The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to draw your
attention to the presence in the gallery of members of the Parliament of
Georgia. On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome our distinguished
friends to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, are only some Canadian
values for export? Saddam Hussein's execution for crimes against humanity by
Iraqi authorities has been met with a mixture of elation and outrage the world
over. As a Shia Muslim, I am well aware of the atrocities he committed while he
held power. He was a thuggish, even monstrous, dictator who cemented his reign
with terror and oppression. Though Canada was not involved in his trial or
capture, there can be no doubt that the international community, including
Canada, had a tremendous investment in seeing him brought to justice.
His execution raises important issues about the types of values we hope to
export to the rest of the world and whether countries like Canada wish to export
all of their values or whether we will keep some of our values to ourselves. Are
some of our values only to be exercised in Canada?
Like many Muslims, both Sunni and Shia throughout the world, my family and I
were beginning the celebration of Eid ul-Adha when Saddam was hanged. Eid
ul-Adha commemorates an event many Canadians, both Muslim and non-Muslim, are
familiar with, when God called upon his Prophet Ibrahim — peace be upon him — to
sacrifice his son as a test of his faith. It is a time when Muslims reflect on
the sacrifice. The significance of executing as controversial a figure as Saddam
Hussein during a time of sectarian conflict in Iraq, at the start of one of the
holiest times on the Islamic calendar, cannot be overlooked.
Death by hanging is a practice that would revolt most Canadians today, even
for the most terrible of criminals, if it took place within our own borders.
Why, then, do we remain silent when it happens elsewhere? Why do we allow it to
pass without comment when the whole world is watching?
This ignores the values we hold dear. It is our own values against which
Canadians should be comparing the process, not those of Saddam's brutal regime.
While the process may have succeeded in improving on the one that existed during
Saddam's dictatorship, it has failed utterly to achieve the standards that we
would expect in the type of democracy we ourselves enjoy and want Iraq to have.
The Vatican and many countries have strongly condemned the death penalty. It
requires courage to stand up like this and I commend them for doing so. It shows
that no single man can be so terrible that we have to abandon our principles to
defeat him. I am disappointed that our government has remained silent on the
hanging of Saddam Hussein.
When Canada refuses to stand for all its values, we risk sending the message
that some of our values do not matter. The execution of Saddam Hussein cannot be
changed, but it falls to all of us to speak out with one voice and condemn any
departure from the values we seek to promote elsewhere, regardless of where they
occur. If we fail to do so, we will undermine them everywhere.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators may remember the case of Ernst
Zundel, a man who gained notoriety in Canada and elsewhere as a writer and
publisher of anti-Semitic propaganda and as a Holocaust denier. Mr. Zundel was
deported from the U.S. to Canada in February 2003 and spent just over two years
detained here as a national security threat while fighting his extradition to
his native Germany to stand trial for hate crime charges. After lengthy and
costly court proceedings, Mr. Zundel was finally deported from Canada to Germany
in March 2005, where he was immediately arrested.
I am pleased to inform honourable senators that this sad tale is in sight at
last. On Thursday, February 15, a German court convicted Mr. Zundel on 14 counts
of incitement of racial hatred. He was sentenced to five years in jail, the
maximum punishment under German law for Holocaust denial. While the court has
rendered its verdict, Mr. Zundel will doubtlessly try to appeal, as he has done
many times in the past. This ruling stands as a judgment against one man. The
sad thing is that his lies drew hundreds to a conference in Iran. This judgment
is a victory against him but not his views.
At the time of his deportation to Germany, I said in this chamber that I
believe Mr. Zundel is to be pitied because he has wasted his life spreading lies
and hate. I still believe this to be true. In addition to wasting his own life,
he has encouraged others to do so as well by spreading vicious lies about the
Holocaust and the Jewish people, and by giving aid to neo-Nazi groups that
incite hatred and potential political violence against governments and
multicultural societies such as our own.
Honourable senators, Mr. Zundel serves as an example to remind all Canadians
that anti-Semitism is not something that has been relegated to the history
books. Sadly, it still has a voice and still finds an audience. Mr. Zundel was a
teacher and views such as his can be nurtured in those who are not taught well.
That is how we can produce people who can be easily influenced by such hate
mongering. We must never stop guarding against it. It is a victory that will
never be completely won.
Although it has taken a long time for Mr. Zundel to be brought to justice, I
am pleased with the decision of the German courts and the message it sends not
just in that country, but in our own and throughout the world.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, on February 7, representatives of the University of Alberta and the
Government of Alberta were at the National Institute for Nanotechnology to
announce the recruitment of a leading chemist, Dr. Richard McCreery.
Dr. McCreery will hold a cross-appointment as a Principal Researcher for the
National Research Council in the National Institute for Nanotechnology, as an
Alberta Ingenuity Scholar in Molecular Electronics and as a Professor in
Chemistry in the Faculty of Science at the University of Alberta. He will be
instrumental in integrating research into the learning environment to enhance
the experience of both undergraduate and graduate students.
Mr. Doug Horner, Minister of Advanced Education and Technology for Alberta,
noted that the unique partnership between the National Research Council, the
Government of Alberta and the University of Alberta that makes up the Institute
for Nanotechnology is an example of partnerships that result in synergies that
are critical to finding innovative solutions to big problems. He further stated
that the commercialization of technology is the key to the global economy.
These kinds of partnerships are vital if we want to continue to attract
prominent, experienced experts from around the world who will help develop and
stimulate research in the fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology.
Honourable senators, this is a concrete example of how important it is to
invest in research and innovation in our universities. Canada must continue to
invest, as it has done over the past few years, in post-secondary education as
well as research and innovation. Our country's prosperity depends on it.
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the sixth report (interim) of the Standing
Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans on issues relating to the federal
government's new and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries
and oceans, entitled: The Management of Atlantic Fish Stocks: Beyond the
On motion of Senator Johnson, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the seventh report of the Standing Senate
Committee on Human Rights, dealing with the examination of cases of alleged
discrimination in the hiring and promotion practices of the federal public
service, entitled: Employment Equity in the Federal Public Service — Not
On motion of Senator Andreychuk, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before beginning Question
Period, I have a declaration of private interest to announce to the Senate:
Honourable senators, Senator Mitchell has made a declaration of private
interest concerning questions he asked in the Senate on November 22, 2006 and
January 30, 2007. Pursuant to rule 32.1, the declaration will be recorded in
the Journals of the Senate.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
Following the excellent Senate report on Afghanistan, which was unanimously
acclaimed, my question has to do with finding the right balance between
developing the country and protecting its citizens. Can the Leader of the
Government assure me that an amount equal to that spent to buy and send the F-18
fighter planes, which are set to leave Canada soon, will be spent on protecting
and fostering peace in Afghanistan?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question.
I do not have a specific answer for the speculation about sending these
aircraft. However, I did note that, in the other place yesterday, there was some
question about the validity of that claim. Nevertheless, I shall take the
question as notice.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: I would like to remind honourable senators
that every time an F-18 takes off, it costs anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000,
which is a considerable expenditure.
Plans to purchase new Leopard tanks were also recently announced, along with
other spending that will serve to protect and ensure the safety of the Afghan
people. If we send F-18s and another fleet of tanks, can the Leader of the
Government assure the Senate that an equal amount will be spent on humanitarian
Senator LeBreton: I cannot answer a question on speculation about the
purchase of equipment. However, I wish to assure all honourable senators that
our commitment in Afghanistan is a well-balanced commitment to reconstruction,
securing the peace and also working with the Afghan government to further
strengthen their democracy.
I believe our Armed Forces are doing an outstanding job. The reports coming
back from Afghanistan support that. Certainly, if you believe public opinion,
Canadians also believe that the efforts we are undertaking as a country, with
our NATO partners on this UN-led mission in Afghanistan, are worthwhile. No
reasonable country could possibly consider not proceeding with our efforts in
Afghanistan; the alternative is just unfathomable.
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, Canadians in remote areas
are without food, fuel and vital supplies, and all the Conservative government
can come up with is a mediator in the ongoing dispute with Canadian National.
Labour Minister Blackburn's statement about how he wants the dispute ended in
hours and not days lacks the required action, as usual, to resolve this issue.
It is just like this government to make commitments without a clue about how
to follow through on them. How many hours will this take? Thousands? Hundreds of
thousands? When will we see an end? I am reminded of health care wait time
guarantees and promises of increased child care spaces.
My question to the government leader is as follows: What will the government
do to alleviate the economic repercussions associated with the ongoing CN
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. There is no
question that the government is seized with the issue of the CN strike and its
impact on the Canadian economy. Last evening, Minister Blackburn called upon CN
and the United Transportation Union to get back to dealing with this issue. All
courses of action will be considered, the minister said; we cannot allow this
strike to do great harm.
The honourable senator is correct in saying that the strike is having a great
impact in Western Canada vis-à-vis the forestry industry and grain producers.
The strike is also negatively affecting northern communities that need the CN to
assure their supply of diesel and heating fuel. As Minister Blackburn and the
government have indicated, we will take every action necessary, including
tabling back-to-work legislation.
Senator Campbell: I thank the leader for her comments. I am not
suggesting that we should be looking at ordering the CN workers back to work,
but I would ask two questions. First, is a 90-day cooling-off period being
considered? Second, what is the time frame for mediation? As we know, mediation
can go on forever and ever. In the meantime, the trains are backing up, the Port
of Vancouver is full of ships waiting to take on cargo and the northern
communities are experiencing difficulty getting fuel and supplies. The railway
is a lifeline for these communities. Is there a timeline, and is a 90-day
cooling-off period being considered?
Senator LeBreton: As Minister Blackburn said, both parties have hours,
not days, to resolve this. I could not agree more with the honourable senator.
The CN strike has a detrimental impact on our economy. The country and the
government cannot allow this situation to continue. As I said, the parties have
hours, not days, failing which the government will be prepared to legislate the
CN workers back to work.
Senator Campbell: I certainly would not want to put words into the
leader's mouth, but if we are talking about a time frame in days, could we
expect perhaps a 90-day cooling-off period — which the leader did not answer —
by the end of this week, so that the parties can sit down with a time frame in
mind and in a situation that will not lead them to fight with each other but to
try to come to a resolution? I am not much in favour of ordering them back to
Senator LeBreton: The 90-day cooling-off period was not an option that
I was aware of. I know the government is concerned about this and is prepared to
take immediate action. If there were such a matter under consideration, I am
personally not aware of it. I shall take that portion of the honourable
senator's question as notice.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I was disappointed to learn that, in its new strategic plan, the
Department of National Defence has reduced its official languages requirements.
The plan indicates that the Canadian Forces will divide units along linguistic
lines, with 277 English-speaking units, 55 French-speaking units, and 222
This is a definite step backward for linguistic duality in this country.
Creating unilingual units and forcing people to work in their second official
language in certain situations violates the principle of linguistic duality and
the spirit of the Official Languages Act, as it ought to apply in our federal
Can the minister tell us why the Department of National Defence has been
unable to meet its obligations?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for her question and appreciate
her concerns with regard to this matter. The honourable senator has expressed
some concerns, which have been expressed by others.
I will simply take the question as notice in order to provide her with the
proper response of the Department of National Defence. The department will need
time to tell us how it will address this very important issue.
Senator Tardif: I thank the Leader of the Government for her answer. I
would like to ask a supplementary question. Will a francophone soldier from
Edmonton be able to work in French in his province, or will he have to move to
Quebec to be able to work in French?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, my answer to this question is
the same as my previous answer. I am not aware of a situation where someone who
speaks either one or the other official language would be prevented from working
in their own language, no matter where they reside in this country.
I will make the honourable senator's views known to the minister and ask the
Department of National Defence if it can provide an answer to address her
Hon. Maria Chaput: My supplementary question is for the Leader of the
Government. When she meets with defence department officials on this issue, will
she also talk with the new Commissioner of Official Languages? The Department of
National Defence mentioned in a press release that it had consulted the
commissioner, but that is not true.
The commissioner says that a report was issued last year in response to
recommendations from the Department of National Defence, suggesting a new
approach to bilingualism. Could the minister look at this new approach to see
whether it is applicable, whether it changes the rules, or whether it reduces
services? Otherwise, this approach could be simplistic and divisive, if it is
not subject to the Official Languages Act and organizational imperatives.
Creating little islands based on language would weaken national unity.
Can the Leader of the Government guarantee that she will keep all this in
mind when she meets with departmental officials? Does she also plan to discuss
this with the Commissioner of Official Languages?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for that question. I
would hope that no such trend exists to divide people along linguistic lines. In
her question to me, the honourable senator indicated that the Department of
National Defence had given an answer that seems to contradict the Commissioner
of Official Languages. One group said they had consulted; the other group said
they had not consulted.
As the honourable senator would understand, I want to give the department and
the minister a chance to respond to her concerns. I was not aware that there was
a conflict between what the department believed and what the Commissioner of
Official Languages said.
As with Senator Tardif's questions, I will take the question as notice and
return with an answer for the honourable senator as soon as possible.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, last week in the Standing
Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, we were
informed that due "to the tremendous confusion" that currently exists in
Environment Canada, no federal progress has been made at all towards either
renewing or extending the current Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great
Lakes Basin Ecosystem.
This agreement was originally signed in 1971, between eight federal
departments and three provincial ministries. Since then, six more Canada-Ontario
agreements have been signed, the most recent in 2002. The current agreement is
due to expire in March. Since there is such abysmal lack of direction and
leadership at Environment Canada, it is impossible to imagine that this
government will be prepared or even able to renegotiate this agreement before
the end of March.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate assure this chamber that
Minister Baird will do the right thing and use his authority to extend the life
and funding of the present Canada-Ontario agreement until his department is
organized enough to renegotiate this agreement on behalf of so many Canadians
who live in the Great Lakes Basin?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors): I thank the honourable senator for her question. I do not want to
quarrel over her interpretation of what is going on within Environment Canada.
Environment Minister Baird is working extremely hard with his officials on all
environmental fronts. There will be many announcements made on the environment
over the next few weeks. I will simply ascertain for Senator Milne from the
Minister of the Environment whether he can answer her question on the Great
Lakes. Certainly, the Great Lakes are a valuable resource to all people living
around them. I am quite confident that Minister Baird is sufficiently seized of
the environment portfolio. He has already made some incredible announcements and
he will be working with other members of the government, as well as his
provincial and territorial counterparts, in advancing the environment file on
Senator Milne: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question. I
thank the Leader of the Government in the Senate for her response, but I would
like to point out that this was not my interpretation, this was an actual
quotation from one of the expert witnesses before the committee. I would like to
remind her of the importance of this issue. The confusion that I mentioned may
have something to do with this government appointing two new ministers and a new
deputy minister during the past year.
This is an issue of tremendous importance. It is a sensitive ecological
region that is home to eight million Canadians. The land area directly affected
by the Canada-Ontario agreement contains two thirds of Canada's manufacturing
output, and its well-being should be a major concern for this government and for
the majority of Canadians.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise the Minister of the
Environment that honourable senators are greatly concerned about the proper
renegotiation of this agreement, and we want to see the minister act with
dispatch so that he can achieve the greatest benefit for all Canadians?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I do not believe there is
anyone who would not encourage and support any actions to clean up our water and
air. Certainly, the Great Lakes system is of vital importance to the Canadian
population. It is important to the population south of the border.
I again disagree with Senator Milne's use of a quote from one witness. We all
can quote what people may think or say about the Minister of the Environment,
but I will simply quote back the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party when he very
succinctly told the present leader, "You did not get it done."
Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is directed
to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Recently, I sent to all senators
a report entitled "Too Little Has Changed," a report of follow-up meetings
with Afghan Canadian women conducted by the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace
and Security, which I had the honour to chair for two years, carrying on the
work of our former colleague Senator Wilson.
The women consulted, all of whom are Afghani Canadians and many of whom have
spent a great deal of time working in Afghanistan to promote security and
equality for women and girls, are unanimous on one thing — that is, as the title
of the report says, that too little has changed. As the report says, security
remains the most critical concern for women and girls living in Afghanistan,
despite the hopes that were created by the international community.
Can the government leader please give us details of specific programs
Canadian troops in Afghanistan are undertaking to promote security and equality
for women and girls?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors): I thank Senator Jaffer for that question. I believe the situation
in Afghanistan for women and girls, while nowhere near where we would like to
see it, has improved markedly in the past year. All evidence supports that,
including from members of the Karzai government.
I had the opportunity to meet with the minister responsible for women's
affairs when she accompanied President Karzai on his visit last year. There is
much work to do. However, there is no doubt that, with girls again being able to
go to school and with women receiving micro-credit to open small businesses,
great strides have taken place in the past year. However, that is not to say
that much more cannot be done. There is much work to do, and Minister Verner and
Minister MacKay are working diligently in that regard with their officials and
their counterparts in Afghanistan.
As the Prime Minister indicated when he spoke to the Canadian Club on
February 6, it is the intention of the government to report very soon on the
status of the situation in Afghanistan.
Senator Jaffer: Honourable senators, will the minister inquire what
specific programs our Canadian troops in Afghanistan are undertaking to promote
security and equality for Afghan women?
Senator LeBreton: I shall certainly get more explicit details for
Senator Jaffer. The reports coming back from Afghanistan indicate that our
military people, diplomats and reconstruction workers are working hard at
building roads and moving people back into their communities, which helps all
Afghan citizens, including women and children.
I shall get specific details of the programs that are directly related to
women and children.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, the cluster bomb is an
especially brutal weapon, with its hundreds of smaller bombs that are dispersed
over a wide radius, many of them lying on the ground unexploded for weeks or
months waiting to be discovered tragically by children and other innocent
The United Nations has condemned the use of cluster munitions, and Norway has
taken the lead internationally in having them banned, just as Canada took the
lead some years ago in having land mines banned.
Are cluster bombs or any of their component parts currently being
manufactured in Canada, and are these munitions part of the Canadian arsenal of
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors): Honourable senators, I believe a conference is taking place right
now at the United Nations on this very matter. In terms of the Canadian arsenal,
I have seen no reports of these munitions being used by the Canadian Forces, but
I shall take the honourable senator's question as notice.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: My question is for the government leader. Have
cluster bombs been used by NATO military forces in Afghanistan?
The Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions is being held from February 21 to
February 23. Perhaps the leader can share with us the role Canada will play in
the growing international effort to have these weapons banned.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I cannot, in my position as Leader of the
Government in the Senate, answer for other NATO countries. I will simply take
the question as notice. Of course, the honourable senator is quite right; the
meetings are taking place in Oslo from February 21 to 23.
Senator Hubley: Will the minister explain Canada's role in that
conference when she brings the answers back?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting a delayed answer to a question raised
by Senator Cordy on December 5, 2006, concerning bed nets and malaria control.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Jane Cordy on December 5, 2006)
The Government of Canada maintains a firm commitment to support initiatives
for malaria control, especially those directed towards children and pregnant
Canada has been the leading donor country to an international partnership
to broaden the free large-scale delivery of bed nets, in combination with
other lifesaving interventions. The Canadian International Development Agency
(CIDA) is responsible for 16 per cent of the 25 million insecticide treated
bed nets that are being distributed through this partnership free of charge.
The Canadian Red Cross (CRC) continues to be a valued CIDA partner in this
effort, most recently completing a bed net distribution of nearly 900,000 nets
in Sierra Leone. CRC has received over $26 million in CIDA funds since 2002.
The Canadian Red Cross still has funds remaining from its last CIDA grant of
$20 million that will be used to support bed net distribution activities in
2007. This program has in no way been abandoned. Discussions with the CRC on
the next phase of the program are proceeding well.
UNICEF is also a valued CIDA partner. Contrary to what has been claimed by
some, UNICEF has informed us that they do not sell nets in Ethiopia. CIDA has
provided UNICEF with $12.5 million for malaria activities. Through this
funding, 1.5 million free bed nets will be delivered.
We can all take pride in the fact that Canada's support for these malaria
prevention programs in Africa are expected to save as many as 75,000 lives, as
well as helping an even larger number maintain their health so they can work
or go to school.
It is important to note that Canada's support to malaria programs is not
limited to these activities. For example, Canada has recently increased
funding to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria with a current annual
commitment that stands at $125 million per year, up from an average of $60
million per year since 2002. The Global Fund commits approximately one quarter
of its funding to malaria activities.
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. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to second
reading of Bill S-4, which claims legal authority of the Constitution Act, 1982,
Bill S-4 proposes to alter the tenure for senators from life tenure to an
eight-year term. Neither the 1867 nor the 1982 Constitution Acts contain any
legal authority whatsoever for Parliament to adopt Bill S-4. In fact, both acts
Honourable senators, I support genuine change and real reform, but I feel
that I must assert that change must be executed within the law and within the
Constitution. Bill S-4 is a corrupt use of section 44. Consequently, honourable
senators, it is an outlaw. I would even go on to describe it as "constitutional
Honourable senators, Canada's Constitution, the British North America Act,
1867, began as the 72 resolutions agreed by the delegates, our Fathers of
Confederation, at the Quebec Conference on October 10, 1864. This act
represented the evolutionary planting of the British Constitution in the new
In 1864, the United States federation difficulties and its resulting civil
war were top-of-mind for the Canadian fathers. John A. Macdonald, a seasoned
constitutionalist, like many of the fathers, had studied the American
constitutional framers, particularly Alexander Hamilton, who of all the American
revolutionaries was the most attached to British constitutional principles.
Post-revolution, he was a defender of besieged loyalists.
Macdonald had studied James Madison's Debates in the Federal Convention of
1787, which included Hamilton's Draft of a Constitution for the United
States. Separated by time, history and geography, Macdonald and Hamilton had
a unity of thought.
Macdonald's copy of Madison's volume, with Macdonald's own personal
notations, came into the hands of Canada's scholar, William B. Munro, who used
it for his 1929 book American Influences on Canadian Government. Munro
writes about the four provisions of Hamilton's Draft, which entered
Canada's Constitution. He wrote:
All these provisions, rejected by the Philadelphia Convention in spite of
Hamilton's urging, went into the Quebec Resolutions at Macdonald's insistence.
If Macdonald is entitled to be called the "Father of the Canadian
Constitution", it would appear that Alexander Hamilton has some claim to be
designated as its grandfather.
Another Canadian scholar, Arthur Lower, mentioned this in his essay,
Theories of Canadian Federalism, in the 1958 book, Evolving Canadian
The effect of the combination of Macdonald's own cast of mind with
Hamiltonian views is written all over the B.N.A. Act. Several of the
distinctive features of Hamilton's rejected constitutional scheme were taken
over by the Quebec Convention, almost certainly under Macdonald's influence,
and later embodied in the B.N.A. Act.
Honourable senators, Alexander Hamilton, in his Draft of a Constitution
for the United States, had proposed four ideas adopted in Canada's
constitution. The one most relevant to this debate was life tenure for senators,
though elected. Senators elected, but serving for life. It was a very
Hamilton's Article III, section 6, of his draft states:
The Senators shall hold their places during good behaviour, removable only
by conviction on impeachment for some crime or misdemeanor.
Significantly, Macdonald's Quebec Resolution number 11 stated, in part:
The Members of the Legislative Council shall be appointed by the Crown
under the Great Seal . . . and shall hold Office during Life; . . . .
Honourable senators, I note the unity of law between Hamilton's words "hold
their places during good behaviour" and Macdonald's words "shall hold office
during life." Both employed the feudal law of estate for life in office
qualified by good conduct. Interestingly enough, as enacted in 1867, the BNA
Act, section 29, which Bill S-4 purports to amend, read:
A Senator shall, subject to the Provisions of this Act, hold his Place in
the Senate for Life.
Honourable senators, hold on to the word "hold."
On February 6, 1865, Attorney-General West John A. Macdonald began the
Confederation debates in the Legislative Assembly of the United Province of
Canada. He moved the resolution:
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that She may be
graciously pleased to cause a measure to be submitted to the Imperial
Parliament, for the purposes of uniting the Colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia,
New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island, in one Government, with
provisions based on certain Resolutions, which were adopted at a Conference of
Delegates from the said Colonies, held at the city of Quebec, on the 10th
Honourable senators, John A. Macdonald gave an instructive account of the 72
Quebec resolutions, of the fathers' agreement to them and of the law founding
them. Honourable senators, Macdonald, who had personally authored 50 of these 72
resolutions, told of the delegates' design for the Parliament of the new
confederation. Recorded in the Parliamentary Debates on the Subject of the
Confederation of the British North American Provinces, he said:
The legislature of British North America will be composed of King, Lords,
and Commons. The Legislative Council will stand in the same relation to the
Lower House, as the House of Lords to the House of Commons in England . . .
He told the assembly that the Quebec delegates had rejected an elected upper
house and had chosen one nominated by the Queen. He said:
And nomination by the Crown is of course the system which is most in
accordance with the British Constitution. We resolved then, that the
constitution of the Upper House should be in accordance with the British
system as nearly as circumstances would allow. An hereditary Upper House is
impracticable in this young country. . . . The only mode of adapting the
English system to the Upper House, is by conferring the power of appointment
on the Crown (as the English peers are appointed), but that the appointments
should be for life.
Honourable senators, let us understand clearly that Macdonald said that
Canada's upper house, adapted from the British constitution and the House of
Lords, would be achieved — and I would ask honourable senators to hold on to
this — by the ancient law of estate for life in office, created by Her Majesty's
royal grant by letters patent, called tenure for life. The fathers chose the law
of tenure for life and appointment by Her Majesty as the cornerstone of the new
confederation and its new constitution, the BNA Act, particularly its Part IV,
entitled "Legislative Power," being sections 17 to 57 of the Act. About the
law of tenure, the law of estate for life and their legal effect, Jowitt's
Dictionary of English Law, 1977, states:
Tenure in a general sense is a mode of holding or occupying: thus we speak
of the tenure of an office, meaning the manner in which it is held, especially
with regard to time (tenure for life, tenure during good behaviour), and of
tenure of land in the sense of occupation or tenancy . . .
In its more technical sense, tenure signifies the mode in which all land in
England is theoretically owned and occupied. The rule is that only the Crown
can be the absolute owner of land in England . . . that is, every person who
is possessed of land is theoretically merely a tenant and owes obligations in
respect of it either to the Crown or to an intermediate lord. The manner of
his possession is called tenure, and the extent of his interest is called an
That is, an estate for life in the Senate.
By the law of property, life tenure in this Senate is based on the ancient
feudal tenurial relationship; that obtained between king and subject vassals as
tenants "holding of the king," which was characterized by fidelity, duties and
proper demeanour. Forfeiture of the holding was a necessary consequence that
attended a serious breach of the relationship. Such a breach was a "felony."
As we look at section 31.(4) and "felon," we understand that the Constitution
works like a unity.
Honourable senators, this law of the Royal grant of an estate for life in an
office to a person treated the office as though it were a parcel of land, a
piece of real property, real estate, a freehold in the office. The grantee, the
office holder, could not easily be dispossessed of the office because he held a
life estate and a freehold in it. Consequently, the grantee held the office for
life so long as he observed its conditions and performed its functions and
duties. In his 1820 book, A Treatise on the Law of the Prerogatives of the
Crown; and Relative Duties and Rights of the Subject, Joseph Chitty says, at
The grant of an office should regularly be under the great seal. No
investiture, or ceremony, is in general necessary to perfect the grantee's
title to the office, which becomes vested in him merely by the grant; though
such grant may be rendered ineffectual by neglect of the party to take the
various oaths before alluded to.
. . . that as they are constituted for the public weal it is expedient that
they should be properly executed. On this principle a condition is tacitly and
peremptorily engrafted by law on the grant of all offices, that they be
executed by the grantee faithfully, properly, and diligently: on breach of
which condition the office is forfeited or liable to be seized. This principle
has ever been admitted: the difficulty has arisen in the application of it.
Honourable senators, the ancient law of estate in office is no mere
antiquarian or vestigial curiosity. It is a fundamental characteristic of our
two Constitution Acts, 1867 and 1982, and of the Parliament of Canada. To expel
this from our Constitution is to expel the British Constitution from Canada.
Macdonald said early on that this would be the way to allow the British system
to be adapted here.
Honourable senators, for reasons unrelated to feudal needs and conditions,
life estate in office was adapted in Britain in the 18th century for superior
court judges to secure a particular constitutional position for them that
included judicial independence. This did not apply in Canada, a constitutional
deficiency that caused much unrest in Upper Canada. Lord Durham dealt with this
in his report. This British constitutional position was fully clarified and
adopted by the BNA Act, 1867 for superior court judges and for senators. The
conditions for judges were during good behaviour, removable on address; and for
senators, the conditions were loyal service subject to disqualification by
senators per section 31, BNA Act, 1867. The estate for life placed senators in a
similar, yet superior, constitutional position to the judges. This sound
constitutional footing was independence. Its other purpose was to foster
constitutional comity. The judiciary, Parliament and cabinet are coordinate
constitutional institutions whose jealous relationships are governed by comity.
Blackstone calls this the balance of the Constitution, which is what Bill S-4
proposes to do away with. In Canada, life tenure was key to institutional
independence and to the proper balance of the Constitution and the sovereignty
Honourable senators, another reason for life tenure and the similar
constitutional position of senators and judges was section 18 of the BNA Act.
Section 18 and section 17 had contemplated that Canada, like the UK, would
constitute a Canadian appellate jurisdiction in the Senate similar in principle
to, but not the same as, the British appellate jurisdiction in the House of
Lords. Mindful of protecting the position of the Lords' Judicial Committee of
the Privy Council as a final court of appeal for all the Empire's colonies, the
imperial Parliament in section 18 insured that any Senate of appellate
jurisdiction would be subordinate to the Judicial Committee of the Privy
Council. It limited the powers, privileges and immunities of the Senate to the
British Commons House and not to the House of Lords, even though the Senate was
patterned after the Lords.
Honourable senators, section 18 of the BNA Act, 1867 receives the ancient
powers, privileges and immunities of the British Parliament. The law of
Parliament, the lex et consuetudo parlamenti of the High Court of
Parliament, governs all the business of Parliament, which includes the law of
estate for life. That is why Parliament could create the Supreme Court of Canada
Honourable senators, the powers of Parliament acting alone to amend the
Constitution are limited. Bill S-4 applies section 44 of the Constitution Act,
1982, to amend section 29 and no other section of the Constitution Act, 1867.
Section 44 states:
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.
Honourable senators, the words of section 44, in their natural and proper
extent, apply to constitutional amendments that touch the Senate alone or that
touch the House of Commons alone, but not to amendments that touch the Senate
and the House of Commons in their combined estates with Her Majesty as the one
Parliament of Canada.
The Hon. the Speaker: I advise that the honourable senator's 15
minutes have elapsed.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, may I have leave to continue?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Five minutes.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, I ask for time to complete my
remarks. The purpose of this place is to have debate. I do not know why we
cannot have a few minutes of debate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Has the house unanimously agreed that Senator
Cools has another five minutes?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Cools: Yet, furtively Bill S-4 would amend the Constitution of
the Parliament of Canada, being Part IV of the BNA Act, titled the Legislative
Power, by redefining the words "Senate" and "senator" to be a constitutional
creature unknown to the BNA Act.
Honourable senators, sections 17 and 18 under Part IV — 10 sections before
section 29 — introduce and define the constitutional meaning of the words
"Senate" and "senator." Section 17 says:
There shall be One Parliament for Canada, consisting of the Queen, an Upper
House styled the Senate, and the House of Commons.
By these sections, a senator is a person individually constituted by Her
Majesty's grant to hold an estate for life in the Parliament of Canada. The
Senate is an aggregate of 105 such individual constitutions, vesting proprietary
and possessory life estates in Parliament. Every section of the BNA Act that
mentions the words "Senate," "senator" or "Parliament" means such a
constituted individual and cannot mean a person appointed for a term of years,
which is inconsistent with the monarchical structure of the BNA Act. Bill S-4 is
a furtive amendment to the BNA Act, Part IV, Legislative Power, and to the
Constitution of the Parliament of Canada. It would be a major and profound
change to our constitutional regime.
The Queen, too, is a senator and a member of Parliament with a life estate.
She is the caput, principium, et finis, meaning the head, beginning and
the end. This is the power, not the BNA Act, that constitutes senators.
Bill S-4 would also amend the Governor General's letters patent to constitute
senators. Canada is a monarchy similar in principle to Britain. Bill S-4's
proposals require the general amending formula of section 38 because it proposes
to amend the fundamental features of the Queen in her Parliament of Canada.
Honourable senators, the fundamental and immutable characteristic of the
British Constitution, received into Canada by the BNA Act, is the ancient
pedigree of our liberties, closely linked with a hereditary monarchy, with its
permanence and its stability.
The great parliamentarian Edmund Burke articulates the fundamental
characteristics of the British Constitution in his 1790 work Reflections on
the Revolution in France, contained in The Works of the Right Honourable
Edmund Burke. He said:
You will observe, that, from Magna Carta to the Declaration of Right, it
has been the uniform policy of our Constitution to claim and assert our
liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our
forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity, as an estate specially
belonging to the people of this kingdom, without any reference whatever to any
other more general or prior right. By this means our Constitution preserves a
unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown, an
inheritable peerage, and a House of Commons and a people inheriting
privileges, franchises, and liberties from a long line of ancestors.
Honourable senators, the evolution of our Constitution and our country —
which are outgrowths of the British Constitution in the U.K. — follows a very
clear and coherent path marked by precedents, principles and precepts. In
claiming that Parliament alone can change so fundamental and so characteristic a
part of our heritage and estate, as does Bill S-4, is to misread, misunderstand
and misrepresent 1,000 years of constitutional evolution.
Honourable senators, there is a tendency in today's community — among
governments, particularly — to conceal important constitutional notions from the
public mind simply by never mentioning or raising them. I searched the
proceedings of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform looking for
references to the notion of estate for life in an office. I found not a single
one. However, in this monarchical system, the monarch herself is constituted on
such a basis, in a hereditary position.
Honourable senators, the constitution of the Senate is not like the
constitution of the House of Commons, where there are places for members from
different ridings. The membership and composition of the Senate is decided by
personal constitution by Her Majesty. That is what the Senate is. The Senate is
a collection of 105 individual constitutions of estate for life in the
Parliament of Canada.
I thank honourable senators for last Thursday. I really wanted to speak in
this debate and wished to complete my research. I ask senators to understand
that much of this material has become arcane and cryptic; it has disappeared
especially from the minds of lawyers. We are living in an era where lawyers have
been leading in dismantling the principles and the law that has held the country
together. This is a very interesting thing.
I went through all of the special committee's proceedings, one after the
other, and I could find no reference to the fact that estate for life was the
building block of the constitution of this Parliament. Sir John A. Macdonald
said it himself; this was the only way that the British constitution could be
transplanted into the new Confederation called Canada.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
An Hon. Senator: On division.
Motion agreed to and bill read second time, on division.
Hon. David Tkachuk moved second reading of Bill C-9, to amend the
Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment).
He said: Honourable senators, it seems that Bill C-9 will be a unique
experience. It is one of the most anticipated bills for the side opposite in
this session. They spent Question Periods begging for this legislation, accusing
me and this side of foot-dragging.
Call it a little experiment. Bill S-4 has been initiated on this side and
spoken to since May of 2006. The other side has been diligently contemplating an
eight-year Senate term, has called witnesses, talked on the bill and on the
committee report, willed all the intellect of 64 Liberal senators for nine
months and has yet to decide on the principle of term limits let alone the
subject matter of eight years. We thought perhaps you were overtaxed.
I was inspired by the Liberals on the debate of Bill S-4, appealing to the
bipartisanship of this place, surveying a Senate that worked without rancour and
with independence. My friends the Liberals said that is why an appointed Senate
is such a great thing; all that corporate memory, accumulated wisdom because of
our long tenure and, of course, independence, because we do not have to face the
nuisance of voters.
Senator Banks, in his speech on February 8, was, as they say, the icing on
the cake. Full-blown rhetoric, challenging us to work together for our regions —
regional caucuses — Liberals and Conservatives, sitting side by side, united in
regional unity. I was moved. I wept.
Amongst all this harmony, I was charged with Bill C-9, a justice bill on
conditional sentencing. The Liberal critic on the other side is Senator Jaffer,
who is a lawyer and for whom I have a lot of respect. I am hopeful she will be a
full participant in improving this bill.
I do not particularly like this bill. It falls short of its promise and is a
bill my honourable friends should not like either. There is no question that
most of us here agree with the principle of conditional sentencing. It was the
substance that eluded the members in the other place, who decided to deal with
this bill with some rancour, rather than addressing the issues that were
involved in Bill C-9.
The concept of conditional sentencing was introduced by Minister Allan Rock
to clarify the government's position on who should be introduced to the
wonderful facilities of jail and who might be given a reprieve with conditions
attached to it.
I believe Minister Rock thought that judges should be given some direction on
this issue because parole was the only alternative outside of jail. His Bill
C-41, introduced September 20, 1994, sought to do just that. Bill C-41 sought to
provide judges with the necessary means to issue a conditional sentence. The
bill sought to allow for community service, restitution, or some other creative
sentence that would keep an offender out of jail. It would keep an offender out
of jail who might not benefit from incarceration and that the judge believed had
a good chance of not reoffending.
I want to take you back to September 20,1994 and to the words of Allan Rock,
who introduced conditional sentencing into the Criminal Code. During Mr. Rock's
speech at the time of second reading of September 20, he said:
Parliament stresses the need to punish certain types of behaviour by
clearly stating that the purpose of sentencing must be to denounce unlawful
conduct, to deter offenders and other persons from committing crimes and to
separate offenders from society were necessary.
Mr. Rock went on to say:
Incarceration must remain an option for offenders who need this form of
punishment and must be separated from society to ensure the safety of the
population. . . . jails should be reserved for those who should be there.
The point of Bill C-41 was to create an alternative for those who pose no
danger to society and for whom the Criminal Code provided little or no options
short of jail.
If you will bear with me, let me relate to you what the Justice Minister at
the time had to say about those alternatives as they applied to conditional
sentencing. Mr. Rock explained that under Bill C-41:
Where a court imposes a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years and
where the court is satisfied that serving the sentence in the community would
not endanger the safety of society as a whole, the court may order that the
offender serve the sentence in the community rather than in an institution.
That was his intent and that was the intent of the government at the time. I
have no argument with this, although I am growing weary of quoting a Liberal at
As I stated at the outset of my remarks, the difference between our sides
over conditional sentencing is not one of intention. The problems that have
arisen over conditional sentencing are how the courts have interpreted when, how
and upon whom those sentences should be visited. The problem with Bill C-41 was
that it left the courts the wiggle room to do this.
Section 742.1 of the Criminal Code identifies the following prerequisites
necessary for consideration of a conditional sentence: the sentence must be less
than two years; the court must be satisfied that allowing the offender to serve
the sentence of imprisonment in the community will not endanger the safety of
the community; the offence must not be punishable by a mandatory minimum term of
imprisonment; and the court is satisfied that sentencing the offender to serve a
conditional sentence of imprisonment is consistent with the fundamental purpose
and principles of sentencing set out in the Criminal Code.
Bill C-41 also established the fundamental principle of sentencing: A
sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of
responsibility of the offender." This has been called the principle of
proportionality. As we have seen over the years since Bill C-41 came into force,
this principle has become, in some instances, completely out of whack.
Many, including some of the provinces and territories, have become
increasingly concerned with the wide array of offences that resulted in
conditional sentences of imprisonment. It was felt that this was contributing to
a loss of public confidence in the sanction and in the administration of
Let me give you a few examples of conditional sentencing run amuck; a few of
which my colleagues in the House have referred to.
A few years ago in Langley, British Columbia, a man sexually assaulted two
young girls. Rather than being sent to jail, he was sentenced to house arrest.
He received a conditional sentence for a violent and vicious crime. His victims,
far from being protected or separated by this man from the courts, lived on
either side of him.
A few years before that, a Manitoba Court of Appeal overturned a two-year
sentence for a man convicted of dangerous driving, which resulted in the deaths
of two women. The hope would be that he would be given a longer sentence. No,
instead the court ordered house arrest.
In 2002, a man in Nova Scotia beat his common-law wife in a drunken rage
using a clothes iron and wine bottle as weapons. Why? Because, according to her,
she had not shown enough appreciation for his painting job on the house. What
sentence did the judge give him? The man received a conditional sentence
consisting of house arrest, reporting, abstinence from alcohol and counselling.
This was in spite of the fact that in 1997 the same man had been convicted of
beating the same woman in the face with an axe handle. The sentence that man
received was a conditional sentence followed by probation. I guess the thinking
here is that if the conditional sentence does not work in the first place, maybe
we should try it again.
Where did things go awry? It did not help that in 2000, in the case of
Regina vs. Proulx, the Supreme Court of Canada held the conditional
sentencing regime does not exclude any category of offences other than those
with a minimum period of incarceration. Nor is there a presumption for or
against the use of conditional sentencing for any category of offence. However,
the court said that it was open to Parliament to introduce such limitations.
Honourable senators, Bill C-9 was tabled on 4 May 2006 in order to meet what
some might call this invitation by the Supreme Court, but what I consider an
obligation of parliamentarians. It is no different from what Allan Rock intended
through Bill C-41 and, in fact, when passed it will bring us full circle. As
amended, Bill C-9 is strikingly similar to Bill C-70 tabled by the Liberal
government in October 2005 as Bill C-70. Like Bill C-70, Bill C-9 includes an
amendment to the Criminal Code to create a prohibition that courts shall not
make conditional sentence orders when sentencing offenders convicted of serious
personal injury, offences, terrorism offences or criminal organization offences.
Now, this is a departure from what the new Conservative government originally
proposed. Bill C-9 as tabled in the House in May last year proposed a new
criteria that would have eliminated the availability of a conditional sentence
for offences punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years or more and prosecuted
by indictment. This would have caught offences in the Criminal Code as well as
offences in the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act.
The Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs amended the bill and the
one that we have before us is of narrower scope. It only captures terrorism
offences, organized crime offences and serious personal injury offences defined
in section 752 of the Criminal Code. These crimes are punishable by a maximum
sentence of 10 years or more and prosecuted by indictment.
These new limitations would be added to the four existing prerequisites that
I mentioned earlier. As it stands, the bill will significantly restrict the
availability of conditional sentences, though not to the same extent as it did
when originally tabled in the House of Commons. Still, it is an improvement over
the old regime. For instance, sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, and
aggravated sexual assault are all eligible for conditional sentencing under
existing law. With the inclusion of serious personal injury offences in Bill
C-9, that will no longer be the case. It is these sexual offences that often
attract the public's and the media's attention when they are punished only by
The government actually committed to end the use of house arrest or
conditional sentences for serious crimes, including designated violent and
serious offences, weapons offences, major drug offences, crimes committed
against children, and impaired driving causing death or bodily injury.
Bill C-9 introduced the criterion: indictable offences that were punishable
by a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 10 years or more would not be eligible
for conditional sentencing.
The opposition in the other place believed the addition was too broad in
scope and caught offenders whom they believed should qualify for conditional
sentences. They amended the fifth criterion to make the following crimes
ineligible for conditional sentencing. Honourable senators, I shall repeat them:
serious personal injury offences, terrorism offences, criminal organization
offences prosecuted by indictment where the maximum sentence is at least 10
The 752 definition, for example, of personal injury offences does not provide
the same degree of certainty as to which other offences it would prohibit from
receiving a conditional sentence. Section 752 and the concept of whether an
offender has committed a serious personal injury offence is the first of a two-step process that can result in an offender being declared either a dangerous
offender and jailed indefinitely or a long-term offender and subject to
supervision following release. In both cases, the second prong of the test is
the determination of whether there is substantial risk that the offender will
The use of this section without some clarity will open up the question of
whether the offence is one that qualifies for a conditional sentence or not. As
something that can not be answered with certainty, it is something that one can
expect will be litigated, much like the current jurisprudence on section 752. In
these circumstances, one might anticipate that the evidence of the victim would
be required to establish the severity of the injuries sustained, to determine if
the offence did in fact constitute a serious personal injury offence. Honourable
senators, this could mean that there is a real risk victims would be
revictimized through having to testify for sentencing hearings where the defence
was seeking a conditional sentence.
While the opposition believes that Bill C-9 as introduced — that is, the
opposition in the other place — was too wide in scope, I believe their
amendments are still too narrow in scope and need clarity.
Honourable senators, this is where we come in — and why I made the comments I
did in my opening remarks. Members opposite either believe that the Senate is a
place where we can, from time to time, put aside our differences and work for
the common good or that we are actually just kidding. Honourable senators, I am
in your hands today. We can provide some certainty within the bill before us
today by adding a very simple amendment. The amendment, if my colleagues are so
inclined, would be to simply list 10 or 15 offences. There are many more, but
these offences can be studied in committee. The committee can decide where it
wants to clarify the last part of that section, to ensure that certain offences
are not be eligible for conditional sentences — and I am going to list a couple
that are in doubt now.
The list could include, but is not limited to: incest, procuring, impaired
driving constituting bodily harm, death, assault causing bodily harm,
trafficking in persons, and kidnapping or abduction of persons under 14. As Bill
C-9 is currently before us, there will be some question as to whether these
offences are eligible for a conditional sentence. I believe they are.
Again, at the very least, let us contemplate providing a degree of certainty
that these types of offences will not get a conditional sentence. That is our
challenge, honourable senators. If we can agree on some common matters to
clarify, we should. If members opposite believe the bill as presently stated
serves the intended purposes, then we have little to talk about and we can adopt
the bill and move on.
I shall anxiously await the speech of the responder on how she would like to
see us proceed. Considering the impatience on the other side to see this bill
brought forward, I assume we will hear from her either today or tomorrow as to
what she would like to see in this bill.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Lowell Murray: Will the honourable senator permit a question?
Senator Tkachuk: Yes, I would.
Senator Murray: I followed with interest the honourable senator's
recitation of cases in which conditional sentences and, in particular, house
arrest had been imposed. I also have followed in the last few days the media
comments by the former Chief Justice of Canada, the Right Honourable Antonio
Lamer, indicating his dismay about the length of sentences that had been imposed
in certain cases.
In regard to the particular cases cited by the honourable senator, on the
face of it, of course, the imposition of a conditional sentence, given the facts
that he has placed before us, seems inexplicable. However, does he not agree
that, to complete the record, we would be better off to have before us the
reasons the various judges gave for imposing conditional sentences in those
cases? My impression is that judges do not simply impose a sentence, whether
conditional or otherwise, without giving fairly detailed reasons as to why they
are imposing a sentence of a certain length or a conditional sentence or
Does Senator Tkachuk know the reasons given by judges in the cases he cited?
Can the honourable senator enlighten us on this? In order to judge the matter,
in order to make a better assessment of the matter, should we not obtain the
reasons for these particular sentences in those particular cases?
Senator Tkachuk: I cannot give the honourable senator the judges'
reasons. I can only give him the results of what they did. Certainly, in
committee, members can ask all the questions they want and study the specifics
of why the people in question in the cases cited were given conditional
My point here, and the objective of my speech, is that I think we all agree
on the principle of the bill. I do not think anyone here is opposed to the
concept of conditional sentencing as proposed by Allan Rock in 1994.
The problem has been that the judges have misinterpreted — and I think the
Liberal government thought they misinterpreted, which is why they brought in
Bill C-70; certainly we thought the judges misinterpreted it — the intent of the
people, which is us, members of Parliament. Hence, we have an obligation to
determine the validity of the arguments taking place now in justice and in the
legal community about whether these crimes are left out by the amendments put
forward in the House — and there is a discussion and dispute as to whether
conditional sentences would apply. If there is doubt, senators have an
obligation to nail it down and give specific direction to judges and not
complain afterwards about what the judges have done.
Senator Murray: Would the honourable senator agree with me that
progressively removing discretion from the judges in matters of sentencing will
mean that Canada's new government will not have to worry about appointing
like-minded judges to the bench?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Austin, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C., for the second reading of
Bill S-215, to amend the Income Tax Act in order to provide tax relief. —(Honourable
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I advise the house that if
Senator Austin speaks now, it will have the effect of closing debate.
Hon. Jack Austin: Honourable senators, to begin, I want to thank
Senator Angus, Senator Tkachuk and Senator Oliver for their contributions to the
debate that Bill S-215 initiated. Their duty is to defend the Conservative
government in any way they can, even if they are not supplied with a substantive
I also want to thank Senator Eggleton for his comments in support of this
proposed legislation. He addressed us on the substantive issues here on June 13
The first Conservative budget of the Harper government was brought down by
the Minister of Finance, Jim Flaherty, on May 2, 2006. According to The Globe
and Mail on May 3 2006:
Business groups said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's first budget was the
most important for economic growth since 2000, when then Finance Minister Paul
Martin used a burgeoning surplus to unveil a schedule for $100 billion in tax
cuts over five years.
Economists since have credited Martin's tax cuts in 2000 with saving Canada
from a recessionary drop which the United States, with difficulty, struggled
through at that time.
For the important business community, that budget was, to quote the economic
bulletin put out by the Bank of Montreal, "mildly simulative." Overall cuts to
corporate taxes were called by business leaders a "step in the right direction."
Honourable senators, I have no quarrel with affordable tax relief for the
corporate sector, which I believe must be encouraged to enhance Canada's
economic productivity and prosperity through research, innovation and
entrepreneurial success. To attract investment in economic renewal, we must be
tax competitive with our competitors, taking all factors, including employment
insurance and health care services, into account.
During the last election campaign, the Harper Conservatives pledged to spend
$30 billion over five years. They also promised $44 billion in tax cuts over the
same period. Even during that campaign, any observer of Canadian fiscal affairs
would recognize that such cuts would require substantial reductions to virtually
the entire spectrum of social, cultural and economic programs. In addition,
since Canada's new government has taken office, many thousands of Canadians,
mainly in the two lower quartiles of society, have seen their personal security
and quality of life undermined. Need I mention what impact the cuts have had to
Canada's literary programs, to court challenge programs, to the Law Reform
Commission and to women's advocacy?
Let me note, especially, the extensive cuts by Canada's new government of $5
billion in Liberal environmental programs put in place to control and reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. I note also the cancellation of the Kelowna agreement,
$5 billion set aside to help Aboriginal people; and most Canadians are already
aware of the termination of the $5 billion put in place by the Martin government
to build a national daycare system.
Honourable senators, with every budget we ask: Who are the winners and
losers? Individual Canadians trying to pay a mortgage, educate their children
and save for their retirement years are the losers in Minister Flaherty's
budget. To carry out their tax reduction plans and the provincial transfers of
benefits to higher income Canadians, who have never been more prosperous than
under previous Liberal fiscal management, the Conservative budget promised that
they would reduce spending by the federal government by $22.5 billion over five
years. Guess who pays? As I have said, social programs, cultural programs,
environmental programs — in other words, ordinary Canadians.
Honourable senators, Bill S-215 is designed to protect Canada's lower
personal income tax commitment made in Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's budget
of November 2005. In that budget, he lowered the basic personal amount to 15 per
cent as set out in the Ways and Means motion introduced into the House of
Commons at that time. By long-standing convention, tax proposals so introduced
stand as valid from the moment of the Ways and Means motion. Therefore, at the
time of the May 2, 2006 budget, the effective basic personal amount applied by
Revenue Canada for the 2006 tax year was 15 percent.
What Finance Minister Flaherty introduced in his budget was a reduction in
the Goods and Services Tax to 6 per cent from 7 per cent, but to pay for it, a
raise in the basic personal tax bracket to 15.5 per cent from 15 per cent.
Whichever way one tries to look at it, it rolled back on half of Ralph Goodale's
tax cut. Andrew Jackson of the Canadian Labour Congress said at the time that
Flaherty reduced the average worker's weekly take-home pay by about $4.
Of course, Finance Minister Flaherty, for reasons of political presentation,
argues that he had in fact cut the basic personal tax by 0.5 per cent, from 16
per cent to 15.5 percent, because the Goodale budget had never been formally
legislated into law. Honourable senators know that parliamentary convention,
long established in Westminster and equally a part of our conventions, is given
the force of law.
Andrew Coyne, in the National Post of May 3, 2006, a paper usually
embedded in the Conservative party line, is quoted on page 6 as saying:
But it takes quite remarkable liberties with the language to pretend that a
rise in the bottom rate of income tax, from 15 per cent on June 30 to 15.5 per
cent on July 1, is actually a tax cut.
He goes on:
Why can't they afford to cut your income taxes? Because the money's already
been committed — to the provinces, to the lucky beneficiaries of the
"targeted tax measures," and of course, to cutting the GST. This is the
single worst wrong turn in the budget . . . .
Where Andrew Coyne hurts my sensitivities in that article is where he says:
This is a budget any Liberal finance minister could have brought down.
Honourable senators, that is a low blow indeed.
Let me turn again to the National Post on Thursday, May 4, 2006, a
column by a well-known Conservative economist Terence Corcoran. He wrote:
The image of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty as master tax cutter turns out
to be the easiest to dispel, especially in view of the evidence yesterday that
the government and/or Mr. Flaherty, actually quashed real tax cuts in favour
of the rash of fake tax cuts and new spending he actually announced.
The second option would have had Mr. Flaherty read a sentence that said the
government was" permanently reducing the bottom three personal income tax
rates" and "increasing the amount you can earn at these lower rates." Now
that's real tax cutting that delivers the kind of tax policy so-called
conservatives allegedly endorse.
That is real tax cutting that delivers the kind of tax policy so-called
Conservatives allegedly endorsed.
To conclude my brief remarks, which I make in addition to the detailed
comments in my speech of May 30, 2006, to open second reading debate, the issues
regarding personal income tax strategy in the Flaherty budget, the impact of the
1 per cent GST reduction instead of an across-the-board personal tax reduction
for which Mr. Corcoran argues, and the impact of the government's fiscal and
spending cut decisions and resulting tax policy decisions deserve to be given
close examination in committee.
The principle of this bill is that the Martin government's tax reduction to a
basic personal rate of 15 per cent should be maintained and implemented. Those
who might think to vote against second reading approval of this bill will in
fact be voting in principle for an increase in the personal tax rate.
I call the question, Your Honour.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: On division.
Motion agreed to and bill read second time, on division.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Harb, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Keon, for the second reading of Bill S-221, to
establish and maintain a national registry of medical devices. —(Speaker's
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have a ruling on this
matter. On January 30, when the Senate resumed consideration of second reading
of Bill S-221, to establish and maintain a national registry of medical devices,
Senator Comeau raised a point of order. He questioned whether it was appropriate
that the bill originate in the Senate.
Bill S-221 provides that the Minister of Health shall designate a registrar
of medical devices and that this person shall maintain a registry. Senator
Comeau contended that the bill would require that additional expenses be
incurred and that it must, therefore, involve an appropriation of public funds.
What follows from such a finding, he argued, is that Bill S-221 then requires a
Royal Recommendation and must originate in the other place.
Senator Comeau pointed out that, under clause 4 of the bill, the registry
would be distinct from the department's regular activities and require a
separate operating budget. He then drew the senators' attention to the 23rd
edition of Erskine May, at page 886, which reads:
When a bill contains a provision extending the purposes of expenditure
already authorized by statute (for example, by adding to the functions of an
existing government agency or publicly funded body, extending the classes of
persons entitled to a statutory grant or allowance, or extending the range of
circumstances in which such grants or allowances are payable), that provision
will normally require authorization by Money resolution.
On the basis of the reasoning found in Erskine May, Senator Comeau concluded
that receiving Bill S-221 in the Senate would offend sections 53 and 54 of the
Constitution Act, 1867 and rule 81 of the Senate.
Sections 53 and 54 of the Constitution Act, 1867, provide:
53. Bills for appropriating any Part of the Public Revenue, or for imposing
any Tax or Impost, shall originate in the House of Commons.
54. It shall not be lawful for the House of Commons to adopt or pass any
Vote, Resolution, Address, or Bill for the Appropriation of any Part of the
Public Revenue, or of any Tax or Impost, to any Purpose that has not been
first recommended to that House by Message of the Governor General in the
Session in which such Vote, Resolution, Address, or Bill is proposed.
Senate rule 81 stipulates:
The Senate shall not proceed upon a bill appropriating public money that
has not within the knowledge of the Senate been recommended by the Queen's
Three other senators offered their contributions to this debate. Senator
Carstairs expressed the view that, "It is not the purpose of this bill to spend
money, therefore, it is not, by definition, a money bill." Support for Senator
Carstairs' opinion came from Senator Fraser. She noted that almost all
legislation may have monetary implications, without its main purpose being to
spend money. In her comments, Senator Fraser suggested that a bill that does not
set out to change the budgetary situation or budgetary policy of the government
and that does not affect taxes is not a money bill, even if its ancillary effect
is the spending of some money.
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Harb, began by expressing his agreement with
the comments of Senators Carstairs and Fraser, and went on to deal specifically
with the notion of Bill S-221 as a money bill. He pointed out that regulations
under the bill could conceivably impose a fee on those who use the registry, and
this could result in the initiative being revenue neutral or even generating
revenues for the Crown. Significantly, Senator Harb also pointed out that the
Auditor General's report acknowledged the existence of an inspection strategy at
Health Canada, although it recommended the elaboration of this strategy.
I would like to express my appreciation to those honourable Senators who
offered their contributions to the discussion on this point of order. I have had
an opportunity to consult the authorities and am prepared to make my ruling.
The issue with respect to the introduction of Bill S-221 in the Senate is
whether the provisions of this bill appropriate "any part of the public revenue
or impose any tax or impost", as set out in section 53 of the Constitution Act,
1867. It is very difficult to ascertain, without extensive evidence and based
purely on the provisions of a bill, what the financial implications of its
enactment might be. Moreover, as Speaker, I am obliged to avoid ruling on
questions of law. As Speaker Molgat noted in his ruling of April 2, 1998, in the
case of Bill S-13, the Tobacco Industry Responsibility Act:
The . . . question . . . has to do with whether or not the levy scheme
established through this bill constitutes a tax. In answering this question, I
am constrained by the rule that the Speaker does not rule on questions of law.
Citation 168(5) of Beauchesne states that "The Speaker will not give a
decision upon a constitutional question nor decide a question of law, though
the same may be raised on a point of order or a question of privilege."
What is in my authority, however, is the examination of the bill in order to
assess what it declares itself to be.
I was persuaded by the logic of Speaker Molgat's remarks and examined Bill
S-221 to see what, on the face of it, the bill "declares itself to be."
In considering this question, I was guided by Speaker Molgat's decision on
Bill S-12, the First Nations Government Act, rendered on February 4, 1997, and
directly on the point with the current case:
I have carefully reviewed Bill S-12 . . . and I have been unable to find
any provision that clearly appropriates money from the Consolidated Revenue
Fund. Moreover, while Senator Stanbury indicated that clauses 16 to 27 might
possibly involve an expenditure by the government, it is not certain whether
these anticipated operations would be funded by a new appropriation which
would require a royal recommendation or by existing allocations established
through previous legislation. Nor is there any language in the bill that
effectively imposes any perceived appropriation. Yet these are the conditions
to be satisfied when considering whether a royal recommendation should be
attached to the bill . . . . Without sufficient evidence that Bill S-12 as
drafted provides for an appropriation or creates a new charge, I have no
authority to prevent debate on it.
With respect to the present situation, no part of Bill S-221 discusses an
appropriation of the public revenue, or the levying of any tax or impost. What
it does do is create a new registry, staffed by a registrar who is to be a
person already employed by the department. Are there expenditures involved with
this process? Almost certainly. Whether these expenditures are new, however, is
less certain. Under the Department of Health Act, the "powers, duties, and
functions of the Minister," already include "the establishment and control of
safety standards and safety information requirements for consumer products";
this function appears to cover the same type of activity contemplated by Bill S-221. In addition, as I mentioned earlier, the Auditor General's report confirmed
the existence of an inspection strategy, which obviously has had funds granted
to it. This current initiative may well be construed as an elaboration of the
Certainly it can be argued that the fact that this is an originating bill —
as opposed to an amending bill — might increase the possibility of new spending,
but I do not believe that such is necessarily the case. Rather, it is equally
plausible that the bill will require that an existing function be carried out in
a new way. Consequently, it is not certain that this bill adds to the functions
of an existing government agency as set out in the Erskine May test.
Senator Harb offered the possibility that this bill, through its
authorization of regulations, might impose fees that could effectively raise
enough funds to pay for the registry it creates. Admittedly, this talk of
potential fees put forward by Senator Harb is speculative. Suggestions to the
contrary on my part, however, would be equally speculative. It is not my place
as Speaker to conjecture, but, rather, to do my utmost to maintain the role of
the Senate, so long as it involves no trespass on the privileges of the other
place or on the financial initiative of the Crown. Once again, I find compelling
the comments of Speaker Molgat when ruling on Bill S-13:
Let me begin with this general proposition. It is my view that matters are
presumed to be in order, except where the contrary is clearly established to
be the case. This presumption suggests to me that the best policy for a
Speaker is to interpret the rules in favour of debate by Senators, except
where a matter to be debated is clearly out of order.
I am similarly persuaded by the common sense argument that it could certainly
not be intended that every bill that has any monetary implications whatsoever
must be introduced first in the other place. Such an interpretation would
greatly impede the power of the Senate to initiate legislation. For this reason,
and those that I have previously stated, I find that Bill S-221 is properly
before the Senate and that debate on second reading may proceed.
Hon. Grant Mitchell moved second reading of Bill C-288, to ensure
Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.—(Honourable
He said: Honourable senators, it is a great privilege for me to be able to
initiate debate in the Senate on this bill and to move its second reading. I
take this responsibility to be the sponsor of the bill in the Senate with a
great deal of humility, and I sense that it is a great responsibility.
I think and I hope that we are in this Parliament and in this country beyond
the point where there is some question about whether or not climate change is
occurring, and I hope as well that we are beyond the point where some believe,
given any credibility whatsoever, that climate change is not driven by man-made
or person-made greenhouse gas emissions.
The debate must simply progress past that. I do not want to spend a lot of
time, therefore, listing the consequences of a policy or a lack of policy that
would see us fall short of what we need to do on climate change, specifically to
fall short of what we need to do as responsible signatories to the Kyoto
The fact is that our country, as are countries across the world, is in a
great deal of jeopardy over what might occur or what will occur if we do not
take concerted national and international action to stop this climate change
I note that even the Prime Minister — who as recently as several months ago,
just before Christmas, was still using the dismissive term "so-called" when he
referred to climate change or greenhouse gases — has been quoted, as recently as
last week, in fact February 16, as saying ". . . the science is clear that these
changes are occurring, they're serious and we must act."
That statement might indicate two things — and one is less certain than the
other. The statement may indicate that the Prime Minister actually believes that
climate change is occurring, that he actually believes the science and is
prepared to act. However, we have seen no evidence that he is prepared to act —
quite the contrary, in fact. His predisposition from the moment he took over
government was — if I could coin the word — to "disact." Prime Minister Harper
actually dismissed Kyoto, dismissed the work completed by the previous
government and cancelled program after program established by his own Treasury
Board to be extremely cost-effective and extremely efficient and generally
The second thing we know for sure that his statement underlines — this is a
certainty — is that climate change has become a political issue in this country.
If for no other reason, the Prime Minister has jumped on this issue of climate
change and Kyoto because it has become a political issue. It is clear now, over
the last number of months, that the environment, and climate change in
particular, has risen to the number one issue in Canadians' minds.
Polls can be questionable at times, but I believe the polls are clear on this
issue. Canadians are concerned about climate change, and are concerned about
Kyoto and Canada's role, in a way that they have not often, if ever, been
concerned about an issue facing this country and the globe. I know that is the
case because many Canadians have told me that; and I know doubly for sure
because the Prime Minister is now saying that he thinks climate change is a
problem and that he will act.
The Harper government was so wrong on this important political and
substantive issue. In fact, climate change may be one of the most important
issues, if not the most important issue, to face this country in the last 50
years, and the Harper government missed it. Having to come so far from behind,
the government begins to create a political debate — and I will address this, to
some extent, to dispel some of the many myths levelled by this government and
spun in various ways through various media.
First is the idea that the Liberals had 13 years to do something but did
nothing. Quite the contrary, honourable senators. As usual, the Harper
government has its facts wrong. Liberals had about eight years. Kyoto was not
approved until 1997 and was not finally ratified until 2005.
Stéphane Dion, the leader of the Liberal Party, was the Minister of the
Environment for only the last year and a half of our government being in place.
Two things are interesting. First of all, Mr. Dion brought out Project Green not
eight months after he became Minister of the Environment. That plan was built
upon a great deal of work by his predecessor, who consulted with businesses and
the provinces, so that when the plan materialized, it would have some
fundamental credibility. Stéphane Dion broadly consulted Canadians for a number
of years to get to the point where the green plan could be put in place and be
Those actions are in contrast to recent events by this government, where not
only did the Prime Minister not consult Canadians, but he did not even consult
his own caucus in a number of cases.
It was not as though those first six years, just about seven, — 1997 to 2004
— prior to Stéphane Dion becoming the Minister of the Environment were wasted
years; they were not. The Liberal green plan was a huge public policy initiative
and it took great effort and concentration to ensure that it was structured
properly. Stéphane Dion, in eight months, brought in Project Green. Was that
green plan nothing, as this government would say? No.
What would lead this government to saying that the plan was nothing? The
Harper government cancelled the Project Green initiatives, which were determined
to be very efficient, far more efficient than the famous transit bus pass
initiative. The new government had no basis upon which to make its assessment of
these plans and to conclude that nothing was done. I had the opportunity to
question in committee the former Minister of the Environment in the Harper
government, Ms. Ambrose. She stated that the green plan was cancelled because it
was inefficient. Any reasonable person would assume that there would be
supporting data if a program were assessed as being inefficient. One would
expect to have a study for that, but the only information received was gained
under the Access to Privacy and Information Act and it was exactly the opposite
— in other words, the programs were very efficient.
Ms. Ambrose's answer to me in a public forum was revealing. She began her
answer in the standard Conservative way, that is, to attack, and one of her
conclusions was that the Liberals had done nothing. She then finished her
statements, and this probably contributed to the finishing of her career in that
portfolio, by saying that "I have to tell you that there has not been a single
review, not a single study, of any environmental program in this government
ever." There was a huge thud.
How, then, would one conclude that those programs were inefficient? It is
absolutely true that Ms. Ambrose said that. My response was as follows: "Thank
you, my question is answered. You did not study it. You ideologically assumed
you did not like these programs and cancelled them. Please tell me that do not
run the rest of your public policy initiatives in this way, although there is
plenty of evidence that in fact you do."
Let me give you the other side of the argument.
Project Green was put into place with a strong understanding and analysis
that it would meet the 270 megatons of reductions of greenhouse gases that were
required of Canada under the Kyoto Protocol by 2012. That plan has been subject
to a great deal of discussion, debate and scrutiny, unlike the Conservative
environmental policy, and what was the conclusion? Even one of the
toughest-nosed analysts in this area, Mark Jaccard — who is well known for
believing that we are not going to solve greenhouse gases by doing away with
fossil fuels — who has a huge degree of credibility and who has probably been an
adviser to the Conservative government because he is so good, concluded that
Project Green, brought out in April 2005, would result in about 175 megatons in
reductions of greenhouse gases. That goes a long way towards 270 megatons.
Jaccard is a harsh critic of these programs and he discounts, almost entirely,
subsidies for conservation because he believes they somehow do not work. He took
subsidies out of the equation.
The Pembina Institute, based originally in my province of Alberta and which
has huge credibility in both the business and environmental communities, said
that it is likely that this program, as structured, would have achieved between
175 and 270 megatons in greenhouse gas reductions that were required.
Remember, this was just 2005. We still had three years to implement further
programs, to make sure we got to 270 megatons, by the time the actual period of
time started, 2008-12. I do not want to hear ideologically based assessments by
a government stating that these programs did not work, because it is absolutely
misleading. Rona Ambrose, when she was Minister of the Environment, made that
very clear in a very public environment.
Because this was such an important political issue and because the Liberals,
under Stéphane Dion, were way out in front, the Harper government had to do
something about discrediting it.
The new government also argues that, somehow, Bill C-288 is strategically a
mistake for the Liberals. The press likes to spin this, too, and somehow tries
to put us into some kind of corner. This issue was going to be an issue in the
next election whether or not Bill C-288 was promoted and passed. The fact is
that the Conservatives are on this very sharp fence. On the one hand, they do
not believe that climate change is taking place, but they do not see a way they
could possibly address climate change without their policy hurting an economy;
on the other hand, there is a strong body of evidence that we have to do
something about it and that it does not have to be an economic drain.
Climate change will be an issue. The new government will have to fight this
idea that it is all economy. In fact, the environment and the economy can
converge in this particular place.
Let me put this bill into context. It was presented in March 2006 by Pablo
Rodriquez in the other place. The new Harper government had cancelled the
Liberal greenhouse gas programs. The Harper government had been very clear that
they were not convinced that Kyoto was even a necessary initiative, let alone an
achievable one. In fact, as recently as three months ago, the Prime Minister was
still referring to "so-called greenhouse gases."
They had proposed absolutely nothing of relevance to replace our climate
change programs. Nothing was happening. Worse than nothing, they had dismissed
these initiatives. Somehow, the people of Canada, the Liberals, all three
opposition parties, had to get the government's attention. They had to elevate
this to a level where the Prime Minister and his cohorts would finally accept
that this was an issue, not only substantively but an issue that Canadians
understood deeply had to be dealt with.
We developed that bill within that context. It has culminated in a clear
statement. This government has to do something about Kyoto. They have to
establish a plan, and they better get started because the Parliament of Canada
is directing them to do so.
An important and interesting debate emerges out of this political issue, one
that has percolated for a long time in the environmental policy area, and that
is the relationship between the environment and the economy. One of the great
frustrations I feel is that we have a government that is simply and utterly
without imagination. They are stuck firmly in the past. They do not want to be
pushed out of their comfort zone. They see the economy through 19th century and
20th century eyes, and we are now in the 21st century. We have to find a way to
do the economy and the environment at the same time — to walk and chew gum at
the same time.
In spite of the fact that the Prime Minister has made the statement that we
need to act, the refrain from his own Minister of the Environment, Minister
Baird, is that if we act in accordance with Kyoto, if we do what needs to be
done to address climate change, our economy will collapse like Russia's economy.
Again, are there any studies that would support that statement? Is there any
evidence that Russia's economy collapsed because of environmental issues? It
might, actually, because they have a poor environmental record, but why are they
driven to this conclusion, the right wing in particular, that somehow the
environment, if done properly, needs to be a drain on the economy? I simply do
not accept it.
Going back to World War II, in 1939, if the people could have imagined what
it would take to win that war in Canada, Canadians probably would not have
imagined they could have done it, but they did it. It did not damage the
economy. For the wrong reasons, unfortunately, it actually stimulated the
economy and established a strong economy for decades to come.
Why can we not view environmental policy as a way of creating an economy of
the future and stimulating an economy of the future? Yes, perhaps inappropriate
environmental policy could damage an economy, but so can inappropriate economic
policy. The trick is to figure out how to do it properly and to ensure that it
not only does what needs to be done to meet environmental objectives and our
role in the world and our responsibilities but also to what needs to be done to
stimulate the economy. There is plenty of evidence that there is not an
inconsistency between strong environmental policy and strong economies.
Look at California, which has some of the strongest, toughest environmental
standards in the North America and in the Western world. Is their economy
damaged? Not particularly, I would say. In fact, California's Republican,
right-wing governor is actually embracing even stronger environmental goals.
Look at Great Britain. Great Britain is a case in point of how a country does
not have to hurt its economy and do more in achieving Kyoto than anyone
imagined. Britain's objective under Kyoto is 12.5 per cent reduction of 1990
levels by 2010. As of last year about this time, they were already at 12.5 per
cent. Today, they are at 15 per cent, and they are on for 23 per cent to 25 per
cent below 1990 standards. Britain has passed its environmental Kyoto goals.
There are those who will immediately say yes, but they have a different economy
than Canada. In the Canadian economy, of the greenhouse gases that are produced
now, about 17 per cent are from coal-fired, electrical generation, and about 18
per cent are from upstream oil and gas. That is about 35 per cent. Do you know
what portion of the British total greenhouse gas emissions are from the same
areas of the economy? The answer to that question is 30 per cent. It is not as
though Britain has a fundamentally different economy to the Canadian economy. In
fact, Britain has some of the same challenges we do, but Britain did not cancel
programs a year ago. Britain kept upping its own standards and objectives and
has gone past Kyoto and will continue to go past Kyoto. Its economy has not been
damaged. Its economy, in 2006, had a 2.6 per cent growth rate, which is not bad
under any circumstances.
Senator Stratton: What happened here in Canada?
Senator Mitchell: We have a Conservative government. That will really
hurt. I am reminded that Tory times are hard times. I was about to say that the
fact that bad economic policy leads to bad economics and bad economies is
captured in that truism: Tory times are tough times. I tried to rise above it
for a moment.
Business is also way ahead. I was in Calgary with other Liberal senators and
Stéphane Dion, our leader, meeting several weeks ago with the Young Presidents'
Organization's members. It was compelling to be in that room of 40 or 50 Calgary
CEOs and senior executives. They are so far past Stephen Harper on Kyoto and
climate change that it makes Stephen Harper not even near to the 19th century.
He looks like he is in the 18th century.
Sir Nicholas Stern, who was here yesterday, makes a powerful statement:
It is very clear to me now that you can be green and grow. I do not think
it is a horse race between growth and being responsible on climate change-good
policy can give us both.
There is a reason he has been knighted, and that is because he is very good
and well recognized.
In Canada, in our own backyard, we have senior business person after senior
business person saying that we can achieve this goal. Let us get on with it.
William Andrew, CEO of Penn West Energy Trust, a major actor in the energy
industry based in Calgary, says, "The reality is the more modern business
models will tell you any operation that is good for the environment is good for
the pocket book in the long run." He goes on to give an example of what we can
do, and I will speak about Alberta because I am an Albertan.
We are sensitive in Alberta and we need to be because we have a government
that is starting to take Albertans for credit because they own all 28 seats. I
want to emphasize what Mr. Andrew said. For $1.5 billion dollars, a pipeline
could be built around the Edmonton area and ultimately up to Fort McMurray that
could capture the carbon dioxide that is now being produced in the various
refineries and processing plants around Edmonton. One and one half billion
dollars is not an insignificant amount of money, but it is not overwhelmingly
difficult to do either. That carbon dioxide could be taken to the Pembina field
southwest of Edmonton and pumped back into the ground to enhance recovery. It
would be much less expensive than actually having to find new oil and to drill
new wells. His estimation is that it could result in 35,000 barrels a day of
enhanced recovered oil. At today's prices, I think that comes to about $700
million a year. Tell me how that costs money. You recover the capital cost of
that in a little over two years. You will actually be able to sell the carbon
dioxide for enhanced recovery because those oil companies will see the economics
of it. They already are; they are looking for that carbon dioxide. It is very
much like acid rain. It was going to be impossible to achieve that, but we did,
and now some of the products that have come out of that achievement are
Bill Andrew is a classic case of a Calgary, Alberta, oil-based business
person who understands that this is not an insurmountable problem but that it is
manageable and achievable and that we have to get ahead of the curve or we will
be left behind.
The President of Shell said that they want to be part of tradable credits.
What will the government do to ensure that will happen, to give us the
BIOCAP is a network of researchers, university institutions and businesses
across the country that is looking for ways to develop tradable credits. One of
the major focuses of Biomass, as the name would suggest, is how to use the
agriculture and forest industries to develop tradable credits and add to the
economics of agriculture and forestry, both of which are in duress in our
What companies are behind BIOCAP? Shell is behind BIOCAP, as well as
TransAlta, Suncor, Lafarge, Dofasco, Ontario Power Generation, and the list goes
on. It is not as though there has to be a tradeoff between the economy, business
and the environment.
What are the costs? There is much discussion about costs. Whatever the cost,
it is also an investment and the companies will be investing, whether there or
somewhere else. What is remarkable about environmental investment is that it is
productive investment. It increases productivity in an economy that needs
increased productivity. It lowers costs, enhances efficiency and makes
businesses better because they are better.
The estimates to achieve our 270-mega-tonne reduction target by 2012 range
between $10 billion and $20 billion. I have explored those figures and they
seemed light to me. In fact, there is a great deal of evidence to support them.
As an aside, those figures would translate to as little as 75 cents per barrel
of oil or as much as $1.16 per barrel. When oil costs $60 per barrel, one
questions whether that should be the tipping point for not taking action.
Compare that to the $5 billion per year over the next five years that we will
lose in GST revenue because the government cut that rate by 1 per cent, which
translates as $25 billion in GST revenue. Is anyone in this chamber truly aware
personally of the cut in the GST? Has it made a big difference in anyone's
wallet? Does anyone go to the store and think about how much money they are
saving? Not one bit, but the cut has reduced GST revenue by $25 billion. When
one walks through Stanley Park today and sees the trees that have fallen down,
one realizes that this $25 billion might have been used to do something for
climate change. When we look at farmers having droughts that they never should
have had, we begin to think about climate change. When we look at water flows,
which are 50 per cent over what they were decades ago, we begin to think that
this $25 billion could be worth something and that it could change our lives in
a far more significant way.
In the debate on costs, it is interesting to note that when businesses and
Conservatives argue against something, they always elevate the costs; they go to
the top costs. When they have to get serious about doing something, they do it
in the least expensive way that they possibly can do it. There are all kinds of
examples and much evidence of when initiatives such as the reduction of acid
rain were confronted, the costs end up being much less than originally
That brings me to the spin argument being used, and the Conservatives are
good at spinning when they do not have facts. They hardly ever have facts, so we
get a lot of spin. Rona Ambrose was good at that, for a while. We hear the
Russian hot air argument, and Minister Baird used it as recently as yesterday.
First, we have never bought a credit from Russia; no Canadian company, that I am
aware of, has ever bought a credit from Russia. Second, it is illegal to do so
because Russia does not qualify under the clean development mechanism to be a
creditable credit, if I can put it that way. Third, Russia is off the screen.
However, a process is in place to assess and evaluate credits that can be
purchased abroad under the clean development mechanism. It is highly regulated,
strict and has tremendous credibility. At this time, there are about 350
projects with 12 Canadian companies involved.
The Conservatives would be happy, one would think, to promote international
foreign investment. Canadian companies are strong enough, big enough and
competitive enough to compete anywhere in the world and win. I am not saying
that we have to buy credits abroad necessarily, but if they can be turned into
economic investment opportunities abroad, why encourage foreign investment of
our companies elsewhere on every other economic front but not on the home front?
The President of the Toronto Stock Exchange said yesterday that the
government will hamper us if they do not allow us to get involved in
international and Canadian tradable credits to create a market. I believe that
one of the tremendous economic opportunities to arise out of this issue is for
us to have tradable credit markets, and I believe that such a market should be
based in Alberta, probably in Calgary. I would be looking for support one day
from this house to do just that. BIOCAP is serious about finding ways to develop
tradable credits to help the agricultural and forestry economies.
I will conclude this section of my remarks about costs and the environment
versus the economy by saying that this is, perhaps, one of the most significant
economic opportunities that this country has ever faced. The Honourable Stéphane
Dion uses the phrase "the next industrial revolution," and he is exactly
right. If we miss the next industrial revolution, it might be absolutely
impossible for us to catch up. The economy of the 21st century will be based
upon knowledge, technology, science and intellectual property.
This environmental feature of that economy will be central to the economy of
the future. This government does not have the imagination to grasp that concept
and to do something about it; in fact, they are absolutely fighting it. My
profound concern is not if we do something about Kyoto but, rather, if we do not
do something about Kyoto, because we will have missed a huge economic
opportunity. Our competitors around the world will have jumped past us, and one
day our products will be in danger because their markets will not be amenable to
our products that will not be up to environmental standards.
I would like to discuss Alberta and Kyoto because I am an Albertan.
Greenhouse gas is a sensitive issue for Albertans. Senator Banks, Senator
Tardif, Senator Hays and Senator Fairbairn certainly share that concern and are
sensitive to the issue. It does not have to be contrary to the Canadian economy
in general or to the Alberta economy in particular. Only 3.5 per cent of our
greenhouse gas emissions come from the oil sands. We will not solve the problem
by picking on the oil sands. Only 17 per cent of our greenhouse gas emissions
come from upstream oil and gas, all of which together is not only in Alberta.
Therefore, we will not solve the problem by picking only on that. As an
Albertan, I am concerned about what this government is prepared to do for
politics and for political imperative because they hold 28 seats in Alberta and
there is evidence that they are beginning to take Alberta for granted. Having
said that, it simply does not have to be and, if this is done properly, it will
be done as a national exercise and a national challenge, as Canada has done
historically in the past. I would go so far as to say that not only would it be
great for the economy; it could also become a great unifying force. We could
work together in our place in the world on this issue and contribute as
Canadians have done so often in the past.
I also want to point out that it is not oil sands plants that are necessarily
the largest of the large emitters. In fact, Syncrude emits about 10.6 megatons a
year and the Nanticoke electrical power plant in Ontario emits approximately 17
megatons a year. When we address this issue, we have to address it fairly across
the board, across the country, and we cannot pick on a given area. Albertans can
have some consolation in knowing that if this is done properly, it does not have
to damage our economy and, for that matter, damage the rest of the country's
economy, because Alberta's economy has been the engine of Canada's economy for
quite some time.
Those are my points. I want to emphasize that I believe that this is an
historic piece of legislation; that Canada has not acquitted itself very well in
the last year on this issue; and that the prospects are exceptionally good for
us to do well, to meet our targets, to uphold our responsibility to an
international law and to seize the moment.
What is required is something that we are not getting — and that is
leadership. Yes, they talk of leadership; again, they spin it and we get
leadership on mandatory minimums to solve a problem that does not exist. We get
leadership on "fairness in taxation" that gives more tax money to the rich and
cuts the poor; but we do not get leadership on something that is a huge,
important and significant challenge to this country, to our children and
grandchildren. We need that leadership. In closing, honourable senators, I will
say that Bill C-288 is exactly what we do need. It is leadership and it needs to
be supported by this house.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the seventh report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade entitled:
Overcoming 40 Years of Failure: A New Road Map for Sub-Saharan Africa,
tabled in the Senate on February 15, 2007.—(Honourable Senator Segal)
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I move:
That the seventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs
and International Trade entitled Overcoming 40 Years Of Failure: A New Road
Map For Sub-Saharan Africa, tabled in the Senate on February 15, 2007, be
adopted and that, pursuant to Rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and
detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs,
the Minister of International Trade, the Minister of International Cooperation
and the Minister of National Defence being identified as Ministers responsible
for responding to the report.
He said: Honourable senators, I want to briefly speak to the substance of our
report and commend it to your consideration.
First, I want to say that the 16 recommendations, which colleagues on the
committee largely agreed to and which became the substance of our report,
represent a very broad reflection of the committee's analysis of the foreign aid
circumstances within Africa, the economic and developmental challenges in
Africa, and the best way that we can advance Canada's role as part of the
solution, as opposed to part of the problem.
It is in the nature of the news media to focus on what strikes them as most
newsworthy. One of our recommendations dealt with CIDA, and there were 14 other
recommendations that dealt with other matters.
For the record, I want to indicate, as we did when we tabled the report and
had a press conference, and I was accompanied in that respect by my colleague
Senator Dawson and by the distinguished Deputy Chair, Senator Stollery, that our
comments with respect to the structure of CIDA do not reflect upon the
outstanding people who work in CIDA. The people who work in CIDA are devoted to
the international goals and foreign aid commitments of that organization. I have
a very high regard for the reasonably new President of CIDA, Robert Greenhill,
who came from the private sector to be part of the CIDA effort.
The point we made was that the structure of CIDA and how it operates is not
the fault of the people who work there. It is not the people at CIDA who
decided, for example, that 80 per cent of their employees would be in Canada and
only 20 per cent abroad. Various governments have made that decision because of
the cost of keeping people abroad in the target countries. It is not the people
who work at CIDA who decided that in the last 12 years, we would have 11
ministers responsible for CIDA. That is not their fault.
The case the committee is making for the consideration of colleagues in the
Senate and, hopefully, the government and all the political parties who care
about foreign aid in Africa, is that we have a duty to ensure we are doing it
right. We have a duty to deliver financial support and encouragement to Africa
in a fashion most likely to achieve a significant measure of success.
The committee met in over 80 sessions with close to 400 witnesses in Canada,
various countries in Africa and amongst our allies in Europe and elsewhere, so
we could benefit from the work they did on aid. Witnesses said that CIDA has
become, for structural reasons, one of the slowest, most inefficient, most
ponderous bureaucratic aid agencies.
It is very much to the credit of the committee that it tried to address a way
to maximize our impact through the foreign aid advanced from Canada. It is not
about more aid; it is about better aid and transparency surrounding that aid.
In that context, with respect to CIDA specifically, the proposal is, first,
that it should be reviewed with regard specifically to the challenges that we
now face. Second, we should consider CIDA having its own act of Parliament. CIDA
does not have its own act of Parliament; it is, in fact, a paragraph in the
Foreign Affairs Act. A proper act of Parliament, when one looks at the amount of
money being spent, would be a significant way to increase accountability, to
increase the supervisory role of parliamentarians and probably give CIDA a fresh
lease on life so it can do the job I am sure the people who work there very much
want to do.
The other option that was put on the table, and about which the committee
feels very strongly, is that we must consolidate, in one place, all our
activities with respect to Africa. The Africans the committee met with said that
they do not want aid; they want to be able to trade. They said they want to be
able to expand their economy through their own hard work, which is why our
committee, in another one of its recommendations, called on Canada to take a
strong leadership role with respect to Doha so that the barriers that keep
African agriculture out of Europe can be addressed. It must be addressed in a
way that allows Africans to earn their way, which is what African themselves
told us they very much want to do.
It is remarkable the diligence, the determination, the hard work and the
commitment of Africans to better their own circumstance when you think of what
they face in terms of disease and trade barriers. Quite frankly, we must think
in terms of what they face in their own governments. One expert at American
University in Washington suggested governments were taking close to $148 billion
a year out of Africa and using it for purposes unrelated to the public interest.
Honourable senators, if we look at 1963 and 1964 as a point of reference,
Zambia, Kenya and South Korea had about the same per capita GDP. We know what
has happened since. South Korea and Asia have taken off. Worldwide growth has
been remarkable, and our African friends have fallen in position since that
time. The concern of the committee, expressed in the 16 recommendations, is that
we have to begin to deal with the barriers to economic growth that are
afflicting the efforts of our African colleagues to move ahead. If they pursue
those efforts with diligence; if mothers and grandparents are dealing with
children they are now responsible for because of what AIDS has done; if small
entrepreneurs are continuing to work despite a lack of security in many parts of
the Great Lakes region of Africa, surely we can have the courage to ask whether
our policies can be better structured to achieve the desired effect on the
I will make specific reference to a few of the more compelling
The new Africa office that the committee calls for would be a vehicle with a
senior minister of international development that would address aid, trade and
security. I want to pay particular attention to the advice given to the
committee by our colleague Senator Dallaire, who was kind enough to be present
for some of our hearings. The case that he made, which we have all heard before,
really comes down to this: We have committed blood and treasury as a country to
deal with problems in Central Europe. We have done so to deal with problems in
the Middle East. Those have been at great cost in contemporary times. However,
there is a tendency to look the other way when it relates to the African
subcontinent. I think I speak for all members of our committee when we make the
case, as respectfully as we can, that in the development of our foreign policy
priorities for the future, the security of Africa, working with the African
Union and other African organizations to assist and strengthen that security is
fundamental to facilitating economic growth and expansion on the part of
Africans themselves. The advice I give our fellow Canadians outside this chamber
is that we must never confuse the geographic remoteness of Africa as a continent
with the strategic importance of that continent to our own interests here in
Canada. If we allow more failed states to occur; if we do not stand in support
with our aid of the NEPAD terms established by Prime Minister Chrétien at
Kananaskis, with the G8 and with the African partners who were there; if we do
not reward the countries who are working for greater democratization, working to
diminish corruption and to facilitate economic growth; then we are essentially
saying there is no cost to be paid for continued corruption, continued violation
by some in government in Africa, of the rights of African men and women to their
own economic and social progress.
Failed states such as Zimbabwe, or individuals of standing in that society —
professionals, doctors, lawyers, teachers — have left because there is not
sufficient stability for them to serve in their own society. When those things
happen, when those failed states begin to appear, the price will be paid by us
when there are more circumstances for terrorists, gangster regimes, drugs and
other seriously offensive implications to root themselves in an Africa that has
so much potential.
I was touched by Senator Mahovlich, who was on the first trip of the
committee to Africa and experienced one of those fleeting periods of unwellness
that travel in certain parts of the world can generate; but he soldiered on. In
the Congo, he was as touched as everyone on the trip that, despite the mineral
wealth — the cobalt, the gold, the copper and the zinc — there were no roads to
move those resources to market in order to generate economic growth. When he
returned to Canada, he was consistent in our committee about the importance of
roads. He asked the question to CIDA and others: "We know how to build roads.
Why are Canadians not building roads, a simple, small piece of the puzzle." To
be fair to CIDA, they will say that they do not fund specific projects but work
with partners on the ground. That is a legitimate policy position for them to
take. Ambassadors and high commissioners said to this committee in situ, in
Africa, that other countries make aid decisions by using the advice of their
ambassadors, high commissioners and staff on the ground. However, our
ambassadors and high commissioners are not part of that discussion. Those
decisions are made back in Gatineau, without the advice and counsel of the
people on the ground, serving Canada, and rooted as best they can in the local
The committee report talks about the International Monetary Fund. This study
is a relatively new arrival to the committee. The Africa project was long
launched by Senator Stollery and other members before I arrived. The committee
made the point that we should never again, as a funder of the IMF, as a
supporter of the World Bank, impose conditions upon African countries that we
would never accept being imposed upon ourselves. It is now the general wisdom
that some of the conditions that were imposed led to a retraction within that
sub-Saharan economy, and many Africans paid a very serious price.
We believe extensively that the role Canada must play in Doha, aside from
advancing and protecting our own interests, need not exclude leadership on our
part in support of breaking down the barriers to African agricultural exports.
They export largely tropical products. There is no competition between the
farmers of Saskatchewan and the farmers of Africa with respect to tropical
products. It is important that we make the case because agriculture is, in the
proximate term, the best opportunity for the vast majority of Africans that they
be allowed to ship their goods abroad and be paid fairly for that process.
Honourable senators, I want to make reference to the Africa office and why
the committee felt it to be so important. We understand the salience of our
relationship in this hemisphere with the United States and the other countries
of the Americas. We have a long and historic tradition with respect to our
relationships in Europe and with the United Kingdom. We believe that the Africa
office constitutes a way for us to say that Africa is a priority for our
country. Lifting people out of poverty by giving them the tools to do it
themselves should really characterize Canadian investment and aid in that part
of the world.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Would the Honourable Senator Segal take a
The Hon. the Speaker: We will have to extend the allotted time if
Senator Segal wishes to answer a question. Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Keon: The honourable senator's remarks were terribly moving
and important, but I noticed that health was absent in them. Perhaps that is
because he feels that this is the responsibility of the World Health
Organization and similar organizations. I have mentioned before in this chamber
that I think the greatest threat to Canada is not our environment, but a
terrible pandemic that will rise out of Africa when a micro-organism undergoes a
mutation and there is loss of containment. Such an outbreak could virtually wipe
out our entire population unless we make a modest investment to get rid of
diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. These can easily be eliminated at a
modest cost. AIDS is not possible to eliminate at this point in time, but there
are exciting things on the horizon. Will his office be addressing this issue?
Senator Segal: I want to thank Senator Keon for the question. I was
remiss in not devoting a portion of my time to recommendations 12 and 13 of the
report, which deal specifically with the health crisis. In those
recommendations, committee members called for new initiatives to reduce the
threat of malaria, provide medication for those afflicted with the disease, and
achieve a single, harmonized, fully resourced global plan to address the
HIV/AIDS crisis. Greater focus should be placed on preventing the spread of
disease, working extensively with African non-governmental organizations, local
community organizations, traditional chiefs and healers to stem the incidence of
AIDS in the rural regions of Africa, and addressing the serious issue of female
As well, the Canadian contribution to health in the sub-Saharan region should
call for Canada to amend the present Access to Medicines Regime, including its
underlying legislation, to make it more effective in prompting shipments of
medications for HIV/ AIDS sufferers to Africa. The federal government should
consider the direct purchase by Canada of the appropriate antiretroviral and
associated pharmaceuticals for distribution through reputable non-governmental
organizations throughout the sub-Saharan region. Finally, the government should
ensure that its official development assistance includes significant investment
in inexpensive insecticide-treated mosquito nets and in the spraying of DDT on
interior walls of African homes in low-lying tropical areas where malaria is
I am very much aware of the commitment made by the Right Honourable Paul
Martin when he was Prime Minister to massively increase the level of medication
being shipped to Africa. However, for reasons beyond his control related to
patent legislation, the WTO, and all the rest, pills are not yet moving. Based
on that commitment, it is fair to say that our committee was strongly resolved
that we must break through the bureaucratic process to get pills and medications
on the ground as soon as possible.
Hon. Daniel Hays: I was very interested in the committee's
recommendations around the fact that trade, not aid, is the solution to the
problems in Africa. It is largely an agricultural-based economy. The committee
had discussions with international financial institutions, or IFIs. One way of
resolving the problem is through the Doha Round and liberalizing trade so that
they have access to the markets of developed countries. The other, as mentioned
by a witness from L'Union des producteurs agricoles of Quebec, is to give them
some exemptions that they lost as a result of IFI requirements. Is that
something the honourable senator could comment on as a possibility?
Senator Segal: The committee did consider that evidence carefully and
would not exclude that option going forward. We did not have detailed discussion
in regard to the IFI implications or, for example, the specifics of Canadian
marketing boards. We do not think there would be any real costs to Canada in
dealing with those exemptions in a constructive way — quite the contrary.
We also made reference to the fact that many farmers and small businesses
related to the agricultural economy are being aided by micro finance and the
very great and distinguished co-op, Caisses Desjardins in the province of
Quebec, is very much implicated in helping that micro finance thematic
throughout the continent of Africa, and we hope more of that transpires.
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, I would first like
to congratulate the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and
International Trade for this excellent, very thorough work.
Concerning your recommendation to establish an Africa office, did the
ambassadors and other witnesses heard in Africa support this idea, or is this
recommendation going to be imposed by Canada, as part of our assistance to
Senator Segal: Foreign service members in Africa indicated to us that,
if decisions concerning economic support were made locally; and if team members
from this new Africa office were posted in our embassies on the African
continent, this would facilitate such decisions considerably and improve the
effectiveness of these individuals as representatives of Canada.
Senator Losier-Cool: Many among us have already had the opportunity to
visit Africa and to work with African parliamentarians. We are familiar with the
strength, vitality, courage and spirit of African women. Can you comment on the
support given by African women to these recommendations made by the committee?
Senator Segal: I believe that the high percentage of women elected in
several African Parliaments did not escape the notice of our committee's
Second, with regard to agriculture and microfinance, it seems that financial
instruments in support of initiatives and investment benefit businesswomen in
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Honourable senators, Senator Segal mentioned
that one of the problems for African agriculture is access to world markets. But
for these farmers, is there not a problem with getting their products to their
own markets? Is there not also a problem with goods from industrialized
countries that arrive on their markets at a lower cost than the local cost of
Senator Segal: The honourable senator is absolutely right. American
and European subsidies represent one of the problems. From time to time,
products arrive in Africa, valuable products at cheap prices, and that can be
detrimental to the effort to create a local economy.
Another problem for our African friends is facilitating the transportation of
agricultural goods across African borders. When we discussed NEPAD and Mr.
Chrétien, some witnesses added that we must be responsible in establishing our
criteria for financial aid. If their borders were more open, all Africans would
have access to a larger market and not be limited to the markets in their own
Resuming debate on the consideration of the third report (interim) of the
Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, entitled:
Agriculture and Agri-Food Policy in Canada: Putting Farmers First!, tabled
in the Senate on June 21, 2006.—(Honourable Senator Fraser)
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, when I took the adjournment of
this debate, I did so as a courtesy to the Agriculture and Forestry Committee,
because, as you all know, this is not exactly my field of expertise. Since then,
however, I have become rather more aware of the issue that was addressed in this
report. I am seized with the importance of it, but still do not consider myself
even a competent observer. I am simply struck with the great importance of the
situation for our farmers.
As we speak, the Agriculture Committee is working on its study of rural
poverty, which is another facet of this question. I understand that many on that
committee wish to address this issue. Therefore, with the indulgence of
senators, I ask that the debate continue to be adjourned for the balance of my
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 Callbeck)
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, I rise in place
of Senator Callbeck, who is travelling with the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry, which is conducting hearings on rural poverty.
It is a great pleasure to speak to this inquiry introduced by Senator Tardif.
I applaud her for her passion — born of a distinguished career in education —
and her tireless commitment to this subject. In her exhortation to fellow
senators on June 13, 2006, Senator Tardif said:
It is my belief that, despite the acknowledged importance of post-secondary
education to the economic and social success of Canadians, we as governors and
policy-makers have failed in providing it with the focus, direction and
support it deserves.
We must move now, honourable senators — swiftly, efficiently and
intelligently — and end the stagnation and stalemate looming around this
important public policy issue.
Senator Tardif reminded us that Canada's post-secondary attainment rate of 44
per cent is not good enough. We must aim much higher to compete in the 21st
century with countries such as the United States, India and China, and we must
do much more to increase the ratio of graduate-to-undergraduate students in our
universities, to align us with other local competitors.
Senator Tardif left no doubt about the urgency of her inquiry, saying:
The race is on . . . . waiting for one year or more might be the difference
between Canada being a global player and a global pretender.
I come from Atlantic Canada, where we realize that for far too long we have
been exporting brains. We are determined to do better when it comes to keeping
our brightest and our best at home, or at the very least to bring them home
after valuable adventure and experience in other parts of Canada and around the
The skills, the academic and professional achievements, the pride of our
young women and men from our four Maritime provinces are not a coincidence.
Certainly, this story is not only a reflection of the strong women and men who
have braved the elements of the Atlantic and the comparative isolation of our
region from the power of central Canada, and now of Alberta. It is all of this,
but equally the remarkable tradition of education in Atlantic Canada, beginning
with those who came first.
So much of this tradition was born around the kitchen tables in the homes of
families of French, British, German and Scandinavian families, to mention only a
few. From these homes came the men and women who founded our universities and
colleges, which today merge seamlessly with the fabric of our communities.
Visit St. John's, Newfoundland, where you will see, on the cliffs of that
great city, the astonishing development of Memorial University. Come to Moncton,
New Brunswick, and you will be amazed by the pride the Université de Moncton has
in our bilingual society and throughout the Francophonie. The University of
Prince Edward Island and Holland College have experienced remarkable growth into
fields recognized internationally. All of this began in New Brunswick and in
Nova Scotia, where we probably have not only the largest number of Tim Hortons
per capita, but also the highest number of university and college spaces.
Mount Allison was the first university in the British Commonwealth to give a
bachelor's degree to a woman, in 1875. The University of New Brunswick is one of
the oldest universities in North American, dating to 1829.
The cooperative movement began at St. Francis Xavier University in
Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and this province is in an ongoing competition with New
Brunswick for excellence in undergraduate education, with Acadia and St. Francis
Xavier vying in turn with Mount Allison for first place nationally, with these
universities always being in the top tier.
The long traditions of the University of King's College and those of
Dalhousie stand beside the Acadian University of St. Anne's in Nova Scotia,
while in New Brunswick, liberal arts flourish at St. Thomas in Fredericton.
Our community colleges, our colleges of craft and design, and our faith
institutions such as the Atlantic Baptist University, all add to this richness
of educational opportunity in Atlantic Canada.
Yet, many of our young people are left behind for reasons that I will discuss
later, reasons that exhort you and me, my fellow senators, to speak out and to
First, however, I want to offer you a taste of the nobility and the strength
of vision that flows from our leading educators in my home province.
Dr. John McLaughlin, President of the University of New Brunswick, said on
January 9, 2007:
Choosing excellence and pursuing quality will take imagination and courage
. . .
At the time of his installation as UNB's seventeenth president, this
visionary leader spoke of his university as "a primary source of knowledge
creation and talent, the critical foundation of competitiveness and prosperity."
From poetry to advances in magnetic resonance imaging, to early childhood
development, to an ever-stronger relationship with China in business education,
UNB "represents knowledge and enlightenment . . . a repository for cultural
values . . . an instrument for reform . . . providing an example of the best
aspects of human interaction and endeavour."
Dr. McLaughlin stated unequivocally that "the future well-being of Canada
and Canadians . . . will ultimately be . . . dramatically affected . . . by the
quality and effectiveness of education." He said:
If the role of government is to help create the climate for change . . . it
is the role of education to be the instrument of change . . . the role of
business to be the engine of change.
There, quite simply, is the diagram: Government, educational institutions and
business in partnership to advance Canada in the 21st century.
The president of UNB continued:
Governments must not only show strong leadership and investment on climate
change per se, but also in the nation's education, creating a climate for
research, for learning and for opportunity and competitiveness.
Dr. Robert Campbell, President of Mount Allison University, provided this
commentary on February 18, 2007:
For a civilized and prosperous country like Canada, the post-secondary
sector is one of the highest and most important public goods. Universities
have. . . . played a double historical mission in Canada's development.
On the one hand, they have played a key role in extending knowledge and
understanding to an ever-widening proportion of Canadian society, thereby
increasing our citizens' capacity to contribute to and sustain our democratic
system in an increasingly complex world. We need an educated, sophisticated,
insightful and understanding citizenry to address issues like
environmentalism, multiculturalism and international political uncertainties,
as well as to sustain family life, personal health and social well-being in a
On the other hand, they have played a determining role in educating the
researchers and thinkers that developed the ideas, techniques, innovation and
knowledge that have increased our society's capacity to create wealth and
increase and extend prosperity. We need to train and educate a greater
proportion of future generations to ever higher levels, if Canada is to
maintain and extend its competitive capacity.
These two elements are intimately intertwined. Democracy thrives where
there is extended economic prosperity, and economic prosperity requires an
educated and involved citizenry and political system.
All Canadians benefit from the health of our democratic institutions and
practices. Thus, all Canadians through their governments should encourage
public investment in this wonderful and consequential public good.
The genius of the expansion of the post-secondary system in the post-war
period was that it was done as a partnership amongst governments at all
levels, private citizens and families and the supporters of the university
Honourable senators, I believe that Senator Tardif was calling for nothing
less than a renewal of this genius when she called for "national leadership and
genuine inter-governmental collaboration . . . ." The senator called for "more
funding and support" with "tangible goals and deadlines." She called for the
"same courage, fortitude and entrepreneurial spirit that emboldened the founders
of this grand experiment called Canada . . . ."
Honourable senators, when I think about the courage and vision of the
founders of Canada, I think of the example of the Acadians in my province. In
2007, the Université de Moncton is a testament to the aspirations and dreams of
the men and women who found, in their history, the determination to build a
strong, modern society in which to achieve their full potential as francophones,
as New Brunswickers and as Canadians.
Each year, thanks to this university, an increasing number of young Acadians
gain the confidence to build a life full of hope and opportunity, regardless of
where they choose to pursue their careers. Furthermore, the Université de
Moncton welcomes students from other provinces and, of course, from other
countries, from la Francophonie in particular.
On the occasion of the Université de Moncton's fortieth anniversary in 2003,
President Yvon Fontaine said:
The Université de Moncton has had a profound effect in shaping the
socio-economic and cultural development of our province. At the same time, the
university is achieving national and international recognition.
Honourable senators, I know that this wonderful success would not have been
possible without the contribution from all the governments that shared the
Acadian dream and provided the necessary financial support, in collaboration
with the private sector, during these four decades to build this bastion of
education and culture.
This should serve as an example for current governments, an example of public
investment that is essential to Canada's national and international progress.
When I think of St. Thomas University, I am reminded of the great merit in a
democratic society of embracing the very finest principles of equality and of
reaching out to youth from all backgrounds to offer them the education they
deserve. This small university walks the talk when it comes to Aboriginal
studies and educational opportunities for Aboriginals. It does this and so much
more with dedication and generosity.
If we need an example of what small "l" liberalism is all about, we need
look no further than St. Thomas. As we study the post-secondary challenges in
Canada, I suggest that we have in my province a shining example.
As one who believes profoundly in education, lifelong education beginning at
birth, I could not be more certain of the importance of Senator Tardif's
inquiry. She has called for "national leadership and genuine inter-governmental
collaboration," with "a transparent and collaborative consultation process"
that includes "a first ministers' meeting on post-secondary education and
skills training." She called for urgency in this regard.
In all of this, honourable senators, let us always use a wide lens and a long
view in our deliberations. Too many Canadian youth are missing their chance to
have post-secondary education with all its possibilities for the future because
for too long we have undervalued our community colleges and our specialized
In the arts, in high technology, in trades, in early child development and
child care, in home care and services to our seniors and our veterans, and in so
many other courses, our colleges offer a place for young women and men to begin
to reach their full potential. At the same time, the programs and the vision of
our colleges provide the fountain of people needed to ensure a caring society
Not only must governments do more, but our communities must do more to create
an environment where each young Canadian can contribute to the very best of his
or her potential. No one can be left out.
To make this happen, we must be vigilant and have continual reassessment of
our system of scholarships, bursaries and loans. The repayment of these loans,
where applicable, must be a priority of parliamentarians. I believe in fairness
between what the state provides and what the individual student and his or her
As a nation, we can do better when it comes to setting the stage financially
and philosophically for all of our institutes of post-secondary education, be
it a small college, a trade school or one of our internationally recognized
In each case, the goal should be nothing less than excellence and equal
opportunity. Canada wants more Rhodes Scholars and more Nobel Prize winners. We
want a chance for each of Canada's children to feel proud and to succeed.
Let us be very honest as we study post-secondary education, remembering that
we are neglecting too often the most vulnerable in our society, our Aboriginal
youth, our challenged youth, our rural youth and many in our cities who drop out
of our educational systems for reasons we can and must address and overcome.
There can be no greater challenge in a democracy, and I know Canada can meet
In closing, I would like to use words spoken by Dr. David Naylor, President
of the University of Toronto, where I was so fortunate to receive my Doctor of
Medicine degree. He said:
I believe we have an obligation to pass along a stronger, more sustainable
and more rational system of education. In such a system, I hope that great
universities will be even better positioned to shape the great minds of the
future. And if we are successful, the students of today and tomorrow will make
their children's world a kinder, gentler, healthier, greener and altogether
I would like to thank Senator Claudette Tardif for her leadership in the
Senate of Canada as a champion of primary, secondary and post-secondary
On motion of Senator Banks, for Senator Callbeck, debate adjourned.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Callbeck calling
the attention of the Senate to the importance of Canadian immigration policy
to the economic, social and cultural development of Canada's regions.—(Honourable
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, Senator Jaffer would like to speak on this issue tomorrow. I move that
the debate be adjourned in her name.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, according to the Rules
of the Senate, we must continue the debate with some substantive remarks;
otherwise, the Rules of the Senate are meaningless.
Senator Tardif: Given the importance of Canadian immigration policy to
Canada's economic, social and cultural development, I move adjournment of the
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Andreychuk,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Tkachuk:
That the Senate refer to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and
the Rights of Parliament the issue of developing a systematic process for the
application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it applies to the
Senate of Canada.—(Honourable Senator Andreychuk)
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I note that the
motion standing in my name is at day 15 on the Order Paper. I rise today to
indicate that I wish to speak to this matter later this week.
On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.
Hon. Joan Fraser rose pursuant to notice of November 29, 2006:
That she will call the attention of the Senate to the Government response
to the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications entitled: Final Report on the Canadian News Media.
She said: Honourable senators, you will recall that, last year, the Committee
on Transport and Communications released its final report on the news media.
After some time, in fact on the last possible day, the government sent its
response to that report. I was planning to talk primarily about the response,
but to set my comments in context, I should say a few words about the substance
of our report.
Senator Bacon was chairing the committee when the report was presented.
Honourable senators will recall that I participated in its studies. This was an
absolutely extraordinary experience. We worked for three years, but the issue
was very complex and it was not easy to find solutions to the problems we
encountered. That is why we needed so much time to complete it.
I think that the other members of the committee would agree that this was one
of the most remarkable studies, with an almost personal impact, that any of us
have ever participated in here.
The first thing to consider when Parliament and politicians start talking
about the news is whether they are intruding in areas where they ought not to
go. I would assure honourable senators that our committee never forgot that the
state has no business in the newsrooms of the nation. It is not for the state to
determine how news shall be covered or who shall say what about the news of the
However, we also understood that there is a public interest in the news and
that there is a role for public policy in connection with the news, which is
where we focused our interest. The public interest in the news is simple. It
goes to the heart of functioning in a democracy. Citizens need information and
diverse sources of information. To have only one source of information is death
to a democracy. It just does not work. A democracy cannot function without
diverse sources of information so that ideas may compete against each other and
citizens may make up their minds as to what they believe is the appropriate
course for their society to follow.
We heard compelling arguments that in the 21st century the diversity of
sources of information is no longer a problem because of the technological
explosion that has created so many different ways for us to receive information,
everything from cable TV, which is old hat now; to the telephone, upon which we
can now receive and send almost anything. It is no longer the case that one gets
their newspaper in the morning or the evening, depending on one's choice, and
that it is the main vehicle by which one receives information.
However, the fundamental thing to bear in mind is that the means by which
information is delivered is only part of the equation. Who provides the
information that is delivered is the other part of the equation.
If, for example, Consolidated Newspapers Inc. sends me the same story in its
newspaper, on a blog, on my telephone or on my cable, it may look diverse
because of all those different vehicles for receiving it, but there is no
diversity because it is the same fundamental source. We were concerned with a
way to ensure diversity of original sources of information in an age of
We discovered that in this area, Canada's public policy is, as it has been
for a long time, woefully inadequate. There is simply no mechanism to discuss
the public interest in news, and yet federal public policy has a very strong
impact on the way the news business evolves, with everything from the Income Tax
Act, to competition law, to regulation by the CRTC, to broader things like the
laws of libel.
The various authorities that have a role in this field have shown almost no
interest in news. In some cases, they have shown a rooted resistance to even
contemplating the effect of what they do on the provision of news and
information for the Canadian public.
The CRTC, which has jurisdiction over broadcasting, focuses essentially on
Canadian content. By "Canadian content," I mean drama and the arts, everything
from soap operas to the ballet. These are wonderful causes and it is important
that the CRTC pay attention to them, but, it pays little attention to the news.
It seems to think news can take care of itself.
When a flamboyant merger occurs, the CRTC may, as a condition of licence,
impose conditions to supposedly guarantee that the newsrooms remain separate,
but it does no checking to ensure those conditions of licence are actually
obeyed. We found evidence that in too many cases those conditions are not obeyed
by the licensee.
The competition authorities, for their part, absolutely do not pay any
attention to the news. They have jurisdiction over newspapers, print as well as
over broadcasting, but they do not focus on news. They only focus on the impact
of a merger on local advertising markets. One could own every single newspaper
and television station in Canada, but, as long as the rates for local
advertisements had not changed, the competition people would probably say, "No
The result is that Canada does less to regulate concentration of cross-media
ownership than any of the countries that we examined to use as potential
yardsticks. We do less than the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, and
less even than the United States, that citadel of free enterprise. The result of
that is that we have ever-greater concentration of ownership and
cross-ownership, both nationally and regionally.
I do not need to tell honourable senators about the importance of the CanWest
empire and the CTVglobemedia — formerly Bell Globemedia — empire, which includes
both CTV and The Globe and Mail. Some honourable senators might be less
aware that the Irving interests in New Brunswick own every single English-language newspaper, a growing number of French-language newspapers, plus radio
stations, and that Transcontinental owns every single paper in Newfoundland and
Labrador, in addition to basically all but the Halifax Chronicle-Herald
in Nova Scotia, and a growing number of newspapers elsewhere. I see it has
acquired quite a few newspapers in Saskatchewan, for example.
We have a problem. We have problems in Vancouver and in Montreal, where our
news media are intensely concentrated, and no one seems to care. It is getting
worse. This last summer, for example, the former Bell Globemedia, which already
owned CTV and The Globe and Mail, bought the CHUM network, and CanWest
bought Alliance Atlantis. The total value of those two deals was in the
neighbourhood of $4 billion. Bell Globemedia's purchase of CHUM was accompanied
by the immediate layoff of nearly 300 people, within hours of the announcement.
Most of those people worked in the news department. High-flown protestations
about how important news is are not actually borne out in reality.
What did the government do? How did the government respond to our 40
recommendations? We thought our recommendations were models of a reasonable
approach. In particular, on the matter of cross-ownership and concentration of
ownership, we suggested a public review mechanism, with emphasis on "public."
Once certain thresholds were reached, probably quite high in comparison to some
other countries, there would need to be a public review to determine how the
public interest could be served in this commercial transaction. The government
of the day would have the final authority to make a decision, but it would have
to do so publicly after a public inquiry and justify its decision publicly.
Compare that with the present situation, where the government of the day can
overrule decisions of the CRTC with no explanation whatever, no public hearings
or debate, simply saying, "We do not like what the CRTC decided, and we will
change it." They do that quite often.
We thought transparency would be a wonderful way to ensure that public
reviews would serve the public interest without having that terrible side effect
of political interference in news management. Sunshine is the disinfectant that
can be used to good effect here. Our system was modelled in part on the system
in Britain, which works well, but the system we propose would have been much
less intrusive than the one that the British press, which is free and vigorous,
We had some other suggestions. We suggested that the CBC, as you may recall,
be turned back into a genuinely publicly oriented public broadcaster and that it
get out of ads and broadcasting professional sports. Those are areas in which we
believe the CBC does not need to compete with the private sector and is, in its
performance, distorted by its competition with the private sector. In order for
the CBC to continue functioning, this would require decent budgets and long-term
commitments to those budgets.
These were well-considered, reasonable recommendations. What did the
government say? No. Zip, zero, nada. Of our 40 recommendations, the government
accepted two little ones. They said, "Yup, we agree that the CBC's performance
reports should be more informative." There are no big policy implications
there. As well, the government said, "Yup, we agree that civil servants should
be made aware of the provisions of the whistle-blower legislation." There is
not much public policy difficulty there. Every other recommendation was
What is worse is that, in rejecting them, the government frequently simply
restated the status quo as if it were wonderful. They restated, for example,
that the CRTC has jurisdiction over broadcasting and that the Competition Act
has jurisdiction over everything but does not pay attention to news. The
government paid no attention to the problems we had outlined.
I cannot say that I was surprised by this. Governments are always very
nervous, not to say terrified, of appearing to interfere in any way with the
press. Some of that reluctance is for good reasons, the reasons I was talking
about, having to do with not having political interference in the news. Some of
it is for self-interested reasons because they do not want the press to attack
However, good governments do face up to serious problems. The government that
I served did not do it for a generation, and now I am sad to say that the
government the people on the other side serve apparently is taking the same
approach of doing nothing.
Honourable senators, I see that my time is up. If I might have just a few
more minutes, I would be grateful.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Five minutes.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Fraser: When I said earlier that things were getting worse, I
meant it. Things are getting possibly dangerously worse. It is not just that we
have large and powerful media companies; it is that we are operating in a global
context. Let me give you one small example.
The CanWest purchase of Alliance Atlantis relies very heavily on a financial
arrangement with Goldman Sachs in the United States, which might, if things did
not go as CanWest hopes and if the financial results were not as good as CanWest
hoped, end up taking control of some or all of those companies. Now, we have
laws about foreign ownership of the news media in this country — television and
print. We have laws about those things, but we discovered that no one seems to
pay much attention to the enforcement of those laws. I have heard from newspaper
publishers at far distant reaches of this country, from coast to coast, who have
tried to get the Canada Revenue Agency to at least enquire whether their
competitor was owned or not by a Canadian, as the law says, and the Canada
Revenue Agency would not do it.
Now it appears that an arrangement very similar to the one CanWest has with
Goldman Sachs, but affecting a smaller enterprise, I believe, in Nova Scotia,
has already been approved by the CRTC. Question: Does that create a precedent
for us under NAFTA? Are we now bound to let deals like that go through, even if
they do result in foreign takeovers of enterprises that by the law of the land
are supposed to be controlled in Canada? No one seems to know or care. The
government's bland response to our report was simply, "Oh, the Heritage
Department does look at the content of publications." The government did not
even address the issues of ownership. That is one small example.
Here is another small but irritating example. This country's laws say that
wherever there is a minority official language community, government
advertising, especially for job offers, must be published in both official
languages. In Nova Scotia for example, it has to be published in the local
Acadian paper. However, every week, these ads are almost always systematically
published in one single language, despite the provisions of the law. Obviously,
they are published in the local majority language. In Nova Scotia, that language
is English. That means every time this happens, the francophone paper has to
complain to the Commissioner of Official Languages, who then goes to the
department in question. We have therefore recommended that the government direct
the departments to comply with the law. No need to bring in a new law, just
comply with the old one.
Honourable senators, the government did not even want to do that much. It is
extremely disappointing that, in a country like ours, where communication is so
important, the government is ready to tolerate such situations without
We need better. Canadians are entitled to better. The last words of our
report are as follows:
The public interest in healthy and vibrant news media is as important as
the public interest in the rights and freedoms of individual citizens. It is
time to recognize this interest and develop, in Canada, mechanisms similar to
those in other developed democracies.
Despite my disappointment about the current response to our report, I remain
hopeful that over some longer period of time this government and its successors
will realize that it is time for Canada to do what every other serious
industrialized country does.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver, pursuant to notice of February 15, 2007, moved:
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on Thursday,
December 7, 2006, the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs, which was authorized to examine and report on the benefits and
results that have been achieved through the Court Challenges Program, be
empowered to extend the date of presenting its final report from February 28,
2007 to June 30, 2007.
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell, pursuant to notice of February 15,
That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology be authorized to examine the state of early learning and child care
in Canada in view of the OECD report Starting Strong II, released on
September 21-22, 2006 and rating Canada last among 14 countries on spending
on early learning and child care programs, which stated ". . . national and
provincial policy for the early education and care of young children in Canada
is still in its initial stages. . . and coverage is low compared to other OECD
That the Committee study and report on the OECD challenge that ". . .
significant energies and funding will need to be invested in the field to
create a universal system in tune with the needs of a full employment economy,
with gender equity and with new understandings of how young children develop
She said: Honourable senators, this motion is a sincere attempt to take
politics out of the issue of early learning and child care in Canada. Senators
are aware that the questions I have been asking are political in nature on what
the Liberal government had set in place and what the Conservative government is
doing now. However, it is time to take politics out of the issue of child care
and early childhood development and to look seriously at where we are and where
we might go.
As honourable senators can see by reading the motion, I have used the OECD
report Starting Strong II as the basis. This has nothing to do with
advocacy groups in Canada or with one political opinion or another. Rather, it
is an international report that rates Canada relative to other countries. I had
planned to read some of the details of this report, but the hour is late so I
will not do that. I sincerely hope that honourable senators can refer this
matter to the Social Affairs Committee, on behalf of Canada's children, where we
will call upon witnesses with varied philosophies and diverse experience to
discuss the OECD report, to understand why Canada is in such a dismal position.
This does not reflect what has happened over the last year but, rather, what
has happened over a long period of time. We need to understand why Canada has
been rated so badly internationally on a subject that is of great importance to
all of us: Canada's children.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have a question for Senator Trenholme Counsell. Has this motion been
discussed at the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology? It is the usual practice of this place to discuss orders of
reference at committee prior to moving the motion in the Senate.
Senator Trenholme Counsell: I wish to advise the Deputy Leader of the
Government in the Senate that this was discussed as long ago as six months and
as recently as several meetings ago. It was agreed by those committee members
present that this motion could proceed.
Senator Comeau: Therefore, one could presume that the members of the
committee have voted on the matter and, therefore, that a new reference is being
requested by the committee.
Senator Trenholme Counsell: I do not recall that there was a vote. It
was discussed around the table at committee, and there was no disagreement
expressed by those members present. The discussion was led by the chair of the
Social Affairs Committee, who is not now present in the chamber, and it was
agreed by those present that this motion could proceed. It was agreed by
consensus, and I recall neither a vote nor a disagreement.
Senator Comeau: Therefore, I am led to presume that, because this was
discussed by a certain number of members present at committee, the honourable
senator felt that she had the go ahead from the members of the committee present
to move the motion. Is that why the chair of the Social Affairs Committee is not
requesting the order of reference? Would it be that the committee chair might
not be completely in agreement with the senator's take on it? Perhaps that is
why the honourable senator is moving the motion on the order of reference rather
than the chairman doing it.
Senator Trenholme Counsell: I can assure honourable senators that the
chair of the committee is in total agreement with this motion. He expressed his
apology for having to leave the chamber a few minutes ago, after being here most
of the afternoon. I have the full support of the committee chair in doing this.
The order of reference would mandate the committee to study the report
Starting Strong II in much the same way the study on autism was done, which
entailed a total of five sessions. In that way, members of the Social Affairs
Committee could reach a consensus on what could be done with regard to this
report and what it means for Canada's children.
Senator Comeau: I should like to consult with members on this side,
because it is irregular to deal with an order of reference by consensus rather
than by vote and when the chair is not present to request the order of
reference. For that reason, I would move adjournment of the debate.
On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, February 21, 2007, at 1:30 p.m.