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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 65

Thursday, February 1, 2007
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


 

THE SENATE

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.

Prayers.

[Translation]

Royal Assent

The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the following communication had been received:

RIDEAU HALL

February 1, 2007

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 1st day of February, 2007, at 11:36 a.m.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila-Marie Cook
Secretary to the Governor General

The Honourable
        The Speaker of the Senate
                Ottawa

Bill Assented to Thursday, February 1, 2007:

An Act respecting international bridges and tunnels and making a consequential amendment to another Act (Bill C-3, Chapter 1, 2007).


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[English]

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

The Late Honourable Eileen Rossiter

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to one of our former colleagues and a truly wonderful woman, the Honourable Senator Eileen Rossiter, Prince Edward Island's first female senator, who passed away on January 20. For 18 years, Senator Rossiter made a significant contribution to the Senate of Canada as a representative of her beloved Prince Edward Island. She was a well-respected member of the Conservative caucus, and when she retired she was sorely missed by us. That sentiment has now increased a hundredfold.

Eileen Rossiter was not a woman who sought special attention or accolades. Indeed, she shunned such treatment. She was a woman of great accomplishment whose modest, down-to-earth character allowed her achievements to speak for themselves. Before coming to this chamber, Eileen Rossiter was a businesswoman in Prince Edward Island. Both she and her late husband were dedicated members of the Progressive Conservative Party of Prince Edward Island and she served as a senior member in the Prince Edward Island Progressive Conservative organization for many, many years.

In November 1986, Eileen Rossiter was appointed to this chamber by former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. During her 18 years in the Senate of Canada, she worked with quiet determination on many important issues, earning the respect of all who were fortunate enough to know and work with her. Although she served on numerous Senate committees over the years, I think Senator Rossiter will be perhaps best remembered as the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, and a member of the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs, a subject on which she held strong and passionate views.

Honourable senators, Senator Eileen Rossiter's dedication to public service will continue to serve as great inspiration for many years to come, especially for the women of Prince Edward Island who will follow in her footsteps. On behalf of all Conservative senators, I should like to extend sincere condolences to her children, her grandchildren, her family and many, many friends.

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, I want to thank the Leader of the Government for her eloquent words in tribute to our late colleague Senator Rossiter. It is a great honour for me, on behalf of the opposition, to also rise in tribute to her memory. There has been a great deal of discussion lately about the Senate of Canada becoming more representative of the various communities and groups of peoples that comprise our country, and I believe that already we have made progress in this direction.

The Senate of Canada is no longer the sole domain of former elected politicians or leading members of the legal and business professions. We have artists here among us, teachers, community leaders and professional athletes. The Senate is becoming more of a kaleidoscope of Canada itself, and in my opinion that is a very good thing.

Honourable senators, in some respects, Eileen Rossiter was an ordinary Prince Edward Islander, but she also was a remarkable woman who possessed an extraordinary knowledge and understanding of her province, its people, and a great love for her country. She was Prince Edward Island's first female senator.

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She was not only down-to-earth, she was earthy; and family and community came alive in her wonderful stories, stories about local characters and happenings, humorous stories told with delightful accuracy and a twinkle in her eye.

Eileen prided herself in knowing who was related to whom, and where someone came from. It was a curiosity born of a genuine and abiding love for her small province where, as you know, everyone knows just about everyone else.

Eileen was a successful businesswoman in her own right, having operated a real estate business together with her late husband, Pete. She was the secretary of the Progressive Conservative Party of Prince Edward Island for many years.

Now, honourable senators, I would never wish good administration and political success on the Conservative Party, but I know that Eileen did more than her part in holding the Island PC Party together through difficult times with her exemplary organizational and administrative skills, and, of course, her wonderful personality.

She made her mark here in the Senate in a quiet and unassuming way, but nevertheless she took her responsibilities seriously. For example, as co-chair of a committee examining the maternity rights of Aboriginal women on reserves, she brought special insight into that issue, having lived just down the road from the Scotchfort Mi'kmaq Reserve on Prince Edward Island.

On a personal note, honourable senators, all of us who knew Eileen were lifted up by her sharp wit and sense of humour, and by the beautiful spirit she embodied. I came to know her relatively late in our respective life journeys, but I considered her not only a parliamentary colleague but also a friend.

One Sunday, while attending mass at the Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church in Charlottetown, a priest whom she had never met but who was suitably impressed by the presence of a senator in his midst asked Eileen how she would prefer to be addressed. As one might expect, she replied, "Eileen will do just fine."

Honourable senators, Eileen Rossiter was a wonderful mother, a devoted wife and a remarkable Islander. To her children, Philip, Leonard, Kevin, Patricia, Colleen and Mary, and the rest of the Rossiter family, I know you will join with me in expressing our deepest sympathy.

Hon. Lowell Murray: It would be hard to equal the quite moving tribute we have heard from the honourable Leader of the Government and Secretary of State for Seniors, and the authentic and authoritative words of Senator Rossiter's fellow Islander, Senator Hubley.

I should note that Senator Rossiter arrived here on November 25, 1986, notable as one of three new women senators who had been appointed earlier that month by Prime Minister Mulroney. She left us quietly in July of 2004, refusing public comment on the ill health that had plagued her for more than a year and firmly requesting that the usual tributes paid to a retiring senator in this chamber be dispensed with.

We of course honoured her wishes. However, it needs to be said that the manner of her coming and of her going belies the diligence and determination with which she went to work here in 1986, and stayed at work until what we now know was a grave illness overtook her near the end of her 18 years in this place.

She served on a half dozen of our standing committees — and on several special committees. When I say she served, I mean she immersed herself in the work of a committee and its procedures, familiarized herself with the subject matter and participated in, and stayed on top of, the committee's activity and progress. The Leader of the Government and Secretary of State for Seniors has mentioned Senator Rossiter's service as Deputy Chair of the Human Rights Committee, and as Chairman of the Fisheries and Oceans Committee, over which she presided during three Parliaments, during which time it produced two important reports — that on the Atlantic commercial inshore fishery in June 1993 and on the Atlantic ground fishery in December 1995.

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Senator Hubley noted Senator Rossiter's interest in genealogy in Prince Edward Island and who was related to whom. It is worth noting that her grandfather, the Honourable James Joseph Hughes, had preceded her to Parliament, having been elected MP in four of the six Parliaments elected between 1900 and 1921. At the end of Mr. Hughes' last mandate in 1925, then Prime Minister Mackenzie King appointed him to the Senate, where he served until his death in 1941. Needless to say, he was a Liberal.

His granddaughter, Senator Rossiter, was a person of great common sense and of remarkable persistence, especially when it came to matters affecting the Island. I, who was the fortunate leader to have enjoyed her friendship and solidarity, admired her. Together with others who knew her, I express my warm appreciation of her service here and my sadness on her death.

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, today I rise to pay tribute to one of our former colleagues, the Honourable Eileen Rossiter, who died recently in Prince Edward Island. Senator Rossiter was a valued friend and colleague and had a long and distinguished career in the public service of her province and country. She was appointed to the Senate in 1986, and for close to two decades, contributed to the work of this chamber.

The late Senator Rossiter was actively involved in politics throughout her whole life. As Senator Murray said, her father was a long-term Liberal member of the Prince Edward Island legislature. Her grandfather was a former Liberal member of Parliament, who was called to the Senate in 1925. Senator Rossiter carried on that legacy of public service through her own participation in the political life of her province. In fact, she will be remembered as one of the first women in Prince Edward Island who became actively involved in public life. Her many achievements are an inspiration to others who aspire to serve their fellow citizens.

She will also be remembered for her personal commitment to the people she represented so well. She worked hard on their behalf, and her efforts earned her their strong support, confidence and friendship. She was widely respected and admired by all her fellow citizens. Although she had been in failing health since her retirement, she retained a keen interest in the affairs of her province and country. Family and community were of utmost importance to her.

Senator Rossiter took great pride in her family and their accomplishments. Her loss will be deeply felt by all those who knew and loved her. I extend my sincere condolences to her family and many friends. Although they mourn her loss, they can find comfort in the celebration of a life that was filled with such distinction in service to family and country.

Port of Churchill

Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I draw your attention to recent developments at the seaport of Churchill. Canadians tend to forget that Manitoba is a maritime province. The small town of Churchill, on Hudson Bay, is Canada's only northern seaport. With a population of 1,000, Churchill has two main sources of income: the tourism industry and the shipping industry. Every year 15,000 tourists come to see the wildlife and the seaport. Last year, the Canadian Wheat Board shipped over 380,000 tonnes of wheat by rail to the Port of Churchill, where it was loaded onto deepwater vessels and shipped to Mexico and other countries in Europe and Africa. It is less expensive to ship grains through Churchill than through Thunder Bay, and because Churchill is a deepwater port, grain can be loaded directly onto ocean-going ships. In many ways Churchill is a promising seaport.

However, it has always suffered from one drawback — the relatively short five-month shipping season. This season is changing as global warming takes effect. Over the last 10 years, the Churchill shipping season has grown by 20 days. At the current rate of Arctic warming, this northern shipping route will be open year-round in another 40 years. Amidst all the grim predictions about global warming and its impact on the North, a window of opportunity may be opening for Churchill.

Recently, the Russian Minister of Transport, Igor Levitin, came to Canada and offered the use of Russian icebreakers to keep shipping channels between Canada and Russia open year round. This proposal was dramatic and our Minister of Transport, Lawrence Cannon, responded positively. He said that the year-round opening of the Port of Churchill is a promising idea, and the Government of Manitoba expressed similar interest.

The most obvious link to Churchill is the Russian seaport of Murmansk, on the Barents Sea, near Finland. Murmansk is ice-free year round and is connected by rail to a market of 150 million people. The Churchill-Murmansk run is four days shorter than the shipping route through the St. Lawrence Seaway. If this initiative moves forward, the federal government will be responsible for many aspects of the new shipping route.

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The Coast Guard will need vessels to patrol the route regularly. Infrastructure at the seaport will need improvement so that container ships, cruise boats and military vessels can do business there. The railway roadbed will need to be upgraded so that containers can be moved efficiently to and from Winnipeg.

Cost projections have not been worked out yet, but a year-round seaport at Churchill would be a tremendous boost to the Manitoba economy. It would make sense for the interested parties and the various levels of government to launch a study into the costs and benefits of this northern shipping route.

At the end of March, Russian and Canadian officials and business representatives will meet here in Ottawa to discuss this proposal, and I will keep honourable senators updated as developments occur.

[Translation]

Contributions of Dr. Gilles Julien to Social Pediatrics

The Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, I rise today to draw your attention to the exceptional work of Gilles Julien, a pediatrician and champion of children's rights. Dr. Julien is devoted to helping children from disadvantaged families grow up in a loving atmosphere.

In Quebec, Dr. Julien is considered the father of social pediatrics, which offers innovative solutions in the care of neglected and abused children.

Dr. Julien believes that, by looking at family ties, at interactions between parents, children and their community, one can better interpret a child's experience and understand why that child has developed a mental or physical illness. Anything that might help children is taken into consideration.

For example, when treating developmentally delayed children from poor families, Dr. Julian has everyone involved work together to provide the children with appropriate care and social services. He invests the same energy in the parents, teaching them how to look after themselves and their children. Parents have access to a work-study program to help them re-enter the labour force, when needed.

With its preventive approach, social pediatrics ensures that every child has a loving, stimulating environment and opportunities to grow and develop.

Dr. Julien works as a social pediatrician in the community agencies he founded in Montreal, which provide families with direct services ranging from homework help to psychotherapy. Activities and summer camps are organized for young people 12 and under who are in difficulty. One of Dr. Julien's best-known public events is the drive he holds every year to fund these activities.

Dr. Julien is actively campaigning for a shift to social pediatrics. He hopes that this approach he uses will spread around the world. This is a step in the right direction. Recently, social pediatrics made its official entry into Quebec's health care network. In its search for ways to prevent child neglect in Montreal, the Government of Quebec turned to Dr. Julien.

The academic community, which long shunned social pediatrics, is now taking an interest in it. The departments of medicine of the Université de Montréal and McGill University have added it to the curriculum.

Such recognition honours the perseverance and generosity of Dr. Julien, who understood early on that the way of the future is to have everyone involved work together to help children living in poverty develop properly. Because of his vision and his contribution to solving a serious social problem, he was chosen as Quebec's first Ashoka Fellow by that prestigious international association.


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[English]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking Bill

First Reading

Hon. Gerard A. Phalen presented Bill S-222, to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to enact certain other measures, in order to provide assistance and protection to victims of human trafficking.

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

Bill read first time.

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

The Senate

Notice of Motion to Urge Continued Dialogue Between People's Republic of China and the Dalai Lama

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Senate urge the government of the People's Republic of China and the Dalai Lama, notwithstanding their differences on Tibet's historical relationship with China, to continue their dialogue in a forward-looking manner that will lead to pragmatic solutions that respect the Chinese constitutional framework, the territorial integrity of China and fulfill the aspirations of the Tibetan people for a unified and genuinely autonomous Tibet.

Barriers to Free Trade within Canada

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will draw the attention of the Senate to the barriers of free trade within Canada.

Foundations of Foreign Policy

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will draw the attention of the Senate to the foundations of Canada's foreign policy.


[Translation]

QUESTION PERIOD

Public Works and Government Services

Purchase of C-17 Aircraft from Boeing Company—Tendering Process—Economic Spinoffs

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, who is being very ecological today with his green tie.

Mr. Minister, could you confirm that the current negotiations with Boeing for awarding a non-tendered contract of $3.4 billion will respect the rules of the Canadian Liberal policy by which Canada will enjoy 100 per cent of the economic spinoffs, or an amount equal to the $3.4 billion for the contract?

Hon. Michael Fortier (Minister of Public Works and Government Services): Before answering the question of the Leader of the Opposition, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your appointment. I am doubly pleased because I quite like you as a politician and, what is more, we will see you more often here in this chamber. I am very pleased with your appointment.

As far as the C-17 contracts are concerned, I want to correct the question of the Leader of the Opposition. It is not accurate — she keeps repeating it and it is time for her to stop — to say that this contract has been granted or will be granted without a call for tenders. The contract award notice is a step in the tendering process and took place last summer. It was very transparent. Furthermore, when I issued the contract award notice, I made the deadline twice as long to allow other manufacturers to come forward and let us know whether they had the necessary equipment to supply the Canadian troops.

To correct the question: there was a call for tenders and it was done by the book.

As far as economic spinoffs in Canada are concerned, we said last summer, when we announced the contracts to equip our armed forces, that we would insist that every dollar given to a non-Canadian manufacturer would have to be reinvested in Canada in such a way as to give our aerospace and defence companies in Canada new life and much needed capital to be recognized on the world stage and to create wealth throughout Canada.

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Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, like everyone here, I received a report on my attendance in the Senate, which is very similar to that of all my colleagues. Any time I was absent, it was often to participate in international organizations such as the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas, where I served as chair for five years. I would like to state this for the record.

As for the tendering process, the minister must explain this to me. This is an invitation to tender for a large cargo aircraft that would carry artillery, vehicles and other equipment.

When I was Vice-President of SNC-Lavalin, if there was only one product that corresponded to the specifications, the client decided how to set those specifications. When a company wants to exclude other suppliers, they simply have to customize the specifications to the client's needs. The very aim of an invitation to tender is to find a product that satisfies a client need, not a product that satisfies the supplier.

As for doing things by the book, something with which I am very familiar, having done so for five years, I would ask the minister if this policy of 100 cents for every dollar will be respected equally across the country.

Senator Fortier: The Leader of the Opposition said that she worked for a private company, a company that I know very well, incidentally. I do not know whether the insinuation was that, when the company goes out to tender, it arranges the tender so that it is able to choose the supplier. I hope that is not what she was saying. That is not how things are done here. It is entirely reasonable, and, I think, preferable, that when the government seeks to procure goods—whether for the Canadian Forces or any other department — the people who need the equipment should indicate the terms and conditions, and identify the characteristics of the equipment they need. The government can then indicate to the industry the type of equipment it is looking for. This seems to be a rather sensible approach — and I know that she has a great deal of common sense.

As for the economic spinoffs for Canada, this policy will apply for every dollar given to foreign manufacturers. We also want this money to be reinvested in Canada, in the aerospace and defence sectors across Canada, to ensure that our companies become even more dynamic than they already are.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: To return to the question of private corporations in general, private corporations give customers what they want. I am not misleading anyone when I say that it is a well-known process. I am not saying that the company was doing it, but we know that it does happen in the marketplace when looking for a specific product. The same thing happened with the helicopters. I was approached by various companies, as were all senators, indeed everyone. We were practically promised helicopters with three engines. They had us picking out seat colours when we were supposed to be meeting a need of the Canadian Armed Forces, with which our party is in complete agreement.

I would also like to see the minister get the right answer to this. When a large cargo transporter is required, a model is ordered that could be supplied just as readily by Russia or by Europe. Various countries manufacture them and the minister did not go to the trouble of telling his officials to look at other products that would better serve the interests of Canadians and the Canadian military.

Senator Fortier: I take issue with what the Leader of the Opposition has just said. She said something important. I want to be sure that I understood correctly. She said that, when she was in government, she met with various companies. I do not know if she was ever the Minister of Public Works. As Minister of Public Works, I have refused to meet with manufacturers and lobbyists. It is my job and I would never agree to meet with them. Perhaps that is what the Liberals did. We will not do that. A system is in place. Clients from the Hill tell us what they need. These needs are forwarded to Public Works and Government Services, which is responsible for procurement.

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Is that what she wants? Does she want the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to meet with all the lobbyists and manufacturers who want federal government contracts? I would like to hear what she has to say about that.

Senator Prud'homme: In the end, the public servants hand out the patronage.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Not only that, but I think that, like us, the minister participates in caucus, where there certainly must be members who try to influence him. I do not think he is the only one making the decision, because he is just one member of cabinet.

Just to be clear, the last time I was a minister, from 1983 to 1984, there were no tenders for any materiel at all. Here, and I am referring to the past few years I spent as a senator, your colleagues and senators here received the same visitors. People come to see us, and we have things to learn from them, but we do not have to make those kinds of decisions and I have never been involved in a decision about that sector, nor have my colleagues in the Senate. We are not part of the government and I think it is important to put that on the record.

Hon. Francis Fox: Honourable senators, I must say that, on this side of the Senate, we are very pleased to see that the Minister of Public Works and Government Services is in such fine form today and that for once, his leader in the Senate is allowing him to answer questions.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Fox: My question and my comments are completely non-partisan. Nevertheless, the minister will surely agree that, when such a big contract — $3.4 billion — is being awarded in the defence sector, it is surprising to see only one company respond to the request for proposals. It is surprising that there was only one response for such a large contract.

I would like to get back to the matter of economic spinoffs. I am asking because there is a lot of confusion in the country about this contract. I read the Journal de Montreal yesterday, which talked about finding out exactly what is going to happen with the spinoffs and said that the minister, Maxime Bernier, seemed to have changed his tune. This morning, I read in La Presse that, according to Mr. Duceppe, Mr. Harper is choosing the West.

I would like the minister to repeat what he just said and what he said in response to a question I asked him on October 25. Surely he remembers what he said. This is a $3.4 billion contract. We are talking about 100 per cent benefits coming to the sector — that is what he said in his answer last October, and I think he said the same thing this afternoon — Canada's aerospace and defence sectors. That is $3.4 billion for the contract and $3.4 billion in economic benefits that will be announced when the contract is signed.

Senator Fortier: Thank you for your question. First, it is incorrect to say that only one manufacturer came forward. After the contract award notice was issued, two other manufacturers indicated that they felt their equipment met Public Works and Government Services Canada's standards. Discussions between Public Works and Government Services Canada and these manufacturers concluded that, unfortunately, their equipment did not meet the standards. As a result, negotiations began with Boeing, as was announced in the summer.

I do not want to talk dollars and cents, honourable senators, because the terms of the contract will be announced when a contract is announced. Therefore, I will not talk about $3.4 billion; I prefer to talk in more generic terms. I repeat, not only for this contract but for all the contracts in the series that was announced last summer, for every dollar that goes to a foreign manufacturer, we will require that the manufacturer reinvest a dollar in Canada's aerospace and defence sectors.

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Senator Fox: Mr. Minister, can you assure us that the spinoffs will be fairly divided to reflect the aerospace activity in Canada and not necessarily the way Boeing has acted in the past? Studies by a major university in Montreal show that 70 per cent of Boeing's spending is usually done outside Quebec.

Senator Fortier: Honourable senators, when we reach an agreement with this manufacturer and are prepared to reveal the procurement provisions, we will do so. It is important to remember that the responsibility of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services is to buy equipment at the best possible price. In a nutshell, those are my duties.

As far as the industrial spinoffs are concerned, as you know, it is the Minister of Industry who is responsible for that. The government's philosophy has not changed. We will insist that these spinoffs are concentrated only in the sectors mentioned and that they allow the industry to continue to flourish and create wealth throughout Canada.

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I have another question.

I am concerned that the Minister of Public Works and Government Services has just said that his duties consist in buying the best equipment possible at the best possible price.

[English]

As a Canadian, I am very troubled by conditions that our friends from the United States of America sometimes attach to the delivery of subcontracts.

[Translation]

Recently, Canadians, Canadian citizens, were passed over for certain military procurements. This is unacceptable.

If unacceptable conditions are imposed, then we need to look elsewhere.

[English]

In March 1979, we had a bill better known as the Arab boycott law. We objected to that bill because it was unacceptable. Had Mr. Trudeau not called the election on Monday, March 26, 1979, we would have had to face the consequences of that terrible bill. It was unacceptable that certain people could say, "We will buy under the condition that you have no Canadian of Jewish faith on your staff." That was unacceptable. Or, "We will buy under the condition that you do not use ships owned by a certain company that trades with Israel." That was unacceptable.

I am on the record concerning that bill, which may surprise some senators; I see one smiling at me now. I was surprised at those statements then, and now I see a repetition of these events.

I am glad we have a good Minister of Public Works and Government Services. His responsibility is to buy the best equipment at the best price, but there is also something attached to that responsibility, to protect Canadian citizens, citizens who have been loyal to Canada, as loyal to Canada as I think I am. I have pledged allegiance to the Queen 20 times in my life, and I think that is enough, and that I am a loyal Canadian.

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These Canadian citizens were removed from a military contract because of the dictation of some people in Washington.

I do not need an answer today, but should we not start thinking about the fact that our collective duty — and certainly our duty as senators — is to protect Canadian citizens from sea to sea to sea?

Senator Fortier: As the honourable senator knows, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have talked about this matter, which is known as the ITAR situation, which stands for the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. They have had conversations with our counterparts in the U.S., and I think we are all troubled by this situation.

I want to reassure the honourable senator, however, that with respect to the purchase of the planes we have been talking about for the past 20 minutes, nothing in that contract will prevent any Canadian of any religion or nationality from working on those planes, flying them or being part of our Canadian Forces program related to that aircraft.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

Canadian Wheat Board—Plebiscite on Marketing of Barley

Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. On January 22, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food announced the question that will be asked on the plebiscite on the marketing of barley in Western Canada. The question on the ballot allows voters the choice to retain the single desk for the marketing of barley, remove the Canadian Wheat Board from the marketing of barley entirely or allow producers to market their barley to the Canadian Wheat Board or other buyers.

The option openly preferred by this government — allowing producers to market their barley to the Canadian Wheat Board or other buyers — happens to be written in the first person singular, while the other plebiscite options are not. Critics of the plebiscite question as written have used colourful descriptive terms such as "bizarre," "incompetent" and "diabolical" when describing the choice of wording approved by Minister Strahl.

We also know that skewed wording always produces skewed results. Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate honestly stand there and tell us that this is the best the public opinion research group in the Department of Agriculture and Agri-food could do in designing a fair and honest question for our barley producers, or is this the best they could do given the political pressure applied by Minister Strahl to push the government's agenda on to the barley producers?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, Minister Strahl announced today that he has asked officials and the accounting firm that will be mailing out these ballots to barley producers, KPMG, to clarify and simplify the language on the declaration. As a result, he has announced a week's delay in the vote, although respondents will still have the same length of time to vote.

Senator Milne: I thank the leader for that answer because Minister Strahl is doing the right thing. Can I also ask her to perhaps table in this house the amount that the taxpayers of Canada will have to pay for this originally, and now discarded, biased questionnaire?

Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for the question and I will take it as notice.

Attorney General

Residential School Settlement—Appeal to Saskatchewan Court of Appeal—Possibility of Apology to Students

Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerning the residential school issue about which I made a statement yesterday. Much progress has been made on this issue, and I commend the government and Minister Prentice in particular, who seems to be very committed to having the residential school issue resolved.

Recently, the Attorney General of Canada launched an appeal in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal regarding not the substance of the agreement, but more of an administrative matter dealing with fees. Many Aboriginal people in the country are concerned that this appeal may delay the final approval and, hence, payment to former residential school students.

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I know that the Assembly of First Nations has asked Canada and the Saskatchewan court to try to deal with this agreement without the delay that the appeal may cause. Can the Leader of the Government confer with her cabinet colleagues responsible for this issue with a view to having the agreement receive final accord approval without delay so that the 80,000 former students can be compensated?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. It is an issue he has advanced through his work here in the Senate and elsewhere and he deserves a great deal of credit for his efforts.

Our government remains committed to resolving the tragic legacy of the situation in the Indian residential schools. We do not anticipate that the appeal will result in a delay in implementing the settlement agreement. However, as the honourable senator knows, the issue of legal fees of the Merchant Law Group is currently before the court in Saskatchewan and therefore it would be inappropriate, indeed impossible, for me to make any further comment on that case.

Senator Sibbeston: I have a supplementary question dealing with the issue of an apology from the Government of Canada.

The issue of compensation is well underway. Is the federal government considering an apology? We saw recently in the Arar case that the government paid compensation and delivered a letter of apology from the Prime Minister. Would the federal government consider providing an apology to all students for the grievous time they spent in residential schools earlier in their lives?

Senator LeBreton: When we came into government the whole issue of the residential schools was in play. My understanding is that when the decision was made and the settlement was negotiated, they were done with all parties agreeing on the payment of certain funds for the situation that they found themselves in. I do not believe that the question of an apology was part of that final agreement.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

Canadian Wheat Board—Effect of Government Measures

Hon. Robert W. Peterson: My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In respect to the Canadian Wheat Board, her government gives all the appearances of doing indirectly what it cannot do directly, and that is to further render the Canadian Wheat Board incapable of being a viable operation, or preferably, to eliminate it.

For example, foreign customers are questioning what is happening and whether they should seek other markets. Standard & Poor's has downgraded the credit rating and indicated that with the uncertainty surrounding this file there will be further downgrades. Who pays for all of these effects? The Canadian farmers pay. Would the leader confirm in this chamber today that the government will respect the wishes of the majority of producers, confirm the Wheat Board as a single desk seller and remove the uncertainty that could eventually destroy the Canadian Wheat Board?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. As a government, we were disappointed to see Standard and Poor's downgrade the Canadian Wheat Board's credit rating.

(1425)

We are not in any way advocating the end of the Canadian Wheat Board. We are simply carrying forward on a commitment we made to Western wheat producers. We believe in marketing choice for their products. We intend to consult with wheat producers and they will have a chance to have their say. We should not presuppose what producers want one way or the other.

We are not advocating the end of the Canadian Wheat Board. We are simply supporting marketing choice for producers of wheat and barley.

[Translation]

Future of Supply Management System

Hon. Michel Biron: Honourable senators, the Minister of Agriculture has said repeatedly that the Conservative government had no plans to eliminate the supply management system in the agricultural sector, as it did for the Canadian Wheat Board.

However, on December 21, 2006, the Minister for International Trade confirmed that the Conservative government intended to eliminate the supply management system in the context of its negotiations with the World Trade Organization. So, will the Minister of Agriculture admit that his new government also plans to eliminate supply management in the agricultural sector, as it did for the Canadian Wheat Board?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): I will make no such commitment on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture. The Minister of Agriculture and the government support and will continue to support Canada's supply management system.

[Translation]

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour of presenting two delayed answers to questions raised by Senator Jaffer, on December 12, 2006, regarding Somalia and by Senator Austin, on December 13, 2006, regarding national defence — procurement of airlift aircraft.

Foreign Affairs

Somalia—Internal Strife

(Response to question raised by Hon. Mobina Jaffer on December 12, 2006)

The Government of Canada is deeply concerned about the political and security situation in Somalia. On December 15, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade issued a statement urging both the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) to resume peace talks as soon as possible and without preconditions. He also stated that it was essential for the parties to settle their differences through negotiated rather than military means, and to commit themselves to agreements reached at previous peace talks in Khartoum. This is the best way of achieving lasting peace and security.

Canada continues to support international mediation efforts, including those by the United Nations, the African Union, the Arab League, and the Inter-governmental Authority on Development. We continue to encourage all countries in the region to support efforts to bring peace and stability to Somalia. Canada also urges all parties in Somalia to protect civilians and ensure full, safe and unhindered access by humanitarian workers to people in need, including persons displaced due to insecurity or flooding.

In 2006, Canada disbursed $9.75 million in humanitarian assistance to Somalia and regional initiatives in response to the increased insecurity, the severe drought, and devastating floods. In addition, Canada has contributed over $1.3 million since 2003 to support peace-building efforts in Somalia, such as mine action, child solider rehabilitation programs, small arms control and other initiatives to support peace and governance.

The Government of Canada is concerned about Somalia being used as a base for international terrorism. Canada cooperates with the UN and other international partners to prevent such terrorism. We also support a project on counterterrorism through the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). However, the best way to prevent Somalia from being used as a base for terrorism is to restore political stability and security.

National Defence

Procurement of Airlift Aircraft

(Response to question raised by Hon. Jack Austin on December 13, 2006)

The Government announced last June that it was moving ahead with the procurement of new equipment and capabilities for the Canadian Forces. This included the acquisition of 17 new tactical lift aircraft for our military. These new aircraft will make for more effective deployments within Canada and significantly contribute to the Government's "Canada First" defence strategy.

It's no secret that the Canadian Forces' aging fleet of Hercules is nearing the end of its operational life and that these aircraft must be replaced quickly. In addition, the Canadian Forces require an aircraft that would be able to perform as well as, or better than, its current Hercules fleet.

The procurement process for the acquisition of tactical airlift is being done in a fair, open and transparent manner. It was initiated through a Solicitation of Interest and Qualification, which asked potential suppliers to indicate their interest and demonstrate their ability to meet the mandatory requirements issued by the Canadian Forces. The response provided by Lockheed Martin was the only one that met these requirements, which included critical timelines for delivery.

As announced in June, the estimated total project cost for the acquisition of the aircraft is $3.2 billion, including spare parts, infrastructure and salaries. An additional $1.7 billion has been estimated for 20 years of in-service support. The actual cost of the contract will be negotiated with Lockheed Martin after their response to the Request for Proposal is provided to the Government.

The Canadian Forces are aware that early customers of the C-130J had some challenges with the introduction of the new aircraft. These challenges have been addressed by Lockheed Martin.

With respect to certification, the C-130J has received military certification of airworthiness in the United States and meets the certification standards required by the Canadian military as outlined in the tactical airlift project.

The United States Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force are in the process of taking delivery of their planned fleet of 119 C-130J's. This aircraft is currently supporting our Allies in operations around the world, including dangerous areas of conflict such as Iraq and Afghanistan. To date, the C-130J has flown more than 300,000 hours.

This Government is delivering on its promise to acquire the necessary capabilities for our military. The C-130J is the right tactical lift aircraft for the Canadian Forces and the Government remains confident that it will meet Canada's operational requirements.

[English]

Birthday Wishes

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, before we call the Orders of the Day, I would like to wish to Senator Comeau and Senator Joyal happy birthdays.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!


ORDERS OF THE DAY

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. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on this bill, which of course would make changes to this chamber. I rise with a certain amount of déjà vu, if you will. I have been interested in the particular topic of Senate reform for 52 years. I was 13 years old when my father was appointed to this place. Senate reform was a topic then and it remains a topic now.

When I was 16 years old I went to Dalhousie University, along with my colleague Senator Cowan, and we had a professor by the name of James Aitchison. Professor Aitchison went on to become the leader of the New Democratic Party in Nova Scotia and he was a firm abolitionist with respect to the Senate of Canada. He made it clear after calling me aside in class one day that I was not to take personal affront to his position, that the philosophical basis of his discussion had nothing to do with the fact that he wanted my father out of a job.

There followed a good-natured banter between the professor and me for the next four years, to the point where — I am sure Senator Cowan does not know this — although we shared many examinations in common, I always had a slightly different one, because Professor Aitchison would always add an extra question on the bottom of my examination paper: What do you think about the Senate today?

Senator Cowan: That is why you did better than I.

Senator Carstairs: That is probably why, Senator Cowan.

It was an interesting dialogue and debate between the two of us, I being, of course, not as well informed as Professor Aitchison, although I learned over the years. My first thought, when I heard about the Prime Minister's intention to announce Bill S-4, was that at least it was a first step at a time when a great deal of institutional reform is needed in Canada.

(1430)

It is somewhat ironic that reform is beginning with this place because I think the other place is much more dysfunctional than the Senate of Canada. It might have been better to start with them rather than with us. Having said that, institutional reform must start somewhere.

The thought of debate about reform of the Senate of Canada did not disturb me, and I liked the concept. I was not unhappy to have such a bill placed before the Senate. Like many in this chamber, my concern was whether we, as a Parliament, have the constitutional right to make this amendment. Would an eight-year term change the function and basic proposition of the Senate? Could it, therefore, be done as an earlier amendment was done to the Senate in 1965?

I must digress for a minute. That amendment involved a great deal of family discussion. My father was in the Senate in 1965, having been appointed for life. At that time, he was offered a chance to vote on a bill that would allow him and other senators to retire at the age of 75, should they choose to do so, while all other senators would have to retire at the age of 75. Was this amendment a good idea or a bad idea for the Senate?

Honourable senators, in 1965 the Senate was an interesting place. It did not sit often. It sat every day, but not for long periods of time. When I was in the chamber, it was not unusual to have the Senate sit for 20 or 30 minutes. Then, they would adjourn upstairs, often for rather lively games of bridge. However, their work was not in this chamber but in many committee reports. Certainly, the study on poverty by David Croll is one that I will remember best.

There was a great deal of concern at the time in 1965 about whether that bill would dramatically change the Senate. The argument that touched most people, perhaps, was that most senators did not live to be much older than 75 years so the bill had become somewhat irrelevant, if you will. The bill led to a rather substantive argument in my family in 1975 or 1976 because in 1976 my father became eligible for retirement, and he would not retire. He was a lifer and intended to remain in the Senate for life. However, he had a serious stroke, which made his participation in this chamber less than active.

I brought my father back to the chamber in 1972 and again in 1974 because I had hoped that his health would be restored and he could become an active member of this chamber again. I refused to bring him back after his seventy-fifth birthday because, and I make no apologies for this, being the feminist that I am, I was angry with him because he would not provide my mother with a pension. By his remaining as a lifer, she did not become eligible for a Senate pension. I believe that my brother brought him back once but, eventually, he died of another massive stroke. Thus, honourable senators, Senate reform is important to me; this chamber is important to me; and this institution is important to me. You cannot spend 52 years in close proximity to an institution and not develop a passion for it.

I read with great interest the work of the Special Committee on Senate Reform in respect of Bill S-4. I would have liked to participate in that work but, as many honourable senators know, I have had personal problems to deal with during much of that time. I have read all of the work completed by the committee and I think they hit it right. By saying that an eight-year term in the Senate was too short but that a 12-year term was more appropriate, the committee struck the right balance. Coincidentally, this is my twelfth year in the Senate of Canada: it is right, I think. It is fair to say that the first two or three years are the learning years, and then you find your stride and contribute in a valid way, and I still have something to contribute. A senator can make a significant contribution to this chamber and to the country with a 12-year term.

However, I still have a niggling doubt about its constitutionality. That is why I am in full agreement that this should go back to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee to study upon the single issue of the constitutionality of this provision. If I have any disappointment with respect to this bill, it is because I do not think that it goes far enough. Yes, it is a small first step but there is so much more that we need to do with respect to both this institution and the other place. I happen to believe strongly that the Senate, under the Constitution of Canada, discriminates against those between the ages of 18 and 30 because one cannot be appointed to this house until one is 30 years old. Well, a person is either a full citizen with the right to vote and participate in Canadian institutions or a person is not a full citizen. I do not understand why we have chosen to discriminate against those under the age of 30. Such a rule might have made sense in 1867 but it does not make sense in 2007. In 1867, democratic reform was at its beginning. The first Reform Act in Great Britain was passed in 1832, the second in 1867 and the third in 1884; and women did not have the vote until the following century. When the Fathers of Confederation were writing "age 30" into the legislation in 1867, they were actually in front of the democratic reform process. However, in 2007 I would suggest to honourable senators that we are way behind the democratic reform process.

I am concerned as well that we have not dealt with the issue of representation in this place, other than with a motion from Senator Austin and Senator Murray.

I grew up in Atlantic Canada and I know why they hold firmly to their number of seats in the Senate of Canada: They will never have the significant numbers, at least not in the immediate future, to give them that kind of representation that the West will receive in the House of Commons.

(1440)

Honourable senators, that simply is not good enough for Western Canada. Western Canada deserves better. In 1867, the Fathers of Confederation had no understanding, nor should they have, that the West was to grow the way that it has grown. If you just think in terms of basic geography, the Atlantic provinces have something very much in common, one with the other: They are all surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.

Those of us who live in the Prairies — Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta — do not really have a great deal in common with British Columbia. British Columbia is a region all of its own and, in my view, should be recognized as a region unto its own. Of course it was not envisaged in 1867, but if we are to talk about institutional reform, then let us talk about institutional reform in its broadest possible context.

I like the motion that was introduced by Senator Austin and Senator Murray, but they recognized that they could not bring it into force and effect. They could not introduce such a constitutional amendment because they recognized that it would require the consent of the provinces to do such a constitutional amendment. This is an issue, honourable senators, we must debate and discuss.

We have another bill that has not yet come to this place. Bill C-43, which has been tabled in the other House, would bring about a strange new concept. I read that bill this morning. We use words like "nominations" because we cannot do away with the appointment process of people to this place by a simple piece of legislation in the House of Commons and in the Senate of Canada. Changing the Constitution to reflect a genuine election process to this chamber can only be done with consultation of the provinces and the consent of the vast majority of those provinces. By stealth, we have had a proposition that I think tries to fool Canadians that somehow those people will no longer be nominated by one individual, that is, the Prime Minister. Somehow, they will be elected or they will not be elected, but they will be still named by the Prime Minister of Canada because in order to change that, we must change the Constitution; we have to change the Canada Act.

The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to advise that the honourable senator's time is up.

Senator Carstairs: Might I have a few more minutes?

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Five minutes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I was in the West when Triple-E and Burt Brown from Alberta became a very much discussed issue — that is, an equal, elected, effective Senate. I told Burt at the time — because I would not dare argue, with my father's legacy, that it was not effective — that I was interested in his comments of "equal" and "elected."

I have always had difficulty — and with great apologies to my friends from Prince Edward Island — with the concept that Prince Edward Island should have as many Senate seats as Ontario. That has always provided me with a certain difficulty. That is why I have liked the concept of regions as opposed to individual provinces.

I am not a great fan of the direct election of senators. I believe in a process different from the one we have now. I do not believe that it reflects well on this chamber or on Canadian democracy that one person, on one day, can put one other person in this chamber. I just do not believe that. We all like to think we are highly qualified for this place, but the bottom line is that, at some point, a Prime Minister woke up one morning and put our name on a list. That is why we are here. Let us be honest. We like to think we had all kinds of qualifications — I like to think I had all kinds of qualifications — but the bottom line is that a Prime Minister woke up one day and put our name on a list. I do not think that is good enough for 2007. We must look at other ways.

Honourable senators, if we want to turn this chamber into a mirror image of the chamber down the hall — which, in my view, does not function terribly well — then let us not have this chamber at all. I would then support abolition of this chamber before I would support making us a mirror image of the other place.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I will support this piece of legislation as amended by our committee, if our Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee can verify that it meets the constitutional smell test. That is a step forward that is long overdue.

Hon. David Tkachuk: I would like to ask a question of the honourable senator. Does she think that Prime Minister Mulroney woke up one morning and put Stan Waters on the list or the other senators appointed from the Province of Quebec?

Senator Carstairs: We all know how Stan Waters got here, and that was a deal with respect to Meech Lake.

Hon. Lowell Murray: Senator Carstairs has mentioned the constitutional problems that arise with regard to Bill C-43 and, indeed, as she knows and as the house knows, both Ontario and Quebec have indicated that they would go to court to stop Bill C-43.

Does the senator not believe that, in the case of Bill S-4, the constitutionality of which is being debated, it would be wise, before proceeding, for the Attorney General of Canada to refer it to the Supreme Court of Canada for an opinion on its constitutionality?

I recognize that my honourable friend seems to set considerable weight on whether the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs would give its approval, after the smell test. In the final analysis, it is really the Supreme Court of Canada that would have to decide.

Senator Carstairs: Yes, it would. If the bill was passed, someone would take this as a case. I think it would be well advised for the government to do it first and to take the reference to the Supreme Court of Canada. That would make us all feel much more comfortable about what we are deciding in this place.

Let me repeat, however, that if we did pass it in this house, someone in Canada would challenge this.

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I move the adjournment in the name of Senator Furey.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Furey is in the chamber. With the presence of the senator in this chamber, another senator is not able to make a motion on his or her behalf.

I understand there is another question of Senator Carstairs.

Senator Comeau: What about time?

The Hon. the Speaker: The time is up.

Hon. George J. Furey: I move the adjournment of the debate.

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

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Those in favour of the motion will please say "yea."

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: Those opposed to the motion will please say "nay."

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the "yeas" have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker: Does the chair have advice from the two chief whips?

Hon. Terry Stratton: One-hour bell.

The Hon. the Speaker: There will be a one-hour bell. Call in the senators.

(1550)

Motion agreed to and debate adjourned on the following division:

YEAS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Austin Hervieux-Payette
Biron Hubley
Callbeck Jaffer
Campbell Joyal
Carstairs Mercer
Corbin Milne
Cowan Mitchell
Dawson Pépin
De Bané Peterson
Eggleton Phalen
Fairbairn Robichaud
Fitzpatrick Rompkey
Fox Sibbeston
Fraser Smith
Furey Tardif
Goldstein Trenholme Counsell
Grafstein Watt
Harb Zimmer—37
Hays

NAYS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Andreychuk Keon
Angus LeBreton
Champagne Nancy Ruth
Cochrane Nolin
Comeau Stratton—11
Di Nino

ABSTENTIONS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Cools—1

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 Milne)

Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak on Senator Fairbairn's inquiry calling the attention of the Senate to the state of literacy in Canada. However, I am not pleased that this inquiry was prompted by a cut of $17.7 million in reduced funding announced by the federal Conservative government on September 25, 2006.

Many eloquent and passionate speeches have been delivered in this chamber on literacy in response to this inquiry. These speeches have presented statistics — provincial, territorial and national — on illiteracy throughout the adult population and the socio-economic impact resulting from these compromised levels of literacy in Canada.

In my province of New Brunswick we have our own statistics. I do not present them with pride, but rather with a troubled mind, especially in the context of unwarranted and ill-considered cuts to literacy funding by the Conservative government under which we now find ourselves.

[Translation]

In 2003, 55 per cent of anglophone adults in New Brunswick were not literate enough to work in the 21st century. Furthermore, 66 per cent of francophone adults in New Brunswick are not functionally literate: they cannot read and write as well as they need to.

Honourable senators, in 2007, there is greater hope for the future thanks to the considerable efforts of our schools and communities. Nevertheless, in 2005-06, 20 to 30 per cent of our students could not read at an appropriate level. Why not? This sad reality for our boys and girls is due primarily to low literacy in the home. Parents are a child's first teachers, and, in my opinion, the most important teachers in their child's life.

Imagine the low self-esteem in such homes. How can parents who are unable to get a good job offer their families a good life and ensure that their children are properly prepared for school when they enter kindergarten?

(1600)

The cycle of despair begins each time a child comes to school from a disadvantaged home, from a family less equipped to provide basic literacy training.

I have often said that the family home fosters love and learning. Yet a home cannot foster literacy unless parents are confident that they can pass on the ability to read and write.

That is why I get so emotional. That is why thousands of people across Canada working in literacy are disappointed, frustrated and traumatized because of the federal government's terrible decision to cut literacy funds.

[English]

What is the impact of these cuts to literacy funding? The Leader of the Government in the Senate has tried to reassure us that programs will continue. Maybe! However, I can tell honourable senators that literacy groups in my province face an uncertain future in the short term. Yes, they are applying for ongoing federal dollars, painstakingly filling in forms despite their fears and doubts that they can meet the onerous criteria laid out by this new Conservative government. I am told these applications have never been so difficult. Perhaps by just making the application so tedious, so time-consuming, so tricky, most groups will be disqualified. That is one way for this Conservative government to cut literacy funding.

What does all of this mean? Some excellent literacy programs will continue. Many dedicated people will continue to volunteer to help adults read and write, improve numeracy, to find a job and to know what it means to feel self-pride. A few may even be paid minimally for their efforts, but the sad fact is that across the spectrum of literacy programs a blow has been felt. This blow has struck at the very heart of our provincial literacy coalitions in New Brunswick, la fédération d'alphabétisation du Nouveau-Brunswick and the New Brunswick Coalition of Literacy. The Conservatives fail to appreciate what these coalitions do. They seem to think they are dispensable. This is heartless and it is foolhardy.

Our literacy coalitions connect the dots. Yes, any one of my province's literacy programs or projects is a bright dot, but working alone where is the support from their colleagues? Where is the stimulation to grow, to share ideas for new programs and to do better?

Our literacy coalitions depend largely on federal dollars for their very existence. I wonder if the Prime Minister has ever visited one of these organizations. I have, many times, and I know about their hard work and dedication, about their meagre offices without frills, and maybe not even the technology we all consider necessary in 2007, with one or two employees struggling on very low wages to provide hope to adults and their children. Any one of us in any one of these offices would feel vulnerable, no matter how profoundly committed we were to literacy.

Well, this fear of vulnerability became a reality for them in 2006, like a punch in the eye, like a slap in the face, yes, like a kick in the butt.

The Conservative Government of Canada said these organizations were probably unnecessary; they were a waste of money; what they are doing does not matter. Even if you do continue to exist, you will have to make do with less.

Well, these good people are fighting back, and they have thousands of friends, many of them right here in the Senate. Cutting literacy groups, coalitions, by $17.7 million was not only mean and heartless, it was short-sighted. It made no economic sense. It made no social sense.

It made absolutely no sense to women and men from coast to coast to coast, who believe with absolute certainty, based on fact, that this country is paying a huge price due to unacceptable levels of illiteracy in Canada, and that every man, woman and child without literacy is paying a huge price in terms of opportunity, pride and hope.

The price is too high — $17.7 million is like a drop of water in one of our Great Lakes, yet that drop of water creates ripples, circles of possibility across this land. It improves the lives of millions for whom literacy is only a dream. It improves our bottom line as a nation and our international reputation.

The joy, the power, and the comfort of reading — no budget cut, no short-sightedness, and no lack of heart can stop the literacy movement in this country. We will overcome. We will never rest until every Canadian has the possibility of reaching her or his full potential in reading, in writing and as a human being. To do this we will demand that our government stop its blind, blatant and bitter denial of the value of our literacy organizations. We will defend them by our words and by our actions.

[Translation]

I hold out great hope for all those who have committed themselves wholeheartedly to the cause of literacy. I hope that all my colleagues in the Senate of Canada will ask the Prime Minister to admit his mistake and restore the $17.7 million for literacy to the budget.

[English]

We teach our children to say "I'm sorry." How easy it would be for the Prime Minister of Canada to say "I'm sorry." In my mind, that would not be a flip-flop, it would be recognition that our literacy workers in every province and territory in Canada deserve nothing less. As our New Brunswick motto states, it would be "hope restored."

On motion of Senator Mercer, debate adjourned.

Contributions of the Honourable Howard Charles Green to Canadian Public Life

Inquiry—Debate Continued

Leave having been given to revert to Other Business, Other Inquiry, No. 19:

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Murray, P.C., calling the attention of the Senate to issues concerning the faithful and exemplary service to Canada, during his entire adult lifetime, of the late Honourable Howard Charles Green of British Columbia.—(Honourable Senator Comeau)

Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, I rise today to express my support for the naming of a federal building in Vancouver after a distinguished Canadian, Howard Green. Other senators have spoken eloquently about the background of contributions made to not only Canada but the world by Mr. Green.

To summarize, he was a veteran of the First World War, a lawyer, a politician representing my riding of Vancouver-Quadra for seven terms, a minister of the Crown, and perhaps most important, an outspoken advocate of nuclear disarmament. In addition, I have spoken to his granddaughter, who naturally describes her grandfather as a loving, caring and wonderful person.

I have read and listened to the concerns of the various groups who have expressed their opposition to the naming of this building. I understand completely their sentiments and would suggest that their concerns have been addressed by previous governments.

As quoted by the Honourable Senator Segal:

On September 22, 1988, the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, Prime Minister of Canada, extended in the Parliament of Canada an elaborate, well-deserved, deeply articulated, heartfelt and sincere apology to all Japanese-Canadians and their descendants. It was an historic day, as was the foundation established to make that apology a living reality in perpetuity.

The statements made by Mr. Green during the Second World War are clearly racist in nature. However, I would suggest that we must take into consideration the era and the events of that time. Canada was at war and was living in an era of fear. This should not be seen as an excuse but rather a fact.

Who among us has led such a pristine life that we would be judged pure and clean of all wrongs? Who among us does not have an utterance or action that they regret? To quote from the Bible, ". . . let he who is without sin cast the first stone." It is unlikely that any building could be named after anyone if we used this test.

Mr. Green is more than deserving of having a building named after him. I urge the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to move forward and name the building the Howard Charles Green Building.

On motion of Senator Stratton, debate adjourned.

(1610)

[Translation]

Fishing Industry in Nunavut

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Adams calling the attention of the Senate to issues concerning the fishing industry in Nunavut related to the use of fishing royalties, methods of catch, foreign involvement and a proposed audit of Inuit benefit from the fishery. —(Honourable Senator Fraser)

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I realize that this is an extremely important topic and that many senators would like to address it. I therefore ask that the debate be adjourned in my name.

On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.

[English]

Adjournment

Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:

Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:

That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, February 6, 2007, at 2 p.m.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, February 6, 2007, at 2 p.m.