therefore, most of
the buildings have been named for male politicians. By expanding the base, we
could have more buildings named for women.
In Prince Edward Island, I suggested — and this shows my limited influence —
the name of Georgina Pope, who, as many people know, is considered the Florence
Nightingale of the Canadian military. Ms. Pope was born in Charlottetown. She
had an outstanding career in the Boer War and the First World War. She died in
Charlottetown in 1938. Her brother, incidentally, served as private secretary to
Sir John A. Macdonald. Thus, this was not a partisan recommendation.
I support Mr. Green and the initiative, based upon the comments I have heard.
Would Senator Murray consider recommending to the committee that they expand the
base of the people they consider for this consideration?
Senator Murray: I would gladly do that, honourable senators. I presume
my friend is not speaking of the particular committee and the particular
building that I hope will be named after Mr. Green, as the government and the
committee had earlier recommended and intended.
Now that I reflect on it, I think advisory committees are set up on each
occasion. It would be worthwhile for the government to consider for all of these
committees a set, not of regulations but of guidelines, that would emphasize
gender, for one thing, the number of women who have contributed mightily to the
country, but also the occupations and contributions outside of politics and
public service that ought to be recognized in public buildings.
While Senator Downe was speaking, my mind was ranging over the public
buildings I know, trying to find exception to the rule he has put forward, and I
have not been able to recall one, although there are some. Speaking of worthy
politicians, I saw only today — I had not realized it — that a facility in
Newfoundland and Labrador is named after our former colleague Bill Petten,
because of the contribution he made to a particular piece of legislation going
through having to do with our jurisdiction in the fishery. I had not known that
until this morning.
Senator Downe: Honourable senators, for greater clarity, I am not
opposed to including politicians from the naming of future buildings. For
example, we have in this chamber a colleague, Senator Callbeck, who was the
first woman ever to win an election for a provincial government. Some day, and
we hope it will be decades from now, there will have to be a building named
That is the good news. The bad news is that, since she won that election, no
other woman has ever done that.
There will be times where former politicians will have buildings named after
them, but we have gone too far one way. These buildings are funded by Canadian
taxpayers' dollars and we should consider expanding the base.
Hon. Lorna Milne: If I may, instead of a question, I shall direct a
suggestion to Senator Murray; that he suggest to his former cohort, the Leader
of the Government in the Senate, that perhaps they should consider naming a
building after a female politician, and I suggest Agnes McPhail.
Senator Murray: What about Ellen Fairclough?
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: I wish to thank the Honourable Senator
Murray for his eloquent speech.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The time for Senator
Murray has expired. Is the honourable senator asking for more time?
Senator Murray: Yes.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: You have five minutes.
You may proceed with your question, Senator Jaffer.
Senator Murray: It is not clear to me whether Senator Jaffer wishes to
intervene in the debate or whether she is asking a question.
Senator Jaffer: Honourable senators, I am asking a question.
Of course, I did not have the pleasure of knowing Mr. Green so I am keeping
my ears open as to what my colleagues say about him. However, I also want to
share with honourable senators the pain that my community, a substantial
community in British Columbia, feels about the discrimination that existed at
that time. I can tell honourable senators that when Prime Minister Mulroney
heard the pain and gave redress, there was much healing in my community; so
there is the challenge that my community will feel pain when they see this
building. I share with you that there is still pain on this issue.
However, I want to ask Senator Murray, given that I regard him to be a
statesman in this house, whether he thinks we have learned any lessons from that
period, where there was feeling against the Japanese. I believe we are facing
some of the same challenges at this time against a certain community. Can the
honourable senator share some of the lessons we have learned from that period?
Senator Murray: Senator, with regard to the first point, I do not
think, as I suggested and Senator Segal suggested, that it is at all fair to
single out one person who happened to be a member of Parliament and supported
the position of the government at the time when there were so many others, and
when, as Senator Downe has said, it is hardly appropriate or useful to judge
these people on the basis of what I hope are our standards today.
More important, in regard to the second question Senator Jaffer asked as to
whether we have learned, sometimes I wonder what we have learned and whether we
have learned much. That being said, the fact of the matter is that in today's
climate, there is less chance of hysteria taking over than there was. In the
event that it does, we have legal safeguards that were not present in those
days. God forgive me, I never thought I would say a word in their defence, but
we do have a much more independent and alert media.
On motion of Senator Fraser, for Senator Campbell, debate adjourned.
Hon. Ethel Cochrane, for Senator Banks, pursuant to notice of October
31, 2006, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee en Energy, the Environment and Natural
Resources have the power to sit at 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 7, 2006, even
though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition), for Senator
Bryden, pursuant to notice of November 1, 2006, moved:
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, pursuant to notice of November 1, 2006, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages have the power to
sit on Monday, November 6, 2006 at 4:00 p.m., even though the Senate may then
be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I would like to know why the committee would have to meet during the
sitting of the Senate.
Senator Chaput: Honourable senators, our meetings are scheduled on
Mondays, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. That is the only time we can meet. Next Monday,
we will be welcoming the honourable Josée Verner and the new Commissioner of
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Friday, November 3, 2006, at 9 a.m.