Previous Sittings
Previous Sittings

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 56

Tuesday, December 5, 2006
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker



Tuesday, December 5, 2006

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




Motion Declaring Quebec a Nation Within a United Canada

Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, on Monday, November 27, 2006, the halls of Canada's Parliament echoed the sound of a new song: Quebecers were finally recognized as a nation, a distinct group within our country, Canada — a Canada no less united than before. Quite the contrary.

All of us whose roots go back to the people who helped establish the French colony in the New World; all of us who are true Quebecers and proud of it because our ancestors were the ones who built this nation; all of us still living in the province whose largest settlements were once called Stadacona and Hochelaga; those of us, too, whose lives have taken us elsewhere but who have never forgotten our roots; all of us who have succeeded in preserving our language and our culture on a continent that has become English-speaking and even Spanish-speaking — we are all proud to have finally been recognized for what we are: a distinct society within a great country that, because of us, is unlike all others.

A country where, with Canadians of many origins, with others who have chosen us and whom we have adopted, we continue to build the most marvellous country in the world. A country where two official languages live and work side by side. A country that may have taken some time to recognize this difference — our difference — but that, in the end, acknowledged that we are a nation within Canada.

On that unforgettable evening, an evening I had been waiting for for nearly two decades, I had but one regret. There was someone I would have liked to have seen in the gallery, someone I think deserves our recognition, someone who made this one of the goals of his political career. I would have liked to thank the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney. I wondered where he was as the members rose to express their respect for the Quebec nation, which will always stand tall within the splendid country of Canada.


Lastly, we owe this recognition to Stephen Harper, a Prime Minister born in Ontario who grew up in Alberta, which is simply one more example of what it means to be Canadian.

I was born in Quebec and I am happy to still be living there today. I am watching my granddaughter grow up and I am trying to take good care of her great-grandfather.

Honourable senators, I would like to assure you here today that we in Quebec also have glowing hearts, that most Quebecers are proud Canadians and that we are even more so after this historic vote.


Liberal Party of Canada Convention

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, this past weekend saw one of the most exciting and significant political conventions in the history of this country. Members of the Liberal Party from across Canada gathered in Montreal to elect a new leader to prepare to form the next government.

Not only did the convention see the election of a new leader, but, as well, the adoption of a new party constitution and the election of a new national executive under the presidency of our colleague, Senator Poulin. I would like to congratulate her on achieving her new office.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Callbeck: The party has emerged from this convention as a strong and united party, with a clear vision for the future of this country and its people. This is why the Liberal Party remains the most successful political organization we have ever seen in this country.

The new leader, the Honourable Stéphane Dion, brings to his new position the experience, energy and commitment to lead this party and this country. His leadership is based on the three pillars of economic progress, social justice and environmental responsibility. His vision reflects the values of liberalism: the values of respect for the individual, compassion for the needs of others and recognition of the equal rights of all Canadians in a strong and united country.

His vision also includes the recognition that if we are to continue to grow and develop as a nation, we need to recognize that the health and well-being of our economy and of our society rests on the health and well-being of our environment. We all face this great challenge in the 21st century. Sustainable development means a better future for present and future generations of Canadians.

Honourable senators, I ask you to join me in extending our congratulations and best wishes to Mr. Dion as he assumes his new responsibilities as leader of the Liberal Party and of the official opposition.


The Honourable Marie-P. Poulin

Congratulations on Becoming President of the Liberal Party of Canada

Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, I would like to commend our colleague, Marie Poulin, who was elected President of the Liberal Party of Canada on Saturday, December 2, 2007. I would like to extend my congratulations and best wishes for every success with her new duties.

Ms. Poulin has accepted a formidable challenge: to lead the Liberal Party in a new direction and bring all its members closer together. She will inevitably be called on to tackle a number of important tasks in the coming months.

In a political party, the president has three main responsibilities. The first involves representing the party, which means personifying or being the face of the party in public. Senator Poulin will be a loyal and powerful voice for our supporters. She is, without doubt, an excellent communicator. She is perfectly bilingual, and is very familiar with our political party and our grassroots supporters. She is fully capable of giving our party a modern, forward-looking and committed image and communicating a coherent message to the general public.

Providing leadership is also one of the main responsibilities of the president. Senator Poulin has held management positions in both the private and the public sectors. Her experience, tact and diplomacy will serve her well.

She will be able to establish objectives and ensure that they are met. The most important duty of the president of a party is to be accessible and available to all party members. Marie Poulin has undeniable interpersonal skills, as we all have discovered already in our dealings with her.

She is an individual of great sensitivity who also has a remarkable ability to listen to others. I am confident that, under the leadership of Marie Poulin, the Liberal Party will be even more engaged with its grassroots and that it will become a party that is very close to its members.

We are proud that one of our colleagues was entrusted by her party with such a key role as that of president. Marie Poulin has the requisite qualities to carry out the vital tasks that I have mentioned.

I wish her good luck and assure her of my full support.



Liberal Party of Canada Convention

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, this past weekend, thousands of members of the Liberal Party of Canada gathered in Montreal to see the election of a new leader for our party. I understand from some of my colleagues on the government side that they also made pretty good television. It was a time for reflection on our policies, on our structure and on ourselves. It was a time to see old friends, renew friendships we have forgotten and, at the same time, make some new friends.

Honourable senators, while doing these things, we emerged from our convention united, strong and proud. We rallied behind our new leader, the Honourable Stéphane Dion, a leader in whom we all believe. Mr. Dion brings a pan-Canadian perspective to the Liberal Party through his experience in several key posts at the cabinet table. With the help of Gerard Kennedy, who was pivotal in Mr. Dion's election as leader, and the help of all the other candidates, the Liberal Party of Canada will unify the country in new ways and through new ideas.

Honourable senators, Mr. Dion has a track record of success and can earn the trust of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. While I listened to the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien speak on the weekend, I remembered that the true success of the Liberal Party of Canada is that we are bold and creative and willing to change as we evolve in politics. That is who we are; that is who Mr. Dion is.

Honourable senators, leadership is about making the difficult decisions that are necessary, not the easy choices that may be politically expedient. That is what I believe the Liberal Party represents, that is what I believe Mr. Dion represents and that is what I believe Canadians will come to trust.

Sail Trainer of the Year Award

Congratulations to Captain Daniel D. Moreland

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, the American Sail Training Association of Newport, Rhode Island, at its annual meeting held last month, bestowed its Sail Trainer of the Year Award upon Captain Daniel D. Moreland, of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. He is the master of the 300-tonne steel barque Picton Castle, which he sailed into her home waters of Lunenburg Harbour this past June to safely complete her fourth around-the-world voyage. The 35 trainees onboard work, stand watch and learn the way of square-rig seafaring, including rigging, sail-making, boat-handling, navigation and practical seamanship.

We salute Captain Moreland for this prized recognition and wish him, the Picton Castle, and all who sail in her, fair winds always.


Liberal Party of Canada Convention

Hon. Claudette Tardif: Honourable senators, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, the Honourable Stéphane Dion.


I would also like to take this opportunity to commend all of the candidates who took part in the leadership race. I am confident that we will all continue to work together and contribute in a positive way to help our new leader.


In 1996, when I was dean of the Faculté Saint-Jean in Edmonton, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Dion shortly after he became Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Mr. Dion was touring the West to better appreciate and understand the challenges that official language minority communities were experiencing.

He was surprised to see the vitality of the francophone community in Alberta and the challenges it faced.

What struck me then was his sincere interest and what struck me later was the intensity with which he promoted linguistic duality across the country. Over the years, I have also noticed that Mr. Dion is a man of action and principle in everything he does.

As you know, Mr. Dion is the "father" of the Action Plan for Official Languages, which, starting in 2003 over a period of five years, has injected $750 million in linguistic duality and official language programs.

Francophone minority communities have always had a strong ally in Mr. Dion. Furthermore, in a press release, the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne warmly welcomed Mr. Dion as the new leader of the Liberal Party.

Honourable senators, I am certain that Mr. Dion, as a francophone, a Quebecer and a Canadian, will bring the same passion, intelligence and intensity he has always had to his new position as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.



Information Commissioner

Notice of Motion to Approve Appointment of Mr. Robert Marleau

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, in accordance with Section 54 of the Access to Information Act, Chapter A-1, R.S.C. 1985, the Senate approve the appointment of Robert Marleau as Information Commissioner for a term of seven years.

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Assisted Human Reproduction Act

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to undertake a review of the proposed Regulations under section 8 of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on October 27, 2006; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than thirty sitting days after the proposed regulations were laid before the Senate.

Young Volunteers

Presentation of Petition

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present a petition signed by more than 12,000 young Canadians from across Canada who are calling on Parliament to enact legislation or take measures that will allow all young Canadians who wish to do so to serve in communities as volunteers at the national or international levels.



Agriculture and Agri-Food

Canadian Wheat Board—Firing of President and Chief Executive Office

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, this government is forever banging the drum of open and accountable government. They even bang the drum of free votes.

However, when it comes to the Canadian Wheat Board, they want anything but openness, and they certainly do not want a free producer vote.

Senator Mercer: The fix is in.

Senator Mitchell: The government fired a board member because he supports the Canadian Wheat Board; they excluded Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia from important consultation because these provinces support the Canadian Wheat Board; they excluded wheat producers from a referendum on the wheat board because, undoubtedly, they support the Canadian Wheat Board; they tried today to cancel the appearance of key witnesses before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food because the witnesses support the Canadian Wheat Board; and the government has now threatened to fire the president and CEO of the Canadian Wheat Board because he supports the Canadian Wheat Board and he wants to be able to talk about it.

Some Hon. Senators: Shame!

Senator Mercer: Despicable.

Senator Mitchell: Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us why her government is firing the President and CEO of the Canadian Wheat Board if it is for any reason other than that the government simply disagreed with him, and the government does not like it?


Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I wish to thank Senator Mitchell for his question. However, before I answer that question, I should like to add the congratulations of senators on this side to all of the others offered to the Honourable Stéphane Dion on being elected leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader of the Opposition, and as well to our colleague, Senator Poulin, on her success in winning the presidency of the Liberal Party.

I ran into many of you at that convention. I must say, there were a lot of Liberal double takes by those who saw me walking around the convention corridors. The convention was rather fun; I enjoyed myself very much. I appreciated the courtesy and hospitality that was shown to me, except by some Michael Ignatieff people who threw me out of my seat in the convention.

Senator Segal: Shame!

Senator LeBreton: In answer to Senator Mitchell's question, as the honourable senator knows, the CEO of the Canadian Wheat Board is not a position that is chosen by the board of directors. In fact, the position is and has always been an at-pleasure appointment of the government. In the last election, we campaigned on marketing choice, and Minister Strahl is dealing with the issue as prudently and efficiently as possible. It is clear that the government wants marketing choice for Western wheat growers. I fully support what the minister is doing with regard to providing marketing choice for the Canadian Wheat Board.

Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, it was kind of the leader to congratulate both Mr. Dion and Senator Poulin. I venture to say that they both support the Canadian Wheat Board, too.

In stating that it is the discretion of the Minister of Agriculture to appoint the CEO of the Canadian Wheat Board, why is the Leader of the Government denying that historically and traditionally the Canadian Wheat Board CEO has always been appointed on the recommendation of the members of the board, many of whom are elected? In fact, in this case, one of the members of the board who actually agrees with the government's position on the board has petitioned the minister to stay out of the way and not to fire the CEO and President of the Canadian Wheat Board.

Senator Austin: He is still there?

Senator LeBreton: Minister Strahl has made it very clear that he believes the Canadian Wheat Board should concentrate on its core role of selling Canadian wheat and not engage in politics or costly legal actions.

As the honourable senator knows, the Canadian Wheat Board's code of conduct states that directors must remain impartial and retain the perception of impartiality in relation to their duties and responsibilities and that they must not use corporate facilities or equipment and resources in support of their own activities.

There is no question that this issue is very important to Western grain growers and wheat producers. It is also clear that in the last election we campaigned on marketing choice. Minister Strahl is in the process of implementing the commitment of the government.

Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, maybe we should put Minister Strahl in charge of the staff in the leader's office; perhaps he would fire that guy who has been spying on senators.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Mitchell: In calling a referendum on the Canadian Wheat Board, why is the government polling only barley farmers and not wheat producers? Has the government forgotten that the name of the organization is the "Canadian Wheat Board" and not the "Canadian Barley Board"?


Senator LeBreton: Clearly, the government is committed to implementing marketing choices for Western Canadians, whether they grow wheat or barley. As the honourable senator knows, there will be a barley plebiscite early in the New Year.

Again, I point out to Senator Mitchell that marketing choice was clearly understood as a policy of the government, a policy that it campaigned on in the last election. Obviously, there are people on both sides of the issue, and that is their right. Nevertheless, the government is following through on a commitment it made during the last election campaign.

Foreign Affairs

China—Human Rights Issues and Trade Relations

Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, my questions are directed to the Leader of the Government.

Some senators may remember the following old football chant:

Rickety Rickety Ree
Kick him in the knee
Rickety Rickety Rass
Kick him in the "Layton."

Honourable senators, I thought Prime Minister Harper gave a very effective answer when he said he would get to the "bottom" of Mr. Layton's question. I hope the Leader of the Government can help this chamber get to the bottom of the government's policy towards China.

As a result of Prime Minister Harper's comments on his way to Hanoi, I previously asked the Leader of the Government to give us examples of where the Canadian business community had put their business interests before Canadian values. Of course, I got no answer because there are no such examples. That was a straw argument by Prime Minister Harper. However, I am optimistic that there is an answer to the following question.

First, let me say that China is a new and major force on the world stage. As a result, the United States is aggressively pursuing a deeper level of engagement with Beijing. Almost immediately after being appointed, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Hank Paulson, visited China, not Canada. He stayed several days and told the U.S. press that the United States was taking a "generational view" of relations with China, meaning a long-term view.

Does the Leader of the Government assert that the United States is putting its commercial interests ahead of human values?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I wish to thank Senator Austin for that question. Of course, I will not comment on the policies of a government other than our own.

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.

Senator LeBreton: There have been good articles in the financial pages about our trade relationships with China. In fact, businesses have been supportive of the Prime Minister's position.

To give a little history here, honourable senators, the Conservative government of the Right Honourable John George Diefenbaker began the whole process of opening up our trading relationships with China, under Alvin Hamilton. The fact of Diefenbaker's government selling wheat to what was then called "Communist China" was one of the reasons President Kennedy's government had such difficulty with the Diefenbaker government. Selling our wheat to China opened the door to trade in China and, subsequently, under the Honourable Mitchell Sharp we established diplomatic relations.

The fact is that we take seriously our trading relations with China. We have had many ministers visit China before and following the APEC summit, namely, Ministers Emerson, Lunn and Strahl, the Minister of Agriculture. We will work hard to establish good trading relations with China while at the same time raising human rights issues.


Policies of the previous government with respect to China have left us with a massive bilateral trade deficit of about $25 billion, a reduced export market share and no preferred designation status for our country.

The government is serious about all its trading relationships around the world, and China is an important player. I think most Canadians expect the Government of Canada to raise human rights issues with countries when we have an opportunity to do so. That view is supported by several articles in the financial pages, and by Canadian business people.

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I listened carefully to the leader's so-called answer, which was a Disneyland of various images. The reality is somewhat different.

First, to make a correction, Minister Emerson has not gone to China. Only Minister Strahl and Minister Lunn have gone, and only after this government had been in office for ten months.

Second, I welcome any ministers going to China, because they would go, hopefully, to advance Canadian interests. I would be fascinated to know what representations they are asked to make to their Chinese counterparts on the subject of the deficiencies of China on human rights. It would be interesting to know exactly what representations are made on what human values. Of course, I do not expect to hear that answer.

I have been involved in China relations a long time. I recall when the Honourable Alvin Hamilton went to China as a result of the efforts of Mr. William McNamara, then President of the Canadian Wheat Board. I bring that to the attention of colleagues because it was the Canadian Wheat Board that was the instrument of the Government of Canada and of Canadian farmers in selling wheat in 1960, something that has not been noted in government policy with respect to the Canadian Wheat Board.

Coming back to my point, there is no evidence that Mr. Hamilton asked for a discussion on human values before that sale was made to China in 1960. Indeed, it was a compassionate and generous action on the part of Canada to make that sale. The policy of the Government of Canada today should follow Minister Alvin Hamilton's lead and that of the Right Honourable John George Diefenbaker, who were wise, unlike, in my view, the approach of the present government in its relationship with China.

Would the Leader of the Government please table in this chamber the human rights issues raised by Prime Minister Harper, Minister Strahl and Minister Lunn, the points they made and the responses given by the Chinese?

Senator LeBreton: I thank Senator Austin for that question. He spoke about Alvin Hamilton. In 1960, Mr. Hamilton showed great political courage at a time when there was great resistance throughout the world to dealing with any communist country, let alone Communist China.

The world has changed significantly since 1960 in terms of awareness of human rights issues, the response to Tiananmen Square being one example of that.


I do not believe that it would be proper for me, or anyone else, to ask any minister of the Crown to divulge private meetings they have had with any official. What I will do is ascertain whether ministers feel there are some general comments that they wish to make. I would not hold out any hope that they would want to reveal the contents of private meetings they have had with officials behind closed doors.

Senator Austin: Honourable senators, I wish the Minister of International Trade, the Honourable David Emerson, every good fortune if he goes to China in January representing Canadian commercial interests. Those are interests that I have worked to see succeed in the market. I have worked on that file for many years. However, I am interested to know what he will be asked by this government to say to the Chinese on the human rights file. Prime Minister Harper has made it clear there is no trade-off. He is not willing to conduct relations with China on the basis of mutual respect and engagement. Indeed, he wants to teach China a lesson about human rights and human values.

I would be very interested to know how Minister Emerson, and any other minister who might go to China, would be received. If there is one in this chamber, perhaps that minister might be conscious of this line of questioning being taken up when they return.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the Prime Minister raised human rights issues. He never indicated that he would in any way interfere with what we hope will be increased trade with China.

The Chinese obviously want to do business with us; we want to do business with them. The Prime Minister feels, and I believe many Canadians agree, that when we have an opportunity to meet with Chinese officials, it is only prudent that a government representing a free nation, such as Canada, raise issues of human rights.

With regard to Minister Emerson's trip to China, I apologize in that I had thought he was already there. When Minister Emerson represents our government on international trade matters in China, I am quite sure that he will work diligently to improve our trade relations. I again point out that every single Team Canada trip to China by the former Prime Minister was followed by reduced trading numbers.

I will not presuppose what Mr. Emerson may or may not say when he has his meetings. I will simply commit to Senator Austin that I will point out the honourable senator's comments today to Minister Emerson before he travels to China.

Senator Austin: Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate also mind pointing out to him that we would welcome understanding how he would explain the comments by the Minister of Finance that Chinese investment is not particularly welcome in Canada?

Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator knows that he actually did not say that. However, I will let the Minister of Finance know that that was the honourable senator's interpretation of what he said.

International Cooperation

Africa—Cuts to Red Cross Program to Distribute Bed Nets

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. More than 1 million people die from malaria each year. About 90 per cent of these deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa. In Africa, malaria is the number one killer of children under the age of five. In 2000, the Abuja Declaration agreed to work toward cutting in half the incidence of malaria in Africa by 2010.

To help achieve this goal, the previous Liberal government committed more than $26 million to the Canadian Red Cross and $9 million to UNICEF to distribute long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets, also referred to as "bed nets" in Africa.

Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell this chamber why the $26 million bed-net program led by the Canadian Red Cross is being abandoned? Why has there been such a huge budget cut in such an important issue?


Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for her question. I will take that question as notice. I received one of those bed nets, as we all did, and promptly turned it over to the Canadian Red Cross, as we were asked to do. I am not aware that any program has been cut, but in any event I will take the question and reply to the honourable senator as quickly as possible.

Senator Cordy: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question. UNICEF performs great work and for many years I was involved in the Trick-or-Treat Program. I also believe that the appointment of Ben Mulroney as national ambassador for UNICEF Canada was a positive thing because of his youth, high profile and energy. Having said that, in February of this year, Minister Verner said she would give UNICEF $9 million to buy bed nets in Ethiopia. However, she failed to say that CIDA seems to be abandoning the Canadian Red Cross bed-net program of $26 million. This $9 million is really a budget cut.

UNICEF plans to sell bed nets to families who have little or no money, while the Canadian Red Cross gives the bed nets away. The Canadian Red Cross has had exceptionally good results with its bed-net program in Africa.

Can the Leader of the Government commit to supporting the Canadian Red Cross successful bed-net program?

Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for her question. I share her joy in having a wonderful Canadian citizen like Ben Mulroney involved with UNICEF. I will take the question as notice and ascertain as quickly as possible the facts in this matter and report them to her here in the Senate.

Status of Women

Closure of Regional Offices

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Last week we learned that the Status of Women Canada is closing 12 regional offices. Outside Ottawa there will be only three regional offices left. The one in Edmonton will serve Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon Territory. The one in Montreal will serve Quebec and Nunavut. The one in Moncton will serve Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. The one at headquarters, in addition to everything else it must do, will serve Ontario and national organizations.

A great deal of distress was expressed about closing these offices. They have been in existence for something like 20 years. Women's groups have called them the eyes and ears of the community. They have been called a lifeline, providing critical support to francophones outside Quebec, and Aboriginal, rural, and other women's groups addressing poverty, violence, access to justice and economic development.

By definition, groups that address those topics are not rich. It is hard for them to travel from Eastern Manitoba to Edmonton or from Northern Quebec to Montreal or from Labrador to Moncton.

It has been suggested by the minister that the offices are being closed because they are too supportive of groups that advocate or lobby on behalf of women. I wonder whether the minister can tell us whether the policy of the government is to cut off that kind of institutional support for groups that advocate on behalf of women. If so, why not close all the offices? Why even keep the facade of having a few left?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for her question. The government believes in the full participation of women in Canadian society and we will continue to support women through programs that are managed effectively.


We have been through this before when these savings were found; the $5 million in savings found at Status of Women Canada were identified by streamlining the agency's administrative operations to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness. Status of Women Canada will continue to deliver results directly to Canadian women with a budget of $23.4 million, $10.8 million of which is dedicated to women's programs.

Canadian women, like every other Canadian, expect their government to manage the country's finances properly. These administrative changes will allow monies to be spent where they are more properly needed, in direct services to women. However, honourable senators, Status of Women Canada is like any program of government that was brought in during a particular era for a specific issue of the day.

I commend to the honourable senator the editorial in The Globe and Mail last Friday. I read it when I was at the Liberal convention in Montreal. It states that,

. . . 35 years after the creation of a status-of-women cabinet post and 22 years after the recognition of women's equality rights in the Constitution, Ottawa has decided to close 12 of the agency's 16 regional offices across the country. The closings come as Ottawa pares $5-million from the agency's $23-million annual budget over two years. It's about time.

Really, it was saying that Status of Women Canada was set up at a time when it was needed. I happen to know a lot about Status of Women Canada. My sister was the coordinator of Status of Women Canada. Her job was to coordinate women's programs to ensure that these issues were dealt with across government.

The program now needs a new, fresh look. Our government, just as in the case of literacy, is finding savings in administrative areas so we can provide programs directly to women where they are needed in the communities.

Senator Fraser: We are all in favour of the effectiveness and continuing fresh looks at things, but I am at a loss to see how what we have been told is the new shape of things will provide either of those benefits.

Status of Women Canada is cutting its staff by almost half — 61 positions out of 131. It is discontinuing its policy research fund and says that "necessary research" — whatever that is — "will be tied to specific projects," which sounds to me as if it will no longer look into broader policy areas. It will not even have a library any more. The library holdings are going to Canadian Heritage.

What will the women of this country do, those who, 35 years later, still need it? This move is perhaps not totally surprising; women have been in a situation of comparative disadvantage for way longer than 35 years. What are the women of this country, who need that kind of institutional help and that kind of policy help — such as Aboriginal women — to expect now from what should be a strong, vibrant agency advocating for them?

Senator LeBreton: First, women can access libraries at Heritage Canada, just as they can access a library run by Status of Women Canada.

As I pointed out, the coordinator's position for Status of Women Canada was set up to coordinate, throughout government and with provincial and territorial governments, the programs to benefit women. The honourable senator talked about cuts to staff. This is the issue. When Status of Women Canada was set up, for very good and valid reasons, the agency consisted of 30 to 40 employees; that number increased to more than 140 employees. Now, 61 employees have been cut. When my sister was the coordinator of Status of Women, the agency was very effective. The Minister for the Status of Women at that time was Barbara McDougall and the agency conducted its programs with 30 employees.


There are many women's programs in other departments of government, in particular for Aboriginal women. Minister Prentice has been particularly active on Aboriginal women's rights. The Status of Women program faced administrative cuts so that monies can be put directly into women's programs at the community level, where they are needed.


Constitution Act, 1867

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Comeau, for the second reading of Bill S-4, to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate tenure).

Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, November 23 past was the twelfth anniversary of my appointment to the Senate of Canada. One of the proudest moments of my life occurred when the then Prime Minister of Canada selected me to be one of the 104 Canadians to sit in the upper house of the Parliament of Canada — a house without which there would have been no Confederation and, certainly, my region and province would not have been a part of it.

Throughout those 12 years, the Senate has continued to be criticized and attacked, ranging from Reform Party members from the other place parading around the Hill under sombreros and shaking maracas to protest the actions of a truant Liberal senator who was living in Mexico on sick leave, to the press heyday over the criminal charge against a sitting Conservative senator that had nothing to do with the Senate.

The biggest threat to this house as an autonomous, independent partner in our Confederation has always come from the executive branch — the government of the day. A case in point is the former Liberal government's attempt to impose the same ethics regime and commissioner on the Senate as on the House of Commons. This imposition is again being attempted by the Harper government.

Now, we also have Bill S-4, which will weaken the independence of senators and the Senate by changing the tenure of senators from to-age-75 to a term appointment of eight years.

When he appeared before the Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform, Prime Minister Harper quoted the following passage:

Probably on no other public question in Canada has there been such unanimity of opinion as on that of the necessity for Senate reform.

The quote is from the book, The Unreformed Senate of Canada, by Robert MacKay. As the Prime Minister pointed out, it was written in 1926. The Prime Minister proudly cited that passage as support for his proposition that "this institution, the Senate of Canada, must change for real." He urged passage of Bill S-4 as a modest move forward to effect this reform.

Perhaps I can do Prime Minister Harper one better. Even before its creation, Christopher Dunkin, a Conservative, argued in 1867 from the legislature of the United Canadas that the Senate was "just the worst body that could be contrived." There has been much controversy as well as strongly opposing views on the appropriate structure and makeup of this house from the beginning. For example, in the book The Unreformed Senate of Canada, which was quoted by Prime Minister Harper, Robert MacKay also included the following interesting quote — from page 37 — taken from Sir John A. Macdonald's notes:

Now as to the Constitution of the Legislature we should have two Chambers, an Upper and a Lower House. In the upper house equality in numbers should be the basis, in the lower house population should be the basis....The mode of appointment to the Upper House — Many are in favour of election and many are in favour of appointment by the crown...I am, after experience in both systems, in favour of returning to the old system of nomination by the crown.

Again, according to MacKay, at page 42:

The chief objections to it [election of Senators] were that it tended to create two houses of exactly the same character which were both likely to consider themselves the interpreters of the popular will, and that such a condition would inevitably lead to conflicts between the houses. In addition, it was un-British. Nor was appointment by provincial governments or election by provincial legislatures seriously entertained or urged except by Prince Edward Island. While there was considerable difficulty about the first selection of members to the upper chamber there was little opposition to the system of appointment by the federal government.

The design of the Senate from the beginning was, like pretty much every political institution, a compromise. While imperfect, somehow it works. The government of the day, of whatever political stripe, does not always appreciate the Senate, which often, in exercising its duty of sober second thought, slows down or questions the government's legislative agenda — for example, the GST and free trade debates.

The proposal before us in Bill S-4 has been represented by the Prime Minister as a modest one, and there has been much discussion of whether Parliament can make this change unilaterally, under section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982, without involving the provinces under section 38(1). As a reminder to honourable senators, section 38 of the Constitution Act, 1982, lists the general procedure for amending the Constitution. It states:

An amendment to the Constitution of Canada may be made by proclamation issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada where so authorized by

(a) resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons; and

(b) resolutions of the legislative assemblies of at least two-thirds of the provinces that have, in the aggregate, according to the then latest general consensus, at least 50 per cent of the population of all the provinces.

According to section 42(1)(b), "the powers of the Senate and the method of selecting Senators" may only be amended in accordance with subsection 38(1).

Bill S-4 purports to amend the term of office of senators from the date of appointment to age 75 to the date of appointment for an eight-year term without following the amending formula in section 38(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982. Instead, the government relies on section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which provides:

Subject to sections 41 and 42, Parliament may exclusively make laws amending the Constitution of Canada in relation to the executive government of Canada or the Senate and House of Commons.

Commenting on section 44, Professor Peter Hogg, in his book Constitutional Law of Canada, states:

Section 44 replaced s.91(1) of the Constitution Act, 1867. Section 91(1) was repealed by the Constitution Act, 1982. Section 91(1) conferred on the federal Parliament the power to amend the "Constitution of Canada." That phrase was then undefined; it was however given a very narrow meaning by the Supreme Court of Canada {in Re Upper House}, and it was subject to important exceptions which were expressed in s. 91(1) itself, the result is that the scope of s. 44 is similar to the scope of the old s. 91(1).

In Reference re Authority of Parliament in relation to the Upper House, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 54, the Supreme Court stated:

...while s. 91(1) would permit some changes to be made by Parliament in respect of the Senate as now constituted, it is not open to Parliament to make alterations which would affect the fundamental features, or essential characteristics, given to the Senate as a means of ensuring regional representation and provincial representation in the federal legislative process. The character of the Senate was determined by the British Parliament in response to the proposals submitted by the three provinces in order to meet the requirement of the proposed federal system. It was that Senate created by the Act, to which a legislative role was given by s. 91. In our opinion, its fundamental character cannot be altered by unilateral action by the Parliament of Canada and s. 91(1) does not give that power.


At page 238 of Protecting Canadian Democracy, Professor David Smith, in discussing principles that must apply to any reform proposals for the Senate says:

All reform proposals must respect the fundamental features and essential characteristics of the Senate: independence, continuity, long-term perspective, professional life experiences and sectional/minority representation.

He continues:

Lengthy tenure, free from the pressures of frequent electoral cycles, gives the Senate experienced members with diverse professional backgrounds who can bring some continuity and long-term perspective to the institution.

Bill S-4, by reducing the tenure of senators from up to 75 years to eight-year terms, affects the independence, continuity and long-term perspective of senators and the Senate. Bill S-4 also would make alterations that would affect the fundamental features and essential characteristics given to the Senate as a means of ensuring regional representation and provincial representation in the federal legislative process. As the Supreme Court stated above, this is not open to Parliament alone to do.

Such a fundamental change in the Constitution of Canada is not within the purview of section 44 and can only be made under the general procedure for amending the Constitution in section 38(1) — resolutions of the Senate and the House of Commons, and resolutions of two-thirds of the provinces representing at least 50 per cent of the populations of all the provinces.

According to the report of the Senate committee that studied Bill S-4, and correspondence from provinces recently tabled in the house, some provincial governments are concerned to be involved. For example:

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier the Hon. Danny Williams did not comment specifically on Bill S-4, but raised general concerns about an incremental approach to reform and asserted the need for provincial and territorial involvement in discussions of change to important features of the Senate.

The original life appointment provided for senators was designed to ensure independence of the chamber. To quote again from Mr. MacKay's book:

"The desire," said George Brown, while justifying the rigidity of the upper chamber and life appointments, "was to render the Upper house a thoroughly independent body — one that would be in the best position to canvass dispassionately the measures of this House."

Honourable senators, to be clear, the change from a life appointment to appointment to the age of 75 was not a significant change. Certainly at the time of Confederation, 75 years would have been a good, full lifetime of work. The two are really indistinguishable. This was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, which observed that the change to compulsory retirement at age 75 "did not change the essential character of the Senate."

However, I believe that the change to a term appointment of eight years would have a significant impact on the independence of this house and its capacity to be the chamber of sober second thought envisaged and designed by the Fathers of Confederation.

According to statistics from the Library of Parliament, the average age when members are appointed to this chamber is between 45 and 60. Those years are one's prime earning years. The perspective of a 45-year-old taking an appointment to this chamber until the age of 75 would necessarily be different from one who takes on an eight-year term. He or she would need to consider the options available at the end of the term. My concern is that this person may have such concerns in mind throughout his or her term, and this could well affect the independence and impartiality of decisions.

The strength of this chamber, as we all know, is reflected best in our in-depth studies, whether of policy matters or proposed legislation. It will not always be to the pleasure and delight of the government of the day, but that is the whole point. We are able to do that quality of work because of many factors, not the least of which is our long-term perspective and the depth of knowledge of issues. These factors are not acquired overnight. There is a value in institutional memory and experience for which there is no good substitute.

Let me give you one final quote from Robert MacKay's book that relates to term appointments:

But one important result should be noted: given the invariable system of party appointments and the normal longevity of Canadian governments, Opposition parties in the Senate would be more quickly wiped out than under the present system, and the Senate more likely to become from time to time the preserve of a single party, unless safeguards were applied in appointments to assure representation of Opposition parties. Further, tenure for a limited term, would not be conducive to independence of the Senate. Senators would be only human if they canvassed the possibilities of re-appointment.

That is from page 177 and 178 of his book.

Viewed on its own, Bill S-4 vests an extraordinary power in the hands of the Prime Minister of the day. As Senator Dawson noted in questioning Prime Minister Harper in the Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform studying the substance of Bill S-4 —

The Hon. the Speaker: Order. I wonder whether Senator Bryden would ask the house for an extension of his time?

Senator Bryden: May I?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Bryden: Thank you.

As Senator Dawson noted when questioning Prime Minister Harper in the Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform studying the substance of Bill S-4, Prime Minister Trudeau would have been able to appoint 200 senators, as he was in office for 16 years. Prime Minister Mulroney could have appointed a fully Conservative Senate without the least opposition. Prime Minister Chrétien could have appointed about 100 senators, thus completely controlling the upper chamber.

Prime Minister Harper's response was to tell Senator Dawson that, "the government intends to table legislation to create an elected Senate."

Honourable senators, that cannot be good enough. We do not have that legislation before us now. As far as I am aware, no such bill has even been drafted. That proposal would clearly require the consent of the provinces — something that is far from a certainty. We are faced with a proposal that would entrench unprecedented power in the hands of the Prime Minister — the power to control this chamber, the chamber which was specially established and designed to be a check on the executive power.

When the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator LeBreton, in her speech on Bill S-4, stated that it represented an important first step towards larger reform of the Senate, I was reminded of a quote from another senator that is found at page 306 of Protecting Canadian Democracy. Senator Michael Pitfield, for six years Clerk of the Privy Council and over 20 years a member of the Senate, is quoted therein. He states:

In constitution-making it is important to bear in mind that the first step in reform is almost never the final step. To the contrary, the first step sets off a process of evolution usually quite rapid at first and gradually petering out. Focusing merely on the change and not on its consequences as far as the eye can see is to invite mistakes and chaos.


Finally, honourable senators, I do not think this bill should be read a second time now. Rather, it should be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for a thorough and complete constitutional investigation to determine whether this is a proper case to request the government to refer Bill S-4 to the Supreme Court of Canada for a determination of whether its enactment by Parliament alone is constitutional.

On motion of Senator Grafstein, debate adjourned.

Judges Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Meighen, seconded by the Honourable Senator Comeau, for the second reading of Bill C-17, to amend the Judges Act and certain other Acts in relation to courts.

Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I am rising to make an oral declaration of a private interest, as it falls under section 14 of the Conflict of Interest Code for Senators.

I would note for the record that I believe my wife, Heather Smith, Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice in Ontario, may have a private interest that might be affected by the matter currently before the Senate, which is Bill C-17, relating to judicial remuneration. I would also point out that I have filed the necessary documentation with the table.

As this is the first time this matter has arisen, I should point out that I had a couple of discussions with the Senate Ethics Officer, and he was of the view that she really does not have an interest as the bill is of general application. There are 300 judges that comprise the court she heads, and I think there are probably 1,000 judges in Canada as a whole affected by this bill. However, if I am to err, I will err on the side of caution.

Therefore, I will not participate in this debate. I might listen to some of it, but I will not speak to the bill or vote. This has now been duly noted in the procedure set out by our recent changes regarding conflict of interest.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Smith has made a declaration of private interest regarding Bill C-17. In accordance with rule 32.1, the declaration shall be recorded in the Journals of the Senate.

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I rise on the second reading debate of Bill C-17.

I would like to start my comments with a quote from an excellent report, entitled Place Apart: Judicial Independence and Accountability in Canada, prepared for the Canadian Judicial Council back in 1995 by my close friend, Professor Martin L. Friedland, a classmate of mine at the University of Toronto Law School. Professor Friedland went on to become the dean and is still the dean at the University of Toronto Law School, as well as a professor at the university. He has written a number of books and has made brilliant contributions over his long career to matters affecting the law, especially with respect to the judiciary.

I offer this brief quotation from the preface of the report:

Senator Arthur Meighen stated in the Senate in 1932 —

I wish to pay credit. I am not quoting our Senator Meighen but rather his grandfather, who stood in this place in 1932 and stated:

"A judge is in no sense under the direction of the government. The judge is in a place apart."

Hence arose the title of this very cogent and interesting study about the judiciary.

I commend this text to all senators studying the bill before us because it is an interesting analysis of the world of the judiciary in our country. It refers to the Act of Settlement 1701 that established the independence of the judiciary. After the "Glorious Revolution," judges were set up as an independent body separate and distinct from the legislature and the Crown. This idea was based on the great philosophers of the time, a learned judge himself, William Blackstone, and two philosophers, John Locke and Montesquieu, all who advocated the same point: In order to have a proper democratic structure in the judiciary, there must be checks and balances and a separation between the executive, the lower and the upper houses — which we have — as well as an independent separate judiciary.

This analysis raised a particular conflict because when it came to the question of establishing the security of judges and "that place apart," we went to the Constitution of Canada. The Constitution declared that judicial compensation was to be established by Parliament.

Allow me to quote from section 99 of the Constitution Act:

...the Judges of the Superior Courts shall hold office during good behaviour, but shall be removable by the Governor General on Address of the Senate and House of Commons.

Section 100 states:

The Salaries, Allowances, and Pensions of the Judges of the Superior, District, and County Courts...shall be fixed and provided by the Parliament of Canada.

Allow me to run forward from that statute, the Constitution, that gives the absolute power of Parliament to establish the salaries, to the whole growth of argumentation respecting the credibility and independence of the judiciary. Does it conflict if in fact Parliament exercises constitutional responsibility to set compensation? That exercise morphed into a tremendous amount of change by setting up independent commissions to bridge the constitutional mandate while giving independent views of compensation.

As honourable senators will recall, in 1997 Mr. Justice Antonio Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada established a principle that the government not only allow the commission to set the measures independent of the government or Parliament, but in addition, to ensure that once they are recommended, they are adopted.

That position has been watered down somewhat. I will provide honourable senators with the more recent case. I am referring to the Provincial Judges Reference. The Supreme Court held not only that commissions must be established for all judges, federal and provincial, but that the government is required to accept a commission's recommendation unless it convinces a court that there is a rational reason for rejecting that.

To my mind, prima facie, that case sets out a conflict of interest and contrary to the Constitution itself. My honourable friends will recall when we went through previous reiterations of this independent commission in this chamber, a number of us raised this question of conflict because we said the judges were embarked directly on setting their own compensation, and that was, prima facie, a conflict.

There was a subsequent case in 2005, Provincial Court Judges' Assn. n of New Brunswick v. New Brunswick. A unanimous decision of the court rejected challenges to a number of provincial government decisions not to follow the commission's recommendations. The Supreme Court of Canada stated that a court's review should be "a deferential review which acknowledges both the government's unique position and accumulated expertise in its constitutional responsibility for the management of the province's financial affairs." Effectively, that decision took a step back and I think in a more appropriate direction to demonstrate that judges should not be involved in their own compensation.

There are four members of the new triennial commission, and one is a nominee of the judges themselves. That begs the question as to whether or not the commission is flawed.

I raise these issues because I hope that when the bill is referred to committee, the committee will have a fresh look at the commission structure and makeup and perhaps look at the practices in other countries. Australia has established a practice, an independent commission, which I think commends itself, but they do not establish salaries for judges alone. They do it right across the board for generals and deputy ministers.


When the committee looks at this bill, it should examine that particular practice, because I still have serious doubts about the constitutionality of the present framework. The United States has an independent commission, as do the United Kingdom and Australia, but they do it across the board and then it is up to Parliament to opine, to either accept or reject.

What happened in this particular instance is quite interesting. When Bill C-17 was tabled by the Minister of Justice, Mr. Toews, it provided for a 7.25 per cent salary increase instead of the 10.8 per cent as recommended by the commission back in 2004. We are a little out of sync in terms of time; it is not fair to the judiciary that this matter should be held up. Once it is established by a commission that this is a benchmark number, it is important for governments and Parliament to opine as quickly as possible. Those recommendations were accepted by the Liberal government in November 2004. A bill was introduced in May 2005, but it died on the Order Paper when a federal election was called last year.

Under this new bill, Bill C-17, a judge's salary at the trial or appellate level would rise to $232,000 retroactive to April 1, 2005, instead of $240,000 — the salary recommended by the commission. In other words, the commission recommended 10.8 per cent and the government is now proposing 7.25 per cent. Why did the government come to that number and what was the rationale for the change in the recommendation of the commission?

I will start off with the problem — and it is rather complex — which is that the commission, in my view, has a problem in its current structure. Having said that, the commission opined and came to the conclusion of a 10.8 per cent salary increase for judges. By the way, there are 1,043 superior court judges who are in this particular class, according to the information I have. The government then said that it would not accept the 10.8 per cent increase, that instead it would recommend an increase of 7.25 per cent. When you crunch the numbers — and I will rush ahead for this — according to the Department of Justice numbers, the four-year package would total $58.9 million, including $13.4 million for a 7.5 per cent increase retroactive to April 1.

When I study the numbers, the difference between the government's position and that of the commission, as it affects the revenues of Canada, is $33.7 million. That is the difference we are talking about. In other words, that is the reduction from the amount recommended by the commission.

Let us now turn to what Minister Toews told the other place. I hope I am not quoting him out of context. If I am, I stand to be corrected. I understand that he said the following — and I am paraphrasing him here: The commission failed to pay sufficient heed to the economic pressures, fiscal priorities and competing demands on the public purse. In essence, the government ascribed a different weight than that of the commission to the importance of the criteria.

Hence, the government came up with the 7.25 per cent and justified it on the basis that the commission did not understand the fiscal priorities and the fiscal nature of the government, notwithstanding the fact that the government is sitting there with a huge surplus. To the committee that will study Bill C-17, I say the following: The government must explain this not in macroeconomic terms but in microeconomic terms. The committee must be satisfied that the judgment taken by the government, different from the commission, and flawed as it might be, but obviously based on some more appropriate criteria, is justified.

Honourable senators, I will conclude with this statement, which my friend Martin Friedland gave me and is allowing me to enter into the record of the Debates of the Senate. What I shall be reading, honourable senators, is an excerpt from a chapter on the judiciary in his forthcoming memoir, to be published by the University of Toronto Press. This is quite interesting in order to give the flavour of what has been going on. Martin Friedland says:

Financial security was also a subject of considerable interest at the time that I did my study.

Honourable senators will recall that Mr. Friedland was commissioned by the Canadian Judicial Council to do a report back in 1995.

One wants salaries to be high enough, when combined with good pensions, to attract a pool of excellent candidates. But even if a very large portion of the bar were willing to accept an appointment at a much lower salary, we would still want to pay judges well to ensure their financial independence — for our sake, not for theirs. As I stated in the report, subsequently quoted with approval by the Supreme Court: "We do not want judges put in a position of temptation, hoping to get some possible financial advantage if they favour one side or the other. Nor do we want the public to contemplate this as a possibility."

He goes on to state:

The question of how judicial salaries should be determined was a hot topic when I did my report.

Back in 1995.

Many judges wanted binding arbitration. The present masochistic method of establishing judicial remuneration for federally appointed judges by a commission every three years was questioned in the report. Would it not be better to deal with judicial remuneration as part of a review of other senior salaries paid from government funds, such as those of deputy ministers and army generals, as is now done in England, the United States, and Australia?

I thought that it was desirable to have some form of commission to offer advice to the government, although I thought it unlikely that the courts would say that such a commission was constitutionally required. As it turned out, the Supreme Court of Canada in the Provincial Judges Compensation Case in 1997 not only held that commissions must be established for all judges, federal and provincial, but that the government is required to accept a commission's recommendation unless it can convince a court that there is a "rational" reason for rejecting them. I certainly had not anticipated that they would go that far, and in a 2001 talk in Vancouver on the occasion of the three hundred year anniversary of the Act of Settlement, which established judicial independence in England, I criticized the case, stating:

He then quotes from a speech he gave in 2001 to judges:

Thus the judiciary has created a clear potential conflict of interest by judicializing the process. If the government "chooses not to accept one or more of the recommendations," Chief Justice Lamer stated, "it must be prepared to justify this decision, if necessary in a court of law." The judges are therefore in a real sense determining their own compensation...In other situations, permitting a person to be a judge in his or her own cause would be a ground for reversing a judgment...Would it not have been wiser to have simply required the establishment of a compensation tribunal and also required the government to respond within a set period of time and then leave it to public opinion to judge that response?

He then goes on to say:

Three members of the Supreme Court were in the audience that day and my words may have hit a sensitive nerve. In any event, in subsequent cases the Supreme Court has been narrowed the role of the court in these situations, such that it is now relatively easy for a government to reject a recommendation from a commission. In a 2005 decision (Provincial Court Judges' Assn. of New Brunswick v. New Brunswick) a unanimous Court rejected challenges to a number of provincial governments' decisions not to follow commission recommendations. The Supreme Court stated that a court's view should be "a deferential review which acknowledges both the government's unique position and accumulated expertise and its constitutional responsibility for the management of the province's financial affairs."

I conclude by saying that I would hope that when this matter goes to the committee it will look at three things. The first is the framework of the commission itself that made these recommendations and whether or not it is constitutionally appropriate in these circumstances, having in mind the good practices of the U.K., Australia and the United States, which are different from ours.

Second, I would hope that the committee would challenge the government to determine whether or not their decision to go from 10.8 to 7.25 was appropriate. What was the justification for that? What are the facts? How does it affect the public purse? How does it impede or affect impartiality, fairness and equity?

Third, it struck me when I read the bill that there is an inherent unfairness in establishing a fixed salary across Canada because the cost of living across Canada is unequal. Maybe the appropriate measure would be to fix a basic salary — and I have no problem with a basic salary — with a cost-of-living index that moves with time, on a yearly basis, in order to make sure that judges are not unfairly treated in each region of the country.


Since we are accorded regions, we should respect the regional differences as well as the national standards.

On those measures, I conclude my remarks.

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I presume that Senator Meighen, when he closes this debate, will deal with some of the points that Senator Grafstein has made, and that the committee will do likewise. I will not intervene in the debate. What I have to say I can say in the form of questions to the honourable senator who has just resumed his seat.

First, I wonder why he takes objection to the presence on the commission of one representative of the judges themselves. I, for one, do not find that excessive. If he does, I would like to hear him elaborate on the point.

Second, I wonder wherein lies the virtue or the validity of having a commission decide or recommend not only about judges but also about the compensation for generals of the Canadian Forces, deputy ministers and the like. Why do we need an independent commission to decide what their compensation ought to be? The government can take advice, and Parliament can take advice wherever it likes, but lumping government and Parliament in with judges does not make any sense. At one point, compensation for parliamentarians was linked to that of the judiciary. The reason for that was to have some body interposed between us and our salaries. It stayed that way for a little while until the Martin government got cold feet and severed the link.

Finally, I wonder whether the honourable senator finds the government's response deficient in its thoroughness. Whether he agrees with it or not, I thought that the response of the present government was thorough and detailed. They went so far, for example, as to suggest that the commission had erred in putting too much weight on the incomes of urban lawyers; nothing personal, but that was one of the points they made. It was extremely detailed. What gave me pause was that the previous Martin government had indicated it would accept the commission's report. That was the response of the Martin government, and a new government decided otherwise. That gave me pause to wonder what was the motivation.

Finally, I do not see anything in the bill or in the work of the commission that offends either the declaration of the late Right Honourable Arthur Meighen, cited by my friend, or the citations by Professor Friedland.

Senator Grafstein: Let me start off by talking about my conflict of interest, because the appointee for the judges is also a close friend of mine who marched at my wedding, Mr. Cherniak, a distinguished counsel. He was the judges' nominee at the commission. I hope the honourable senator will not take offence because I respect him for his integrity and ability. He was a brilliant gold medalist and much smarter than me.

Having said that, I am in this position and he is in that position, so I am called upon to comment on his work.

Regarding conflict of interest with which we are all familiar, what should have happened is that the judges, if they wanted to make their case, could make their case without having a representative on the commission. That would be an easy thing to do. I have no problem with the judges talking about their financial circumstances, their ability to be truly independent and to have a place apart because they must have a different type of lifestyle than most. I understand and I respect that. I do not like saying this, but some of my best friends are judges.

Having said that, it is appropriate that when dealing with these constitutional matters we should be as pristine as possible, so there is absolutely no question that we mix apples and oranges. There is no question that the judicial council can retain counsel, or however they wish to do it, and make representations, but the commission should be independent in all respects. That one out of three or one out of four is a judicial nominee does not make it any better. I am following the rule of law, the rule of equity. In this case, purity is better.

The second question that the senator raises is more complex. I agree that there was a proper dialogue between the Minister of Justice and the commission's recommendations. My only concern was that the commission made a thorough and careful study of a number of criteria. Obviously, they were assisted by close information, probably received through Mr. Cherniak to the commission, so they received a lot of good information and made a considered recommendation.

The government then argues, in effect, that it disagrees with one criterion, and I have no problem with that whatsoever. The government then uses the old saw that the question is one of fiscal accountability. Let me use the exact phraseology because it is a little dicier than that. The minister said that the commission failed to pay heed to the economic pressures, priorities and competing demands in the public purse.

However, with all due respect, can a commission pay sufficient heed to the economic pressures, fiscal priorities and competing demands of the public purse of which they have no knowledge?

Senator Murray: That is the government's job.

Senator Grafstein: I do not quarrel with that. To my mind, they could have been more precise in their analysis. The differential we are talking about here is $33 million. To my mind, being satisfied beyond doubt that the judges are treated fairly and equitably so they can conduct their business without financial pressures is a desirable objective.

If the government can demonstrate that the $33 million is a make-and-break case because we are in deficit, I can understand that, and Canadians would understand that, but these times are not those times.

People can argue with my idea of a duplex remuneration. The cost of living across the country varies tremendously. Houses and upkeep of houses in one part of the country are entirely different than in other parts of the country. I am also mindful of the ability to attract good judges because we want the best of the bar to put their names forward to become judges. I have no quarrel with that. When judges take the bench, a number of these outstanding counsel make a financial sacrifice. I know that for sure.

It is a question of balancing all these things. I hope when the committee looks at this issue it will review the committee's recommendations, ask the government to justify more precisely the rationale for their conclusion. However, I hope the committee looks at those three things: the framework and the structure of the commission itself; the rationale the government puts forward for differentiating from its recommendations; and, finally, the floating duplex arrangement. I say that because it is not fair that the judges have to wait. It is retroactive, but at the same time, it is not fair for a measure that should have been introduced and passed in 2004, and here we are in 2006, almost 2007. Yes, they will receive the compensation backwards, but that is not fair either.

Senator Murray: Surely, the honourable senator will agree that when discussing economic and fiscal pressures on the government, the question is not one, primarily, of the $33 million involved but of the precedential nature of a settlement such as this one. The honourable senator is at least as old as I am, and his memory will go back to the famous 30-per-cent increase granted to the employees of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and then of Air Canada in the 1960s. The 33 per cent, as a matter of fact, was agreed to by the Pearson government on a recommendation of the late Honourable Senator Mackenzie who was appointed as mediator in those cases. It is a matter of public record that those settlements set off an inflationary spiral in the economy that took many years and several governments to arrest.


This 10.5 per cent, or whatever it is, for judges is not of the same order of magnitude or of the same significance in the economy, and I do not argue that it is. However, a 10.5-per-cent increase instead of a 7.5-per-cent increase is something that other alert people, perhaps even parliamentarians, might take up and demand. It is the precedence rather than the quantum that is involved here.

Senator Grafstein: I agree wholeheartedly with what the honourable senator says, but I think Supreme Court judges are a place apart. If I had a concern in this country, it would not be with judicial salaries going to 10 per cent or 10.8 per cent. I would be much more concerned with corporate compensation. The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce will look at that question, hopefully. We think it is a disgraceful situation in Canada that corporate executives can be paid without justification based on a rate of return for their companies.

We are mindful of precedence. We think that precedent is horrible, and we will be looking at it. In this instance, I believe it is important for the judges to make their decisions free of financial restraints. I think this compensation is cutting the corners too tightly.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: I would like to thank the honourable senator for his intervention and for placing some of these concerns on the record. We served on the Senate Legal Committee together and raised many of these questions.

I also recall that when the salaries of the Prime Minister and members of Parliament were tied to the salaries of the Chief Justice and the judges we raised much objection. We have been tracking some of these issues for a little while.

The honourable senator's concerns are reasonable and just concerns, that we are now in a situation where the judges may have become judges in their own cause in making judgments on judicial salaries.

The honourable senator cited Supreme Court Chief. Justice Lamer talking about Parliament or governments potentially appearing in a court to justify what they do in respect of compensation commissions. To balance the record, has the honourable senator a recollection of Mr. Justice La Forest's dissenting opinion in that case before the Supreme Court, and his strong objections to what was happening? I do not have his words before me, but he basically said that what the judges were doing was unconstitutional and akin to creating a new and separate arm of government.

Has the honourable senator any recollection of what Mr. Justice La Forest said? If he does, could he share that with us? Perhaps he has the judgment in front of him.

Senator Grafstein: I do not have it before me, but my recollection is the same as the honourable senator's, that there was strong dissent. We had a discussion about this matter not only in this chamber, but also outside this chamber. Many of us were upset with the Liberal government of the time playing cute with the Constitution by tying prime ministerial and ministerial salaries to judicial salaries.

I thought it was cute; it was unconstitutional. I said as much at the time. Mr. Justice La Forest was right on the mark then and he is right on the mark now.

Senator Cools: I have paid much attention to this subject. The committee should also look at the meaning of judicial independence. Judicial independence is much more than impartiality. Judicial impartiality in respect of adjudicating cases is different than judicial independence.

A cause of many ills in the 17th century was that the judges had drawn close to "the executive power" and at places were interchangeable with them. The most extreme case was a fellow like Judge Jeffreys.

The honourable senator cited section 99 and section 100 of the BNA Act. Those two sections were born out of the Act of Settlement of 1701. The intention of judicial independence was to move judges away from the superintendence of the executive and put them under the superintendence of the people, being Parliament.

I share the honourable senator's concerns. He quoted from Professor Friedland's book. If honourable senators go forward many pages from that quotation, they will see where Professor Friedland begins to discuss the recommendations of these commissions being binding, or nearly binding. Professor Friedland cites the opinion of Professor Hogg, in response to which he said that to concede to those kinds of actions, or to have such recommendations be binding, or any such related action, would be tantamount to the judges fixing their salaries and Parliament providing them, rather than Parliament fixing and providing the salaries.

I believe the honourable senator shares those concerns. Everyone wants judges to be well remunerated. I do not believe many of the arguments brought before us that these salaries are related to the difficulties in recruiting good judges. My data has shown that for every judicial vacancy, hundreds of lawyers seek the job. My research also shows that for many individuals who become judges, the salaries are a significant increase in remuneration. We should look to sounder reasons than the difficulty in the selection process or in attracting interest in the bench.

On one committee, a witness made a point about the difficulty of attracting good lawyers to become judges. Senator Bryden questioned that, saying he found it hard to believe.

Nothing is currently begging more attention from the Houses of Parliament than the proper constitutional relationship between judges, Parliament and the executive or the cabinet. A plethora of literature has been mushrooming across the country on these issues. Although we may not be able to do it under the rubric of this bill, at some time some of these important issues should be studied.

The sole reason the Judges Act was created was to fulfill the conditions of the BNA Act. The Judges Act, which was supposed to be a singular instrument to deliver the constitutional requirement that the Parliament of Canada fix and provide the salaries of judges, has been exaggerated to cover all manner of salaries and payments, which was never intended by the Constitution.


Honourable senators, the subject matter before us is important. If one were to look at the Judges Act to see how different sections have been manipulated and massaged over a 50-year period of time, to take the Judges Act in a different direction from where it was intended, we really must look at these questions. They are very important issues. I thank the honourable senator.

Senator Grafstein: There is one comment I disagree with, that is, the question of attracting judges. The salary for the puisine judges we are talking about would rise to $232,000, as of April 1, 2004, as opposed to $240,000. I know the law firms, not in Regina or Saskatoon, but in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, and $232,000 would be a junior partner's salary today.

It strikes me that, if we are so concerned about the quality of judges, especially since the Constitution has changed with respect to the Charter of Rights, we want to attract the finest and best minds before the bar. I do not think $240,000 does it.

That is why I am saying I am somewhat concerned about these issues and suggested this floating change to be fair and appropriate.

Senator Cools: What I was saying to the honourable senator is that, the last time we served on committee and looked at this issue, we discovered that the highest salaries in the country belonged to the judges, whereas the average salaries of lawyers were $80,000 to $90,000 a year.

I do not begrudge anyone good salaries; I believe judges should be well remunerated. That is not an issue. I quarrel with the mantra of how difficult it is to find people. Any day of the week, honourable senators, I have no less than 10 individuals who want to talk to me and want to become judges. There is no shortage of individuals.

How does one get the cream to come to the top? That is a different question. As I said, any time I go anywhere, there is always someone who wants to talk about getting an appointment.

Let us keep the issues clear, honourable senators. I agree with the honourable senator that there should be a commission that looks at the salaries of not only judges, but also ministers, prime ministers, ambassadors, and so on, so that a balance between the salaries can be maintained.

I do not quarrel with the honourable senator's concept. I am simply saying that I do not believe it is that difficult to find people to serve.

Mr. Justice Sopinka died very young. When he was appointed, I remember him saying that, at that stage in his career, money was not the issue. He said that the opportunity to serve at that level was such a rare and wonderful one that he felt duty-bound to accept.

It would be nice if some of these concerns could be articulated in respect of principles and in respect of a desire for public service, other than a need to satisfy a quantum of dollars that no one will define or tell us how they arrived at.

I do not accept that that number is arrived at because some lawyer in Toronto is making a million dollars a year. We know that is not the case all across the country.

Let us remember that it is only quite recently in our history that judges are tied to what we now consider lawyers. It was not too long ago that the law school program was an apprenticeship program. The whole field has changed enormously in the last 50 years.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I never disagree with Senator Grafstein; I do not think I do now. However, I believe it is dangerous to make equations between remuneration given to people. If we were going to do that, we would have to start at the top and equate the Prime Minister's salary with that of the president of General Motors of Canada or to use the old saw, hockey players with teachers.

If we start making those comparisons, we are in some danger, We must not do that. I am not disagreeing with the honourable senator that there is a competitive factor there. Some people go into the public service for reasons other than money.

Hon. John G. Bryden: The honourable senator's reference to hockey players in comparison to others reminded me of a cocktail party I attended where the conversation came around to the scandalous remuneration of the presidents of banks, and so on. The defence given was that bank presidents do not make any more than some hockey players, that hockey players make $5 million, $8 million and $10 million. What is the difference, the defender said? Some wag said, "The difference is, if the hockey player leaves, he would be missed."

My comment in relation to this is that I do not think a scale of dollars can be used. In law school, the saying was, and I am sure it is still there, "A students make professors, B students make judges, and C students make money."

Do we want to populate our benches with only C students, the ones that make so much money? It is really quite accurate.

Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: When I was playing hockey, we were making what senators make. Now I am making what a senator makes. Ten years from now, maybe senators will be making what hockey players make.

Senator Banks: When we leave, no one will be missed.

On motion of Senator Jaffer, debate adjourned.

Appropriation Bill No. 2, 2006-07

Second Reading

Hon. Nancy Ruth moved second reading of Bill C-38, for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2007.

She said: Honourable senators, Bill C-38 provides for the release of the remainder of supply for the 2006 and 2007 Main Estimates. The Main Estimates were tabled in the Senate on April 25, 2006.

The government submits estimates to Parliament for authority to spend public funds. Main Estimates include information on budgetary and non-budgetary spending authorities. Parliament subsequently considers appropriation bills to authorize spending. The Main Estimates also provide information to Parliament about adjustments to projected statutory spending that has been previously authorized by Parliament.


The 2006-07 Main Estimates outlined a total of $199.7 billion in government expenditures, including $198.6 billion in budgetary spending and $1.1 billion in non-budgetary expenditures for loans and investments. These estimates were discussed in some detail with the Treasury Board Secretariat officials in their appearance before the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance on May 2, 2006 and with the President of the Treasury Board on May 3, 2006.

As well, the Main Estimates remained before our committee for the duration of the fiscal year and through that reference the committee undertook a study into the matter and the process by which judicial compensation and benefits are determined.

This year's budgetary expenditures of $198.6 billion include the costs of servicing the public debt, operating and capital expenditures, transfer payments to other levels of governments, organizations or individuals and payments to Crown corporations.

The budgetary Main Estimates support the government's request for Parliament's authority for $72.2 billion in budgetary spending under program authorities that require Parliament's annual approval for spending limits. The remaining $128.4 billion represents statutory spending, such as elderly benefits and employment insurance, and its detailed forecasts are provided through the Main Estimates for information purposes only.

Non-budgetary expenditures refer to those expenditures that have an impact on the composition of the government's financial assets such as loans, investments and advances. This year's non-budgetary expenditures of $1.1 billion include both voted, non-budgetary spending authorities amounting to $123.4 million, and $999.5 million, representing statutory non-budgetary expenditures that are already approved by Parliament through separate legislation.

The 2006-07 Main Estimates non-budgetary spending represents a forecasted decrease of $567.2 million over last year's 2005-06 Main Estimates. The total of voted or appropriated items in this year's Main Estimates is $70.3 billion. Of this amount, $11.5 billion had already been provided through Governor General's Special Warrants as a result of the January 2006 federal election and the dissolution of Parliament. Bill C-8, appropriation act No. 1, 2006-07, provided interim authority to spend $43.5 billion, sufficient authority to last until December.

Honourable senators, the balance of the $15.4 billion is now being sought through Bill C-38 Appropriation Bill No. 2, 2006-07.

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

Hon. Senators: Question!

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, these are the Main Estimates — I do not understand.

The Hon. the Speaker: This is the bill. The main will be covered subsequently.

Senator Cools: No, but this is the bill from the Main Estimates, the completion of supply, right? I do not quite understand. Have we received the report from the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance? Has the opposition spoken? This is all very odd.

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, for purposes of clarification, this bill would not normally go to committee; it would be dealt with in the chamber. Our critic on the bill is Senator Day. He has told me, and I have conveyed to my opposite number on the government side, that he is familiar with the content of this bill and he is perfectly content for it to be given second reading today and will speak tomorrow in the third reading debate.

Senator Cools: But has the report been adopted yet that supports the bill?

Senator Fraser: The report appears later in the Order Paper because it is a report and not a bill. Obviously, the report must be adopted before the bill is adopted, but that can also be done tomorrow.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, it would be better to proceed to adopt the bill at second reading after Senator Day has spoken and after the report has been —

Senator Comeau: Question!

Senator Cools: I was speaking, colleagues. Honourable senators, I am proposing that it would be better to proceed in that order because it is the adoption of the report that really is the signal to bring on the bill. I fail to see what difference a day here or there makes.

It is highly unusual for a supply bill to move ahead to second reading without some commentary at the second reading stage from the opposition side. It is not something that one just dismisses and says, "Well, someone will speak tomorrow." It is an extremely important part of the entire process.

Maybe everyone else thinks it is all right but I do not think it is a good idea and I do not think the opposition should be agreeing to such a bad idea.

Senator Fraser: Let me clarify, for Senator Cools, that this proposal did not come from the government side; it came from our critic, and I know that it is unusual. Senator Cools is, as usual, very acute in noting unusual procedures in this place. It arises because Senator Day has two extremely demanding roles to fill this week. He is our critic on Bill C-2, which is under consideration at this moment by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, with very important witnesses appearing before it; and he is the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance and handles bills of this nature for our side.

He spoke to me yesterday and asked if we could, in an uncustomary fashion, proceed in this way. It is unusual.

Senator Comeau: It is not out of order.

Senator Fraser: I do not believe it is contrary to our rules in any way. We are, of course, in the hands of the chamber.

I thank Senator Cools for her intervention on this matter because it is obviously very important that we be aware of what we are doing and that we make it plain when we do depart from customary procedure that we do not consider it something to be done in a habitual manner.

Senator Cools: You may end up arguing that at some point in the future.

In point of fact, the envelope has been pushed already to the extent that the debate on the bill has begun before the report has been adopted. The mere fact that the two instruments are travelling simultaneously side-by-side is already pushing the envelope. To have the bill pass second reading before the report is adopted and without anyone's opinion being voiced from the opposition, I repeat, is not a desirable thing. I do not know how the agreement was formed; I do not understand what the foundation of it is. I understand that Senator Day is a little busy for today, but certainly among all your learned colleagues there must be someone, one member who could speak. If the honourable senator really wanted to facilitate the government, that one person could put something on the record in respect of this issue.


I, for one, am reluctant to go ahead to a vote at second reading without hearing from the other side. Second reading is a critical stage in a bill and it is not to be shrugged off. These things that look like only courtesy are difficult, and I am going to vote against it.

Senator Comeau: Question!

Senator LeBreton: Question!

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth, seconded by the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, that this bill be read a second time.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Cools: On division.

Motion agreed to and bill read a second time, on division.

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

On motion of Senator Nancy Ruth, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.

Appropriation Bill No. 3, 2006-07

Second Reading

Hon. Nancy Ruth moved second reading of Bill C-39, for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2007.

She said: Honourable senators, Bill C-39, Appropriation Bill No. 3, 2006-07, seeks Parliament's approval to spend $5 billion in voted expenditures as outlined in Supplementary Estimates (A) 2006-07.

These expenditures were provided for within the planned spending set out by the Minister of Finance in his May 2006 budget. Supplementary Estimates (A), 2006-2007, were tabled in the Senate on October 30, 2006, and referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. These are the first supplementary estimates for the fiscal year that ends next March 31.

These supplementary estimates were discussed in some detail with Treasury Board Secretariat officials David Moloney and Laura Danagher in their appearance before the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance on November 22, 2006.

The supplementary estimates provide details of $9.2 billion in budgetary spending. Of this, $5 billion requires the approval of Parliament and includes such major budgetary items as $1 billion for operating budget carry forward for 80 departments and agencies from 2005-06; $955.9 million to support the operational sustainability of our Canadian Forces; $478.4 million for compensation adjustments to departments and agencies for signed collective agreements and other related adjustments in terms and conditions of service or employment made between August 1, 2005 and July 31, 2006; $342 million to support the Canadian Farm Families Options Program and implementation of the Agricultural Policy Framework; $218.2 million for investments in public infrastructure projects designed to improve the quality of life in both urban and rural communities; $153 million for public security initiatives; and $122.2 million to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada to forgive the debt of six countries, these being Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.

The supplementary estimates also include an increase of $4.2 billion in budgetary statutory spending that has been previously authorized by Parliament.

Adjustments to projected statutory spending are outlined in the supplementary estimates for information purposes only, as the necessary spending authority already exists through other statutes. These include $1.6 billion for the administration costs related to the Universal Child Care Benefit to Canadian families with young children; $873 million to support amendments to the inventory valuation under the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization Program; $650 million in funding to provinces and territories for early learning and child care programs; $495.5 million for increased transfer payments to provincial and territorial governments, including fiscal equalization; and an increase of $393 million in public debt charges to reflect increases in short-term interest rates.

The expenditure restraint measures announced on September 25, 2006, are accounted for in these supplementary estimates as reductions to departmental reference levels, wherever applicable.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I assume that Senator Day is the point man on this as well.

Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Yes.

Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I was not planning to speak on any of these issues but I should like to articulate my strong objection to the passing of bills in the magnitude of these billions of dollars without any debate, based on a five- or 10-minute speech by a government member and no statement from the opposition. I find that objectionable, undesirable and a bad habit and practice.

I was appalled, as I think Senator Murray was last spring, when the Appropriation Act No. 1 passed the House in 15 minutes. I thought, "My God, we will never allow that to happen here in this place."

The record should show a debate. The record should show that this house, this chamber, took the appropriation of so many billions of dollars — the kind of money most Canadians, most human beings cannot even conceptualize — with some seriousness. I am a little shocked, I must confess, to see something like this go through with no debate.

I do not care what the reason is; it should not happen unless there is some debate, unless some sort of opinion is offered before we adopt it at second reading. This is not right, it is not proper and it is not worthy of the Senate of Canada. It is not worthy of us.

I do not understand how we can do this. I have not been paying attention to this bill. Perhaps the honourable senator can tell me what is the total quantum between these two bills that we are asking to appropriate? What is the total amount between the two of them?

The Hon. the Speaker: Is there any further debate?

Senator Robichaud: You were asking a senator to answer?

Senator Cools: Someone must tell us.

I have never seen in my life such huge amounts of monies be passed with so little comment. I find it wrong and improper. It is not worthy of any government, Senator Tkachuk. It is unworthy. You are looking at me; I am telling you that.

The Hon. the Speaker: Order!

Senator Tkachuk: His Honour is speaking.

The Hon. the Speaker: Order, order. After Senator Nancy Ruth spoke, the chair called for further debate. Senator Cools has risen to participate in the debate. We are beyond Senator Nancy Ruth's time. Had we been on Senator Nancy Ruth's time in questions and comments, again, I must underscore that in a question to a senator, as time goes on, that individual senator is not obligated to answer the question. However, we are not on Senator Nancy Ruth's time; we are on Senator Cools' time.

Senator Cools: I would like to say to the honourable senator that we can talk to His Honour, the Speaker in this place. It would be a tall argument and a steep hill to climb to justify the fact that, in the absence of any debate on the subject matter, that I merely inquired for the total quantum and that was not put here on the record. Well, if I cannot have the total, what is the total for this bill on this particular item?


Senator Nancy Ruth: It is $5 billion with respect to Bill C-39.

Senator Cools: It is not necessary for me to repeat this. The problem is that in life I take things seriously, and obviously I should not. However, we should not let this sort of thing happen. It is very wrong. It hurts me and bothers me when I see ordinary Canadians working hard for their $15 per hour, just scraping by, and we cannot even dignify the appropriation bills with some questions and with some debate. It does not look good on us at all. I am really shocked, I must tell you.

Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, Senator Cools is in many, many ways absolutely right. It is indeed our job to scrutinize these matters very carefully. As it happens, in the matter of these two bills, at the request of Senator Day I made an agreement that we would handle them in this way. I will not do so again. Senator Cools has persuaded me. However, let me note that before making that agreement, I considered the matter and concluded that since we can move amendments to bills at third reading should we wish to do so and we can have full debate on bills at third reading and in this case in particular should do so, I will not now renege on my agreement. However, let me assure Senator Cools that her words have not fallen on deaf ears.

Senator Cools: Let us not belabour the point. I had no idea. I am not even prepared for all of this. The honourable senator is also saying that the next two items, which are the reports, will proceed in the same way. Is that right? Will someone answer for what the government is doing? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition should not have to answer for what the government is doing before us.

In other words, after the two appropriation bills, the next two items are the consideration of the two Senate committee reports.

Senator Di Nino: We are on Bill C-39.

Senator Cools: Am I to understand that Senator Day will not be speaking to those two reports and that they will move ahead without debate? Is that the case? Is that what is happening?

Senator Fraser: As Senator Cools knows, I am not in charge of government business in the house, but I did notice that Senator Comeau had been temporarily distracted in conference with the Leader of the Government in the Senate while Senator Cools was asking her question. I will say that it is my understanding that we will stand these items today and that tomorrow, before we return to the supply bills, we will consider the reports from the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance.

Senator Cools: This is getting stranger and stranger. I do not understand why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is giving this explanation and not the Leader of the Government. The government leader should be explaining these matters, and I just do not understand. When such dramatic departures are taking place, the government should explain.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): I wish to thank the honourable senator on the other side for pointing out to this chamber that I was distracted for a few moments while Senator Cools was raising her objections to the procedure we have been following today.

I have a couple of points on this matter. We did discuss this procedure this morning. My understanding was that Senator Day would speak to these items tomorrow and that this had been looked at in report stage. He will speak to the report tomorrow, which will outline what the committee did in its consideration of the two appropriation bills. Senator Cools is more than welcome to attend the Finance Committee so as to follow the debate on these amounts.

I do not think we need to leave the impression with Canadians that these estimates are not given serious scrutiny by the Finance Committee and by the Senate as a whole. Any amendments that need to be brought forth can be done at third reading as well. We are debating the acceptance of the principle of the two bills, which is the allocation of money for the government to do its work. I do not think anyone in the chamber is opposed to the principle of continuing to operate Canada. If amendments are to be introduced, they can be moved at third reading debate of the bills.

I am quite sure that the Finance Committee did marvellous work in its consideration of these bills. We will hear from the committee at report stage and will continue to do so in the future.

Senator Cools: I would like to thank the honourable senator for his remarks, but they confirm what I am saying. We all know that the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance studies the Main Estimates. The fact of the matter is that the entire chamber does not study them, unless we were to propose that such bills be referred to Committee of the Whole. The fact of the matter is that these bills are not referred to committees precisely because they anticipate a full report in the Senate and a full debate before they receive second reading. That is what the system anticipates and that is what I have been questioning.

The honourable senator said that his point man is not here today, and I appreciate that fact and have no problem with it. However, the point of fact is that in debate, something should show up on the record. That is all I was saying. It is not good enough for Senator Fraser to say that because Senator Day cannot be here the two leaders made an agreement. It is simply insufficient and not worthy of us. The record should show some debate and more debate when we are asking for a quantum of money of this magnitude. That is all that I have been saying. The record today certainly is not showing that. The debate becomes all the more important because the bills are not referred to committee.

Supposedly, it is the report of the committee that we rely upon to decide whether we wish to give the bill second reading. That is all I was trying to say. I think my honourable friend has taken that point and I do not have to convert her. I have a hard time with bills containing money amounts of this magnitude proceeding so casually.

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I do not want to quarrel with the honourable senator, but she and I have had this discussion before about the relationship between the study by the Finance Committee and the appropriation bill. My recollection of the understanding of the precedent in this place is that we do not proceed with the appropriation bill without having the report.

Senator Cools: That is correct.

Senator Murray: I have never understood it to be the case that we had to debate and adopt the report in order to get on with the appropriation bill.

Senator Cools: They can move simultaneously.

Senator Murray: Yes, they can move simultaneously and an argument can be made that they are doing so. If these two bills receive second reading, then honourable senators can assume that the Chairman of the Finance Committee will be in the chamber tomorrow and debate will begin.


We had this argument when Senator MacEachen and Senator Stewart were on the other side, and then when I was on the other side, but it has always been considered sufficient to have the report in front of us in order to proceed with an appropriation bill. It was never considered necessary to have a debate and to adopt the report. That is my recollection.

Senator Cools: That is your view. It certainly was not the view of Senator Stewart, nor was it the view of Senator MacEachen. The practice has been, and it is supported by much authority, that the adoption of the report is the actual signal that the bill is okay.

As I said, I was not prepared for this at all. The only thing I have on my desk is Beauchesne, and I have been scrambling to find something in there. At page 263, of Beauchesne's sixth edition, it states:

968(1) The concurrence by the House in the Estimates is an Order of the House to bring in a bill, known as the Appropriation Bill...

The understanding is that the debate on the report is the way the committee informs the house of the activities within the committee and that that should be adopted before the second reading. I was shocked that there was no debate — that was all. I was not planning to take part in this debate. God knows I have put in hundreds of hours for governments on both sides of this chamber over the years.

If the honourable senator will recall, in support of his own intervention, back in May, I think it was, when we did the first supply bill appropriations — I think it was Bill C-8 — he expressed horror at the other side in the other place when the bill was passed in 15 minutes. I think Senator Murray used the words, "without a question, without any debate." I was echoing Senator Murray's sentiments, his words and his shock at what the House of Commons did in the fact that the Senate was doing the same thing.

The adoption of the report is the way of the chamber, the house, expressing its agreement or acceptance of what went on in committee, which then leads into the debate. Maybe the system is dead. I do not know. Maybe I should not have bothered to get to my feet at all, but I was surprised that this was moving ahead with no debate and with no question whatsoever, and that we actually adopted an appropriation bill at second reading without a murmur from the other side.

Senator Murray: The honourable senator properly cites Beauchesne as saying that the House concurs in the estimates. I have been on the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance for a long time and I have never heard a motion to concur in the estimates. That is not what we do. We have the estimates before us, we question officials usually, we do a narrative report on what we saw and heard, and we bring it in here.

Senator Cools: Yes.

Senator Murray: The tradition I am familiar with — as Casey Stengel used to say, you could look it up — having sat on both sides and been involved in the National Finance Committee, is that the report must be tabled. Otherwise, the Senate takes great objection to proceeding with the appropriation bill. That condition has been complied with; the report is before us. It would be highly desirable, I suppose, to go ahead with the debate on the report, but time constraints being what they sometimes are, we often have to content ourselves with having the report before us and, without debate on the report, pass the appropriation bill.

Senator Cools: I accept that, except there has been no indication before us that there is any time constraint.

I understand clearly that the supply process in this place is totally different from the other place. In this place, everything, with the exception of one or two things, goes to one committee. It is a different process, and I understand that. When I walked in here, I saw and heard this happening. I did not come prepared. I was not intending to be on my feet. I cited that reference because Beauchesne is largely about the House of Commons. We do not have a book about the Senate to establish the principle that the adoption of the report expresses an agreement, an acceptance, and that that is the signal here to move ahead. In other words, the house has to show some kind of acceptance and some kind of agreement. In any event, the honourable senator will do what he wants.

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

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.

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

On motion of Senator Nancy Ruth, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.

Anti-terrorism Act

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services—Report of Special Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report of the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act (budget—study on the provisions and operation of the Anti-terrorism Act—power to hire staff), presented in the Senate on November 23, 2006.—(Honourable Senator Smith, P.C.)

Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I move the adoption of the report standing in my name.

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

Motion agreed to.

Constitution Act, 1867

Report of Special Committee on Motion to Amend—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hays, seconded by the Honourable Senator Fraser, for the adoption 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 Senator Tkachuk)

Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, with the consent of Senator Tkachuk, in whose name this motion stands, I shall proceed with my own contribution to the debate.

Honourable senators, nothing is clearer or more important to know and act on than that the Canadian Senate is an independent player in the constitutional amendment process. This key point was made by Senator Murray in his presentation of this resolution in the Debates of the Senate of Tuesday, June 27, 2006.

Senator Murray went on to explain that, if the motion is passed by this chamber, it would then commence the formal process of constitutional amendment, namely, messages to the House of Commons and all provincial legislatures. As provided by the Constitution Act, those bodies have three years within which to act or this resolution will be deemed to expire and have no further force or effect.

Honourable senators know that this resolution, to take effect, will require the support of at least seven provinces representing more than 50 per cent of Canada's population, as well as a majority of the House of Commons. That is a daunting task and colleagues may rightly believe that it will not happen. This is, incidentally, the first occasion on which the Senate may use its undoubted right to propose a constitutional amendment and should be considered an important event in the history of the Senate for that reason alone.


Again referring to Senator Murray's comments on June 27, 2006, I will not repeat the examples and precedents with regard to the evolving change of representation in the Senate except to make his point that this is not a novel or unprecedented step. The federal and provincial governments have always adhered to the principle of fairness and equity in their constitutional relationships and made adjustments accordingly. The patriation of the Constitution and the Charter of Rights in 1982 are examples and Senator Murray has cited previous examples of adjusted representation in the Senate due to demographic and/or political changes such as to Newfoundland and Labrador or the three northern territories.

The same principle of fairness and equity is in play with respect to the federal obligation under the Constitution regarding equalization payments. In British Columbia, from at least the time of Premier W.A.C. Bennett in the 1950s and 1960s, provincial premiers have asked the federal Parliament and other provinces to recognize British Columbia's demographic under-representation in both chambers of Parliament. British Columbia has also made clear that it does not accept its constitutional designation as in a Western Canada division and insists that British Columbia represents a separate and distinct regionality in Canada, a coastal area and a mountainous area with economic interests quite different from the Prairie provinces, from which British Columbia maintains it should be a separate division of 24 senators on their own.

On December 11, 1995, the federal government accepted the position of British Columbia as a distinct constitutional division. I believe it is sufficiently important that I repeat the reference which Senator Murray made to a ministerial statement in the House of Commons by then Justice Minister Allan Rock. He said that the economy of British Columbia and its Pacific coastline "made it different from the provinces in the prairies. This recognition coincides with the position that B.C. governments have taken for over twenty years. Indeed it was a position of Premier W.A.C. Bennett in 1971 that British Columbia should be recognized for constitutional purposes as a separate region."

As Senator Murray reminded us in the debate on the Constitutional Amendments Act, 1996, which established British Columbia as a separate division for legislative purposes but not by constitutional amendment, the Reform MP for Calgary West, Mr. Stephen Harper, as he then was, said:

British Columbia is obviously a distinctive and strong region with a vibrant economy. . . . It is larger both in terms of geography and population than all of the Atlantic provinces combined. It is certainly not going to view itself as part of some western region.

Honourable senators, one portion of this resolution will simply create British Columbia as a constitutional division, and I believe that is not a controversial item. However, I accept there is more sensitivity with respect to that portion of the resolution that will add 12 senators to this chamber. I believe it is obvious, but I will note for clarity, that if this resolution is passed no province will lose a Senate seat. The addition of 12 senators as proposed — six for British Columbia, four for Alberta, and one each for Saskatchewan and Manitoba — will affect only marginally the relative voting strength in this chamber while removing a grievance in Western Canada and an impediment to greater constitutional change should the House of Commons and the provinces desire such future steps.

I noted in my own comments on June 27, 2006, in this chamber that on May 26, 2006, Prime Minister Harper, speaking in Victoria, British Columbia, said, in putting forward his program, that British Columbia must be given its fair share of seats in the House of Commons and that the Senate should better reflect the demography of the regions.

Premier Campbell, on June 1, 2006, responded publicly to the Prime Minister by stating that the province should be designated a fifth region and should have 20 per cent of Senate seats. With 13.2 per cent of Canada's population, British Columbia has 5 per cent of seats in the Senate and Alberta's proportion is similar. Those two provinces together have 23 per cent of our population but 11 per cent of Senate seats.

This resolution proposes only a partial change in British Columbia and Alberta Senate representation so that in population terms they will still have about 5 per cent fewer seats. It is a well-recognized principle that Senate representation should lean toward reinforcing the parliamentary standing of lesser population provinces. It is for that reason that the resolution proposes the addition of one seat to Saskatchewan and one to Manitoba.

I want to express my thanks to Senator Prud'homme, Senator Carstairs, Senator Tkachuk, Senator St. Germain, Senator Watt and Senator Adams for their questions and comments in our June debate. Some thought that British Columbia should receive even more seats, up to the 24 I have mentioned. At this time, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta are the most under-represented provinces in the Senate, but Ontario has a nearly dominant position in seats in the House of Commons to compensate for its Senate under-representation, whereas that is not the situation for British Columbia and Alberta.

The Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform presented its report to the Senate on October 26, 2006. I want to thank the chair, Senator Hays, and the deputy chair, Senator Angus, as well as the members of that committee for the care and attention given to this resolution and for the committee's conclusion that the resolution should be given favourable attention and the support of this chamber.

Senator Hays, on Thursday, November 2, 2006, reviewed the comments of the special committee, and I commend his presentation, honourable senators, as I am not given the time to review them here. In brief, I note that Senator Hays said:

...the under-representation of the West in the Senate is a matter that must be dealt with seriously.

Senator Mercer, in a question to Senator Hays, asked:

Are you happy that we are approaching Senate reform piecemeal?

Frankly, while it is a relevant question, and the formal answer is no, I wish we could address Senate reform in a comprehensive way. The political reality is that to make progress we have to unpack the issues and take them in a way that removes the roadblocks. This is one small step.

While I appreciate the intervention of Senator Ringuette, I do not agree with her that this is a fundamental change to our Parliament or to the Senate. When the Atlantic provinces have 30 seats in the Senate with less than 2 million people, and British Columbia and Alberta have 12 seats with 8 million people, we are not asking for a fundamental change to give Alberta and British Columbia 22 seats — four for Alberta and six more for British Columbia.

Honourable senators will note that Senator Carney took the exact opposite position to that of Senator Ringuette in the same debate on November 21 last, saying the following:

The constitutional amendment proposed . . . would enshrine the establishment of second-class status for British Columbians.

Senator Carney proposes that British Columbia receive 24 seats. I have noted that I believe 12 seats have a chance to be accepted, just a chance, but 24 is just logic, and I do not believe it to be a pragmatic proposal.

To conclude, honourable senators, Senator Murray and I have put a balanced proposal regarding Senate seats for Western Canada and British Columbia in this resolution. The provinces have a full authority to consider this resolution and to amend it or reject it, as does the House of Commons. Let us show our interest in removing a Western grievance, or at least reducing it. Let us pass this resolution and see what the provinces will do with it. Over to them, I say.

On motion of Senator Tkachuk, debate adjourned.


State of Literacy

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Fairbairn, P.C., calling the attention of the Senate to the State of Literacy in Canada, which will give every Senator in this Chamber the opportunity to speak out on an issue in our country that is often forgotten.—(Honourable Senator Robichaud, P.C.)

Hon. Ione Christensen: Honourable senators, I wish to participate in this inquiry because of the direct effects it has had on the Yukon, to the tune of over $300,000. That is just the start.

As Canada's population ages and retires, the need for a skilled workforce to fill the void presents a challenge to our country. Over the last decades, the birth rate has not kept pace with our expanding economy.

The largest group of youth in Canada today is represented by the Aboriginal community. At first glance, this situation presents an envious opportunity to a sector of our population that has struggled over the years to fit into the rapidly growing age of technology.

As with everyone, education is the key to meeting this need, but a large proportion of the Aboriginal youth live in remote areas where the need to stay in school is not always seen as a priority. The formal structure of Canada's education system does not fit well with the traditional system of learning on the land. As a result, many drop out.

Their academic abilities are minimal; and, as adults, they develop coping skills that work in a frontier society structure, but they are not able to provide the support and guidance to their children as they enter the structured educational system, and so the problem is compounded. This problem, of course, is not limited to Aboriginals but to any persons who are marginalized in our society.

In the 1980s, I worked with builders in delivering the R-2000 energy program. In the North, we had many skilled contractors, but getting them to come to workshops and to learn the new requirements of that program was always difficult. There was a great fear that a written test would be required, and many of these competent tradespersons did not have literacy skills.

Over the last 20 years this has changed. Adult education is widely accepted and education is seen as a lifelong endeavour. The stigma of adult education is fading; and with the help of literacy programs and many dedicated volunteers, one-on-one instruction has helped thousands of Canadians become literate.

This change has not happened overnight. It has been a long process. Building confidence in older persons is difficult. When they have spent all their life developing coping mechanisms to hide their shame of being illiterate, it is not easy to reverse that process.

Trust must be established; programs must demonstrate that they really work. They build on each small success. There must be champions who say, "We believe in you, and yes, you can do it." Peter Gzowski was such a champion, an outstanding mentor, as is Senator Fairbairn.

It has been mentioned during this debate that the Yukon Territory scored high in the National Standard survey, but this is misleading. There are 31,000 persons in the territory; 22,000 live in the capital of Whitehorse, where the majority of the workforce is government employees and professionals. However, it is a different story outside the capital. I am told by the staff at the Yukon Literacy Coalition that in addition to the total loss of their funding, the program cuts have hit the hardest in the smaller rural communities.

It is always prudent to spend taxpayer dollars wisely, and the review of programs to ensure there is value for money is responsible. However, when an unacceptable percentage of the Canadian workforce lacks basic reading and writing skills, a cut of $17.7 million from the Human Resources and Social Development Canada literacy program, while at the same time announcing a surplus of over $13 billion, defies logic. Canada needs every member of our workforce to have the ability to learn and to grow our economy.

We are informed that the $17.7 million was cut, but there was $81 million over two years for adult training and literacy skills development. However, we do not know whether this is new money or money left over from old programs, nor do we know how that money will be used.

We are then told that the new government does not wish to tread in areas where the provinces are already involved. This argument sounds a little like government-speak to me for downloading programs. Only this week in the Yukon, our literacy coalition was closing its doors, but the territorial government has stepped in and added enough money to take them to April 1.

There is $81 million for something to be used in some form and, we must assume, for some type of learning program. There is much confusion on what is happening with the literacy program, and I think that is where the real tragedy lies — the lack of consultation, the lack of information and the lack of understanding regarding the depth of the existing literacy programs involved across this country today.

A number of senators, from both sides of the chamber, have spoken on this issue. Without exception, they agree on the importance of literacy for individual esteem and the economic health and growth of Canada. In this place, where minorities are a direct responsibility, and as we deal with an issue that must rise above partisan interest, I urge the Leader of the Government in the Senate, with the support of all senators, to take a leadership role in this issue and have her colleagues put literacy back on the rails.

Senator Segal had the right idea. We should work with the existing Canadian literacy coalitions, the provinces, the territories and industry to build on what is there. We must not allow the established network, which has taken years to build, to be abandoned. To try to rebuild using a shotgun approach through a myriad of departments is counterproductive.

This segregation of departments, at first glance, might appear to be prudent. First Nations, new Canadians and youth — each group is directed to the area where the responsibility for their needs lies. However, there is no continuity or uniformity of delivery for literacy programs. It adds bureaucracy, and persons who cannot read to start with would find it impossible to navigate this maze. They would not even know where to start.

The need for literacy programs is for people who cannot read — not First Nations who cannot read, not youth who cannot read, not new Canadians who cannot read, but for people, whoever they may be — men, women, the old, youth, new Canadians, old Canadians, every race and religion. Through being illiterate, they are marginalized. Let us keep the program inclusive.

The public relations surrounding this issue have been abysmal. In all that has been said by the new government, it is not clear where the cuts are, how the new money will be used or how those requiring literacy training will receive it. All the information that has been presented would lead to the conclusion that funding is not the issue or the problem; it is efficiency and effectiveness.

Dismantling and rebuilding is non-productive and fiscally wasteful, to say nothing of the broken trust and the loss of experience so painfully built over the years. When a program speaks to the need in growing our economy — and literacy is certainly such a program — we build on that program; we do not cut, patch and rearrange. To make changes for the sake of change and optics, or alleged fiscal management, is immoral and mean-spirited.


Such programs, dependent on dedicated volunteers dealing with a fragile clientele, take time to develop and to grow. By creating uncertainty and rearranging them, the programs can be set back by years and that is where the real waste in funding happens.

Literacy builds our communities, especially in rural Canada. It affects all our essential services: health, justice, education and the development of our economy. We need these programs working today so that our citizens are working tomorrow.

On motion of Senator Robichaud, debate adjourned.


Post-Secondary Education

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Tardif calling the attention of the Senate to questions concerning post-secondary education in Canada.—(Honourable Senator Losier-Cool)

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak on the inquiry of my honourable colleague Senator Tardif on questions concerning post-secondary education in Canada.

I will not repeat here the excellent arguments made by Senator Tardif, who clearly demonstrated the positive impact that post-secondary education has on a country's economic success, both domestically and internationally. Senators Segal and Moore also referred to the link between education and economic productivity.

I will simply add a personal conviction that I have often expressed: our university graduates would obviously be twice as productive and twice as likely to succeed in their careers if they were equally comfortable in French and in English. The ideal of bilingualism for our graduates is an issue that also concerns our new Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser.

Senator Segal caught my attention with an argument about the relationship between universities and colleges, which he feels should be even better.

In this regard, I would like to share some personal thoughts on a success story in my home province of New Brunswick: our Community College.

First, I would like to say that, contrary to what many people think, the term "post-secondary" is not necessarily synonymous with "university". Young and not-so-young adults who pursue their education beyond secondary school do not study exclusively at university. For example, in New Brunswick, approximately 25,000 students are enrolled in the province's four universities, while nearly 16,000 are attending school on the various campuses of the New Brunswick Community College.


The New Brunswick Community College network was established in 1972. Its English arm has six campuses: Fredericton, Moncton, St. Andrews, Woodstock, Miramichi and Saint John.


The francophone arm of the Community College has five campuses, in Bathurst, Edmundston, Campbellton, Dieppe and on the Acadian peninsula. Owing to the low population density of the peninsula, the last campus is spread amongst Shippagan, Haut-Lamèque and Tracadie-Sheila.


The New Brunswick Community College is a true success story in post-secondary education. It offers over 100 programs that cover a wide gamut: from aircraft technology to brick laying; from carpentry to computer repairs; from early childhood education to journalism; from office administration to plumbing; and from nursing to welding. As you can see, honourable senators, these programs generate quite a diverse workforce, from white collar workers to scientists and from social services professionals to tradespeople. These tradespeople are becoming increasingly valuable as many of you have by now realized.

One simple example is Alberta, where most of the jobs on offer are for tradespeople, and which drains many such skilled workers from other provinces.


Another example is Quebec, a province that has just modified its policy to encourage the immigration of people with technical skills or who are otherwise qualified for more traditional trades, rather than white collar jobs. The lack of skilled tradespeople is also becoming apparent where I am from, in New Brunswick, which only further attests to the importance of the Community College.

Furthermore, the study programs at the college are developed in partnership with local employers, and nearly 90 per cent of the college's graduates find work within six months of graduation.

The courses offered by the Community College can be considered as university credits for those who wish to continue their post-secondary studies at university. Senator Segal, who is very concerned about student debt, will be happy to learn that tuition at the college is only $2,600 a year, which is well below the $4,400 tuition fees at St. Thomas University, the $4,700 fees at Université de Moncton, the $5,200 fees at the University of New Brunswick and the $6,400 fees at Mount Allison University.


Honourable senators, colleges are often underestimated. The important role they play in post-secondary education and the contribution they make to the Canadian economy in the form of readily employable skilled workers is to be praised indeed.


I am therefore very proud to congratulate the New Brunswick Community College, with its 11 campuses, on the crucial role that it plays in my province.


I truly believe that small is beautiful, honourable senators.

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

The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, December 6, 2006, at 1:30 p.m.

Back to top