Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 76
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I invite you to join with
me in congratulating the University of Manitoba, which celebrates its one
hundred and thirtieth anniversary today.
Established in 1877 as Western Canada's first university, it has produced
170,000 graduates to date, including 86 Rhodes Scholars. Built in Fort Garry in
Winnipeg's south end on a large land mass, the campus, due primarily to its
agricultural component, features even today large green spaces unlike many other
urban universities in our country.
The university has a large undergraduate component and has professional
schools in medicine, law and dentistry. Although I am not a graduate, I knew in
the late 1950s of its fine human ecology — then home economics — department and
its particular focus on interior design.
At present, the university serves more than 35,000 students, including 2,661
international students. Of particular importance to me is the Access program — a
program dedicated to accessibility and academic success, particularly focused on
Aboriginal students. This program helps Aboriginal students meet their
financial, academic and personal challenges.
Please join with me in congratulating a fine university with our best wishes
for their continuing success.
Hon. Mira Spivak: For a time in the 1950s, Canada's dollar bill bore
the signatures of two men who graduated from the University of Manitoba, became
Rhodes scholars and returned to Ottawa to serve their country with intelligence
and conviction. One was Robert Beattie, Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of
Canada and the other was James Coyne, governor of the bank from 1955 to 1961. It
is one of the little known stories of graduates of the university that today
marks its one hundred and thirtieth anniversary.
Stories of the accomplishments of other graduates abound. Many of them are
familiar names to all of us: Mitchell Sharp, Edward Schreyer, Lloyd Axworthy,
Brian Dickson, Bernard Ostry, Marshall McLuhan, Israel Asper, John Hirsch, Monty
Hall and Phil Fontaine. This remarkable, rather small university on the Prairies
gave them an intellectual and moral grounding that helped them shape the
political, legal, artistic, commercial and intellectual fabric of our country
for generations. The University of Manitoba is also my alma mater, and the alma
mater of others in this Senate.
Today the university serves more than 35,000 students in degree and
continuing education programs. It is also home to a renowned program aimed at
assisting students from Aboriginal and other backgrounds who face financial,
academic or personal challenges in adjusting to the university experience.
Without a doubt it is helping to forge the character of young people who will
shape our country in the years to come.
On behalf of the Senate, I extend our thanks to the university for its former
graduates. To the current faculty, administration and student body, I add our
congratulations on your celebration of 130 years of service, and of course I
extend our best wishes for many successful years to come.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, the crime, disorder and
illness associated with substance abuse is gripping the people of Vancouver with
a horrible sense of despair, anger, confusion and doubt. The people of Vancouver
are in search of solutions. No one doubts the complexity of the problem. The
addicted are people whose human dignity has been erased. Many suffer as well
from mental illness and from other effects of society's abuse.
Our response to date has failed them. It has been inadequate, unfocused and
lacking in compassion. A city as prosperous, modern and beautiful as Vancouver
can no longer turn its back on the victims of substance abuse. No longer can we
write off an entire neighbourhood, warehousing people in one district with the
hope that the problem will be invisible to most. A new strategy is needed
The federal government can play a new role in implementing a strategy that
not only addresses Vancouver's problem but one that is consistent in its
approach to the problem across the country. A strategy must have its ultimate
goal: a society living free of the harm associated with substance abuse.
Achieving that goal must involve a complex, multi-faceted approach.
In recent years, some have advocated a four-pillars approach, combining harm
reduction with more traditional strategies of prevention, treatment and
enforcement. I will not argue the merits of each of those four pillars. Suffice
it to say that the ultimate goal is successful treatment of an addict, where, at
full recovery, abstinence from substance abuse enhances the lifestyle of the
abuser and eliminates the human toll associated with the illness.
Given this kind of logic and practical thinking, honourable senators, how
could one support a drug strategy that embraces legal drug substitution as a
so-called treatment for drug addiction? The "Inner Change" proposed response
to Vancouver's widespread drug problem is at worst, ill-conceived, founded on
unsound research and, at the least, a risky proposition. This drug substitution
program further advances a drug culture, reinforcing the notion of socially
acceptable drug use. The program also fails to demonstrate compassion for those
suffering from the addiction illness by dismissing abstinence-based treatment
as the preferred medical option.
The "Inner Change" proposal is one further step in an insidious campaign to
change cultural attitudes and to label those afflicted with substance abuse
disease as somehow permanently disabled and incapable of ever making lifestyle
changes. Such a policy direction offers no compassion, little hope and huge
Honourable senators, I urge the Minister of Health and the federal government
to adopt the national drug strategy that includes increased federal support for
abstinence-based residential treatment programs in Vancouver and elsewhere — a
strategy that is founded on hope.
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, March 8 marks
International Women's Day and this year's theme is "Ending Violence Against
Women: Action for Real Results".
Often, when we reflect on violence against women, as Canadians we tend to
think about the situation facing women in developing countries — which is
completely justified, given their plight of constant poverty, often under
totalitarian, dictatorial, military or religious rule.
It is certainly easier to talk about places around the world where violence
against women is so much more apparent and given so much media coverage.
However, when we take a closer look at violence against women right here in
Canada — yes, in our own backyard — we must admit that thousands of Canadian
women of all ages are victims here at home. They are victims not only of
physical violence, but also other forms of violence committed by their male
The systematic discrimination within our government policies has led to a
kind of social violence. Positive hiring practices, child care programs,
literacy programs and even the employment insurance system have not always
helped women improve their situation. Economic discrimination against certain
women also constitutes a form of violence.
In our so-called "wealthy and developed" country, pay inequity remains a
problem for Canadian women, in both the public and private sectors.
For older Canadian women, our fiscal policies and Canada Pension Plan are
archaic in their design and delivery. In fact, women seniors must be separated
from their spouses in order to benefit from the economic justice of these
programs. In Canada, 15 per cent of our children and their mothers live in
In the order of 51 per cent of women in Canada were victims of an act of
physical or sexual violence after turning 16 years old. In other words, almost 8
million Canadian women have been victimized. You will agree that this statistic
is alarming and deserves particular attention. Canadians are right to call for
proactive programs to eliminate all forms of violence.
Let us restore the Canadian Council on the Status of Women to keep women's
issues a federal responsibility.
Let us restore funding for literacy programs to equip thousands of Canadian
women for a better future.
Let us establish a truly universal child care system so that our young
mothers can reach their full potential and contribute to the Canadian economy
with peace of mind.
Let us review our employment insurance program to enable women working in our
seasonal economy to leave the quagmire of poverty.
Let us increase funding for shelters for women who are victims of violence.
All this is now possible because the federal government has a surplus. On
March 19, the Harper government will table a budget. Will our Prime Minister
move towards social and economic justice, or will he continue to lean hard to
the right, leaving individuals to their own devices?
More than 52 per cent of the voters in this country are women, Mr. Harper;
take action at last, for real results!
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, March 8, 2007, is the
thirtieth anniversary of International Women's Day.
This important day gives us an opportunity to celebrate progress achieved in
promoting women's rights and to take a close look at the difficulties women are
Let us celebrate Canadian women of yesterday and today and the essential role
they have played and continue to play in making this country one of the best in
This is a celebration of ordinary women who have shaped and are shaping
history. Women on every continent, regardless of their ethnic, linguistic,
cultural, economic and political differences, are united in celebrating this
"Ending Violence Against Women: Action for Real Results" is Canada's theme
for International Women's Day 2007.
We all know someone, a woman who has experienced violence. All Canadians want
to make a difference in the lives of women who are forced to face such
Let us hope that, together, we can take the necessary measures to end this
violence so that women and girls the world over can live peacefully and safely
and participate fully in their societies.
On a more personal note, I would like to express my admiration and friendship
to all of the women I have met in my life, to those who were there to help me
when I needed it and to those who have understood and supported me throughout my
Hats off to all women, and especially to my Senate colleagues today.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, Parliamentarians for
Global Action, a coalition of approximately 1,300 parliamentarians from
democratically elected parliaments, have taken on the campaign for the
ratification and implementation of the International Criminal Court, the Rome
As convenor of the International Law and Human Rights program of
Parliamentarians for Global Action, I welcome two important developments that
occurred yesterday for the effectiveness and universality of the International
Criminal Court. In The Hague, Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo submitted evidence
to the pre-trial chamber on atrocities allegedly committed by the Deputy
Minister for the Interior of Sudan and a chief of the Janjaweed militia in
relation to 51 counts of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes,
including persecution, torture, murder and rape committed in Darfur in 2003 and
In Tokyo, in another important development and milestone in connection with
the ICC, the Government of Japan tabled its bill to Parliament for accession to
the Rome Statute of the ICC.
Senator T. Inuzuka, deputy convenor of the PGA International Law and Human
Rights program, who visited Darfur in August of 2006, stressed the importance of
the prosecutor's submission to the pre-trial chamber, and stated that:
. . . at a time in which the Government of Japan decided to fulfill its
promise to join the Rome Statute of the ICC by submitting the relevant Bill
for Accession to the Legislation Committee of the National Diet of Japan.
Members of the international community have a collective responsibility to
protect the undefended population of Darfur and must now support the judicial
action of the Court.
Sudan is not yet a party to the Rome Statute of the ICC, although they signed
that treaty on September 8, 2000, thus agreeing to the principle of refraining
to defeat the object and purpose of the treaty, as envisaged in the Vienna
Convention on the Law of Treaties. I trust that these measures will go some way
to halting the violence and fighting impunity in Darfur.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, the federal
government should need no reminder of its responsibility for the well-being of
those who fought for our freedom and for those who supported our veterans here
at home. The federal government should ensure that no one is neglected. The debt
we owe to our veterans and their loved ones is beyond measure.
As you will recall, I initiated an inquiry in this house on inequities in the
Veterans Independence Program, VIP, and, specifically, eligibility of spouses
for survivor benefits. I was pleased when, on December 7, 2004, the former
Minister of Veterans Affairs announced that the VIP had been expanded, and that
this particular inequity had been corrected.
Unfortunately, there are still those who are unable to benefit from the VIP
and who are equally deserving of these benefits — the surviving spouses of
veterans who would have been eligible but did not participate in the VIP
themselves. These veterans had never applied, perhaps because of pride or an
unwillingness to accept government help. Perhaps the couple worked on the chores
together or the spouse was healthy enough to perform the work alone. Now,
despite a desperate need for help with housekeeping and grounds maintenance
after a veteran has passed away, these survivors are not eligible for
During the election campaign, the Prime Minister committed to extending the
Veterans Independence Program to the spouses of all veterans of the Second World
War and Korean War, regardless of when the veteran died. That commitment was
more than one year ago and widows and widowers across the country are still
Honourable senators, we hear so much about the benefits to seniors of staying
in their homes, close to the support of family, friends and loved ones. In the
long run, it makes more financial sense to expand a program such as the VIP. The
cost of assisting people to live on their own is far lower than the cost of
taking care of them in a residential nursing home. We must do whatever we can to
assist these women and men to remain in their own homes for as long possible.
The bottom line is that today's surviving spouses have dealt with the impact
of their partners' war experience for their entire lives. They were left waiting
at home while their loved ones went off to war. They stood by our veterans and
cared for them in their later years. They have surely paid a service to Canada
and to Canada's war effort. I urge the Conservative government to honour its
election commitment and extend the Veterans Independence Program as it had
promised during the election campaign.
Hon. George J. Furey, Chair of the Standing Committee on Internal
Economy, Budgets and Administration presented the following report:
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has
the honour to present its
Your Committee has approved the Senate Estimates for the fiscal year
2007-2008 and recommends their adoption. Your Committee notes that the
proposed total budget is $87,030,000.
An overview of the 2007-2008 budget will be forwarded to every Senator's
(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Furey, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been
received from the House of Commons with Bill C-37, to amend the law governing
financial institutions and to provide for related and consequential amendments.
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second
reading two days hence.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 23(6), I have
the honour to table in the Senate, in both official languages, the report of the
Canadian Delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, regarding
its meeting of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development held in London,
United Kingdom, from January 18 to 19, 2007, and its participation in the First
Part of the 2007 Ordinary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe held in Strasbourg, France from January 22 to 26, 2007.
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next
sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, pursuant to rule 95(3)(a), the Standing Senate Committee on Transport
and Communications be authorized to sit on Tuesday, March 13, 2007, and
Wednesday, March 14, 2007, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a
period exceeding one week.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next
sitting of the Senate, I shall move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional affairs be
empowered to review the changes introduced by the Government in the
composition and mandate of the consultative committees recommending candidates
for judicial appointment, in order to determine the impact on judicial
independence and impartiality, and the manner in which this constitutional
principle should be protected in the appointment process; and
That the committee submit a report on this matter to the Senate no later
than October 30, 2007.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In the
wake of the review of the renewal of the controversial sections of the
Anti-Terrorism Act and the ensuing negative vote in the other place, and in the
wake of the two reports published by the two chambers, calling for a number of
measures that would not only guarantee Canadians' rights, but ensure the public
is protected, can the Leader of the Government tell us whether this government
will promise to study those measures responsibly and thoughtfully in light of
the recommendations and, in particular, the principles of balance cited by the
judges of the Supreme Court of Canada in a unanimous judgment handed down on
February 23? Can she also tell us whether this government will refrain from
manipulating public opinion by using emotional appeals from victims of attacks?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question.
The government has made it clear, in view of the decision of the Supreme
Court and in view of the activities of yesterday, that it will be looking into
all matters in this crucial and important file, including taking into
consideration the serious and good recommendations of the Special Senate
Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act, chaired by Senator Smith. The government
will act judiciously and responsibly in the interests of Canadians and their
I take offence to the honourable senator's comments about manipulating public
opinion, when in fact the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the other place
spoke of the victims of 9/11 as just a sideshow. The Liberals' newly acquired
member, Garth Turner, called them "props," and I can tell honourable senators
that I do not think victims should ever be described as "props" or "sideshows."
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, speaking of this important issue, can the Leader of the Government in
the Senate make her government stop attacking the reputation of parliamentarians
with insidious, fallacious personal allusions and such allusions to their
Will her government also recommend to the Prime Minister that he apologize
for all these actions that tarnish the reputation of our parliamentary
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I have answered these questions before. The
comments that the honourable senator is making are in reference to an article
that appeared in the Vancouver Sun newspaper by an expert on the matter
of the Air India inquiry, Kim Bolan. As has been noted and has been suggested,
if people have difficulty with this particular article, they should take the
issue up with the Vancouver Sun.
Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, my question is addressed to
the Leader of the Government. We all recall that, in the dying days of the last
session, a bill was introduced, namely Bill C-55, dealing with bankruptcy,
insolvency and amendments to that statute that were not properly amended in that
specific period of time. Honourable senators will also recall that we agreed to
pass that bill, subject to the understanding that the government would undertake
not to promulgate it unless and until the Banking Committee of this institution
had had the opportunity to deal with it and to make appropriate amendments.
We have been waiting for some period of time for an amending statute.
Sometime in October, I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate when the
statute would be introduced. She responded privately that she hoped and expected
it would be introduced before the end of the year. Indeed, true to her word, a
ways and means motion was presented in the other place, but it was never tabled
because the government was unable to obtain the unanimous consent of the other
There are hundreds of thousands of stakeholders, hundreds of thousands of
individuals who go into bankruptcy each year. Thousands of businesses across
Canada are being restructured and thousands of employees are losing their jobs
and do not have the benefit of the wage protection provisions contained in Bill
C-55. It is urgent for this legislation to be presented. It exists; I have a
copy of it. There is absolutely no reason for it not to be dealt with by the
other place and then brought before this chamber so that it can be dealt with on
behalf of all Canadians. It is admittedly not as sexy as the other legislation
that the government prefers to introduce, but it is of grave importance for
hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
My question is this: When will this legislation be put before the lower House
and then brought here?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for his question. He is
absolutely right. He spoke to me many times about this matter in the fall. I am
regularly reminded of it by my colleague, Senator Angus, who spoke of it to me
as late as yesterday.
The motion was tabled in the other place, and as the honourable senator has
pointed out, there was no agreement. It is a matter that I continue to raise,
but it is rather like trying to unscramble an egg. It is a difficult piece of
legislation. We even had various people from the private sector suggest that
perhaps we should scrap the whole thing and start over.
I hope the honourable senator will accept my remarks as an indication that I
am taking his question very seriously. I know his concern, as does my colleague,
Senator Angus. I know of the commitment to have the bill come back before the
Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. All I can promise the
honourable senator is, like the little spider in the waterspout, I will try, try
Senator Goldstein: Honourable senators, my question was, when will the
bill be introduced? Unanimous consent is not needed for that bill. The
government chose to try to find it and did not, but the bill does not require
My question is, and remains, when will the bill be introduced?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, that question is serious and
direct, and one I take seriously. I know my colleague, Senator Angus, is also
urging a response as to when. I will once again go back and try to answer that
specific and direct question.
Senator Goldstein: On the same question, can the Leader of the
Government in the Senate take the question as notice and come back to us when we
resume sitting in the middle of March with a particular date and time when the
bill will be introduced?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I will take the question as
notice, while ignoring the senator's exact wording. I do not and cannot take it
as notice and then say I will definitely and positively have the date. I would
hope to. I will take the question as notice and make every effort to have a
response when we return in the week of March 19.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: I have a supplementary question. As the
Leader of the Government in the Senate will recall, when we were on the
government side we were pressed to bring in this legislation. When it came to
our committee in the dying days of the last Parliament, your committee, on a
unanimous basis, felt that the bill needed serious renovation. Rather than deal
with the renovation, which we could not do in the time period given to us, we
received what I consider to be a solemn undertaking by our side, when we were
the government, and also on the opposition side. The undertaking was to
reintroduce this legislation, as amended, for consideration by Parliament on or
before, I believe, the end of June, the proclamation date.
I hope that the Leader of the Government keeps in mind what Senator Goldstein
has said and what our Banking Committee has felt. This legislation is
non-partisan. We felt this important piece of legislation goes to the
effectiveness and the productivity of our economy, as well as to the question of
equity and fairness in our economy for those experiencing the problems of
Having said that, this piece of economic legislation is as important as one
will find. As Senator Goldstein so aptly said, it is invisible in the sense that
it falls below the radar screen. It is not sexy, but it is important.
Having in mind the commitment that was given on the leader's side when she
was in opposition, to bring it forward, echoed by us when we were on the
government side, will the leader please bring that matter to the attention of
the ministry and tell them they are holding up an important piece of
legislation, when there is no longer any excuse for delay?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for his question. I
will not debate what pieces of legislation are sexy and what pieces are not.
However, the honourable senator's concerns are valid. Of course, when he was on
the government side, I remember the piece of legislation well. I remember the
position we took in opposition. What the honourable senator stated is true and
serious. I will make the department aware of his strong views.
As I said to Senator Goldstein, trying to unscramble an egg is frustrating,
but this complex piece of legislation requires a serious second look. That is
not to say that there is any particular reason why it should not proceed.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, on many occasions I have asked
the Leader of the Government in the Senate questions about the ongoing barley
marketing plebiscite in Western Canada. I have asked about the curious wording
used in the plebiscite, and we have discussed the delay caused by a mistake made
by the government in asking farmers to list both the tonnage and acreage of
barley sold over the last five years in order to validate their ballots.
Now I pose a simple and more serious question to the leader: Why is a secret
ballot not being used in this plebiscite?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for her question. The balloting
in this plebiscite is being conducted independently by the very reputable firm
of KPMG. No one in this country who has had dealings with KPMG would question
the integrity of their work. Far be it from me, or anyone else, to question the
methods of KPMG. All confidentiality provisions will obviously be followed by
them, and we will know the results only when the balloting is complete.
Senator Milne: Honourable senators, I thank the leader for her
response, in which I am quite sure she is sincere. However, has the leader heard
about the latest western protest group? It is a newly-formed organization of
western grain farmers called Real Voice for Choice. It is a non-partisan farm
group developed in response to the Conservative government's determination to
undermine the Canadian Wheat Board.
I ask the leader again: What possible explanation is there for identification
numbers on the ballots other than to enable this government to track down those
farmers who, in the opinion of the government, vote correctly or those who vote
Can the leader explain to senators any possible purpose for having the
ballots numbered to correspond to the number that identifies each producer
receiving a ballot in this plebiscite?
Farmers who do not trust this government's intentions are purposely choosing
not to vote for fear of retribution, such as a delay in their agricultural
income stabilization payments next year if they vote against the government's
Canadians should never be afraid to voice their opinion. Canadians should
never have to fear retribution by their own government. Yet, the barley
producers in Western Canada are afraid to be honest on the ballot because they
fear what the government intends to do as a result.
Does the leader not feel any shame?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, it is quite something for
anyone to question a reputable firm like KPMG. It is a secret ballot, and no one
from the government will see the ballots or have access to the information that
KPMG is using to conduct the balloting.
As I have said before, the honourable senator undermines people in the
agricultural sector by saying that they are afraid. I do not believe that
description applies to people in the agricultural community. They are smart
people. They understand the questions clearly. They know that a reputable firm
such as KPMG would not divulge private information.
I was unaware of the newly-organized protest group that was mentioned, but I
did read in some publication that one such group had been organized, and is
headed up by one, David Orchard.
Senator Oliver: Good response.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I do not know anything about
agriculture, but I am wondering if the leader has seen the ballot. I happen to
have seen the ballot. It has a number on it and then it has a name right beside
the number. How can that be a secret ballot? Has the leader actually seen and
examined such a ballot? It is demonstrably not a secret ballot. There is a
number and, on the part that is retained, there is a number with a name beside
it. That does not sound like a secret ballot.
Senator LeBreton: I have not seen the ballot. I know what the
questions are because I had to find out what they were in order to answer a
question from Senator Milne in the past.
I have not seen the ballot. If the honourable senator has seen a ballot,
obviously a barley producer has shown it to him. I have not seen the ballot; I
have no interest in seeing the ballot. KPMG is conducting this ballot
independently and I, for one, do not intend to question the integrity of a
reputable firm such as KPMG.
Every time we vote in an election, we are on a numbered voter's list. We are
handed a ballot when we go in to vote. We have a number and a name and there is
information, otherwise we would not be able to vote.
However, I do not believe the information that KPMG is using to identify
eligible voters — information that they will hold themselves — in any way
undermines the privacy of the individual barley producers. I am absolutely
certain that the government's only interest in this process is the results, and
no matter who would ask, KPMG would never divulge information or material that
they have used to properly distribute ballots to eligible voters. I cannot
imagine how anyone could question a firm such as KPMG, which has a very solid
reputation. I will not in any way entertain the impression that, somehow or
other, they are suspect.
Senator Banks: Canadians do not put their trust in KPMG; they put
their trust in the Government of Canada and the election process. Unless I am
mistaken, I think the significant difference is that when I tear off the ballot
in an election and put it in the ballot box, there is no longer a number on it.
There is a number on the ballot that I am handed, and I hand it back to the
returning officer and he checks my name off the list. The piece of paper I put
in the ballot box does not have a number on it, so that that vote cannot be
traced to me or to anybody else.
I think it would be useful, since the leader is being asked questions about
the secret ballot aspect of this referendum, to make it her business to look at
the ballot form.
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator is right. Canadians trust the
government to conduct a fair voting process. It is clear that our position on
this procedure was marketing choice, but once KPMG took over the process of
conducting the vote, the honourable senators would be the first people on their
feet if the government were to ask KPMG to divulge private, secret information
that the employees of KPMG themselves require in order to conduct the balloting.
I believe Canadians trust the government to run a fair process and the
government has turned over this process to KPMG. The government trusts KPMG, and
I think the public does as well.
Senator Milne: I have a further supplementary question, if I may. I
would like to know if KPMG also designed the questions on this ballot. Not only
is the ballot itself not secret, but if KPMG are so reputable, how on earth did
they manage to design such absolutely slanted questions?
Senator LeBreton: That is the honourable senator's point of view. I
have read the questions. They are very clear and very fair. KPMG have been given
the responsibility for conducting this vote.
As to the honourable senator's specific question about the precise body that
designed the questions, I will take it as notice. I think we have been through
this subject before. Barley producers will, at the end of the day, vote their
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: My question is to the Leader of the Government
in the Senate. Honourable senators, day after day in our major cities in this
country, we walk or drive by homeless persons. These individuals, many of whom
suffer from mental illness, others with drug-related problems and others who
simply have not been able to fit into our society, wander the streets. They lack
food and, all too often, accommodation and they have inappropriate or a complete
lack of medical services.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate explain why, with this tragedy
unfolding daily before our eyes, the homeless initiative of the federal
government will under-spend its budget by some $70 million?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for her question. I will take the
question as notice.
Senator Carstairs: The Leader of the Government in the Senate may also
add the following: How many meals for the hungry; how many nights in appropriate
accommodation and how many medical interventions could have been met with the
expenditure of this $70 million?
Senator LeBreton: I will add that to the question.
Hon. Daniel Hays: My question is to the Leader of the Government in
the Senate. In the last few days, namely on February 22 and February 27, I have
noticed stories in the Ottawa Sun concerning the arming of border guards.
If I read these articles correctly, the government is committing $1 billion to
the arming of 5,000 border guards.
The articles point out that between 25 and 30 per cent of the border guards
do not even want to carry firearms on the job. Further, the cost of arming is
one thing but because all of the guards will be armed, it will preclude the
hiring of students during the summer months, which was a welcome opportunity for
those students and of benefit to Canadians through the lowering of costs.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise whether this decision
to arm all 5,000 border guards at a cost of $1 billion is final, or whether
—according to these articles — that decision is being reconsidered in terms of
either not proceeding or else proceeding with arming only some of the guards, so
that this horrendous cost can be reduced or minimized in some way?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for his question. The decision to
arm border guards was made and announced last August. It was made after
considerable consultation with people who work along the borders.
I can remember seven or eight years ago being part of a committee where
border guards appeared as witnesses. They asked then to be armed because of the
situation at the borders with smuggling and people coming across with firearms.
Up to 100 officers will be trained by August 2007. With regard to the
question about student summer jobs, the situation with regard to available jobs
for our young people is quite good. We have a labour shortage all over the
country. With respect to the summer student placement program, there are areas
in the country where we do not have enough students.
Therefore, I do not think summer students will be without jobs as a result of
this decision to arm our border guards.
Senator Hays: I do not think that the 1,300 summer students they
normally hire will welcome that comment.
I have a further question arising out of the articles. It seems the main
reason for arming the border guards is the potential threat to them if someone
approaches the border that may be armed. The article indicates that on 44
occasions last year the guards abandoned their post altogether, claiming that
without guns they were forced to work in dangerous conditions contrary to the
Subsequent investigations were carried out and none of those occasions posed
any danger to the guards at that time.
Can the leader confirm that is the case?
Senator LeBreton: Obviously, if border guards abandoned their
positions, even though it was later found that there was no reason to do so,
they must have thought there was reason at the time.
Again, I go back to the original intent, which was to secure our borders and
to keep drugs and firearms from coming across our borders. It was something that
the border guards had requested for a considerable time.
Regarding summer students, there might have been a time when jobs like border
guards were the only option for them. Now students have many options other than
working along the border.
Senator Hays: The article points out that the border guard union has
been concerned about the summer students and anxious that they not be hired.
My final supplementary question deals with the same two articles. The
articles refer to an internal briefing memo to Minister Stockwell Day. If border
officers are provided with side arms, other law enforcement officers, 450 park
wardens, 6,800 correctional officers and 1,700 parole officers, will seek side
arms. That is another 10,000 people with side arms, which will cost another $2
billion. Can the leader confirm whether these expenditures are planned?
Senator LeBreton: With regard to the article, it was a column written
by a columnist in the Sun newspaper chain. Columnists are entitled to their
opinions. That is why they are columnists. The columns are not necessarily based
on fact. Often they are based on rumours. Therefore, I will not get into a
debate over that particular columnist and whether his opinions are accurate.
Going back to the question of students being employed along the borders and
if there is any particular plan for students this year, I will seek further
clarification and see if there are any other plans in place for students who
wish to work on the border.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Eyton, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Meighen, for the second reading of Bill C-26, to amend
the Criminal Code (criminal interest rate).
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, in a past life, having sat for a number of years on the Standing
Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, I had the opportunity to
conduct with a former colleague, Senator Plamondon, an in-depth examination of
the possible problems encountered by Canadians with financial difficulties as a
result of criminal interest rates.
As we know, the Senate passed Bill S-9 on June 28, 2005. This bill focused
directly on section 347 of the Criminal Code on the issue of criminal interest
rates. We conducted an in-depth examination of the bill and heard many
witnesses, including representatives from financial institutions and consumer
groups as well as individual consumers.
The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce will have to
reconcile the work done previously with what has been done on Bill C-26.
The government's Bill C-26 would allow a 60 per cent interest rate, which I
consider to be not right at all. This bill is so thin, it will not prevent the
abuse of the less fortunate who, for reasons of basic survival, have to borrow
small amounts of money for which the interest rates and related charges can
amount to as much as 150 per cent.
The definition of the term "interest rate", the meaning of protection, and
reconciling consideration of Bill C-26 with the work of our committee will
require a lot of work before the consumer is protected from this infamous 60 per
cent interest rate.
Honourable senators, the Province of Quebec has passed a bill to limit the
interest rate to 35 per cent, which, although still very high, is not considered
usurious. Unfortunately, the other provinces have not legislated in this area,
and this bill does urge the provinces to do so.
I find it interesting, and at the same time, discouraging, that Canadians
will not be protected in the same way in every province. For example, people
living in poverty in other provinces that do not have this legislation will not
be protected from the abuses of these institutions, which make a great deal of
money on the backs of the less fortunate.
I would therefore like to remind honourable senators of the important work
already done by the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce,
which will examine this bill today. After hearing dozens of hours of witness
testimony during consideration of Bill S-19, I wanted to ensure that we could
reconcile these matters and, above all, protect those less fortunate.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
it is moved that the bill be read the second time. Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to and bill read second time.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
when shall this bill be read the third time?
On motion of Senator Comeau, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee
on Banking, Trade and Commerce.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government) pursuant to
notice of February 27, 2007, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to
examine and report upon the expenditures set out in the Estimates for the
fiscal year ending March 31, 2008, with the exception of Parliament Vote 10.
Motion agreed to.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government) pursuant to
notice of February 27, 2007, moved:
That the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament be
authorized to examine the expenditures set out in Parliament Vote 10 of the
Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008; and
That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House
Motion agreed to.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Di Nino:
1. That pursuant to subsection 83.32(1) of the Criminal Code, the
application of sections 83.28, 83.29 and 83.3 of that Act be extended for a
period of three years from the first day on which this resolution is passed by
both Houses of Parliament.
2. That this Resolution come into force on the day on which it has been
passed by both Houses of Parliament.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Order stands.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, my curiosity gets the better
of me and there is, I think, a procedural point here. Am I correct in stating
that this is the very resolution that was defeated in the other place yesterday,
or the day before yesterday? What is the status of this resolution? It is not
possible, as I understand it, to amend the resolution. The form of the
resolution is prescribed by the statute and it has been defeated in the House of
Commons. Is the government asking for leave to withdraw it for the Senate Order
Senator Comeau: Yes, this is the motion that was defeated in the House
yesterday, which would make it such that if we move on it in this house, it is
actually quite new. Having said that, it is an interesting motion to have on the
books and we might wish to give it some thought as to whether we might want to
come back to it for consideration in the future.
I suggest we leave the motion there and eventually we might have some
discussions on it.
Senator Murray: Is there not a date, a deadline after which it does
become obsolete? It is dead by tomorrow, is it not?
Senator Comeau: It is tomorrow, so we still have until tomorrow to
deal with it. Let us deal with it tomorrow.
On motion of Senator Carstairs, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Robichaud, P.C., for the second reading of
Bill S-219, to amend the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act.—(Honourable
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I have already spoken on this
motion. It is under the name of Senator Comeau for the fourteenth day, and I
wonder whether the honourable senator would agree to reset the clock.
This issue relates to a motion that appears later on the Order Paper, number
104 on page 10, under Senator Andreychuk. The two issues are linked and I will
speak in support of the motion of Senator Andreychuk later this afternoon. I
wanted to ensure the bill is not dropped because time lapses.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): I appreciate
that. I should have had a star beside the fourteenth day. I discussed this
matter with Senator Andreychuk. Given the importance of this bill, we do not
wish to see it fall off the Order Paper.
Having said that, I know Senator Andreychuk wishes to speak on it later. I
will adjourn it, therefore, in name of Senator Andreychuk and we will be able to
deal with this important issue.
The Hon. the Speaker: To ensure that the chair has understood, we have
had an address by Senator Comeau on this item, and it has been moved that the
item now be adjourned in the name of Senator Andreychuk.
Given that Senator Andreychuk is in the chamber, it would be appropriate for
the senator in the chamber to make the motion.
On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mitchell, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Trenholme Counsell, for the second reading of Bill
C-288, to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have discussed this bill with my colleagues opposite. The
adjournment of this bill is in Senator Tkachuk's name. Rule 37(3) of the
Rules of the Senate provides that the second speaker shall be permitted 45
minutes. However, Senator Tkachuk is not ready to give his speech today. Given
that Senator Spivak wants to give her speech today, we would not want to delay
her right to do so. I would ask honourable senators for leave to postpone
Senator Tkachuk's 45 minutes.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): We agree that
if a senator wishes to speak today that they not be considered the second
speaker, pursuant to rule 37(3) of the Rules of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it the agreement of the house that the second
speaker is Senator Tkachuk? He reserves his 45 minutes, and I understand another
honourable senator would like to speak now.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Mira Spivak: I want to thank the Deputy Leader of the Government
and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I may not be back for a while so I
would like to speak today.
Honourable senators, the ground has shifted under our feet. Except in certain
benighted precincts — for example, the Fraser Institute — not many people are
wasting their energy now trying to deny the science of global warming. Rather
the arguments now, couched in language that sometimes beggars the imagination,
is against the Kyoto Protocol.
Not only are the targets unrealistic, the argument goes, but to meet them
would be catastrophic to the Canadian economy. The Kyoto treaty is described as
a fantasy akin to believing in the Tooth Fairy — and it is political suicide and
It has even been suggested that Kyoto is a socialist plot, despite the
inconvenient truth that the leaders who brought Canada into the climate change
convention have little credibility in socialist circles. I speak of Jean Charest
and Brian Mulroney.
It is useful to note who the opponents of Kyoto are. First, some are industry
leaders — in the oil industry, but not all leaders in the oil industry, by any
means. Even Exxon has accepted the reality of climate change after spending
millions of dollars for years to deny it.
Some leaders are members of Parliament, but one can hardly blame them. The
turnaround has been fast. Then, the media, suddenly alerted to the issue, are
relying on Coles Notes to understand the file.
There has been a well-orchestrated, well-funded campaign by Friends of
Science, a coalition of anonymous donors and oil industry public relations
professionals, through the Alberta-based Science Education Fund, to support the
anti-Kyoto cause — not that there is anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld said,
but we should keep those ties in mind. This is a democracy.
Until recently, the campaign succeeded in influencing public opinion and
Canadian policy on climate change and the Kyoto Protocol. Had the campaign
failed, Bill C-288 would not have been necessary. I do not think it was
necessary anyway — or, as my colleague here may argue, it may not even be
The Government of Canada had no option but to meet our Kyoto obligations, one
way or another. Canada is legally bound by Kyoto and faces penalties for
non-compliance. Canada also has a moral obligation, as do other industrialized
nations, to address global climate change, and Kyoto is the only international
instrument, at the moment, to deal with what is truly a global crisis.
When we pass this bill, the government will be required each year to lay out
a plan for achieving the Kyoto commitment. The plan must set out emission limits
and performance standards, it must describe market-based mechanisms adopted, et
If the government fails, the Kyoto Protocol will add 30 per cent to our
shortfall and make it all the much harder to reach the next goal in the
post-2012 period. This situation may not be fair but that is what it is.
The question is, What do we need to implement Kyoto or attempt to implement
it? The first thing we need is leadership, there is no question — the kind of
leadership Tony Blair has demonstrated on this file. Industry is asking for the
Canadian government to lead. A surprising number of CEOs and CFOs, in a recent
survey by The Globe and Mail, did not view the clean air act as a
replacement of the Kyoto accord. That is, it might be good but it is not a plan
to combat climate change.
Business leaders appear to be at a tipping point, where they realize that the
economic up-side is in getting on with this environmental program, not fighting
it. Donald Lang, CEO of CCL Industrial, says customers are demanding it —
customers such as Proctor & Gamble and Unilever — because they do not want to be
tarnished by suppliers but executives are waiting for governments to set
targets, give them direction and give them what business needs — certainty.
The U.K. has already achieved a 15-per-cent reduction and expects to double
its Kyoto commitment by 2010. In large part, that reduction is due to Tony
A draft government climate change plan based on the principle of reducing the
intensity of greenhouse gas emissions will permit, according to the figures
presented in that document, greenhouse gas emissions from all oil and gas
production to rise by 46 per cent between 2000 and 2010. Emissions from oil
sands producers will be 179 per cent higher in absolute numbers, although the
emissions intensity reduction per unit will be 15 per cent. This is because of
the forecast for increased production from the oil sands, a conservative
estimate suggest some critics. Emissions from increased production could soar
without limit as long as the emissions per unit of production are lowered.
Take, for example, Suncor Energy, an oil sands producer that has reduced
emissions per barrel of oil by more than one third since 1990. Suncor Energy CEO
Rick George made this admission in the company's 2006 report on climate change:
Despite the success we've had over the past 15 years in reducing the
intensity of greenhouse gas emissions, the fact that we are growing as a
company means our absolute emissions are increasing.
In fact, Canada's 27 per cent increase in emissions since 1990 is also a 43
per cent improvement in emissions intensity. We will end the decade with perhaps
emissions of 40 per cent higher, according to Jeffrey Rubin, CIBC World Markets'
Chief Economist. Yet at the same time, emissions per unit of GDP will have
fallen by 20 per cent. The intensity strategy will not meet the Kyoto
To implement this bill, we need fairness. Emissions are rising most rapidly
in heavy industry that accounts for almost one half of Canada's emissions. We
need stringent caps for those sectors, in particular electricity generation and
upstream oil and gas where emissions have increased by 35 per cent and 58 per
cent respectively since 1990. However, this does not let the consumer off the
hook. We could follow Australia's example and ban the use of all incandescent
light bulbs in our homes and businesses. We could have more energy-efficient
cars and do many other things because the consumer has to play a role in this
scenario as well.
Representatives of the Pembina Institute appeared before a House of Commons
committee last week and set out absolute emissions targets of 6 per cent below
1990 levels for each of these sectors and for the energy-consuming sectors. They
said that these heavy industries could reach the Kyoto targets by reducing
emissions on site or by buying credits from domestic or international projects
that have lower-cost solutions. The cost would be about $1 per barrel of oil.
This would give us time to get to the technology because that is where the
answer will be.
Economist Jeffrey Rubin, a new convert to the cap-and-trade logic, this week
lauded the success it has had in the U.S. in reducing sulphur dioxide emissions.
They have fallen 40 per cent below 1980 levels. In the last few weeks, we have
seen figures bandied about that suggest that meeting our Kyoto commitment will
cost some $25 billion to buy foreign credits. We are told that this bill will
cause an economic collapse in Canada on the scale that Russia and Ukraine
It never hurts to be armed with the facts, and here are some to consider: In
2002, Marc Jaccard, co-author of The Cost of Climate Policy, estimated
the direct costs to Canada of meeting the Kyoto target. Even at a cost range of
$45 to $60 billion, it would have a relatively minor negative impact on family
incomes, co-benefits that improve quality of life and allow for more sustainable
communities, and limited lifestyle impacts.
As for the economy as a whole, Mr. Jaccard predicted a cumulative loss of GDP
of 3 per cent by 2010. This would mean that an economy expected to grow by 30
per cent would instead grow by 27 per cent. I am not sure whether the cost of
inaction might not make these figures totally out of line.
In addition to Canadian solutions, we would also need to purchase credits
through the Clean Development Mechanism — a mechanism with bona fides,
not costly hot air. The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters lobby group has
argued that the cost would be about $20 billion. In truth, it could be about one
half of that amount, according to those closer to the data — the International
Institute for Sustainable Development and the International Emissions Trading
Whether industry can respond in time is another concern. Consider these
facts: Canada's pulp and paper industry has already reduced its greenhouse gas
emissions by 43 percent since 1990. By 2000, the chemical producers had also
achieved a 43 per cent reduction in emissions, and they anticipate a 56 per cent
reduction by 2010. Alcan has reduced its emissions by 30 per cent since 1990,
while increasing production by 50 per cent. Du Pont has decreased its emissions
by 80 per cent, and in that time frame has earned $3 billion more.
Amory Lovins, founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute and an energy
conservation guru, recently commented on how the current political discussion is
all about cost, burden and sacrifice. He explained that climate protection is
not costly because energy efficiency is cheaper than fuel. It costs less to save
fuel than to buy it. Years ago, Michael Porter of the Harvard Institute said the
Mr. Lovins counts as his clients the Pentagon, Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart.
Consider Wal-Mart, in particular, whose sales of U.S. $312 billion last year
were in the order of one quarter of Canada's GDP.
Some two years ago, the Wal-Mart CEO, Lee Scott, announced a plan to reduce
its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent by 2012. Last April, a Wal-Mart
vice-president was before the U.S. Congress urging legislators to impose
mandatory caps on carbon emissions. Can it be that Wal-Mart has bad economic
information? The companies alongside Wal-Mart — Shell Oil, General Electric and
Duke Energy — were also asking for those mandatory caps that could lead to
emissions trading, similar to programs developed under Kyoto, in California and
the U.S. Northeast.
General Electric is doubling its R&D budget for research into clean
technologies from $700 million to $1.5 billion by 2010. This is not driven by
altruism. CEO Jeff Immelt has listened to marketplace demands for these
technologies and is responding to them; and he will make money that way.
A few years ago, General Electric put 500 energy conservation projects in
place, reduced CO2 emissions by one quarter of a million tons and saved $14
million per year in energy costs — scarcely an economic disaster.
Darryl King, head of Direct Energy, one of North America's biggest gas and
electricity marketing firm, has called for an end to subsidies to electricity,
oil and gas because, he says, it is the wrong economic signal for conservation.
He feels that the money could be better spent subsidizing high-energy furnaces
and so forth.
I acknowledge that some credible analysts have described this bill as
"Mission Impossible." Without it, however, we will have business as usual and
ever-increasing emissions. Canada needs regulations that allow our corporations
to plan and to act. We need to do some tax shifting — away from incomes and
property and towards waste, pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing greenhouse gases can have a happy side effect. Through technologies
to reduce greenhouse gases, money can be saved on energy bills and wasted
reserve, according to Eric Lloyd, head of Petroleum Technology Alliance, whose
members include most of the big names in the oil patch.
There is a saying in Israel —
The Hon. the Speaker: I am afraid the honourable senator's time has
The honourable senator asks for an extension of five minutes. Is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Spivak: In Israel there is a saying: Ain brera, which means
"no option." The Israelis have developed this attitude in order to survive.
They have made the deserts bloom where nothing grew before. In Canada, we do not
have an option. We must grasp the indomitable and unbelievable opportunities
that confront us and act.
On motion of Senator Tkachuk, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Fraser, for the
Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cook:
That the following Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism and other forms
of intolerance which was adopted at the 15th Annual Session of the OSCE
Parliamentary Association, in which Canada participated in Brussels, Belgium
on July 7, 2006, be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights
for consideration and that the Committee table its final report no later than
March 31, 2007:
AND OTHER FORMS OF
1. Calling attention to the resolutions on anti-Semitism adopted
unanimously by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly at its annual sessions in
Berlin in 2002, Rotterdam in 2003, Edinburgh in 2004 and Washington in 2005,
2. Intending to raise awareness of the need to combat anti-Semitism,
intolerance and discrimination against Muslims, as well as racism,
xenophobia and discrimination, also focusing on the intolerance and
discrimination faced by Christians and members of other religions and
minorities in different societies,
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:
3. Recognizes the steps taken by the OSCE and the Office for Democratic
Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to address the problems of anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, including the work of the Tolerance
and Non-Discrimination Unit at the Office for Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights, the appointment of the Personal Representatives of the
Chairman-in-Office, and the organization of expert meetings on the issue of
4. Reminds its participating States that "Anti-Semitism is a certain
perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews.
Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed towards
Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish
community institutions and religious facilities", this being the definition
of anti-Semitism adopted by representatives of the European Monitoring
Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) and ODIHR;
5. Urges its participating States to establish a legal framework for
targeted measures to combat the dissemination of racist and anti-Semitic
material via the Internet;
6. Urges its participating States to intensify their efforts to combat
discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities;
7. Urges its participating States to present written reports, at the 2007
Annual Session, on their activities to combat anti-Semitism, racism and
discrimination against Muslims;
8. Welcomes the offer of the Romanian Government to host a follow-up
conference in 2007 on combating anti-Semitism and all forms of
discrimination with the aim of reviewing all the decisions adopted at the
OSCE conferences (Vienna, Brussels, Berlin, Córdoba, Washington), for which
commitments were undertaken by the participating States, with a request for
proposals on improving implementation, and calls upon participating States
to agree on a decision in this regard at the forthcoming Ministerial
Conference in Brussels;
9. Urges its participating States to provide the OSCE Office for
Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) with regular information on
the status of implementation of the 38 commitments made at the OSCE
conferences (Vienna, Brussels, Berlin, Córdoba, Washington);
10. Urges its participating States to develop proposals for national
action plans to combat anti-Semitism, racism and discrimination against
11. Urges its participating States to raise awareness of the need to
protect Jewish institutions and other minority institutions in the various
12. Urges its participating States to appoint ombudspersons or special
commissioners to present and promote national guidelines on educational work
to promote tolerance and combat anti-Semitism, including Holocaust
13. Underlines the need for broad public support and promotion of, and
cooperation with, civil society representatives involved in the collection,
analysis and publication of data on anti-Semitism and racism and related
14. Urges its participating States to engage with the history of the
Holocaust and anti-Semitism and to analyze the role of public institutions
in this context;
15. Requests its participating States to position themselves against all
current forms of anti-Semitism wherever they encounter it;
16. Resolves to involve other inter-parliamentary organizations such as
the IPU, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), the
Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) and the NATO Parliamentary
Assembly in its efforts to implement the above demands. —(Honourable
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I rise today on the motion put
forward by Senator Grafstein regarding the Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism
and other forms of intolerance adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Association.
Let me quote from the Oxford English dictionary:
Semite: [noun] A member of a group of Semitic-speaking peoples of the Near
East and northern Africa, including the Arabs, Arameans, Babylonians,
Carthaginians, Ethiopians, Hebrews and Phoenicians.
The official definition of Semite reminds us all that the term itself refers
to a vast group of Semitic-speaking peoples that happens to include, amongst
others, both Arabs and Jews. This resolution emphasizes that fact, and although
anti-Semitism is more often than not perceived as hatred and bigotry toward Jews
per se, we must not lose sight of National Homelessness Initiative—Under-spending of Budget to Arabs. In our current global social climate, we must not allow one
bigotry to be replaced by another. Combating anti-Semitism must include
combating hatred and bigotry toward Arabs as well.
On November 22, the Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel spoke
at Queen's University to more than 1200 people. The most touching and resonating
moment of his speech was his reminder to everyone in the hall that "to remain
silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all." He went on to say, "a person
who is indifferent to the suffering of others is complicit in the crime."
The resolution before us, adopted unanimously by the OSCE Parliamentary
Assembly, calls to action all of its member states to speak up and shake off
indifference by studying, legislating against, reporting on and, most important,
acting on combating intolerance.
Personally, to my knowledge, I have never been the target of anti-Semitism.
However, is that not precisely the point? Bigotry, racism and discrimination are
rarely overt, or at least they never were in the past. Of course, they existed,
but most people were far too correct to give audible voice to their biases or
bigotries. If my religious affiliation was ever a problem for anyone else, I
doubt that he or she would have been made those feelings public.
Today, however, in this post-9/11 era, it has become acceptable in some
quarters to lump together one billion of our fellow human beings. Muslims, or in
fact all Arabs no matter what their religion, are labelled in the same way. And
this labelling is at the very heart of discrimination — the espousal of
preconceived ideas about all individuals of the same race, religion or culture.
The words and gestures are no longer subtle. Attributing the opinions or actions
of a few mad extremists to all members of the same religion or the same culture
is the very basis for racism and bigotry.
I want to take the time to quote from a speech given on September 11, 2006,
at the Canadian Club in Montreal by Tony Comper, Chief Executive Officer of the
Bank of Montreal, who, along with his wife, founded the organization, Fighting
Anti-Semitism Together, FAST.
We believe, the majority of Canadians do — that the time has long passed
for polite silence in the face of anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred,
bigotry and racism. What we hope to help create, both with FAST itself and
with our Choose Your Voice educational program, is a nation of non-bystanders, Canadians of all heritages who simply no longer permit the
anti-Semites and their like-minded kin to spread their poison unscathed. We
hope to embolden and encourage those with still-open hearts and minds to stand
up and speak out against discrimination, wherever and however it rears its
ugly head, and marginalize the anti-Semites and bullies and bigots and take
away their power to intimidate.
The Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance,
adopted by the OSCE, urges, requests and resolves that all participating states,
including Canada, act on the issue. The notion that many countries, many leaders
and many cultures unite to contest this insidious problem is a good thing.
The planet has shrunk. Individual countries shaped by their culture and their
heritage no longer operate independently. This community, which is now a global
one, as well as the ease of travel and mobility have made immigration,
integration and assimilation the new norm. Tolerance is now required of everyone
and is the fruit of education and occasionally legislation. Canada is not
indifferent. Diefenbaker's Canadian Bill of Rights set out, for the first time,
that no Canadian was to be discriminated against on the basis of gender,
religion, race, colour or language. It was the precursor to the Canadian Charter
of Rights and Freedoms.
In this day and age, knowing the tragic history resulting from one form of
anti-Semitism in the early 20th century, and remembering the words of Elie
Wiesel, "because of indifference, one dies before one dies," Canada's history
of tolerance should be publicly celebrated in a written report, as requested by
the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
I support the motion that this resolution be referred to the Standing Senate
Committee on Human Rights for consideration. In keeping with Canada's agreement
in Brussels in July of last year, we should prepare a report for presentation at
the 2007 session of the OSCE Parliamentary Association.
Let it be known to the association that all of us in this chamber agree with
the Right Honourable John Diefenbaker when he said, July 1, 1960:
I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way,
free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or
free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I
pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.
Honourable senators, the British and French parliaments have acted and done
remarkable work on this resolution. I commend to all honourable senators on both
sides the proposition that this body, as an integral part of the Parliament of
Canada, engage and discharge this important duty to our colleague nations in the
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Question!
Hon. Anne C. Cools: I would like to speak on this debate.
Senator Grafstein: This resolution has been on the Order Paper for
five years. All senators have had an opportunity to consider it. I move the
adoption of this resolution.
The Hon. the Speaker: The motion before the house is clear. It was
moved by the Honourable Senator Fraser, for the Honourable Senator Grafstein,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Cook. It is this motion that is now before
the house for debate. We have had the intervention of Senator Segal. Is there
further debate? I recognize Senator Cools.
Senator Cools: I am very interested, honourable senators, in speaking
in this debate. I have been waiting for many months to listen to Senator Segal
who, as we know, is one of the towering intellects in this place.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Cools: Senator Segal can attest to the fact that I was here a
few minutes ago. I left and I said that I was returning to hear his speech.
On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
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 have moved this
motion, which was seconded by the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., as I believe
it is time that the Senate approach the issue of the application of the Charter
of Rights and Freedoms to ensure a systematic process for the application of the
Charter and other consequent rights legislation in this chamber.
It has been 25 years since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into
effect and we would be remiss if we did not assess the practices and procedures
in the Senate with a view to maximizing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to
all those who have dealings with the Senate and to all employees.
While I commend both the Senate and individual senators for their knowledge
of the Charter and the work they have done, I think it is incumbent upon us to
look at the various practices, procedures and policies that we have in place in
order to assure ourselves that we are fully aware of our processes for the
application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that they are, in fact, in
line with today's attitudes and court decisions.
In fact, Parliament is not above the law but bound by it. Even when
parliamentary privilege applies, it is incumbent on us in this chamber to put a
process in place for the comprehensive application of the Charter. Only if we do
this will we be able to assure the citizens of Canada of our complete support of
the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that we have taken all the necessary
steps to comply with it.
We have the recent Vaid decision of the Supreme Court of Canada of May
20, 2005, outlining the issues of parliamentary privilege in Canada and its
consequent effect on the application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it
applies to the House of Commons. Honourable senators will remember that that
case involved a chauffeur to the Speaker of the House of Commons who was
informed that because of reorganization, his former position would be surplus.
The chauffeur instead complained to the Canadian Human Rights Commission,
invoking the Canadian Human Rights Act. In summary, the Speaker and the House of
Commons invoked parliamentary privilege in a broad privilege of "management of
employees," covering with immunity all dealings with all employees, without
exception, who worked for the Legislative Branch of the Government.
While the judgment is extensive and no doubt has application to the Senate, a
few points need to be noted. The Supreme Court stated that:
Legislative bodies created by the Constitution Act, 1867 do not constitute
enclaves shielded from the ordinary law of the land.
In the majority view, an allegation of discrimination contrary to the
Charter or the Canadian Human Rights Act was not immunized by parliamentary
privilege because such discriminatory conduct, if proven, would actually
diminish the integrity and dignity of the House, without improving its ability
to fulfill constitutional mandate.
They further noted that:
Parliamentary privilege in the Canadian context is the sum of the
privileges, immunities and powers enjoyed by the Senate, the House of Commons
and provincial legislative assemblies, and by each member individually,
without which they could not discharge their functions.
In another part of their judgment they stated:
However, if the existence of the scope of the privilege has not been
authoritatively established, the court will be required to test the claim
against the doctrine of necessity — the foundation of all parliamentary
privilege. In such a case, in order to sustain a claim of privilege, the
assembly or member seeking this immunity must show that the sphere of activity
for which privilege is claimed is so closely and directly connected with the
fulfillment by the assembly or its members of their functions as a legislative
and deliberative body, including the assembly's work in holding the government
to account, that outside interference would undermine the level of autonomy
required to enable the assembly and its members to do their legislative work
with dignity and efficiency. Once a claim to privilege is made out, the court
will not inquire into the merits of its exercise in any particular instance.
The court held that the wide-ranging privilege asserted by the appellants has
not been authoritatively established in the courts of Canada or the United
Kingdom and is not supported as a matter of principle by the necessity test. The
court commented on the British Joint Committee report that stated:
The dividing line between privileged and non-privileged activities of each
House is not easy to define. Perhaps the nearest approach to a definition is
that the areas in which the court ought not to intervene extend beyond
proceedings in parliament, but the privileged areas must be so closely and
directly connected with proceedings in parliament that intervention by the
court would be inconsistent with parliament's sovereignty as a legislative and
The Supreme Court supported this position when they stated:
The proper focus, in my view, is not the grounds on which a particular
privilege is exercised, but the prior question of the existence and scope of
the privilege asserted by the parliament in the first place.
They further underscored that:
It is a wise principle that the courts and Parliament strives to respect
each other's role in the conduct of public affairs.
To do this in the Senate, I believe, requires that we fully assess the
outcome of the Vaid case as it applies to the Senate of Canada and,
second, that we ensure the maximization of rights while maintaining the proper
balance with parliamentary privilege. To do so in a systematic way could be an
adequate defence to any incursions in the future into Senate activities and
would give a measure of comfort and understanding to those who come in contact
with the Senate, either by way of dealings or by employment, that we respect and
enforce the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I, personally, did not choose to intervene in the Vaid case as I
believed that to do so would be entering into House of Commons affairs, and I
wanted to ensure that any differences would be maintained and that no judgment
would blanket all of us who work in the legislative field in Canada. My esteemed
colleague and seconder of this motion, the Honourable Senator Joyal, chose to
intervene, and I believe he has already explained his position and will continue
to do so in this honourable chamber.
However, I believe that both of us agree that the Rules Committee could be
seized with looking into the various aspects of this situation and the Vaid
case, and I believe it would be timely for the Rules Committee to complete its
work to ensure that we are charter compliant. To not do so could leave us open
to valid criticism that we do not accept full adherence to the Charter of Rights
and Freedoms and other legislation, yet we demand it of others. For consistency,
and pursuant to our commitment to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is
important that we look at the Vaid case and the Charter and how we should
It has been noted by Senator Joyal that there are varying categories of
employees. Some work for senators; some are within the bounds of parliamentary
privilege and others are not. Senator Joyal has introduced Bill S-219, which I
think is a companion and complement to this assessment. We should look seriously
at that piece of legislation in order to incorporate any shortcomings we may
have in our applications and adherence to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, Senator Andreychuk has defined
the parameters of the question much better than I could myself. I commend
honourable senators to the motion that precedes Senator Andreychuk's motion on
the Order Paper today, Motion No. 21, wherein Senator Segal calls the attention
of the Senate to the impact of the Charter 24 years after its implementation,
and the impact on the Charter on the prerogative of the Parliament of Canada.
The two motions meet at some point. As Senator Andreychuk has stated, the point
that she raises is a complement to a bill that I introduced earlier in the
session dealing with one aspect of the issues. Senator Andreychuk's motion deals
with the other aspect of the issues.
Honourable senators, let me briefly remind you of the situation in which
employees of Parliament find themselves. When I say "employees of Parliament,"
I do not mean only employees of the Senate. I also means employees of the other
place and employees who serve both places, such as the Library of Parliament, an
institution that serves both houses.
How does the Charter apply to employees of the Parliament of Canada?
According to the decision of the Supreme Court, on May 20, 2005, almost two
years ago, the Supreme Court decided, first, that the Canadian Human Rights Act
applied to everybody, including all the employees of Parliament. The problem
stemmed from the fact that when there is a complaint of discrimination, the
system that deals with the complaint is at least three-fold. An employee of
Parliament — whether an employee of the Senate, the other place, or the library
— must first define if he or she is covered by the Parliamentary Employment
Staff Relations Act. If that person is a member of one of the units covered by
the Parliamentary Employment Staff Relations Act, that person must go through
the arbitration board established by the Labour Relation Act of Parliament.
If that person is not a member of one of those units, then they must ask
themselves whether or not they occupy a privileged position. If the person does
not occupy a privileged position, they then must go to the human rights
tribunal. However, if they occupy a privileged position, then they have no
recourse except to directly address one of the two houses.
Who are those persons who occupy privileged positions? That is the question
that the Supreme Court had to resolve in the Vaid case. The court mused
about those persons and concluded that the table officers are privileged. Why?
Because they are directly connected to the legislative, deliberative functions
of this place. The Black Rod is also privileged. Those officers were mentioned
in the court's decision. If any of those people have a claim of discrimination,
they must address themselves to this place — to the house.
Suppose one officer at the table — and I am not looking at any one of them
presently — has a complaint based on discrimination, for instance on race. Where
would that person find recourse? Not in the courts, because the precincts of
this house are protected from court intervention. That person would have to
address himself or herself to us. The point raised by Senator Andreychuk deals
with the condition of those persons and the persons not covered by the Public
Employment Staff Relations Act.
Honourable senators, it seems complex, but it is time — now two years after
the decision of the court — that we try to put this house in order. There is no
better committee than the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures, and the
Rights of Parliament to address this issue and to report to this place. Most
likely the Rules Committee will want to consider the opportunity to propose
amendments to the Rules of the Senate in order to establish a procedure. This
procedure would govern any case of alleged discrimination involving an employee
of this place, or an employee who is not covered by the Parliamentary Employee
Staff Relations Act.
Honourable senators, I invite you to support this motion, because I think it
is an issue that all of us have on our minds. As Senator Andreychuk stated, if
there is an institution that should be above reproach in terms of implementing
the substance and spirit of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is this house
of Parliament. Many senators have stated publicly, on many occasions, that we
are a house to protect minorities. It should at least appear that our own
employees are covered and have a system of redress, if they feel they should
seek such redress, and that their concerns are arbitrated impartially and in a
way that satisfies the nature of our constitutional obligations. I invite all
honourable senators to support this motion.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Would Senator Joyal agree to answer a
question or two?
Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, within the time I have remaining.
Senator Nolin: Senator Joyal, do the gentleman usher and the clerk of
this chamber occupy privileged positions even though they are here by order of
Senator Joyal: Yes, in Vaid, the Supreme Court referred
directly to these employees because their work is so closely connected with the
legislative and deliberative functions of this house that it could not function
if they were not here. Even though their status is confirmed by order of the
Governor-in-Council, this does not change the nature of the responsibility and
the essential role they play in the Senate's ability to assume its deliberative
In other words, the Senate would not function without these employees. That
is the criterion used by the Supreme Court to determine that the employees that
you just identified are covered by the parliamentary privilege, just like you
and me, as well as all the other honourable senators and, of course, His Honour,
the Speaker. That is why the court defined very specific parameters to determine
which employees should benefit from the parliamentary privilege.
In the case of Mr. Vaid, who was the chauffeur for the Speaker in the other
place, the House of Commons argued that he was covered by the parliamentary
privilege. However, the court ruled that this individual's function was indeed
important but not essential to the deliberative and legislative function of the
House, even though the chauffeur is in regular contact with the Honourable
Speaker in the other place, or in this place.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Does the Honourable Senator Joyal intend to close
the debate because I would like to speak in this debate if possible. Could I
move the adjournment?
Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, I have spoken in support of that
motion and refer that motion to the Standing Senate Committee on Rules,
Procedures and Rights of Parliament Committee to study that motion and come back
with the appropriate recommendations.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are the honourable senators ready for the
It was moved by the Honourable Senator Andreychuk, seconded by the Honourable
Senator Tkachuk that the Senate refer to the Standing Committee on Rules,
Procedures and Rights of Parliament, the issue of developing a systematic
process for the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it
applies to the Senate of Canada.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Fraser calling 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. —(Honourable Senator Banks)
Hon. Jim Munson: It has been my privilege to sit on the Senate
Standing Committee on Transport and Communications and I am proud of the work we
undertook to look at the Canadian news media. The final report this committee
produced was comprehensive and included 40 recommendations. It was a serious
piece of work. In it, the Senate committee outlined, among other things,
worrisome developments in media concentration that are contrary to the public
This concentration effectively silences the diversity of voices available to
Canadians through the media. Recommendations included a call for a public review
mechanism on issues of cross-ownership and concentration of ownership.
Of course we had other concerns. We also recommended an increased role for
the CRTC to monitor and review cross-media mergers and ensure that a diversity
of news and information programming is available through community television
In addition, we looked at the Competition Act, and asked the obvious
question: If bank mergers can be reviewed for their impact on the public
interest why are media mergers not subject to the same consideration and
How disappointing it was to read the response of the Government of Canada to
this report. In a nutshell, the Government's response to our report is this: Do
not worry. Be happy.
The government's response does not acknowledge market trends that limit the
source of information to a few large organizations that are only becoming more
powerful, thanks to a regulatory environment that allows it.
I do not have to tell you that Canada is a huge country with many different
regions and a diverse population. To allow large communications giants to expand
their control over the message is to fail in our duty to protect the public
interest. In two of our largest cities, Montreal and Vancouver, news media are
intensely concentrated. Canwest Global not only controls television and
newspapers, but is now buying up community newspapers. In my home province of
New Brunswick, the Irving group of companies owns nearly all the newspapers.
Huge deals take place to merge media giants and make them even bigger, and no
one, no government body, says hang on, let us look at this.
The Senate report heard from many witnesses, and it is clear that when it
comes to media, and a vigorous and free press, bigger is not necessarily better.
The government missed the boat in its response to our report. While it
recognizes that Canadians get their news from a variety of media sources such as
blogs, podcasting, the Internet, radio and television, it does not recognize
diversity in the delivery of the message, and it does not guarantee diversity in
the message. The reality is that blogs, podcasting, the Internet, radio programs
and other sources of information report the same news, perhaps with some
differences, but it is nevertheless the same news.
The government's response seems to confuse the diversity of platforms with
the diversity of sources and voices.
Our Senate committee believes that the interests of our country and Canadians
are best served by a strong and vibrant news media. With our 40 recommendations,
we make it clear that the status quo is not okay.
The status quo does not serve well the interests of Canadians today, and
certainly not into the future.
Our Senate committee also looked at the role of the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation to see how its governance could be improved. Once again, it was no
This experience has been frustrating for our committee and I am sure, for
Senator Tkachuk who sat with me in the committee and went across the country as
we bonded in a non-partisan way and came to these conclusions. We looked at
every issue. I am sure that Senator Tkachuk must be sitting here, concerned and
worried that there has not much of a response from his own government on this
issue. I look forward to Senator Tkachuk speaking to this issue one day, because
I am sure we all agree with the 40 recommendations, and he has read Minister
Oda's response to it.
I find this situation frustrating on two levels. First, as a terminal news
junky with childhood memories of listening to the news on the radio at a young
age, and as a former reporter, I have a passion for the news and I have a
passion for the profession of journalism. Worrisome trends in this country are
affecting the practice of journalism. Independent thought, different
perspectives, the foundation of a strong and healthy democracy, depend on many
media sources, not only the biggest and most profitable ones. In Canada, we need
to take action to ensure we hear many voices and see many points of view.
The second aspect of this issue that concerns me is the Government of
Canada's response to the comprehensive work undertaken by the Standing Senate
Committee on Transport and Communications. The Senate has a role to play in our
democracy. We have a job to do and we do it well. For the Government to dismiss
the concerns and recommendations of a standing Senate committee, is worrisome.
The government's response is to say the government believes that the balance
contained in the current legislative, regulatory and policy framework, supported
by various government programs, has served Canadians well.
This Senate committee studied some serious issues, raised serious concerns
and made some serious recommendations. I am troubled that our work was dismissed
with such a trivial response.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: I was wondering about the many
Canadians who have owned media and have gone to England and America, and
purchased other newspapers. Do other countries have rules or regulations
governing their newspapers?
Senator Munson: I thank the honourable senator for the question.
The United States of America has rules and regulations on what they can own
and what they cannot own in each individual marketplace.
There are regulations as to whether they can own a newspaper or their own
radio or television so there are rules around the world, in the United States
and U.K. and in many other countries. I think this country could follow or learn
lessons from some of those examples.
Senator Mahovlich: Was it not Conrad Black who owned with Hollinger, I
believe, the Chicago Tribune, and he was allowed to purchase a large
newspaper company. I am sure that every country has an open invitation for
anyone who wants to buy a certain newspaper.
Was it not the Thomson family who went to Scotland and bought a newspaper in
Senator Munson: They have, and I have no complaint against families or
companies buying newspapers. Our concern is with cross-media ownership, and
moving into a marketplace where there are no checks and balances.
We do have foreign regulation rules in this country. You can only buy so much
of a newspaper in this country if you are a foreign owner.
In our report, in dealing with this issue of newspapers, we were seeking to
have a threshold, perhaps at 33 per cent, of owning radio, television, and
newspapers in a city such as Vancouver. At some point there has to be a
mechanism that kicks into place under the Competition Act where, in a very
public forum, a transparent forum, we say: Is this good for our democracy? Are
we getting the diverse views? The little guy, so to speak, is being pushed to
the sidelines. Our worry was that one voice in one market is not good in the
very vibrant democracy in which we live.
On motion of Senator Banks, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Trenholme Counsell
calling the attention of the Senate to concerns regarding the Agreements in
Principle signed by the Government of Canada and the Provincial governments
between April 29, 2005 and November 25, 2005 entitled Moving Forward on
Early Learning and Child Care, as well as the funding agreements with
Ontario, Manitoba and Québec, and the Agreements in Principle prepared for the
Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.—(Honourable Senator Cordy)
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I am very pleased to continue
the debate on the inquiry of Senator Trenholme Counsell on early learning and
child care, and more specifically on the agreements in principle signed by the
Government of Canada and provincial governments between April 29, 2005 and
November 25, 2005. I congratulate her on her initiative and the hard work that
she has done.
The process to reach the child care agreements of 2005 involved every
province and every territory. It engaged hundreds of parents and stakeholders to
whom Minister Dryden listened. The consensus reached during these consultations
was that we needed a child care system in Canada.
I believe that early learning and child care should be front and centre of
any political agenda. In fact, a recent Environics poll showed that 76 per cent
of Canadian voters view the lack of affordable child care as a serious or very
serious problem, and that 82 per cent of Canadian voters believe that
governments should play an important role in the area of child care. A majority
of Canadians, 76 per cent, agree with the national child care plan initiated by
the previous Liberal government under the direction of Minister Ken Dryden. This
should not be a surprise to anyone.
The early learning and child care plan was a result of consultation between
the provinces and territories and the federal government. It is not often that
negotiations are so successful, but across the country there was a realization
that something had to be done. As a former grade primary teacher, I know that
the early years of life are critically important.
To quote the early learning and child care agreement between the government
of Nova Scotia and of Canada:
Research demonstrates that high quality learning and child care play an
important role in promoting social, emotional and cognitive development of
young children. Promotion of learning and development in early childhood
supports the participation of parents in employment and education and supports
parents in their primary responsibility for the care and nurturing of their
children by improving early learning and child care for families with young
children. . . Nova Scotia's vision is to ensure all Nova Scotian children
enjoy a good start in life and be nurtured and supported by caring families
Dr. John Hamm, who was premier at the time of the signing of the agreement in
Our future belongs to our children and this agreement in principle will
help us better support them in years to come.
However, we now have a new premier in Nova Scotia, Rodney MacDonald, and what
does he say about child care? He is on record as calling on the new — well, not
so new — Conservative government to honour the five-year deal made with Minister
Dryden and he would also like the $1,200 before tax allowance which is sent out
to the parents of children under six. He refers to it as the blended approach
and as a premier, of course, he would want both. He recognizes the need for more
child care spaces in Nova Scotia. I do not always agree with Premier MacDonald,
but in this case I do.
In Nova Scotia, we need more high quality child care spaces. The Liberal
program signed by Premier Hamm and Prime Minister Martin would have created
7,167 child care spaces by the end of the five-year deal. That investment in our
young children would have allowed Nova Scotia to build on its strengths and to
provide more developmental programs and more early learning and child care
opportunities for children under six.
Honourable senators, the majority of Canadian families have both parents in
the work place. This is different from when most of us were growing up, but it
is today's reality. Child care is a necessity for parents who are to work, to
train, or to re-educate. Child care is also a necessity for those families
struggling to escape poverty and welfare by finding and keeping jobs.
The Conservative government's child care allowance is the focus of this
government's child care policy. This child care allowance of $100 a month before
taxes is not a child care program. It is a family allowance check or a baby
bonus cheque, a policy repealed by the government of Brian Mulroney. It does not
create child care spaces. You do not find quality child care in the mailbox. The
Conservatives say that the $100 a month provides choices in child care.
Honourable senators, choices are pretty limited for $3.50 a day, before taxes.
In his reply to the Speech from the Throne, Senator John Bryden gave us an
excellent analysis of the true value of the $1,200 child care allowance. He went
into great detail of how the payments would trigger reductions in income-tested
benefits and increases in taxes. Most Canadian families will end up with
considerably less than $1,200.
When Canadians fill out their tax returns this spring, they will discover
that they must claim the $1,200. On top of this, Prime Minister Harper cancelled
the young child's supplement last year, which amounts to $400 million taken away
from families. Honourable senators, I would agree with Senator Bryden, who
stated that this was an unfair policy because poor and modest income families
will receive smaller benefits than middle and upper income families. To quote
Senator Bryden: This is wrong. This is bad public policy.
The Conservative government's plan is a tax incentive for businesses and
community groups to supposedly create 125,000 new child care spaces. This plan
amounts to a one-time credit of $10,000 to create each space, but 85 per cent of
the costs of child care spaces are operational costs. The Conservative plan
offers nothing to keep that space open. It also offers nothing to ensure the
quality of the space. This tax incentive approach was tried previously by
Premier Mike Harris in Ontario. Honourable senators, this plan was an absolute
failure: not a single new space was created. Yes, that is correct, not a single
Response for the Conservative government's plan from the business community
has not been enthusiastic, to say the least. Catherine Swift, the head of the
Canadian Federation of Independent Business, stated:
It's just not practical, 75 per cent of businesses in this country have
fewer than five employees.
Several provincial ministers have dismissed tax incentives as ineffective. In
fact, a briefing book prepared for former Minister Finlay said that tax
incentives have had limited success in the past and had, indeed, an extremely
low take-up rate.
The plan is also open to community and non-profit groups, although how they
will qualify for tax credits when they pay no tax is unclear. Child care spaces
in the workplace may certainly be part of an overall plan, but as a substitute
for a national, well-planned, child care initiative, I think not.
On September 5, 2006, the previous Minister of Human Resources and Social
Development, Minister Diane Finlay, announced the creation of a ministerial
advisory committee to advise her on the design of the child care spaces
initiative. The committee, chaired by Dr. Gordon Chong of Toronto, was made up
of nine members who were to report to the minister last fall. My understanding
is that this report is now in the hands of the current minister, Monty Solberg.
The media release by the minister in September states that the report will be
available to the general public by HRDSC. I am hopeful that this will happen
shortly so that we may examine in more detail the design of the child care
spaces initiative put forward by this Conservative government.
Honourable senators, the Conservative government and Prime Minister Stephen
Harper have received a failing grade by child care advocates. The national early
learning and child care program was scrapped. It was replaced by a $100 a month,
before-tax baby bonus and a child care space initiative, which has, to date,
created no new child care spaces. Child care is a serious issue for thousands of
families in Canada and it should be a serious issue for this government.
Once again, I would like to thank Senator Trenholme Counsell for initiating
this inquiry, and to the other senators who have spoken on a subject that is so
important to Canadian families.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: I am wondering whether Senator Cordy would take
First, I would like to commend her on her thorough report on the child care
spaces that are required. Governments have many areas where they can make
funding available to address many of our social challenges today. You mentioned
literacy and poverty. I would also like to bring in high school dropouts and the
challenges that are facing single parent families.
How important is it for governments to take this issue very seriously, as an
intervention that will be well worth their while down the road in addressing
some of the concerns that she expressed today? Perhaps she might have some
examples of child care spaces that have done exactly that.
Senator Cordy: Thank you for the question. I think it is very
important for governments to step in and take responsibility. As I said earlier,
being a primary grade teacher for many years, I know the early years of life are
so important. In fact, there is a book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned
For about 10 years, I taught in a community just outside of Dartmouth, which
is where I live. The community was East Preston, which was a Black community.
There was an East Preston daycare centre that was supported by the provincial
and federal governments. However, it was more than a daycare centre. It was
really the centre for the community. I can remember teaching in the school in
that community and meeting, on many occasions, with the people who ran the
daycare centre and talking to them about what they did and how they better
prepared the children to start school. What it really was, more than a daycare
centre, was a head start program. Even the children whose parents were
stay-at-home parents were picked up by bus in the community and taken to the
Everyone in the community knew about the centre. It was open to everyone to
walk in and see what was going on. It was a focal point of the community and it
was very successful. In fact, Joyce Ross, who started the daycare centre, has
received much recognition by different levels of government for the work that
she did in initiating this program.
That is just one major example. That is just a daycare centre that goes above
and beyond what we think of as a stereotypical child care centre.
On motion of Senator Tardif for Senator Mercer, debate adjourned.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn, pursuant to notice of February 27, 2007, moved:
That, pursuant to rule 95(3)(a), the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry be authorized to sit between Monday, March 5, 2007
and Friday, March 9, 2007, inclusive, even though the Senate may then be
adjourned for a period exceeding one week.
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?
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, March 1, 2007, at 1:30 p.m.