Hon. Vivienne Poy: Honourable senators, yesterday was the sixtieth
anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act, 1923, also known as
the "Chinese Exclusion Act." This act was passed by the dominion government
banning immigration to Canada with few exceptions. From then, until its repeal
in 1947, only a handful of Chinese entered Canada.
Many senators may not understand why such a law was passed. I will explain.
The Chinese Exclusion Act was the culmination of a series of acts focused on
stopping Chinese from entering Canada. When the Canadian Pacific Railway, CPR,
was completed in 1885, it was thought that Chinese labour was no longer needed.
A head tax of $50 was imposed on each person of Chinese origin entering Canada
irrespective of their allegiance or citizenship. This amount was imposed because
it exceeded what a Chinese labourer could save, which was $48 in a year after
The amount was increased to $100 in 1900 and $500 in 1903. This tax was still
deemed to be not enough of a deterrent.
I will share one quote from the Debates of the Senate in 1923. Senator
Sanford Johnson Crowe said:
If you are going to open the door and allow wives to come in, you might as
well give British Columbia to the Chinese. . . . When I say that there are
2,000 business licences taken out in the city of Vancouver alone by Orientals,
you will realize that. The Chinese have gone into every business you can name.
Honourable senators, 60 years ago yesterday, Chinese exclusion was repealed.
This year is also the fiftieth anniversary of the election of Douglas Jung, the
first Chinese Canadian MP. Both events are cause for celebration.
The appointment of the Honourable David Lam as Lieutenant-Governor of
British Columbia in 1988 was another important turning point in the history of
Canadians of Chinese heritage. He was the first Chinese-Canadian to become a
Lieutenant-Governor in Canada.
Canada is definitely moving in the right direction. However, when you look
around this chamber and the other place, our representation is abysmal in
comparison to our numbers in the general population. There is still much work to
be done in order for Parliament to reflect the population it serves.
Hon. Nancy Ruth: I hope all honourable senators had a great Mother's
Day and have filed their income tax. The two have a relationship to each other.
That is what I wish to talk about.
American Julia Ward Howe, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic,
saw some of the worst effects of the Civil War. She worked with widows and
orphans on both sides of the war, and she realized that the effects of war go
beyond the killing of soldiers in battle. She saw the economic devastation of
the Civil War, the economic crises that followed the war and the restructuring
of the economies of both the North and South.
In 1870, Julia Ward Howe created an anti-war day that we know as Mother's Day
for Peace. She was convinced that, "The sword of murder is not the balance of
Today is International Conscientious Objectors Day. Conscientious objectors
to physical military service have been recognized in most parts of the world.
Conscience Canada, along with other groups, points out that modern wars are
hugely dependent on tax monies.
For conscientious objection to be adequately recognized, citizens who object
to paying for war must have the means to redirect their war taxes toward
non-violent means of peace building. Canada has several historical precedents
for recognizing conscientious objection to military taxation, starting with the
War of 1812.
Our Charter enshrined freedom of conscience based on secular morality as well
as religion. In 1981, Senator Eugene Forsey and six other MPs said:
In times of military conscription, exemption from service in the military
can be claimed on grounds of conscience, and alternative service is approved.
It should be equally possible to claim exemption from taxes intended for war
preparation and a related alternative should be offered.
I am one of those Canadians who, for some years, have withheld from my income
tax payment the percentage for the military budget. I have put that money on
deposit with a peace tax fund called Conscience Canada.
I encourage honourable senators to do so, too, and to work for the right of
Canadians to do three things: to legally and conscientiously object; to pay
taxes for peace, instead of the military; and, finally, to support Bill C-348
when it comes to this chamber.
As Julia Ward Howe said, "The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, on Sunday afternoon in
Moscow, Canada's men's hockey team squared off against Finland in the gold medal
game of the 2007 Ice Hockey Federation's world championship. Coming into the
game, our Canadian squad was undefeated in their previous eight games, including
a 5-1 victory over Switzerland in the quarter-finals and a 4-1 victory against
Sweden in the semi-finals.
Led by team captain Shane Doan, the Canadian team finished the tournament
with a perfect 9-0 record by defeating Finland with a score of 4-2. Canada's
perfect 9-0 record marked a remarkable fifteenth time since 1930 that Canada has
skated through the world championship without a loss.
Honourable senators, special recognition must go to tournament MVP Rick Nash,
who scored two goals in the gold medal game. I predict that his backhand shot
for the final game-winning goal will stay in our memories just the way that
Bobby Orr's dive across the goal crease in that final game in Boston is so well
Honourable senators, special recognition must also go to Captain Shane Doan,
who excelled through a great deal of political scrutiny resulting from, in my
view, unfortunate and unfounded allegations.
Congratulations, gentlemen. Your professionalism has made all Canadians
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, I have just received, through
the Child Care Coalition of Manitoba, reports on child care in Manitoba. The
coalition has produced four economic and social impact reports to document the
many contributions made by the child care sector. I would like to quote from two
of those reports.
1. Rural Child Care: Child care as economic and social development. Rural
areas need child care. Regulated child care helps parents balance work and
family responsibilities and provides children with a rich environment for
development and care. Child care is good for equity and supports their labour
force participation. Rural regulated child care is a key part of rural
infrastructure and economic development.
2. Franco-Manitoban Child Care: Child care as economic, social and language
development. In Manitoba's francophone communities, regulated child care
services play an additional role. Francophone child care contributes to
linguistic and cultural vitality in the next generation. French child care
enables children to have a strong language foundation for primary and
The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator LeBreton, answered my
question on May 9, 2007, regarding child development, and I would like to quote
part of her response:
For anyone to say that this government is ignoring our children and
ignoring minority language rights is just false.
At the end of her reply, Senator LeBreton added:
I take great offence that the honourable senator would think that our
government has not responded to these matters, because we have.
So, today I would like to revisit this subject.
My question to Senator LeBreton meant that the actions taken by the
Conservative government toward child care programs demonstrate a lack of
understanding of the needed regulated child care and the needed regulated
francophone child care. For those in minority communities, regulated services
are the window of opportunity for providing active support and services in
The needs of minority language communities were not taken into consideration
when the Conservative government cancelled the child development agreements. You
have weakened our resources and are chipping away at our already fragile and
Honourable senators, I can only repeat that regulated early learning and
child care services, support and involvement in early childhood are essential to
the survival of minority francophone communities, as well as to the success of
French-language schools across the country.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, May 14, 2007, marked the
sixtieth anniversary of the repeal of the Chinese Immigration Act. This act,
referred to as the "Chinese Exclusion Act," was enacted from 1923 until 1947
and prevented the wives and families of Chinese men in Canada from joining them.
Consequently, Chinese immigration was effectively stopped until the act was
repealed in 1947.
On June 22, 2006, the Canadian government apologized to Chinese Canadians who
paid the head tax and provided funds for redress and for educational activities
to acknowledge formally its former regrettable actions and to make reparations.
This week, the Chinese Canadian National Council held a press conference here in
Ottawa urging the federal government to extend direct redress to descendants of
deceased head tax payers whose spouse had also passed away before June 22, 2006.
Honourable senators, let us all remember and celebrate the hard work and
remarkable accomplishments of the many, many millions of Chinese Canadians, past
and present, who have helped shape our great nation.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, while we are still deep
into cheering the Ottawa Senators on their march toward the Stanley Cup, I want
to join with others today in expressing the pride we have for all our players
who led our Team Canada to victory in the world championship games in Moscow
over the weekend.
Without a single loss throughout the games, our team won by a hard-fought
four goals to two over Finland in the final gold medal contest yesterday. The
most valuable player of the games was Brampton, Ontario's Rick Nash, with two
goals in the final game and six overall in the tournament, an absolutely
There was another outstanding and courageous performance by a young man who
came from the small Alberta town of Halkirk. While helping out with that final
goal, he also had the honour of guiding our team with tremendous commitment as
its captain. His name is Shane Doan, who, at the young age of 30, already has an
outstanding history in hockey over the past decade, first with the Winnipeg Jets
and now in partnership with the Phoenix Coyotes. He played with Team Canada at
the 2006 Olympics and has guided our team in Moscow with great skill and
In all my 23 years in the Senate, I have not received as many calls and
emails from Albertans as in the last few days, as they rallied around this young
man for his talent, courage and dedication to his country and all its citizens.
I join them with pride and good wishes for many more years of success for Shane
and all his teammates as they continue to dominate one of our great national
sports. I also send best wishes to the Doan family and all the citizens of
Halkirk who have supported his career.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table,
in both official languages, the 2006-07 annual report of the Commissioner of
Official Languages, pursuant to section 66 of the Official Languages Act.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, pursuant to rule 28(3.1), I wish to inform the Senate that the
Department of Foreign Affairs has filed a user fee proposal for the
International Youth Program with the Clerk of the Senate. The proposal is deemed
to have been tabled on April 17, 2007, pursuant to rules 28(1) and (2).
According to the User Fees Act and the Rules of the Senate, this user
fee proposal should have been tabled in the Senate. Unfortunately, that did not
happen. Nevertheless, the act and our rules state that it must be referred to a
Senate committee, which has just 20 sitting days after the proposal is tabled to
report. Twelve days have now elapsed since it was tabled.
After consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, it has been determined
that the committee designated to study this document is the Standing Senate
Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
The Hon. the Speaker: Pursuant to rule 28(3.1), this document is
deemed to have been referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs
and International Trade.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been
received from the House of Commons with Bill C-40, to amend the Excise Tax Act,
the Excise Act, 2001 and the Air Travellers Security Charge Act and to make
related amendments to other Acts.
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. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last
week, the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
tabled its sixteenth report. I hope that the Leader of the Government in the
Senate has thoroughly reviewed this report and has decided what type of action
her government intends to take in response to serious violations of the rights
of each senator targeted by Mr. Kroeker.
The committee said that by collecting and sharing information, Mr. Kroeker
acted inappropriately and unethically.
I would remind honourable senators that we are not protected by the same
legislation that generally protects government officials and other employees. I
am referring to the Access to Information Act, the Privacy Act, and the Personal
Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. We have adopted a system
exclusively for the Senate. Chapter 2:06 of the Senate Administrative Rules
is entitled "Access to Information and Privacy".
The committee report unanimously concluded that Mr. Kroeker violated the
rules in question. Since Mr. Kroeker was an employee of the Leader of the
Government in the Senate, I would like to ask her what measures she intends to
take to ensure that this kind of problem never happens again. What measures will
be taken regarding Mr. Kroeker, who was employed by her government?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. As I said last
week, I believe that the report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy,
Budgets and Administration brought an end to this incident. As I said last fall,
I do not believe that the Canadian public expects either government or an
institution that is paid for by the taxpayer to be exempt from being open and
transparent about the tax dollars they spend.
Senator Hervieux-Payette's comments in the media that somehow this incident
was brought about by the efforts of the government to undermine the Senate by
cancelling the trip were so absurd that they almost bear no response at all. The
issue at hand was precipitated by the fact that, had the committee listened to
the advice they had received from the military, this incident would not have
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I am going to give the Leader of the Government in the Senate one more
day to think about the question, because her answer certainly does not
correspond to the ethical principles of this chamber.
I would like to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question on
another matter instead. Yesterday, in Montreal, the Honourable Stéphane Dion,
Senator Lapointe, Senator Fox and I held a roundtable with representatives from
the cultural community. It was an opportunity to discuss the problems and
challenges facing our artists, who earn an average of $23,000 a year. They are
among the lowest paid Canadians. Among such problems, the flagrant lack of
federal policies in the area of culture was particularly criticized by the
cultural community. Our artists talked about the lack of funding for various
programs, lack of coordination within the government and a lack of leadership on
the part of the current government.
Culture is not an incidental component of a society; it is a fundamental part
of peoples' identities. Culture is the lens through which each of us looks at
our world. It helps us understand others. It forces us to look at ourselves. Can
the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us whether her government will
finally listen to the cultural community and assist the cultural sector with
stable, long-term programs and a concerted cultural policy?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. I saw the
television coverage of the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, Mr.
Dion, flanked by the honourable senator herself, Senator Lapointe and Senator
Fox, I believe.
I disagree with the premise of the question. In response to the question by
Senator Lapointe the other day, I outlined important initiatives the government
is taking to promote arts and culture. For the benefit of the honourable senator
today, I will repeat them. In addition to the answer I gave to Senator Lapointe,
we have undertaken many other initiatives. In Budget 2007, we announced that we
will create a national trust to protect important lands, buildings and national
treasures, which I know has been publicly supported by the honourable senator's
former colleague, Sheila Copps, the former Minister of Canadian Heritage.
The budget also creates a new Canadian heritage sports fund to encourage
youth participation in heritage sports, such as lacrosse. This month alone, our
government has announced funding support for an art gallery for the Huron-Wendat
First Nations in Quebec, for the festival of Celtic folk artists in Ontario, and
for community radio broadcasting in francophone and Acadian communities across
This spring, Minister Oda announced funding for several museums across the
country, including a Western Canadian aviation museum in Winnipeg, the Pier 21
Society in Halifax and the Bytown Museum in Ottawa. In addition to the $50
million we have provided to the Canada Council for the Arts, the government
invests more than $25 million annually in the music industry through the Canada
Senator Hervieux-Payette: I guess it is like a grocery list, but I am
talking about the policy. I have one simple question: What kind of support will
our artists receive to tour and inform the world about Canadian artistic
community productions, to make sure that Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, the Royal
Winnipeg Ballet, l'Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and the Vancouver Symphony
Orchestra receive proper funding to do what we call "diplomatic cultural
exchanges?" There are no budgets, and the minister responsible greatly needs
Senator LeBreton: I believe I answered that question a few weeks ago.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Canadian Heritage are
promoting Canadian arts and culture abroad through many programs. The government
is proud of many of Canada's cultural groups and national institutions, such as
the National Ballet.
I do not have a list at my fingertips, but we are undertaking many endeavours
to promote Canadian culture. I would be happy to provide the senator with
Hon. Jean Lapointe: Honourable senators, I would like to ask the
Leader of the Government in the Senate a supplementary question. I want to thank
her for her courtesy when she answered my question the other day.
However, she took me a bit by surprise. I discovered that she is a violin
virtuoso. She played me an incredible concerto when she told me that the
government had added $50 million to cultural programs. Initially, the
Conservative government had decided to invest $300 million in culture and the
arts in this country, but it has invested only $200 million. As a result, there
is a $100 million shortfall. I believe that the Leader of the Government lulled
me a bit with her violin, but we still do not have an answer. I respect her and
hold her in high esteem, but she should not try to tell me any tall tales.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I cannot play the violin, but I
sure can tap dance.
Our government came into office a little over a year ago. We are planning to
do many things in a host of areas. We have brought down two budgets and started
well in regard to supporting the arts and culture. We have received compliments
from Canada Council as well as from people such as Sheila Copps on the National
As Canadians would expect, the government is very proud and supportive of
Canadian arts and culture groups.
Senator Lapointe: Not only can the Leader of the Government play the
violin and tap dance, but she can skate as well. I congratulate her. I was not
aware she had such talents.
However, she has not answered my question: where is the $100 million her
government promised but has not delivered? Instead of going from $150 million to
$300 million, it has gone from $150 million to $200 million. I may not be an
accountant, but I can see that $100 million is missing. Where is it?
Senator LeBreton: As I have pointed out many times, there were many
promises that the previous government made upon which it did not deliver. In
this case, the previous government made the promise and we are delivering on it.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In his
statement this morning, the Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser,
[The government] has sent positive signals... [Unfortunately] certain
government actions taken over the course of the last year [were not consistent
with the government's words].
According to Mr. Fraser:
The elimination of the Court Challenges Program in particular delivered a
serious blow to Canadians' ability to defend their language rights . . .[and]
raise[s] some doubts about whether it is really committed to implementing
these new legislative obligations.
He says that by eliminating the Court Challenges Program:
. . . the Harper government violated the act and trampled the rights of
linguistic minorities by cutting services.
When will this government put its money where its mouth is and assume its
responsibilities by fully respecting the Official Languages Act, which this
government supported when it was amended in 2005?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, we received the report from the
Commissioner of Official Languages this morning. The government is reviewing the
report and will respond. Of the little bit of the report that I had a chance to
read, I was happy and delighted to see that it recognized the Prime Minister for
his commitment to linguistic duality and stated that he had served as an
important role model for other public officials.
I am very proud of the Prime Minister in his commitment to this area. I
believe our government has demonstrated a strong commitment to linguistic
duality and official language minority communities. Budget 2007 invested an
additional $30 million for cultural, after-school activities and community
centres. This was on top of the $642 million over five years that was provided
in the Action Plan for Official Languages for the promotion and development of
Senator Tardif: In light of Mr. Fraser's statements, are we to
conclude that this government is all talk and no action and that it is not fully
assuming its responsibilities under the Official Languages Act, for instance, by
suspending the work of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official
Senator LeBreton: I do not believe the honourable senator can assume,
or presume, any such thing. I wish to point out to Senator Tardif that, since
taking office, we have announced significant support for official language
minority communities and linguistic duality: $1 billion over four years, until
the year 2009, in education agreements with the provinces and territories; $64
million over the next four years, up until 2009, in agreements with the
provinces and territories for services; and $120 million in agreements for the
official languages minority communities. I do not think it is correct for the
honourable senator to stand here in this chamber and state that this government
is not fully supportive and, indeed, fully committed to official languages and
Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest: Honourable senators, the report of the
Commissioner of Official Languages was tabled today. I realize that not everyone
has read it yet. However, an important recommendation was made by our late
colleague, Senator Jean-Maurice Simard, and by various minority community
representatives, whereby the government should have a minister responsible for
official languages with considerable power and that this responsibility should
be assigned to the President of the Privy Council, who has authority over all
The current government has entrusted the responsibility of official languages
to a specific minister — who is doing her job — but she is one colleague among
many. She does not have a supra-ministerial authority and the Commissioner of
Official Languages, as you will see when you read the report, has put tremendous
emphasis on the importance of official languages practice. He has very strongly
recommended that the government return to the former structure and assign the
responsibility of official languages to a Privy Council minister, perhaps, who
would have horizontal authority over all government departments. This is
extremely important to Canadians living in a minority situation.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): As I mentioned previously, we welcome the report of the new
Commissioner of Official Languages. The government has made many commitments to
linguistic duality and official languages. The specific reference made by the
Honourable Senator Rivest is one that I am quite certain the government will
carefully study. The Commissioner of Official Languages is an officer of
Parliament and, as such, reports to Parliament.
I must say that I was disappointed that, somehow or other, as
parliamentarians in general, the NDP gained access to this report before other
parliamentarians. That is another matter.
With regard to the honourable senator's specific question, it is a valid one
and I will be happy to seek an answer for him.
Hon. Pierre De Bané: First, I would like to commend the Prime Minister
for always speaking in both of the official languages recognized in our
Constitution, in Canada and abroad. This is absolutely admirable.
Second, I would like to urge the Leader of the Government in the Senate to
reinstate the program allowing minority communities, both in Quebec and in the
rest of Canada, to be able to use legal means to affirm their rights. One
cannot, as our Deputy Leader has said, overstate the importance of that program.
We all know those communities are short of funding and that it costs a great
deal to take legal proceedings.
I would urge the Leader of the Government in the Senate to reconsider the
reduction of funding to that program.
Senator Tardif: The elimination of it.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I share the honourable senator's pride in the Prime Minister. I
am envious of him. Although I can personally read French, I have never managed
to speak French, and it is one of my real regrets. The Prime Minister has done
an incredible job. All over the country, more often than not, he will begin
speaking in French.
With regard to the Court Challenges Program, as the honourable senator knows,
there is a case involving the Court Challenges Program before the courts at the
present time. In view of that, it would be inappropriate for me to comment.
However, I will be happy to make the honourable senator's views known to my
Hon. Peter A. Stollery: Honourable senators, the President of the
World Bank, Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, is mired in a scandal involving payments to his
The position of the President of the World Bank is becoming increasingly
precarious. The World Bank ethics committee has accused him outright of breaking
the organization's rules by giving an outrageous raise to his girlfriend.
I would add, honourable senators, that the committee looking into the matter
has reported whether, as quoted from their confidential report, Mr. Wolfowitz
". . . will be able to provide the leadership needed to ensure that the bank
continues to operate to the fullest extent possible in achieving its mandate."
We are told via the New York Times that Canada is one of only three
countries supporting Mr. Wolfowitz. I appreciate that the Leader of the
Government in the Senate may not be aware of this action. However, we would like
corroboration as to whether or not we are one of only three countries supporting
Mr. Wolfowitz in his problems with the management of the World Bank.
I want to add that the World Bank is an organization with 23,000 employees,
and is important to Canada.
Senator St. Germain: Do you support him, senator?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Far be it from me to be answering for the World Bank. Obviously,
I saw the news reports today. I am not aware of the story in the New York
Times. Although we are participants, the World Bank obviously will
adjudicate and deal with this matter in their own way.
However, I will be happy to pass on the honourable senator's comments to my
colleagues and provide him with the response of the government.
Senator Stollery: Honourable senators, I would like to point out to
the Leader of the Government in the Senate that our executive director on the
World Bank is appointed by the Minister of Finance and effectively, as an
ambassador, would be carrying out the instructions of the Minister of Finance.
It is a specific question: Is the Minister of Finance giving instructions to his
representative on the board of the World Bank to support Mr. Wolfowitz, as one
of only three countries in the world who are doing so?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for his question. I
will take it as notice.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, my question is directed to
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last Thursday, in response to a
question from Senator Callbeck, the Leader of the Government said that the
Harper government "ensures equal support for all Canadians, no matter where they
live, and ensures equal treatment of all provinces and territories."
The Harper budget is based on a per-capita distribution of cash transfers to
the provinces under the Canada Social Transfer. This fiscal year, my province of
Nova Scotia will receive $6.5 million more than it received last year when the
CST was based on an equity-adjusted tax point formula. Commencing this year,
however, Alberta will receive $3.44 billion more than last year.
Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate please advise as to the
details in the Harper budget wherein Nova Scotia will receive the $3.37 billion
to bring it to the same equal support that Alberta is to receive?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I did read the
honourable senator's column in whatever newspaper it appeared. I will take the
specific question as notice and provide a delayed answer.
Senator Moore: I also ask that the leader table the study that must
have been conducted by the government to demonstrate the need for Alberta to
receive this additional $3.44 billion per year, and the impact of that transfer
on the ability of each province to provide comparable services to its people.
Senator LeBreton: I will add that request by the honourable senator to
the request for details.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: My question is for the Leader of the
Government in the Senate. Let me return to the budget-related matter of the
interest deductibility of Canadian foreign subsidiaries, which continues to
reverberate in the economy. The Department of Finance appears to remain
transfixed or almost obsessed by the so-called "double dipping" by Canadian
corporations abroad. Should the minister not be addressing goals to assist these
Canadian companies to become more competitive, since the so-called "double-dipping" abroad does not in any way, shape or form affect tax revenues
in Canada but reduces their effectiveness and competitiveness at home and
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I believe that
Minister Flaherty clarified the situation in a speech to the Toronto Board of
Trade yesterday. In his speech, he announced the government's plans to improve
tax fairness by closing loopholes for multinational corporations and using the
revenue to further reduce business taxes in Canada, thus helping not only
corporations in Canada but all other Canadian taxpayers.
We are improving tax fairness for Canadians by stopping multinational
corporations from using tax havens to double-dip by claiming two expense
deductions for only one investment. As an ordinary Canadian taxpayer, I find
this to be something that is quite reasonable, and I am sure most Canadians
would see it as only fair. Why should corporations be allowed to claim two
deductions for only one investment? Minister Flaherty stated that ensuring big
corporations pay their fair share of taxes means that taxpayers will no longer
be indirectly subsidizing the international operations of big corporations. Who
could argue with that?
Senator Grafstein: The Leader of the Government in the Senate has
indicated that the ministry is interested in closing tax loopholes. Despite the
ministry's assurances, however, there is still confusion in the marketplace
today with respect to the minister's statements yesterday in Toronto.
With respect to closing tax loopholes, one glaring loophole is: The ministry
has taken no steps to immediately eliminate debt dumping of foreign subsidiaries
in Canada that does directly reduce Canadian tax revenues in a natural tax
shelter. Is this fair to Canadian corporations here or abroad?
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, reading the time from my
new watch, Question Period is over.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting a delayed answer to the oral question
raised by Senator Atkins on March 22, 2007, regarding transport, reports of the
Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on airports and
seaports, and responsibility for security.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Norman K. Atkins on March 22, 2007)
Although the question at hand deals with the machinery of government,
Transport Canada has been very active on the airport security file in the past
We moved quickly in August 2006 to respond to a potential threat from
terrorist use of liquids and gels aboard aircraft, and established rules in
conjunction with the U.S. and Europe to make it easier for passengers to
comply while, at the same time, address this new threat.
All air passengers are screened every time they enter a sterile area.
Non-passengers and airport employees are screened on a random basis because
they have each gone through a security clearance check.
A new development this year is the Restricted Area Access Cards (RAIC),
issued once comprehensive background checks have been completed. The card
can be cancelled if law enforcement authorities find adverse information on
A restricted area identification card (RAIC) uses two biometric
identifiers. This is required for all persons who access airport-restricted
areas. The RAIC will verify that the person who was issued the card is the
same person presenting the card at a restricted area access point, that the
card is valid and the individual has a current security clearance. Airport
personnel who are issued the RAIC are subject to access control
Today, 100 per cent of the air cargo on passenger aircraft is subject to
a range of security controls, which may include search. The department is
focusing its efforts to enhance the security of cargo, including security
applied from customer to aircraft, i.e., the supply chain, in cooperation
with other countries.
Budget 2006 also provided $26 million over two years for the design and
pilot testing of an air cargo security initiative including the development
of measures to ensure cargo security throughout the supply chain, as well as
the evaluation of screening technologies. Work on enhancing this important
aspect of the aviation system is underway.
Budget 2006 also provided $133 million over two years for CATSA to
address increase passenger traffic, and to replace aging equipment.
Passenger Protect is a new program that should start in the
Spring/Summer of 2007. It will use law enforcement and intelligence
information to stop people who pose a threat to a flight from boarding
adding yet another layer of security.
Canada exceeds International Civil Aviation standards by requiring that
all hold baggage on international flights be screened as of January 1, 2006
as well as on some domestic flights.
Equally important, Transport Canada works closely with the RCMP, CSIS
and CBSA on an ongoing basis, and takes steps, as necessary, to address
specific threats identified by these agencies.
Cooperation between Transport Canada and law enforcement agencies,
including the RCMP, signals the Government's commitment in removing the
elements of organized crime in Canada's airports and ports environment.
The Hon. the Speaker: Before proceeding to Orders of the Day, I would
like to introduce one House of Commons page participating in the page exchange
program this week. Jessica Harris is from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and she
is studying at the faculty of social science at the University of Ottawa, where
she is majoring in political science.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Meighen, for the third reading of Bill C-9, to amend
the Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment).
Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak
today at third reading of Bill C-9, to amend the Criminal Code (conditional
sentence of imprisonment).
When I spoke at second reading of this bill, I stressed the fact that it was
very different from the text tabled by the government in the other chamber. The
original bill would have completely taken the power away from the judges to
impose a conditional sentence of imprisonment for offences punishable by a
maximum sentence of 10 years or more. A number of offences would therefore not
have been eligible for conditional sentences.
This is the bill, amended by the opposition parties in the other place,
before us today. This version of the bill, which I think is better than the
previous one, eliminates the possibility of a conditional sentence for offences
involving serious personal injury, terrorism and organized crime, which are
prosecuted by indictment and punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Bill C-9 creates a substantially smaller list of offences for which
conditional sentences will no longer be available, thus maintaining the
discretion of judges but still sending a strong message from Parliament that we
do not believe conditional sentences are appropriate for certain violent and
Despite the substantial improvements to this bill, it continues to raise some
broader issues that I believe need to be addressed. Many of these issues were
raised in the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, and I would like to
take some time to elaborate on them. What is more, it must be taken as part of a
larger package of reforms to the Criminal Code as part of the government's crime
In the speech I gave at the second reading of this bill, I spoke of my
personal experience regarding conditional sentencing, particularly concerning
specific cases I was involved in as a lawyer, cases in which I felt that
conditional sentencing had been useful and appropriate. Having since had the
opportunity to carefully examine this bill in the context of the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, I can assure you, honourable
senators, that a good number of my impressions have been confirmed. We heard
convincing testimony concerning the effectiveness of conditional sentences and
their ability to guarantee a justice system that works. We were also presented
with statistics that seem to confirm the effectiveness of such sentencing since
its introduction in 1996.
Though I am very much in favour of the changes made to this bill in the other
place, I was prepared to proceed in the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs, as Senator Tkachuk suggested in his speech at second
reading. He had suggested that we consider certain amendments to improve the
bill in a non-partisan way. However, when the Minister of Justice appeared
before our committee, he told us that his department was now satisfied with the
bill now before us. Though they continued to prefer the original version, it was
felt that further changes would only cause unnecessary delays in moving the bill
I commend Minister Nicholson for acknowledging the wisdom of the other place
in improving this bill in the spirit of a minority Parliament. He told the Legal
and Constitutional Affairs Committee that despite his preference for the
original bill, this legislation still sends a message from Parliament about the
types of offences that should be considered for a conditional sentence of
imprisonment, while recognizing that a conditional sentence order can be an
effective and sensible sanction for many non-violent offences.
That is the point that I attempted to make when I spoke at second reading.
Over the course of my career as a lawyer, I have seen numerous instances where
conditional sentences are not only useful but are far more appropriate than a
sentence of imprisonment.
I want to underscore, as the minister did, that a conditional sentence is
still a restriction on the freedom of an offender.
Other witnesses also brought this to the attention of the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, as well as noting that the
Supreme Court regards conditional sentencing as a form of punishment.
The supporters of the first version of the bill spoke at length about how the
public perceives conditional sentences and the need to respond to the concerns
of Canadians, who seem to have the impression that criminals are getting off
lightly with conditional sentences or with what is commonly referred to as house
Honourable senators, after hearing the testimony put to us on the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, I am forced to conclude
that conditional sentencing may have become something of a lightening rod for
broader criticisms of our sentencing systems. The criticisms seem to be based
mostly on people's initial reactions to conditional sentences when they are
handed down for particular crimes without any knowledge of the specifics of a
given case. In fact, over the course of my research on this subject, I
discovered a number of polls conducted on the subject of sentencing that were
For instance, an Angus Reid poll on the subject of sentencing, conducted in
1999, showed that relatively few Canadians could correctly identify what a
conditional sentence order was from a list of options. What is more, even when
they had been given a description of a conditional sentence, the poll found that
the more specific information those polled had about a given case, the more
likely they were to agree that a conditional sentence was an appropriate option.
One of the witnesses who appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Dr. Anthony Doob, had conducted research that
showed similar results.
We heard repeatedly in the committee that conditional sentences were either
working extremely well, or were at the very least not the problem. André Rady, a
member of the board of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, told
Conditional sentencing can be very onerous. . . They can continue to go to
school or what have you, yet they are still restricted. They do not get to go
to the movies, hockey games, et cetera, and are effectively confined to their
house for the term of the conditional sentence.
Despite that we may think it is probably nicer in most homes than in a jail
cell, it can still be onerous. The Supreme Court has said conditional
sentencing still acts as a deterrent. To a lot of people, a conditional
sentence can be quite tough.
This is not to argue that a conditional sentence is as harsh as jail time.
Though there certainly have been cases where the strict conditions of a
conditional sentence may have caused some offenders to wonder if a jail sentence
might not have been preferable, there is no question that at the time of
sentencing most offenders would prefer a conditional sentence over imprisonment.
However, when we talk about conditional sentences, we must remember that we are
talking about a very real punishment. Conditional sentences are not the same as
suspended sentences or even probation; they are serious restrictions on an
Another problem with the argument against conditional sentencing is that it
seems to assume the harshest penalty is always the most effective or
appropriate. The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
heard numerous reasons to believe that this is not the case.
Honourable senators, perhaps the most compelling argument was the hard data
offered by representatives from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, who
told us that those who had been given conditional sentences were significantly
less likely to reoffend than those given prison terms. This could be because
those who were given conditional sentences come from a group of offenders who
pose the least risk of reoffending, or it could be that conditional sentences
are working to ensure the offender is properly reintegrated into society. Most
likely, honourable senators, the reality is a combination of the two.
Whatever the cause, this statistic would seem to show that judges are
exercising their discretion properly when handing out conditional sentences,
taking the likelihood of a reoffence and the rehabilitation of the offender into
account when deciding on the appropriate punishment.
Mr. Russell Silverstein, Director of the Canadian Criminal Lawyers
Association, told the committee that it is his experience that prisons can
actually have the reverse effect of increasing the likelihood of reoffending. He
further told us:
If you abolish conditional sentences, that will have a negative impact
regardless of which way the cause is flowing. If there are those who will not
reoffend and are given conditional sentences and do not reoffend because it is
in their character, putting them in prison will increase the likelihood that
they will in fact reoffend. We know that amongst those who are incarcerated,
there is a high level of recidivism. You only need to go to the jails and see
the life there to determine why the drug culture and fraternity of criminality
in jails breeds criminality amongst those who only have their toe in the water
Honourable senators, when I spoke previously about this bill, I noted that
there can be many practical reasons in any individual case that might make a
conditional sentence more appropriate. These could include the need for an
individual to continue working to support dependents, attend counselling or even
avoid incarceration because of the specific psychological effects they may have
on some individuals.
The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics and other witnesses before the
committee confirmed that conditional sentences often serve these purposes better
than prison sentences. Part of this has to do with the fact that those given
conditional sentences are generally under supervision longer than those in
prison in cases who would have been eligible. In fact, the Canadian Centre for
Justice Statistics told us that those given conditional sentences were under
supervision for approximately twice as long.
Honourable senators, if Canadians knew these facts about conditional
sentencing, I cannot help but think many more would feel that these sentences
are not only useful, but appropriate punishments in many cases.
I want to speak to at least one of the observations that the committee
included in its report. I mentioned in my speech at second reading that Bill
C-9, along with other bills that have been put forward by this government, are
likely to have a serious impact on our legal aid system.
Though legal aid is primarily a provincial concern, those systems are run
with a substantial contribution from the federal government. For many years now,
provincial attorneys general and stakeholders involved in providing legal aid
have been calling for this funding to be increased.
Though the federal funding agreement for legal aid was extended for an
additional five years in the recent budget, this only continues the same
inadequate funding that has been in place for some time without so much as an
adjustment for inflation. Another five years at this level of funding is
considered by many to be unsustainable, even without the impact from bills such
as this one. According to the testimony that the committee heard when studying
this legislation, the impact would be very real. The Canadian Centre for Justice
Statistics told us that 90 per cent of all conditional sentences come as a
result of guilty pleas. Many, if not most, of these pleas are likely the result
of bargains between defence lawyers and Crown prosecutors. While these plea
bargains are not binding on a judge, they are generally respected in practice.
When an offender pleads guilty, it can prevent a lengthy trial process and save
our system a massive amount of time and money.
Honourable senators, the defence lawyers who testified before the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs told us that without these
types of arrangements our current system would not even be able to function.
They were all of the view that the chances of a guilty plea increased
dramatically when an offender knows a conditional sentence is an option. Simply
put, if we remove the possibility of a conditional sentence, that will have the
effect of reducing the number of guilty pleas and placing a much greater burden
on our criminal legal aid system.
Moreover, as there are rules and minimum standards governing our country's
criminal legal aid system, costs are certain to increase. The money must come
from somewhere; and if it does not come from the federal government, one of my
great fears is the cost of the criminal system will be covered by the civil
legal aid system. This means that the ones who suffer will be people such as
single mothers trying to collect back child support.
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to advise the honourable senator that
her 15 minutes of time has expired.
Senator Jaffer: Honourable senators, I thought I was the critic for
this bill and so I had a longer period of time.
The Hon. the Speaker: The honourable senator could ask for an
extension of time.
Senator Jaffer: May I please have 10 minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker: The honourable senator is requesting unanimous
consent for additional time.
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Five minutes.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: She asked for 10, Your Honour.
Senator Comeau: Five minutes.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, order. To make the matter
perfectly clear, pursuant to rule 37(3) of the Rules of the Senate of Canada,
the sponsor of the bill has 45 minutes and the first senator speaking thereafter
has 45 minutes. Last week, the Honourable Senator Joyal, I believe, spoke after
the sponsor of the bill and, therefore, would have used his 45 minutes.
As is her right, the Honourable Senator Jaffer is asking the house for
unanimous consent to extend her speaking time. The Deputy Leader of the
Government is indicating five minutes. Honourable senators, is there unanimous
Senator Jaffer: May I respectfully say that I understood His Honour to
say, when he made his ruling on the matter, that a senator could ask for the
time. Perhaps I am mistaken but when a senator asks for more time, the ruling
was that the Speaker would respect the time. I would ask, in light of the
Speaker's ruling, that I be given ten more minutes.
Senator Comeau: Five minutes.
The Hon. the Speaker: The honourable senator is asking for unanimous
consent for an additional ten minutes. Is there unanimous consent, honourable
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, if I may make an intervention, I
do not believe that the intent of the Rules of the Senate of Canada is to
convert a senator into the position of mendicant before the Deputy Leader of the
Government in the Senate. I do not believe for a moment that is the spirit or
the intent of the rule.
It is my understanding that the Speaker's intent expressed in his ruling was
to promote and to encourage senators to ask for the amount of time that they
require and that it be properly considered without an intervention from the
Deputy Leader. It is undesirable and unkind. This place is operating under a
strange set of circumstances with the shortage of Conservative senators such
that the debate becomes automatically truncated, and many Liberals carry the
responsibility of sustaining debate in a substantive way. On the Conservative
side, in terms of the elucidation of bills, I see nothing wrong happening, but
perhaps the Deputy Leader sees life differently.
The Hon. the Speaker: Order, honourable senators, please. No point of
order has been raised that I have heard yet. The situation is clear to the
house. A request for leave to continue was made by the honourable senator who
had the floor. Leave was not granted. The role of the Speaker is to facilitate
the following of the rules, and that is where it stands.
The usual practice of the house is to extend speaking time for five minutes
but I will not interfere because all honourable senators are familiar with that
practice. It is up to Senator Jaffer to make the request. She has made one
request and leave was not granted. I do not know whether she wishes to ask
Senator Jaffer: Honourable senators, I ask for five minutes.
Senator Comeau: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Jaffer: Honourable senators, the money must come from
somewhere and if it does not come from the federal government, one of my great
fears is that costs of the criminal system will have to be covered by the civil
legal aid system. This means that the ones who suffer will be single mothers
trying to collect back child support, new Canadians seeking legal services in
their native languages and divorced fathers seeking access to their children.
Conditional sentences are handed down in 6 per cent of all convicted cases.
However, when we consider that currently 10 per cent of all criminal cases reach
trial, it is easy to understand the burden that even a slight shift could place
on the system. I would once again urge the government to heed the advice of this
all-party report and increase the federal contribution to legal aid funding.
I will tell honourable senators what Mr. Rady said about a case, R v.
Hotten, when he appeared before the Senate Legal Committee. Mr. Rady talked
about what a difference it made for a young person to have the benefit of
Haughton was a young man who set fire to the Salvation Army church in
London, Ontario, causing $900,000 in damage. He was found in North Bay because
his parents were concerned about him, thinking he was suicidal. North Bay
police find him and want to take him to the mental hospital. He tells them,
"no you want to take me to jail because here is the lighter I used to start
the fire at the church." He pleaded guilty and was granted a conditional
That conditional sentence has now been completed. During that course of
time, this young man completed his degree in music at McMaster University. He
is now gainfully employed as a teacher and making every effort to pay back the
$900,000. Through some family savings, I believe he has paid back over
$100,000 in that case.
If this fragile young man had gone to jail, he probably would never have
recovered from that experience. It is a very unusual case for someone not to
go to the penitentiary for arson, but under those circumstances with the
strict house arrest and the guidelines for treatment, it is a perfect case
where there was a successful contional sentence for a very serious crime. I
can say it was successful because it is over and he has done what society
wants of him which is to rehabilitate himself and put the victims back into
the position they once were before the fire started.
Honourable senators, I believe that this is a perfect example on which to
conclude. I will just add that sentencing is an extremely complicated issue and
that we should be very careful when considering taking away our judges'
Honourable senators, I look forward to further examination of these important
issues by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Once again, I commend parliamentarians on all sides to strike an appropriate
balance on Bill C-9 that I will be able to support at third reading.
Honourable senators, I am disappointed with the way in which matters have
been covered in this place. I hope that the Senate will return to non-partisan
ways in the future, like the way in which I addressed Bill C-9.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I say with deep regret
that this place has treated Senator Jaffer badly and, therefore, I wish to take
the adjournment of the debate so that I may finish her speech tomorrow.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Milne, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Fraser, for the second reading of Bill S-223, to amend
the Access to Information Act.—(Honourable Senator Comeau)
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, as parliamentarians, it is our obligation to always act in the public
interest. Canadians have a right to expect that we will responsibly spend the
taxes that we collect from them for the collective good of our society, for
collective social programs, for collective security, and so on. Canadians have a
right to expect that the legislation we pass in Parliament is designed to
improve our society.
As parliamentarians, we may differ on the best policies and means to achieve
the optimum goals for our society. We have different parties that offer
differing proposals to consider. Generally, parliamentarians react to
legislation depending on the caucus to which they belong. That is understandable
because the party caucuses seek internal party consensus on public policy
Fortunately, Bill S-223 is not the consensus proposal of a party but, rather,
the proposal of an individual senator. I would ask all honourable senators,
therefore, to critically evaluate Bill S-223 through that lens. I would suggest
that this is not the type of bill that can be accepted in principle and then
sent on to the committee to be fixed. This bill runs counter to Canadians'
expectation of accountability. In fact, it would water down our capacity for
Canadians are not voyeurs. They do not necessarily want to get into the
gritty and raw details of professional audit papers. They want to be assured
that professional parliamentary auditors are provided with the means to pursue
investigations in order to safeguard their collective interests.
Senator Milne says that the intent of this bill is "to provide sensible
changes to Canada's new and badly flawed access to information regime." The
provisions of Bill S-223 were proposed as amendments to Bill C-2, the Federal
Accountability Act at committee stage and the Auditor General argued that the
provisions would reduce, not increase, accountability. The Auditor General, in
fact, convinced members at committee to drop the amendments which are the basis
for Bill S-223.
It is not my intention to question Senator Milne's motivation. What I will
point out, however, is the consequences of her proposed amendments, amendments
that will seriously weaken the audit and investigatory capacity of the Auditor
General and the Official Languages Commissioner by requiring the release of
records created during an investigation. This would immediately undermine an
investigator's ability to guarantee anonymity to potential witnesses.
Those in this chamber who have followed and supported the work of the
Commissioner of Official Languages can attest to the value of the audit function
of the commissioner to advance the cause of linguistic duality in Canada. We all
agree that this is a fundamental Canadian value.
My colleagues in the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages will be
very aware of the consequences of these amendments, and I hope they will voice
We have just concluded a study to protect the rights of public servants to
work in their mother tongue. Bill S-233 will remove this protection that is so
important to them.
The Official Languages Act clearly indicates that the information obtained in
an investigation must be kept secret. Section 72 states:
Subject to this Act, the Commissioner and every person acting on behalf or
under the direction of the Commissioner shall not disclose any information
that comes to their knowledge in the performance of their duties and functions
under this Act.
Section 72 of the Official Languages Act therefore allows professional audits
to be done without compelling the public disclosure of sensitive raw audit data.
This protects the investigator, the person being investigated, and the
witnesses, and provides for a full and extensive audit by professionals.
The confidentiality of matters addressed following a complaint, for example,
is a standard working practice in the office of an ombudsman. Not only is this
normal, but it is essential to the proper functioning of such an office. This is
an internationally accepted approach. It is not a Canadian invention; it is done
all around the world.
In the case of the Commissioner of Official Languages, this standard becomes
even more important when government employees file complaints because their
right to work in the official language of their choice in certain regions of the
country, pursuant to the provisions of the act, is not always respected. Quite
often, complaints filed in these matters are about the employees' immediate
supervisor. It goes without saying that, for professional reasons, these
employees want to avoid being identified at all cost. They naturally fear the
possible consequences to their career.
Bill S-223 would create an incentive not to file a complaint. This would go
against the primary purpose of the Official Languages Act, which is to respect
the linguistic rights of Canadian citizens.
The Federal Accountability Act will significantly improve the Access to
Information Act by increasing coverage and oversight of the act and by improving
the access request process. However, one cannot forget that any reforms to the
Access to Information Act need to be carefully crafted. This is because the
Access to Information Act balances two competing interests, that is, the
citizen's right to know and the need to protect certain types of information in
the public interest. This balancing act is delicate and complex, which is why
any changes to the act can only be made after extensive study, research and
consultation, so that one interest does not, in the end, upset or override the
For example, we must not forget that the goal of the Access to Information
Act is not to sacrifice the competitiveness of Crown corporations or to impede
the core mandates of the agent in order to increase access to information.
Canadians' "right to know" must be balanced with the need to keep certain
sensitive information private, so that government institutions may properly
function. This is why additional protections were given to the agents of
Parliament in Bill C-2. The Access to Information Act did not provide clear
protection for certain of the agents' sensitive information, especially
information related to their investigations, audits and reviews. The agents
require these exemptions so that they can effectively carry out their core
mandates. As such, additional protections were provided for these types of
Specifically, section 16.1 was added to create a mandatory exemption for
records containing information obtained or created by four of the agents — the
Auditor General, the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Information
Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner — in the course of their
investigations, examinations and audits.
Section 22.1 was added to clarify that draft reports and working papers
related to internal audits of government institutions may be withheld from
disclosure for 15 years, except that draft reports may not be withheld where the
final report of the audit has been published or is not delivered within two
Honourable senators, Senator Milne is proposing to weaken these two
exemptions. She also wants to add to the act a general, broad, public interest
override. I believe these amendments, if passed, will weaken the Access to
Section 16.1 deals with audits and investigations. The first change that Bill
C-223 proposes is to amend this section to provide for increased access to
information created by the Auditor General or the Commissioner of Official
Languages in the course of conducting investigations and audits.
As noted earlier in my comments, the Auditor General and the Commissioner of
Official Languages would not be able to refuse, under that section, to disclose
records containing information that was created in the course of an audit or
investigation once that audit or investigation is completed.
The Auditor General herself made it clear that providing for the release of
audit working papers in this way will irreparably damage the ability of her
office to carry out effective audits. This amendment would mean that her office
could not promise confidentiality to anyone considering disclosing the
suspicions of wrongdoing to an auditor. Under the provisions of this act, the
auditor would have to inform interviewees that their identity and comments are
subject to public disclosure, regardless of the results of the audits. Public
servants or others who have observed suspicious activities will no doubt stay
silent because of this public exposure at the end of the audit.
Few people are professional auditors. Few have training to evaluate the legal
implications of their suspicions, but most public servants would be sufficiently
aware of the consequences to their future employment prospects if they were
informed that their observations on their employer or fellow workers would be
made public. This amendment could also mean that the auditors would become
reluctant to report any theories, unproven allegations or disputed conclusions.
How could accountability and transparency be strengthened by such an amendment?
The mandate of the Auditor General is to provide independent information and
advice to Parliament to help hold the government to account for stewardship for
public funds. The amendment to subsection 16.1(2), if passed, would severely
weaken the ability of the Auditor General to carry out her important mandate. I
submit that we should not undermine the Auditor General by supporting this
The second amendment proposed in the bill is to amend subsection 22.1(2) to
provide for increased access to audit working papers related to internal audits
of government institutions. Again, I must stress that section 22.1, which is a
new section added through the Federal Accountability Act, was not added without
much thought or consideration. It was not added arbitrarily. There was simply
not enough protection in the Access to Information Act for the extremely
sensitive internal audit information of government institutions.
Section 22.1 currently protects internal audit working papers for 15 years
and draft reports until the completion of the audit, since these records may
contain erroneous or unsubstantiated information. It is also intended to provide
a time-limited protection for information provided to internal auditors in order
to encourage free and frank disclosure of potential issues of concern which may
arise during the audit.
Honourable senators, I believe the proposed amendment to section 22.1 would
seriously weaken the internal audit capacity of the government by permitting the
disclosure of "related audit working papers" in addition to "draft reports"
under the Access to Information Act where a final report has not been delivered
within two years. In effect, this amendment would remove the protection for
internal audit working papers once the final audit report has been published.
I should note that the Comptroller General has made it clear that providing
for the release of audit working papers in this way will irreparably damage the
ability of internal auditors to carry out effective audits. This amendment would
mean that internal auditors could not promise confidentiality to anyone
considering disclosing their suspicions of wrongdoing to an auditor. Also,
auditors would become reluctant to record any theories, allegations or
conclusions before they are proven.
Honourable senators, I ask you: Do we want to weaken the ability of internal
auditors to do their job? How can we have increased government accountability if
auditors are not able to fully explore all theories and allegations when
conducting their audits? How can auditors do their jobs if they are not told of
suspicious actions? This amendment, if passed, would effectively constrain
internal auditors so that they could not do their work. Would inaccurate
internal audits lead to a more open and effective government? Obviously not.
The third amendment to Bill S-223 is to provide an override to the Access to
Information Act. I cannot stress enough the negative impact this amendment could
have on the Access to Information Act. The Access to Information Act was set up
to ensure a careful balance between mandatory and discretionary exemptions. This
amendment would upset this balance by giving the heads of institutions the
discretion to override mandatory exemptions. As such, the amendments would
undermine the policy choices that were made when the act was developed.
Further, certain mandatory exemptions such as those for personal information
and third-party trade secrets already have discretionary public interest tests
attached to them. It is not clear how this broad, undefined override would
interact with those other overrides. I would also note that this amendment
would, in effect, give the Information Commissioner order-making powers, as he
would be able to disclose records obtained from other government departments and
institutions, created or obtained in the course of his investigations, and which
would be otherwise subject to mandatory exemption.
Honourable senators, I believe that all parliamentarians are committed to
accountability and transparency. Bill C-2, the Federal Accountability Act, went
to great lengths to accomplish that goal. It is my opinion that the amendments
made by the Federal Accountability Act to the Access to Information Act has
strengthened that act while carefully maintaining the act's balance between
access to information and the necessary protection of certain sensitive
Honourable senators, as I noted earlier, Canadians are not necessarily
clamouring to get involved in the nitty-gritty, raw details and scandals that
might be produced from such papers. They want to be assured that our auditors
are professional and know how to do their jobs. It is obvious that Bill S-223,
which purports to increase transparency and accountability in the government,
fails in its application. Instead of making the government more transparent, it
could create situations in which audits and investigations could not be properly
conducted. Instead of maintaining the Access to Information Act's balanced
exemption structure, it asks for a public interest override that could undermine
the government's assurances, for example, to its citizens and other governments
that it can safeguard sensitive information that, in the public interest, should
not be disclosed.
I therefore respectfully ask that honourable senators read this bill very
carefully and I am confident that they will join with me in rejecting the bill
before it goes any further.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Will the honourable senator accept questions?
Senator Comeau: Absolutely.
Senator Milne: Thank you, Senator Comeau. First, I will start by
reminding the honourable senator that, in 2006, the Conservative Party of Canada
publicly stated in their election platform that they were committed to expanding
the coverage of the Access to Information Act to all Crown corporations,
officers of Parliament and organizations that spend taxpayers' money or perform
In June 2005, the leader of the Conservative Party, Stephen Harper, made the
same commitment in an editorial in the Montreal Gazette. Each of these
statements commits the Conservative Party to providing a general public interest
override for all exemptions in order that the public interest should come before
the secrecy of government, and to make exemptions discretionary and subject to
an injury test.
If the leader of the honourable senator's party has twice committed to
precisely what is contained in my bill, then why is he not also committed to
Senator Comeau: I see your fan club is here. I am quite sure that he
has read very attentively the provisions that the honourable senator is
proposing in her bill.
Let us go over what the honourable senator is referring to as the Access to
Information Act override that would be provided to the heads of corporations. If
she carefully read the documents to which she refers, I do not believe that the
Prime Minister was referring to heads of departments being offered the two
override provisions of the Access to Information Act and the sensitive
information that may be collected from Crown corporations and corporations that
are in the competitive world. I do not believe that that is what he was
referring to in improving information for Canadians.
Furthermore, I do not believe that the Prime Minister was referring to having
the Official Languages Commissioner, the Comptroller General and the Auditor
General divulge from whence they were getting their information during the
course of their audits, and to start laying out names of people who have made
complaints in order to improve the workings of government.
It can be Canadians in general, but in many cases, it can be people working
within the departments who see suspicious behaviour that they might not be
sufficiently wise to pursue on their own. Therefore, they can call in
professional people, for example, professional auditors, to investigate the
suspicious behaviour. Many investigations might come to nothing at the end. The
people who provide information to auditors may not be sufficiently
Again, it becomes a protection of those people who might not otherwise know
how to pursue their suspicions. Under the current regime, without the exemptions
of the honourable senator, it is proposed that the investigators can conduct
their investigations without having to second-guess, once they must make those
documents public, under your proposals, the damage they might cause.
Senator Milne: I suspect that the honourable senator refers to the
fact that they might be afraid of being carted off in handcuffs.
In the evidence before the committee, we found that no distinction is already
made between working papers and draft audits with respect to documents created
by the Auditor General's office. These internal audits are conducted mostly by
government departments, the entities to which the Access to Information Act was
intended to apply. In the past, internal audits have been critical in bringing
problems to the attention of senior officials in the federal government and to
the Canadian public. For example, without this type of access, which my bill
will continue to provide, the problems with the grants and contributions at
Human Resources Development Canada, HRDC, would never have come to light.
Senator Comeau: Let me refer to the first part of the honourable
senator's comments with respect to people carted off in handcuffs. The
honourable senator must be referring to that young individual who has a website,
which, I believe, calls for airplanes to fly into Centre Block, and without
going into too much detail about website, they have some kind of a song. He
belongs to a group that sings weird songs. The honourable senator might want to
read some of the documentation on this young fellow.
Regarding individuals working for government departments who send off or fax
secret documents from within their departments, if the RCMP, which takes orders
from itself, has a wish to pursue these individuals, it has the right to do so.
The RCMP does not take its orders from government. It acts on its own.
As for the second part of the honourable senator's comments, I am not sure I
follow her objections. She says that by making it possible for people's names to
be divulged publicly after the audit is completed, that will somehow be an
incentive for people to report wrongdoings and suspicions. I am not sure if I
follow her logic in the case of her amendment.
The Bill C-2 accountability act as it is now offers people protection in that
their names will not be paraded on the public grounds of Parliament and in the
newspapers. The act now provides an incentive for people to whistle-blow and
report. In the case of the Commissioner of Official Languages, people can go to
the commissioner and say, "My employer is not providing me with a workplace that
is conducive to the practice of my official language. I would like you to
The honourable senator is proposing that the name of this poor individual
will become public, after the audit is done. That is what we are trying to
avoid, and I am also trying to do so by rejecting completely the amendments that
would cause these things to happen.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: I wonder if the honourable senator would take
Senator Comeau: Yes.
Senator Cools: I was listening, and I thank the honourable senator for
creating some interest on my part in this particular bill.
I wonder if he could expound on a couple of remarks he made. He kept saying
that the amendments — I think he meant the bill — will undermine the role of the
Auditor General, but he did not explain how. I wonder if he could tell me how
the bill proposes to undermine the role of the Auditor General. It not only
undermines the Auditor General; he says it would also undermine the Auditor
General Act. I wonder if he could provide some explanation as to how that would
Senator Comeau: If the honourable senator has been listening to my
rather long speech on it, I think I repeated a couple of times that the Auditor
General herself indicated that by having to release audit papers at the end of
an audit — I think I am saying this for the fourth time — that it will be a
disincentive for people to speak to the auditor. That also applies to one of the
provisions to the Comptroller General, the internal auditors. Releasing audit
papers will be a disincentive for internal audits to be done because it will be
a disincentive for people to provide information to the Comptroller General. I
repeat that people would be in the same position with respect to the Official
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, I share a number of your
concerns about this bill. One of them has to do with the Commissioner of
If memory serves, Ms. Adam, the former Commissioner of Official Languages,
once spoke of the importance of protecting both the identity of complainants and
the information collected. I think she would say the same today if she was still
My question is about the process you are recommending today. I do not have
your experience, of course, but I would have thought it beneficial to refer the
amendment to the committee, which in turn would have called the Commissioner of
Official Languages to explain why he disagrees with it. Should the commissioner
have approved the amendment and the bill have come back to the Senate unamended,
I would have had the opportunity to vote against it.
I just want to know why this process was preferred to the one normally used
Senator Comeau: This process was selected because, if we approve Bill
S-223, this means that we accept it in principle.
In other words, as a chamber, we agree with Senator Milne's suggestions. We
agree with the idea that audit records may be disclosed after an investigation
is concluded and we accept the provisions in principle.
How could we do so and, then, come back and say that we no longer agree? It
is out of the question to make a few small changes and make the bill amendable.
It cannot be amended.
That is why I am proposing that we reject it in principle, because this
particular bill cannot be amended in such a way as to adequately address my
concerns about the Commissioner of Official Languages. Having been an internal
auditor myself, I know how important it is to be able to reassure people that
their comments will not be disclosed.
I can imagine how worried the Auditor General and the Comptroller General
must be. I think that, in principle, this bill is not acceptable.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): If this bill
were passed, would it be easier or more difficult for the person who filed a
complaint under the Official Languages Act — either for access to public
services or for the language of work — to remain anonymous?
Senator Comeau: We could no longer guarantee anonymity. In other
words, we would almost be forced to tell people filing a complaint that we could
not guarantee that their name would not be publicly disclosed at the end of the
Section 72 of the Official Languages Act makes it possible to guarantee that
names will not be disclosed, which is an incentive to file a complaint. For
example, an employee working at Transport Canada who cannot work in his first
language can file a complaint with the Commissioner of Official Languages and,
at present, remain anonymous. With this bill, anonymity would no longer be
protected. At the end of the audit, the boss would know who filed the complaint.
If I were unable to obtain services in French from an RCMP officer in a
region where there is a francophone minority, the last thing I would want to do
is file a complaint against the RCMP, only to have them find out a few days
later that I was the one who filed the complaint. We must protect and encourage
people who, in other circumstances, would not be protected. This is another
reason the bill cannot be improved.
Senator Cools: Could I be informed of how much time Senator Comeau has
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Comeau has another 12 minutes.
Senator Cools: I thank Senator Comeau for awakening my interest in
this bill. At the outset of his speech, he said that Canadians have an
expectation of accountability. Could he tell me what the Canadian expectation of
Senator Comeau: I feel like a class valedictorian.
If the senator had been listening to my opening comments, she would have
heard that Canadians expect us to be mindful of the taxes we collect from them
in order to provide security and services to society in general. On one hand,
Canadians expect their parliamentarians and legislators to spend these resources
wisely and, on the other hand, to enact legislation that will assist
professional auditors, the Auditor General and others, in the protection of
They are asking that we empower auditors to go into the details of how their
money is spent and to fix any problems that might arise along the way. I do not
think Canadians want to know the details of the audit papers. They are asking
that auditors be given the tools to do their work in order to protect their
interests and their resources.
On motion of Senator Robichaud, for Senator Day, debate adjourned.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Phalen, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill S-222, to amend the
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to enact certain other measures, in
order to provide assistance and protection to victims of human trafficking.—(Honourable
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I would like to speak
to Bill S-222, dealing with human trafficking, the week after our coming recess.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino moved third reading of Bill C-252, to amend the
Divorce Act (access for spouse who is terminally ill or in critical
condition).—(Honourable Senator Di Nino)
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Anne C. Cools: I wish to speak to this bill and would like to
move the adjournment of the debate.
Senator Comeau: Debate.
The Hon. the Speaker: I am about to put the motion to adjourn the
debate moved by Senator Cools, but if another honourable senator —
Senator Cools: If the honourable senator wishes to speak now, I will
adjourn the debate later.
Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, I allowed this bill to proceed
on division when it was in committee, and I wish to tell you why.
This is a bill about allowing access to their children to the terminally ill
and those in critical condition before they die. On the face of it, this bill
seems compassionate and absolutely gender neutral. However, it is an amendment
to the Divorce Act, which impacts virtually everyone in Canada. Therefore, I
must ask: Who are the spouses who do not have custody who will need this
amendment to the Divorce Act? They are probably not men and women who share
joint custody. My best guess is that they are the fathers who do not have
Given that and the fact that the bill provides no definition of "terminal
illness," I fear that it may provide a back door to the issue of custody.
Terminal illness is not defined in this bill. I would be happier if it were.
For instance, would Parkinson's disease be seen as a terminal illness, which
it is, while a person with Parkinson's could well live for a couple of decades
or more? That is why I am concerned that this bill is an indirect road to
changes in custody issues, and that is why I voted on division. I hope
honourable senators will consider my comments.
Senator Di Nino: I would like to make a few comments on the bill.
Senator Cools: Who sponsored the bill here? If Senator Di Nino speaks,
he will have the effect of closing the debate.
Senator Di Nino: No.
Senator Cools: Yes, if Senator Di Nino speaks —
Senator Di Nino: I have not spoken yet.
The Hon. the Speaker: Order. The chair is recognizing Senator Di Nino
to speak in the debate.
Senator Di Nino: Honourable senators, Bill C-252, which seeks to amend
the Divorce Act, would ensure that courts take into consideration the terminal
illness or critical condition of a divorced parent when he or she seeks a
variation in the access order in respect of his or her child. This bill was
passed in the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology on Wednesday, May 9, following a considered discussion with many
thoughtful questions from honourable senators.
The committee testimony of the two Department of Justice officials who
appeared along with the sponsor at the other place, the Honourable Member for
Lethbridge, Rick Casson, reinforced our confidence in the soundness of this
Under section 17 of the existing Divorce Act, a former spouse may seek a
variation from the court in respect of custody and access made under a previous
order of the act. Section 17(5) requires that the court be first satisfied that
a change in the circumstances of the child has occurred. The addition of 17(5.1)
by Bill C-252 will deem terminal illness or critical condition of a parent as a
change in the circumstances of the child and enable that parent to overcome the
initial threshold before a court will entertain making a variation order. The
judge's inquiry regarding access then becomes a question of what is in the best
interests of the child, the central test which is unchanged by Bill C-252.
Honourable senators, this amendment may result in some evolution of the
jurisprudence, but a case-by-case determination will still be required before a
change in access rights is granted. It will be the judges, dispassionately
sifting through all available facts, who will have the final say but, by filling
in this gap in the Divorce Act, they will at least have to consider the illness
of a parent in making their determination, whereas now they may disregard it.
Whether a precise legal test is developed to define "critical condition" or "terminal illness" is not known at this time, but that will be left to the
courts. Unless jurisprudence develops around the particular standard, the
determination will be made on a case-by-case basis, based on medical evidence
On the issue of frivolous claims which may be brought with the passage of
this bill, the rules of court procedure in every provincial and territorial
jurisdiction generally address these issues. In my opinion, those rules and the
wisdom of the judiciary can be relied on to deter frivolous claims. They will
also have to be relied on to expedite urgent cases to the extent that that is
possible and in the best interests of the child.
Honourable senators, this bill is really meant to deal with the most
important relationship most of us share, or should have — that of a parent and a
child. It is about ensuring that courts take into consideration the
extraordinary, difficult situation in which that relationship will be
permanently severed by the death of a parent. The importance of closure and
final goodbyes will be appropriately weighed in light of all circumstances, and
I doubt many of us have not gone through that.
As I said during my remarks on April 17, Bill C-252 probably will not affect
a large number of individuals. Most custody and access agreements are reached
amicably by parents, and the situation where one of the divorced parents seeks
greater access to their child because the parent is terminally ill or in
critical condition probably does not occur very often. However, for those
occasions when it does occur, this proposed amendment to the Divorce Act may
help to bring much needed relief to both the parent and the child. To add to
what the sponsor in the other place, Mr. Rick Casson, said in committee, in the
end it does not really matter how many people it will help, it is simply the
right thing to do.
I urge all honourable senators to support Bill C-252 and make this important,
incremental change to the legislation.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, this bill came into being
because a mother was dying. She had lost custody of her child and could not get
through the red tape of the courts that would allow her to see her child before
she died. This can occur. There are many young mothers who have lost custody of
their children in the not-too-distant past, and the procedure for them to see
their children when they are dying is difficult. It is difficult to get through
the courts. It takes time and so forth and, in the past, many parents had to die
without seeing that child one last time.
This bill will certainly not overcome all of the red tape that the courts
present to a parent in such a predicament, but it recognizes that such
situations exist, and it should create an awareness in the legal system that
there should be compassion for a person who is dying and that they should be
allowed to see their child or children, provided this would not in any way harm
the child or children.
Senator Cools: May I ask a question? I thank Senator Keon for his
sensitive statement. I would like to ask Senator Keon, for those of us who know
something about the nasty business of divorce and have studied it formally. I am
asking Senator Keon about the examples he cited, which are tragic and terrible
examples, but they are instances where it was the mother who was being denied
access. Would I be correct in saying that there are at least an equal number of
men, fathers, who have been in the same position?
Senator Keon: Not in my experience, Senator Cools. In my medical
career of 40 years, I did not encounter a father looking for permission to see a
child where he had lost custody of the child in the divorce.
Senator Cools: I thought you were speaking from data other than your
own medical experience, which is extremely valid and extremely important and
brings much to the debate.
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, I am asking this question of
Senator Keon because of his profession and experience. Is there an accepted
definition of "terminally ill"? What constitutes a terminal illness? In one
sense, we are all terminally ill, some days more so than others. Is there an
accepted definition or does it vary from person to person or disease to disease?
Senator Keon: Honourable senators, like many situations in medicine,
it is fuzzy. However, one can predict with a great deal of accuracy when death
will occur in a number of illnesses.
Senator Nancy Ruth: The bill does not say there is an expectation of
death. It says "terminally ill."
Senator Keon: I believe that definition can be intelligently
interpreted by the medical and legal system at the appropriate time. Perhaps we
should have a definition some day, I do not know. Certainly in the specialty
that I practice, we can predict death accurately in a matter of hours. The
classifications of emergent, urgent and elective treatments of our patients were
based in time frames because their life expectancy was known.
That may be an oversimplification, however. Other diseases may not be so
simple. I have enough confidence in the medical and legal professions that they
can predict accurately how long someone has to live with a given disease.
Hopefully, this bill will allow the wheels of justice to turn a little faster.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: I want to ask a question of the honourable
senator. I am sympathetic to the principle here, but when the honourable senator
talks about the details I become concerned.
What is reasonable? Is it that there is no harm to the child emotionally? Is
it reasonable if the child is forced to see a parent when there may have been
abuse, whether physical, psychological or sexual, or the break-up of the parents
could have been so traumatic for the children that it could bring back memories
that might trigger other emotional problems? I have difficulty reaching a
concept as to how this situation could always be good for the child. I know how
it would be good for the dying person to see their children before they go and
be at peace. However, that may not necessarily be a good thing for the child.
Senator Keon: You are asking a doctor, not a lawyer, to interpret the
law, but I will respond.
The legal system, in my medical-legal experience, is tilted towards the
child. The child is protected now and I do not see anything here that would in
any way erode the protection of a child.
I cannot imagine any judge allowing a child to be subjected to a situation
that would be harmful in any way or unpleasant in any way. I cannot imagine the
courts ever allowing a child to be forced against their will to see a patient
who is in a terminal condition.
Senator Mercer: There was a court case in Western Canada a few years
ago where children were forced to see a father who had been abusive because he
had applied to the courts and gained access to his children. It was a terribly
My concern is that we are not specific enough in protecting the children.
Again, I am sympathetic to the purpose and the principle of the bill. However, I
am nervous that we may be going too far in not defining what "terminal
illness" is, as well as not specifically defining "protection of the
children" in the bill.
Senator Keon: I am not sure if that is a question but I will try to
I suppose the laws are imperfect. We live in an imperfect world and there
will always be some difficulties. However, I believe this step is an important
one forward. The process that someone must go through to see a child, of whom
they have lost custody, while on their deathbed is a slow and difficult process.
This bill will help expedite that process. As far as I am concerned, I have
confidence in the courts that there will be no wrongdoing. If, on occasion,
there is, I am sure an amendment will be advanced to eliminate whatever damage
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I do not know anything about
this, obviously, but Senator Keon has raised a picture in my mind and I am
imagining someone who is found to be terminally ill and, as the honourable
senator said, on his or her deathbed. Does the court require that the child to
visit the parent or does the court permit the child to visit?
Senator Keon: The court would permit, not require.
On motion of Senator Tardif, for Senator Trenholme Counsell, debate
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Banks calling the
attention of the Senate to the failure of the Government of Canada to carry
out its constitutional duty to appoint qualified persons to the Senate.—(Honourable
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, an inquiry is before
us with respect to the ongoing failure of the present government to appoint
qualified people to the Senate. This inquiry, introduced by our colleague
Senator Banks, asserts that the Government of Canada has failed to carry out its
constitutional duty by not filling vacancies in the Senate in a timely manner.
Senator Banks has said that the Constitution Act obliges the government of
the day to ensure that Senate vacancies are filled so that it can carry out its
responsibilities to the people of Canada. This is clearly spelled out in section
24 and section 32 of the Constitution. Section 24 says:
The Governor General shall from Time to Time, in the Queen's Name, by
Instrument under the Great Seal of Canada, summon qualified Persons to the
Senate; and subject to the Provisions of this Act, every Person so summoned
shall become and be a Member of the Senate and a Senator.
Section 32 states:
When a Vacancy happens in the Senate by Resignation, Death or otherwise,
the Governor General shall by Summons to a fit and qualified Person fill the
There are now 12 vacancies in the Senate. The present government does not
appear to be in any hurry to fill these vacancies, which now represent more than
10 per cent of the membership in this institution.
Certain provinces and regions in this country are under-represented in this
institution. One of those provinces is Prince Edward Island. There has been a
vacancy in the Senate from my province for close to three years now, when
Senator Rossiter retired on August 15, 2004. That means that my province is
being denied the full representation to which it is entitled in the Parliament
of Canada under the Constitution.
When Prince Edward Island joined Confederation, it had significant concerns
as to how it was to be represented in Parliament. Many Islanders were concerned,
then as now, that as Canada's smallest province its level of representation
would not be sufficient to ensure that its interests and aspirations would
always be reflected in national policies.
Upon entering Confederation, Prince Edward Island was allocated six seats in
the House of Commons and four in the Senate. Shortly after, its population began
to decline relative to Canada's growing population. As a result, it saw the
number of seats to which it was entitled in the House of Commons reduced to
five, then to four, and then it faced the prospect of seeing the number of seats
in the House of Commons reduced to three.
As a result, the provincial government of the day pursued a constitutional
amendment to protect its representation in the House of Commons. Accordingly, in
1915, an amendment was made to the British North America Act by adding a new
section dealing with the number of seats to which a province was entitled in the
House of Commons. The new section, 51(a), stated:
A province shall always be entitled to a number of members in the House of
Commons not less than the number of senators representing such province.
That constitutional guarantee ensures that Prince Edward Island will continue
to have four Members of the House of Commons, the same number of members to
which it is entitled in the Senate.
I mention this background to emphasize the importance which the people of
Prince Edward Island have attached to their representation in Parliament.
Islanders, like all Canadians, want to ensure that they are being fully
represented in Parliament, in government and in this nation's affairs. However,
at the present time, Prince Edward Island has only 75 per cent of the
representation in the Senate to which it is entitled in the Constitution, and
also does not even have full representation in the federal cabinet. That
responsibility now rests with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who is also the
minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, who is also
the minister responsible for representing the Province of Nova Scotia's
interests in the federal cabinet, and who is also responsible for serving his
constituents in the riding of Central Nova. Given his many duties, it is hard to
believe that the interests of Prince Edward Island are on the top of the agenda
for the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Prime Minister had, and still has, the opportunity to ensure that the
people of Prince Edward Island are provided with a seat at the cabinet table. As
I said, there was a vacancy in the Senate for Prince Edward Island when the
present government was first elected, and that vacancy still exists. There are
no signs that it will be filled in the near future. The Prime Minister could
have chosen, and still could choose, a qualified Islander for appointment to the
Senate and to his cabinet.
In fact, that is exactly what the Prime Minister did when he appointed the
Minister of Public Works to the Senate and to the cabinet. The Prime Minister,
by that appointment, demonstrated that he was not opposed, in principle, to the
appointment of senators. The Prime Minister, by that appointment, demonstrated
that he was willing to appoint people to his cabinet through appointment to the
Why, then, does this Prime Minister believe that it is appropriate and
acceptable to provide representation to the people of Montreal through such an
appointment when he apparently does not believe that the people of Prince Edward
Island are entitled to the same consideration? The fact is that the Prime
Minister already had qualified senators from Montreal that belonged to his
party. Montreal could have been represented by one of those sitting senators. I
think they would have been happy to do so. The Prime Minister did not have to
make an appointment to the Senate to have representation at the cabinet table
for that area.
Yet he refuses to name a senator for Prince Edward Island who could represent
our province in his cabinet. It seems the Prime Minister feels Prince Edward
Island is not deserving of full representation at the cabinet table, and the
people of my province are being further denied the representation to which they
are entitled — if not constitutionally, then certainly by convention.
As Senator Moore stated in his remarks, I too was surprised by the Prime
Minister's recent announcement of a Senate appointment for his home province of
Alberta. The Prime Minister has demonstrated that it is quite acceptable to
allow seats to remain unfilled in the Senate for other provinces — some even for
years — while at the same time appointing a senator in Alberta, a province for
which there is no vacant seat until June.
This inquiry introduced by Senator Banks makes a number of excellent points.
Among those, he suggests that the effectiveness and proper functioning of the
Senate is being impaired by the number of vacancies which now exist. He has
stated as well that the failure to fill vacancies is creating an inequality
under the Constitution Act which guarantees the equality of representation for
the four senatorial divisions in this country. Ultimately, the failure to make
appointments as required by the Constitution is a failure to ensure the proper
functioning of Parliament itself.
In the meantime, the people of Prince Edward Island, like others across this
country, are being denied full representation in the Parliament of Canada as
required by the highest law in this nation. The present government, for narrow
political motivations, is putting the interests of itself above the interests of
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. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, given the time, I will take the
opportunity to speak to this inquiry that is before us. I have not organized an
adjournment by anyone, but we will see if anyone wishes to adjourn it.
This inquiry is in relation to a report by the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communications on the status of news-gathering mechanisms in
Canada, namely, the news media, and that report paid a lot of attention to the
question of convergence of ownership of the news media.
My connection with news-gathering media is a grazing one, although a long
one. I do not know anything about newspapers. The only thing I know about
newspapers is that, in my previous life, I framed good reviews and burned bad
I do know rather a lot about broadcasting, or at least about the way it used
to be, and the way it largely still is. In fact, I was, for a short and largely
technical time, an owner of a television station.
This report deals, in some degree, with the convergence of ownership among
broadcasters. There is nothing morally or ethically wrong with the convergence
of ownership among broadcasters. If I were a proprietor of a broadcast
undertaking and permitted to do so, I would do exactly the same thing. It is
However, efficiency and the aggrandizement of the interests of the
shareholders of broadcast undertakings is not the only consideration in this
country which can be taken into account in the licensing, governance and
regulation of broadcasters. There is a public responsibility, at least there
used to be. If we are to change that concept of public responsibility, then we
should do so openly, clearly and publicly, and not merely by lack of attention
to it, or by attrition of the public interest. If we are to do that, let us
admit that it is a media free-for-all. Until and unless we do that, there is an
overriding public interest, an overriding public responsibility and an
overriding public obligation that attends to broadcasters, and they are not
Whether by design or perhaps inadvertently, in my personal opinion the CRTC,
by way of decisions that have been, in the main, ill-advised over the past few
years, has had the effect of weakening seriously, if not destroying, the
Canadian independent production industry.
We must start over, senators, from the very beginning, with a clean sheet of
paper and re-examine the regulation and governance of the broadcast industry in
Canada. Why do we need to do that? There used to be, in the good old days not
very many years ago, a guy in every city, in every radio station, in every
television station, who was upstairs in the office, to whom a creative person
could take an idea, and every once in a while that guy upstairs would say,
"Regardless of the fact that this is not going to make me any money, and in
fact it may cost me money, we should do that." They did that out of a sense of
community responsibility that those guys upstairs — they were all guys — used to
have. In every city and town, the owner of that radio station or television
station was there, and they did things very differently from the way they are
Putting aside the obligations that those proprietors have, as a result of the
promises and performance that they go through when they make their application
for a broadcast licence, there was another reason for which they sometimes did
those things. Every one of those owners had a sense of community; some greater
than others, but they all had it. They all lived in that community. They had
pride of place in their community. I knew many of those men. I still know many
of them, but they are no longer in those positions.
Every day, in my travels all across this country, from St. John's to
Victoria, I saw evidence that this policy might not make us any money, in fact
it might cost us some money, but we should do this because it should be done. We
should do it for altruistic reasons; we should do it for its own sake. That
community pride of place has gone. It is not that it has been reduced; it has
There are managers now in those communities, running those broadcast
undertakings, and they may see and understand some of those things that ought to
be done for their own sake, but they are no longer the decision-makers. The
decision-makers now live somewhere else and have different interests. The
obligation, duty and allegiance of those managers are to a widespread group of
shareholders who do not necessarily care what happens in Rosetown or Chicoutimi
Those obligations and duties and allegiances of the managers to the
shareholders are not wrong. It is to their shareholders, and the dividends that
they pay them, that those duties are, in fact, owed.
There is, as I have described, an absence of that other set of obligations
that, until very recently, have always been there and have largely been met in
every one of our communities. Sometimes they were met strictly because of the
hammer; because of the promise of performance to which they were held. Often
they were met for purely altruistic reasons, and there lies the shortfall — and
it is not merely a shortfall, honourable senators, it is a gaping hole — in this
aspect of the fabric of Canadian broadcasting.
That shortfall, that huge gaping hole, is a public obligation and duty that
is at least as important as the one that is owed to shareholders. That has
always been the public policy in broadcasting in Canada. It still should be, and
it is not being met.
That is why we need to go back to the beginning, the very beginning, to
square one. We need to bring broadcast regulations in Canada into the 21st
century. They are now barely in the 20th century. Some of the measures that can
be taken in that respect, and can be considered, are contained in the report
However, we need to go even further than that. We need to start from the
ground up, with a clean sheet of paper, recognizing that the landscape in which
the present regime of broadcast regulations in this country was designed is no
longer a landscape that exists; it has changed drastically. It has changed to
the extent that the entire regime is at odds with the present circumstances in
which it operates, both technologically and otherwise.
I hope the Senate will be the place from which that initiative will emanate.
I will join with my colleagues in working to that end.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Thank you for that extremely eloquent, well reasoned
and very knowledgeable speech.
In my view, the honourable senator's diagnosis is sadly accurate. I wonder if
senators saw on the weekend a report in The Globe and Mail about a
hearing that the CRTC held last week, where proprietors of CTV and CHUM were
before the commission, seeking permission for their much publicized merger, the
announcement of which honourable senators may recall was accompanied by the
notice of many layoffs, particularly of journalists and newsroom people.
The new chair of the CRTC listened to the proposals, which would involve
giving the newly merged company two television stations in quite a large number
of cities. I speak from memory here, but he said to the owner of the CTV
network, or the representative, "You have made a very good case in explaining to
me why what you propose is in the interests of CTV, but I do not see in your
remarks anything about what is in the public interest."
Does the honourable senator think that I am being over-optimistic if I
suggest that such remarks might be a ray of hope?
Senator Banks: I thank the honourable senator for the question and
also for this excellent report. We know Konrad von Finckenstein from another
picture. I think that "hope" is the operative word.
I have great hope that he, and perhaps other members of the commission, will
follow with action — and with the demonstrable application of policies that have
been bent out of shape in the past 20 years — to take into account the public
interest. However, that hope is mitigated to a degree by the fact that other
previous members and even chairs of the CRTC have said those things, and have
said that they will operate with great deference to the larger public interest,
and that has — if I can use gross understatement — not always been followed up
Any time there is a new broom, one hopes that it might sweep clean. Mr. von
Finckenstein is demonstrably a principled man, and I think he understands the
question. However, it is more complicated than merely understanding the
question, unfortunately, as previous examples of the thing we are talking about
have amply demonstrated.
Presently, many people on the staff of the CRTC, with respect, know a lot
about broadcasting. There are even some ex-broadcasters on the staff of the
CRTC. I am not up-to-date on the present membership, but there have not been
many broadcasters in the past little while who are members of the CRTC, which
leads to other kinds of regulatory and management questions in relation to the
fabric of Canadian broadcasting.
When was the last time a broadcaster was the president of the CBC? I do not
remember and I am 70 years old. There have been presidents of the board of the
CBC who have been broadcasters. In the case, for example, of Patrick Watson,
many of us said that at last someone has been appointed to the chairmanship of
the CBC board who actually knows what is going on.
Senator Mercer: God forbid.
Senator Banks: Well, he did, and there have been others. However, they
found that the spaghetti bowl, the push back, the resistance and inertia were
such that even they had difficulty making a difference. The same thing has
obtained with respect to some broadcasters who have had dealings in the past
with the CRTC.
The short answer to your question is, we must have hope. If we do not have
hope, and if someone does not realize that hope, we are precariously close to
the tipping point where we will lose it. We will lose something that not only
most thinking Canadians, but most Canadians, if it came down to it, I believe,
would say is an important public interest. I do not think we want to lose that.
We are approaching the abyss so I join you in your hope that the article, which
I did not see, augurs well.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Banks' time is
completed. Will you accept five minutes more?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Jim Munson: Since the chair of the CRTC, Konrad von Finckenstein,
mentioned the words "public interest," does the honourable senator think it
would be in the public interest for the CRTC to avoid making any decision in
dealing with this merger that may happen, or the buy-out of CHUM by CTV, and
that there be public meetings across this country? The word "public" is always
used, but nobody in the public seems to be able to walk into the process, for
example, into the labyrinth of the CRTC at Gatineau and sit down and say, we
want to have a fulsome debate.
In our work in the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications,
we went across the country and heard people. We had town hall meetings and
people spoke to us. There is a great deal of concern out there, whether it comes
to the Irving empire in New Brunswick or whether it happens in Vancouver.
It seems we say all of these things, but nobody really listens. I am
wondering, from your perspective, at what point does the chairman say we will
not make a decision until we tap into the public?
Senator Banks: I thank the honourable senator for the question. I will
precede my answer with an explanation, which should help explain my answer. That
is up to the CRTC. I would not want us to abridge or abrogate the principle that
the CRTC is among those institutions in Canada that is genuinely at arm's length
and not susceptible to political pressure on one side or the other of any
What the honourable senator suggests is something that the CRTC might want to
take into consideration in finding out and being better informed about what the
public interest is in this and other cases. However, I regard that matter as
being strictly the province of the CRTC, so long as that institution remains as
It is among the institutions — along with Telefilm Canada, the National Film
Board, the CBC and several others — that I was referring to when I talked about
a clean sheet of paper, that I think need to be looked at again quite
differently. They all exist; they were all designed in a time that is patently
different in almost every respect from the present. Therefore, that is a
As regards the CRTC itself, I think that the suggestion of the honourable
senator would be a good one to make to the CRTC; but they should not be obliged
by anyone — and certainly not by government — to do that.
Senator Fraser: On this matter of public input to the CRTC in
connection with broadcasting licences, a few years ago our former colleague
Senator Finestone had a bill before this place that struck me as creative. We
know that the CRTC subsidizes, to some extent, intervenors before it in the
telecommunications branch. It does not do so for intervenors in the case of
broadcasting licences. Her bill would have said, basically, give the same fair
crack to the public for broadcasters; give them modest subsidies as well to help
members of the public and non-profit groups make their case before the CRTC. Do
you think that idea is worth pursuing?
Senator Banks: I do, and I did at the time. I supported that bill
unequivocally, with the one little codicil that the CRTC would have to be
provided funding to do that properly. When it applies for its budget, it does
not include that at the moment. It does not have sufficient funding to do that
at the moment, but it would be a good idea and would demonstrably represent the
public interest better than is now the case.
Leave having been given to proceed to Other Business, Other, Inquiry No. 3:
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Dallaire calling
the attention of the Senate to the situation in the Darfur region of Sudan and
the importance of Canada's commitment to the people of this war-torn
country.—(Honourable Senator Andreychuk)
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, April 29 was declared a
global day of action marking four years of conflict in Darfur. Many senators
spoke out to draw attention to what the United Nations is calling the worst
humanitarian crisis on the planet.
I am humbled by the commitment and the efforts being made by the All-Party
Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and Other Crimes Against
Humanity to ensure that this devastating crisis does not go unnoticed. Like
them, I believe that, as parliamentarians, we must give a voice to those who
have been forced into silence.
The humanitarian impact of the crisis has been devastating for the people of
Darfur. Furthermore, the prevailing instability in the region is hindering the
work of aid organizations and preventing them from even counting exactly how
many people are being affected by the conflict. At least 200,000 innocent people
have been killed, and at least 2 million have been displaced. We are hearing
reports of countless systematic murders, rapes and forced displacements.
Our colleague, Senator Dallaire, a source of inspiration, has called the
conflict genocide in slow motion. To do nothing and say nothing is unacceptable.
What does the conflict mean for the people of Darfur? It means hundreds of
thousands of people living in fear and suffering, and having to leave their
homes. The children become orphaned, they are kidnapped or they are forced into
becoming soldiers and engaging in combat. According to UNICEF, it means that a
girl living in that troubled region of Sudan has a better chance of dying in
childbirth than of going to school. Educating girls and women is essential to
development and, if these statistics apply to the girls in Darfur, I fear
greatly for their future and that of their country.
As incredible as it may sound, the longer the conflict goes on, the more
precarious the situation becomes. It is increasingly difficult for aid agencies
to gain access to those in greatest need of humanitarian relief. In Darfur, 4
million people, or half the local population, desperately depend on this
assistance to survive. The aid agencies themselves are not safe. In December,
while we were celebrating the holiday season, the aid agencies' compound was
breached. One staff member was beaten, and another raped. Already four years
old, the conflict just keeps worsening. It is now reaching Chad, a country where
hundreds of thousands of people from Darfur have already taken refuge.
The people of Canada are calling for an intervention. I wish to hold up as an
example the work of a remarkable group of young people from Alberta. These 30
students from Edmonton walked from Calgary to Edmonton to call attention to the
atrocities happening in Darfur. An Albertan myself, I have driven along that
road many times and I am totally amazed by their determination. This was a 300
kilometre walk, and it took them eight days, in stretches of up to 30 or 40
kilometres per day. The group would make stops in small town high schools to
share their message. They have collected more than $10,000 to help finance
relief efforts. This is a truly inspiring group of students.
Canadians believe in their country's ability to help and protect people who
are suffering. The needs in Darfur are great, and I believe that our government
and our country must do more to defend those who are trying desperately to
survive. The Government of Sudan is supporting factions that are killing, raping
and terrorizing the Darfurians. They must not be allowed to go on with impunity.
The supreme irony of the situation is that, while the suffering in Darfur is
continuing, Khartoum, the capital in the north, is drawing praise for its rapid
development. Moreover, the country's economy should grow by 11 or 12 per cent
Buoyed by this prosperity and the fact that the world seems indifferent to
the violence, the Government of Sudan has no reason to alter its behaviour. The
world needs to send a consistent, sincere message and tell the Government of
Sudan that it must no longer support the conflict in Darfur.
We all need to remember that we have said, "Never again" and work together
on a consistent response to the Government of Sudan.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Would Senator Mitchell entertain a
Senator Mitchell: Yes.
Senator Dallaire: Honourable senators, I would first like to say that
I have deep respect for Senator Mitchell for having delivered his speech this
afternoon in his second language, with dignity, assurance and confidence.
It is an example of the fundamental duality that enables us to build this
country and accept all the other new entities that will become part of our great
My second point has to do with the young people who attended last week the
meeting of the interparliamentary committee on genocide prevention, which
brought together parliamentarians to listen to representatives of Canada's NGOs.
There were 55 students in attendance, including a dozen from Alberta who paid
their own way to listen to us talk for two hours. Three of those students were
part of the team that walked 300 kilometres.
In 1974 in Holland, I took part in the annual Nijmegen walk, where we had to
walk 160 kilometres in four days. We trained for weeks before setting out on
that adventure. It was no mean feat for these students to walk 300 kilometres in
eight days. It is a remarkable sacrifice. I congratulate them.
I recently spoke to the Chief of Staff of the African Union Forces, General
Anyidoho, who was my assistant in Rwanda. He told me that the United Nations is
moving forward with a very strong program, which has been accepted by Sudan, to
transition toward a significant position of strength in order to protect the
people of Sudan and Darfur. He wanted to know why Canada was not there. There is
already a United Nations mission of 10,000 soldiers in Sudan, including 33
Canadian observers. That is in the south of the country. Some 20 or so soldiers
are helping the African Union with the mission in Darfur.
He told me that every Canadian officer or non-commissioned officer is worth
easily five to ten officers from other, developing countries, in terms of
skills, work ethic, technological expertise and desire to advance the mission.
Do you not think that Canada could send at least 20 or so experts to help
with the second phase of the United Nations mission in Darfur?
Senator Mitchell: I want to thank the honourable senator for his
question. I will try to answer in French. However, I must say that this is the
first time I am speaking French here without any notes.
Thank you for complimenting my efforts to read in French. I appreciate that
As a relatively young senator, I should take this opportunity to learn
French. I must do so for Canada, for bilingualism, and also because I am a
senator from Alberta. We do not speak much French in Alberta. Nonetheless, it is
quite present, as Senator Tardif and other honourable senators can attest.
Let us come back to your question. Canada is a privileged country. We
therefore have a moral imperative to provide help to Darfur and Sudan.
Like you, my father was a soldier. He served in the Canadian Forces
throughout the world, particularly in Korea. I understand the importance of this
effort in Darfur.
In my opinion, we have the resources, and I know, as you do, that our
soldiers have the ability to contribute to improving the situation in Darfur.
I completely agree with Senator Dallaire. I hope the Government of Canada
will come onside soon.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Will Senator Mitchell take a question in
I am part of the all-party genocide group. We meet at sometimes difficult
times for me, but I am nonetheless very supportive of the initiative of the
prevention of genocide. I understand the honourable senator's point about what
he believes should be done now in Darfur.
One of the dilemmas is that we could be more effective if we worked in
prevention as opposed to in the middle of difficulty. The honourable senator has
spoken about Darfur. When would he say the situation in Darfur changed from a
civil issue for the Government of Sudan to an issue of genocide that we all
should have taken note of?
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Mitchell's time has expired.
Senator Dallaire: Could he have five minutes to respond?
The Hon. the Speaker: The honourable senator will rise and ask for an
extension of his time.
Senator Mitchell: Could I have several more minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators, for five
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Mitchell: I value the question and I certainly respect the
point the honourable senator makes, although to some extent I wonder if it is
not a moot point. No matter when the transition was made from a civil conflict
to genocide, the fact is that as a civil conflict it was not acceptable. Had the
conflict occurred elsewhere in the world, with different strategic implications,
it might be that the Western world would have taken a greater interest in the
conflict than it has.
Setting that aside, the fact of the matter is that something needs to be done
now. Yes, we need to play the role that the honourable senator is suggesting, a
more supportive, building role. I believe that if were we able to play that role
in Afghanistan, we might be able to deploy more forces from there to Darfur.
My concern is that it may well be that our government, which has limited the
scope of its international relations to a strong U.S. support role, I would
argue — and I say that as positively as I can — has lost the credibility it
needs to negotiate with its NATO allies to reconfigure our commitment in
Afghanistan. We are doing the heavy lifting and we have been doing it for a
disproportionate amount of time. We could, in fact, deploy the 20 or many more
Canadian soldiers to a place like Darfur and we could play a significant role in
both places, as a country like Canada should do and has the capability of doing.
Senator Andreychuk: The honourable senator raised the subject of
Afghanistan. I did not. My point is that if we are to talk about the duty to
protect and about genocide prevention, we have to have lessons learned. In
determining what role we can play now, one must look at what role we did play
and whether it was the correct role.
In regard to Darfur, it is one thing now to talk about redeployment. If I
take the honourable senator's point that we have very few troops and we have to
make choices — and there was a choice made to go into Afghanistan and there were
reasons why we did not go into Darfur at that time — with that background, what
can we constructively do now to support the situation in Darfur? The answer must
be based on the fact that our interventions now have to be positive. We cannot
go into Darfur so that we feel better, and we do not really make a change for
the people of Darfur, which has to be an immediate response and a long-term
Senator Mitchell: I cannot disagree with the honourable senator, but I
would say that we need to have a sense of urgency. We can go on and on having
these debates, and I wonder how many people might have died in the few minutes
the honourable senator and I have spoken about this. Far too many, I am sure. We
need to instill a sense of urgency in the government to do something about this.
Senator Dallaire was not suggesting 2,000 troops. He was saying that given
the significant contribution that our soldiers are capable of making, a handful
more soldiers would make a significant difference.
However, the bigger issue is, how does Canada play a significant role in
places like Darfur and Afghanistan as a foreign policy strategy? Clearly, the
emphasis must be on support and on building infrastructure, but there are times,
I would expect, that we cannot do that without some defensive military work. I
expect that were we to go to Darfur with the honourable senator's vision
exclusively in mind — that is, to build infrastructure and to do humanitarian
work — we would still have to do some protective military work as well. It is
the nature of those circumstances. It is the nature of the 21st century and of
the foreign policy issues that face us as a country that we need to play that
kind of role in the world, but we have to get after it.
On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.
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 North West Territories and Nunavut.—(Honourable Senator Mercer)
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I want to speak at length
on this inquiry, but I am not prepared to do so today. In my research on this
subject, I have been trying to be fair. I have attempted to find one child care
space that has been created by the current government in order to compare it to
the previous government but I am having difficulty. Therefore, I wish to move
adjournment of the debate at this time.
The Hon. the Speaker: It is agreed that this item continue to stand in
the name Senator Mercer?
Hon. Mira Spivak rose pursuant to notice of May 8, 2007:
That she will call the attention of the Senate to the hidden costs and
benefits of an expanded ethanol and biodiesel program in Canada.
She said: Honourable senators, the Government of Canada is surging towards
expanded production of ethanol and biodiesel. Late last year, it unveiled an
aggressive renewable fuels policy and last month the budget proposed $2 billion
I certainly would not want to discourage the government from taking any steps
that benefit the environment — we need all the climate change measures we can
devise. However, we also need to be clear and forthright with Canadians about
what these measures will really cost and what they can reasonably be expected to
achieve. The reason for my speaking here today is that I have read so many
articles on this issue that I thought it was important to bring it forward.
In effect, the benefits are being exaggerated. The costs, including the
environmental cost of increased smog, are being glossed over. Potential adverse
consequences such as rising food costs are simply being ignored. In Canada,
there may be hidden costs and diminished benefits. They are not hidden
elsewhere, including in the U.S. Federal Register, where all can see the EPA's
Compare that EPA analysis, published last September, with the Environment
Canada version that appeared in the Canada Gazette in December, and we
find that the Government of Canada claims that ethanol produced from corn or
wheat achieves a 20 to 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases. At least, that
is the figure presented in the Canada Gazette of December 30, 2006. Ten
days earlier, the news release from Saskatoon claimed that "grain-based ethanol
results in life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 30-40 per cent
compared to gasoline." It is a miraculous boon, well worth $2 billion in
subsidies. Meanwhile, the EPA estimates that the U.S. will see a 0.4 to 0.6 per
cent reduction in greenhouse gases in the transportation sector from an ethanol
program virtually identical to the program that our government has set out for
Canada. How can that be? Is it 30 per cent, 40 per cent or 0.4 per cent? Where
does the truth lie?
In the real world, the truth lies closer to the EPA estimates that look not
at a rosy theory, but at how ethanol is actually used. In the real world, it is
blended with gasoline to produce fuel for today's cars that would be damaged if
the blends were richer than 10 per cent ethanol. Even if cars could run on pure
ethanol, the vast majority of studies suggest the greenhouse gas savings of
ethanol are not nearly as high as the estimates found in two Canadian studies —
studies produced by consultants for Natural Resources Canada and Agriculture
Canada. The U.S. Library of Congress suggests greenhouse gas reductions from
pure ethanol are a more modest 13 to 20 per cent. For grain-based E-10 ethanol,
the consensus is that greenhouse gas reductions are minimal, at best.
As for a distinct environmental downside for ethanol, namely increased smog
producing emissions, Environment Canada's news release is virtually silent.
Ethanol, according to the EPA, means more nitrogen oxides and more volatile
organic compounds that combine with sunlight in summer to produce ground-level
ozone and particulate matter commonly known as smog.
The current Minister of the Environment appeared before the Standing Senate
Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources only last month to
express his concern that the number of smog days in Toronto had risen from one
to 27 or 37 in just 12 years.
The EPA estimates that, as a result of the ethanol program in that country,
NOx and VOC emissions will increase by up to 97,000 tons. In parts of the
country where ethanol is not widely used, VOC emissions would increase 3 to 5
per cent and NOx emissions 4 to 6 per cent. Nationwide, it would translate to a
0.6 per cent increase in smog. However, the Natural Resources Defence Council in
the United States, a non-profit advocate of ethanol made from cellulose,
suggests that the smog in Los Angeles could be 10 per cent worse. The most
recent study by Stanford University Professor Mark Jacobsen projects an
additional 200 deaths, most of them in Los Angeles.
The EPA reports on the three ways that ethanol increases smog-causing
pollutants: from tailpipe exhausts, from ethanol production and distribution,
and from something known as permeation; that is, seepage through fuel tanks and
fuel line connections. The report states, and I quote:
Recent testing has shown that ethanol increases permeation emissions, both
by permeating itself and increasing the permeation of other gasoline
The National Resources Defence Council's solution is the rapid transit to
high blends of ethanol, namely E-85, which contains just 15 per cent gasoline.
That blend reduces evaporative emissions and, just as important, the cars built
to run on them, called flex-fuel vehicles, have improved fuel systems that
minimize permeation. They also have oxygen sensing technology to minimize NOx
emissions. There are about five million flex-fuel cars on the road in the U.S.,
but most run on gasoline because drivers cannot find E-85 at the pump or do not
know that their car can use it. Also, corn and soybeans are crops that require
large amounts of fertilizer, pesticides and fuel to process. They are also the
major source of nitrogen runoff, creating dead zones in rivers and lakes. In the
Gulf of New Mexico there is a dead zone the size of New Jersey.
Canada's government has not presented a solution. In fact, we have no
acknowledgement that the ethanol program may be creating a problem.
Other harsh realities have begun to emerge about the government's plan to
have renewable fuels comprise 5 per cent of all transportation fuels by 2010,
two years earlier than the U.S. mandated requirement.
What is missing from government information is presented by the Library of
Parliament. A recent research paper makes clear that for Canada to reach its
biofuel target of 5 per cent, producers will require 4.6 million tonnes of corn,
2.3 million tonnes of wheat and 0.6 million tonnes of canola.
If all these feedstocks were grown domestically, they would represent 48-52
per cent of the total corn seeded area, 11-12 per cent of the wheat seeded
area and about 8 per cent of the total canola seeded area in Canada.
The question arises, when farmland is used for fuel production, what is the
impact for food production and the price of food?
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization already credits the rising demand
for ethanol from corn for the decline in world grain stocks during the first
half of 2006.
The Chief Executive Officer of Maple Leaf Foods Inc., Michael McCain,
expresses the problem from his corporate perspective. It means more job cuts and
price hikes for meat, animal feed and possibly bakery products to cover the
increased costs of corn and wheat caused by the demand for ethanol. He says the
major challenge for the meat industry worldwide is "to transition the ethanol
effect into consumer pricing of food products."
Canadians may well pay more for their hamburgers and steaks while they pay $2
billion in subsidies to biofuel producers and receive lower mileage for
ethanol-blended gas that is no less expensive than regular gas at the pump.
That is another hidden downside of ethanol: It has about one third less
energy intensity than gasoline. Mileage for cars running on E-10 will be down
roughly 3 per cent, while E-85 blends will have drivers filling up much more
The government's plan, revealed in December, has no cost-benefit analysis
from the perspective of the government, from the perspective of industry or from
the consumers' perspective.
In the United States, direct corn subsidies are $8.9 billion a year.
Actually, in the United States, $92 billion a year is given to industry.
The EPA's economic cost-benefit analysis is extensive. It estimates an
overall cost to the U.S. by 2012 of $500,000 — this is not for the producers of
corn, but producers of ethanol — to $1.6 billion annually, virtually all of that
in tax subsidies. In fact, subsidies exceed production costs when crude oil is
$47 a barrel, and when crude reaches $70, the savings to the fuel industry is
about $2 billion a year, or $1.34 a gallon, not to mention that Archer Daniels
Midland, ADM, the biggest ethanol producer, is also the major recipient of the
Small wonder that everyone from farmers' cooperatives to ADM and Tyson Foods
are jumping on the biofuels bandwagon, and recently it was announced that
Innisfail, Alberta, will be home to North America's largest biofuel refinery,
producing 300 million U.S. gallons a year of ethanol, biodiesel and crushed
canola. The incentive is not so much environmental incentive, I think, as
Budget 2007 sets out $1.5 billion in subsidies over seven years, subsidies
with a cut-off point that arrives when companies realize rates of return in
excess of 20 per cent.
The budget, which incidentally says that renewable fuels reduce air
pollution, also devotes $500 million for public-private partnerships for
next-generation renewable fuels. The Ottawa-based firm, Iogen, receives special
mention, as it should, and as it does in virtually every substantial article on
the real promise of renewable fuels.
The real hope for growing fuels lies not in diverting corn, wheat and canola
into the fuel tanks of sport utility vehicles, SUVs. It lies in using corn
stalks, switchgrass and straw to make fuel.
Iogen is the acknowledged leader in this next-generation technology. The U.S.
Department of Energy acknowledged it in February when it awarded Iogen
Biorefinery Partners, LLC, of Arlington, Virginia, a partnership of Iogen of
Ottawa, Goldman Sachs and Royal Dutch Shell some $80 million to build a
commercial plant in Shelley, Idaho, to produce 18 million gallons a year of
ethanol from 700 tons a day of straw, corn stover and switchgrass.
This cellulosic ethanol could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 6 per
cent in the E-10 blends and about 65 per cent in E-85 fuels. It need not divert
food crops to fuel and, as the Bush administration has acknowledged with a
sudden doubling of grants to cellulosic ethanol production, it will be needed to
meet mandated objectives for renewable fuels.
Canadians have a rather large stake in Iogen, although it is seldom
acknowledged. It began in 1994 when Iogen partnered with the National Research
Council to develop biotech enzymes for the pulp and paper industry. In 1999,
Iogen received a $10 million loan to help build its ethanol demonstration plant
in Ottawa, and this year it received another $7.7 million —
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Spivak, I regret that your 15 minutes
Senator Spivak: Can I have another seven minutes?
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Five minutes.
The Hon. the Speaker: The house unanimously agrees to five minutes.
Senator Spivak: The Minister of the Environment has hinted strongly
that an Iogen plant will be built in Western Canada. Meanwhile, we wait for the
announcement of specific funding.
If there is a downside to next-generation biofuels, it is not yet apparent.
There is, however, some cause for caution — to take care in their development,
not to let political pronouncements dictate the pace at which these fuels are
Several years ago, there was considerable controversy in New Zealand when it
came to light that a common bacteria genetically engineered to produce ethanol
from plant debris killed all the wheat plants tested by a graduate student at
Oregon State University. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, had
approved it for field testing after it showed no environmental effects during
standard pesticide or toxicity study. In the end, it was not released.
There is nothing inherently bad or good about genetic modification, which
will be used in these bacteria and fungi in genetic engineering. There is,
however, a need to thoroughly test any products that may intentionally or
unintentionally be released into the environment with unintended adverse
Not surprisingly, the cost of producing these next-generation fuels is not
yet competitive with grain-based ethanol or with fossil fuels.
In addition, in a May-June edition of Foreign Affairs, in an article
entitled How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor, the author suggested it is
unrealistic to expect cellulose-based ethanol to become the solution, or a
solution, within the next decade, given logistical problems.
If the price of renewable fuels is higher food costs, or other unintended
consequences, what then should we be doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
from transportation? In a word, re-engineering. Amory Lovins, the pre-eminent
guru of energy conservation, has laid out convincingly how Americans can
displace all the oil it now uses and see a net economic benefit of $70 billion.
His prescription includes revenue and size-neutral "feebates" for cars and a
scrap-and-replace program that provides super-efficient cars to low-income
Americans. It also includes smart government procurement and federal loan
guarantees. By switching to ultralight but strong vehicles made from carbon
composites or lightweight steel, with low drag and hybrid technology, drivers
could decrease fuel use by up to 72 per cent.
We all should be doing for automakers here in Canada what we did for oil
sands developers: Allowing them a 100 per cent one-year write-off for equipment
used to produce clean cars and trucks. We should encourage the production of
next-generation cars right here in Canada. Fiscal policies could also encourage
less travel by rewarding employers and employees who take up telecommuting.
We could encourage more freight transport by rail. Warren Buffet says that as
oil prices rise, the advantage of rail over trucks is increased by a factor of
four. The "Oracle of Omaha" has invested heavily in rail.
I do believe there is a place for renewable fuels in bringing this country to
a soft energy path, a path that will do less harm to the atmosphere. However, it
is not good government policy to exaggerate the benefits, minimize the risks and
create unrealistic expectations.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver rose pursuant to notice of May 8, 2007:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to employment equity in the
Senate of Canada.
He said: Honourable senators I am pleased to rise to comment on the recent
Employment Equity report released by the Standing Committee on Internal Economy,
Budgets and Administration. Honourable senators, it reveals that the Senate
administrative staff is becoming increasingly diverse. This is due to the
positive and diligent action of the Senate's managerial and human resource
teams. This action is long overdue and it cannot come soon enough.
That is because our world, our country, our communities, where we work and
where we live is changing more quickly than ever before. As Thomas L. Friedman
writes in his book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First
Century, the dramatic advancements in digital technology over the last 15
years have reverberated across the globe. In essence, the world is flattening.
People, things and events are becoming more and more interconnected.
In less than a generation the web, email and cellphones have come to dominate
economies and the workplace. These technologies gave birth to open-sourcing,
work-flow software and supply change which have enabled companies, groups and
individuals, regardless of location, to collaborate as never before.
These technologies spawned outsourcing and offshoring, which have lifted
India and China into global economic powerhouses, and these technologies have
enabled social networking on an unprecedented scale. Communities today can come
together in an instant, marshalling their influence to protest or to applaud, to
In tandem with the dramatic transformation of the cybersphere, the people of
the world have also become more interrelated and more mobile in a physical
sense. Immigration now accounts for two thirds of the population growth in the
30 member countries of the OECD. This is caused by what I would call the
inverted age pyramid where low birth rates and an aging work force in the
developed countries have accelerated the need for new, young workers.
This trend is particularly evident in Canada. In less than a decade there
will be more seniors than children in Canada. By 2025, one in five Canadians
will be over the age of 65, yet according to the 2006 Census, the Canadian
population grew more rapidly over the last five years than in the previous five.
This was precisely due to immigration. Indeed, two thirds of this growth was
attributable to net international migration. As a result, according to a report
released last year by the Royal Bank of Canada, immigration will account for all
of the net increase in Canada's labour force by the end of this decade.
The vast majority of these immigrants are settling in large metropolitan
areas like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa. As the 2006 census also
shows, nearly 25 million Canadians today, or more than four fifths of our
population, live in urban areas. Most of Canada's immigrants, almost three
quarters in 2003, are visible minorities. Consequently, less than 10 years from
now, the Conference Board of Canada predicts that the number of visible
minorities will jump to roughly 20 per cent of Canada's population.
This is rapidly changing the demographic makeup of Canadian cities. In
another 10 years, both Toronto and Vancouver will become majority minority
cities. Ottawa is also undergoing a dramatic transformation. One in five Ottawa
residents today is an immigrant. Based on the 2004 findings of the international
trained worker project in Ottawa, immigrants will contribute 100 per cent of the
net new growth for Ottawa's workforce within just four years.
This workforce brings enviable brain power to Canada's capital. According to
research spearheaded by the international trained worker project, the people who
immigrate to Ottawa are highly educated, highly skilled and highly experienced —
more so than the people in Ontario at large. More than half of recent immigrants
to Ottawa have university degrees and a further 14 per cent hold other
credentials such as trade certificates or diplomas. In 2002, more immigrants
with PhDs settled in Ottawa than graduated from the University of Ottawa and
Carleton University combined.
Sadly, however, this valuable human capital remains underutilized and
underemployed. Forty-seven per cent of people receiving social assistance in
Ottawa are immigrants. In Ottawa, immigrants aged 25 to 44 with a university
degree are four times more likely than their Canadian-born counterparts to be
unemployed. Furthermore, recent immigrants who are university educated are twice
as likely to have jobs that do not require post-secondary education as their
Canadian-born counterparts. This is not only unfair and unjust but, as my
research indicated that I spearheaded at the conference board shows, it is also
an unforgivable waste of talent and our most precious resource in today's
technologically intensive and increasingly connected world economy.
Honourable senators, the business case for diversity is clear. Diversity
cultivates creativity and ignites innovation. It opens up new avenues to reach
ethnic groups. It fosters goodwill and enhances reputation. Above all, tolerant,
diverse organizations attract and keep talented, highly-skilled people. In the
years to come, these organizations will be the most effective.
When I rose in the Senate a year and a half ago, I gave a very negative
report of employment equity in the Senate. Before I summarize the essence of the
new report released by the Internal Economy Committee, I would like to recap
what I said a year and a half ago in this chamber.
Honourable senators, at that time I said that the representation of visible
minorities in the Public Service of Canada is appallingly low, but it is even
lower within the administrative levels of the Senate of Canada. The Senate Human
Resources Directorate Employment Equity Report, released in September of 2004,
showed a paltry increase of 0.9 per cent in visible minority representation from
2000 to 2004.
Currently, visible minorities comprise only 6.8 per cent of the Senate's 425
employees, but it is in senior and middle management positions where the
Senate's record is especially shameful. Honourable senators, the number of
visible minorities employed in senior and middle management positions in the
Senate in the year 2000 was zero. In 2001, it was zero. In 2002, it was zero. In
2003, it was zero. In 2004, the number again was zero.
In the five previous years, there had not been a single visible minority
candidate promoted to a senior or middle management position in the Senate of
Canada, according to its own 2000-to-2004 employment equity report.
Well, honourable senators, happily that has now changed. That is why I am so
pleased to note the progress in increasing the overall representation of
designated groups in the Senate administration. According to the second
employment equity report, 2004-2006, the representation of visible minority
employees in the Senate's administration ranks have doubled over the last fiscal
year. It now constitutes 9.4 per cent of the overall workforce. This is a
remarkable achievement worthy of much praise, especially when you consider that
the promotion of visible minorities in the Senate administration remained
stagnant over the five previous years, as I just outlined.
Honourable senators, the Senate clerk, Mr. Paul Bélisle, is to be commended
for this remarkable turnaround. This is a good first start, but I will still be
keeping my eyes on the table.
In addition, the pool of visible minority candidates participating in
recruitment processes for Senate positions has also increased significantly to
roughly one in five applicants. Furthermore, the number of visible minorities in
the professional category has also grown. This is particularly crucial, given
that this is the feeder group to the senior and middle management category.
Equally critical, the Senate administration is moving forward decisively to
capture the full promise of Canada and Ottawa's growing diversity. For instance,
all of its HR policies are being reviewed to ensure that they respect and
support diversity. A new learning, training and development policy has been
drafted to include an employment equity component, and a management
accountability framework has been established to ensure that employment equity,
learning, retention and succession planning are integral to operational plans
and financial resources.
Now directors are held personally accountable for employment equity and
diversity results in the area of their responsibility. Coaching and support are
provided to managers in developing strategies to recruit and retain visible
minorities, as well as members of other designated groups. Those other
designated groups are women, the disabled and Aboriginal people; the fourth is
More vigorous outreach partnerships with community groups have been
established. Throughout the year, awareness sessions or events take place to
celebrate Canada's diversity. I am pleased to note that the advisory committee
on disability and accessibility has been renamed the advisory committee on
diversity, with a new mandate and terms of reference. As well, a new multiyear
diversity and accessibility plan will be approved and implemented in the near
Honourable senators, this is the momentum that the Senate's administration
needs to effect change, to build a truly representative workforce and to meet
the challenges of our increasingly interconnected world.
As the honourable senators know full well, I have been an adamant, often loud
and invariably lonely voice in calling for this magnitude of action. I am glad
that some of the message has been getting through.
I am especially delighted to note that my call for action has been heard
outside this place as well. As the second employment equity report further
notes, human resources representatives from the three Hill organizations have
developed an employment equity, strategy and action plan in pursuit of the
vision of a truly representative Parliament Hill. When approved, the strategy
and action plan will constitute the foundation of an MOU between the three Hill
This is critical progress that will make a difference; progress that will set
new standards for other organizations within both the public and private sectors
— and believe me, they need a good example.
Consider the record of Canadian companies. Last December, the Conference
Board of Canada released a new report on diversity priorities, practices and
performance in Canadian organizations. It was based on a survey of 120 Canadian
managers and executives with responsibility for diversity in their
organizations. Despite the fact that most respondents said that diversity is a
real priority for them, 42 per cent do not have a strategic plan for diversity.
Fewer than half the respondents provided diversity training to their managers
and employees, and 88 per cent rated their organizations as "average" or "below average" in preparing leaders to manage a diverse workforce.
Furthermore, only a minority of Canadian organizations have either met or
exceeded the labour force availability rates for members of visible minorities,
women, Aboriginals or persons with disabilities.
As our country's largest employer, the Canadian public service is also in
dire need of more positive and concrete action on the diversity front. According
to a fall 2006 performance report issued by the Public Service Human Resource
Management Agency of Canada, only five government departments received an
acceptable employment equity rating. Others were described as "opportunity for
improvement"; and many more, including four others, had the category "requiring attention" for the four target groups. This is the Government of
In addition, as Linda Gobeil, senior vice-president of the policy branch of
the Public Service Commission, recently reported to the Standing Senate
Committee on Human Rights, visible minorities not only remain persistently
under-represented in the public service, the majority of those who apply for a
job in the federal government are turned down.
From 2000 to 2005, applications for employment from visible minorities
averaged over 25 per cent; however, visible minorities received only 10 per cent
of appointments. Strikingly, this phenomenon called "drop-off" was specific
only to the visible minority groups, not the other three.
In an article in the Ottawa Citizen in January of this year, Madam
Maria Barrados, the president of the Public Service Commission, launched an
investigation into this issue. She wants to find out the cause of drop-off rate
and where it occurs in the hiring process. I deeply applaud her efforts and I am
looking forward to learning the results of her inquiry.
As Alex Himelfarb, the former Clerk of the Privy Council of Canada — the top
public servant in Canada — said when he appeared before the Human Rights
Committee when I was a member of that committee:
. . . we are a closed shop, and that has hurt the public service. We need
to open it up and seem more permeable. We need to care more about bringing the
I would add that we still need to do more. The Senate, the House of Commons
and the entire federal public service must become a shining example to other
Canadian organizations of the many advantages of diversity. We should be a
beacon of leadership to other governments and companies worldwide.
Canada is facing a talent crunch of dangerous proportions, and we are not the
only country in this precarious position. Over the past 18 months, I have spoken
to groups in Brazil, the U.S., the U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Norway and other
countries and each one is aggressively looking for new ways to attract and
retain visible minority talent. The already hot competition is heating up even
Given our legacy of proactive human rights and employment equity legislation,
Canada should be one of the highest performers in the world on the diversity
front. Given our history, we should be a global trendsetter.
The Hon. the Speaker: I must advise the honourable senator that his
time has expired.
Senator Oliver: Could I have two more minutes, please, to finish?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Five minutes.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Five minutes.
Senator Oliver: Our leadership in building a diverse government would
speak volumes to the hundreds of thousands of new immigrants our country strives
to attract and retain each year. It would resonate in the hearts and minds of
the increasingly diverse peoples of Canada. It would bolster Canada's reputation
in world markets and ensure our country's future prosperity. Equally important,
it would infuse government with new ideas. It would provide us with a deeper
understanding of all the Canadians that we serve. It would enable us to attract
and retain the increasingly precious resource of talented people.
Honourable senators, in our flat world, the competition for talent and
knowledge is escalating. Given the furious pace of technological innovation, I
expect that this trend is just beginning. Thomas Friedman believes that we are
in a quiet crisis, and if we do not do something about it, then in 10 to 15
years from now, this quiet crisis could become a huge crisis.
Honourable senators, we cannot be silent. We must speak loudly, clearly and
with conviction through our words and, most important, through our deeds. As the
Senate's second employment equity report shows, we are starting to do just that.
Let us make sure that this important progress continues unabated, and let us
make sure that our voices and our actions resonate across the Hill, across our
country and around the world.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Oliver: I would be pleased.
Senator Fraser: Like the honourable senator, I was struck by the
statistics on the drop-off rate. Let us not be naïve: It is perfectly possible
that part of the reason for that drop-off rate in the case of visible minorities
has to do with prejudice, whether conscious or unconscious, on the part of the
hiring officer, whoever that may be.
Surely, it is also possible that there might be other reasons. I wonder
whether Senator Oliver, having devoted so much study to this matter, has any
knowledge of two things that strike me as possible contributing factors. First,
is the entire foreign credentials business such that a degree from a
university in India is recognized to the same extent as a degree from a
university in Canada?
Second, there would be possible language difficulties. I would expect that a
fair number of applications come in from relatively new arrivals. Increasingly,
in recent years, the visible minorities that have come to us have not
necessarily come from English-speaking countries. Does the honourable senator
have any knowledge of the degree to which the lack of command of one of the two
official languages adequate to the job being done might be a contributing
factor? If it is a factor, then it is fairly easy to attack — teach them.
Senator Oliver: I thank Senator Fraser for her excellent question. The
honourable senator is right in putting her finger on two of the major problems,
apart from discrimination and racism, which are foreign credentials and language
skills. A third problem is lack of managerial experience. A person with a Ph.D.
from three universities can come to Canada wanting to become a senior manager in
the public service but might not know much about managing people. Managerial
training is the third problem.
In relation to the first, Canada's new government has made several
announcements for new steps that it will take in relation to recognition of
foreign credentials. As the honourable senator understands, it is not
intrinsically a federal problem but given the Constitution, it is a matter of
I was once a lawyer and I received my qualifications provincially. If I
wanted to practice in another province, I would have to qualify in that province
before I could practice. That is the problem with credentials. Canada's new
government has set up commissions and taken several steps designed to ensure
that we do not have trained doctors in waiting or driving taxis in Toronto when
they could be working in operating theatres. That has been looked at seriously
by the current government.
I have discussed the second problem of language and credentials with the
Clerk of the Privy Council. I met with Mr. Rosenberg in my office last week, who
is the new champion for the Public Service of Canada. We will meet again soon to
try to come up with new ways of ensuring that talented and capable Canadians who
want to become part of the public service will be afforded an opportunity to
become trained in both of Canada's official languages.
The third problem is managerial skills, which I have discussed with the Clerk
of the Privy Council. We are looking at a number of ways to ensure that talented
and capable minorities who would like to become managers but lack the requisite
managerial training will get that training as well.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I would like to adjourn
the debate but I would also like to raise a question with Senator Oliver.
The Hon. the Speaker: The time for Senator Oliver, as extended, has
Senator Di Nino: After the adjournment of the debate, I have another
issue I would like to bring forth.
The Hon. the Speaker: On the matter of Senator Oliver's inquiry, the
Honourable Senator Di Nino moves the adjournment of the debate. Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Senator Comeau: I do not want the debate adjourned.
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Di Nino,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Andreychuk, that this item be continued at
the next sitting of the Senate. Effectively, Senator Di Nino moves adjournment
of the debate. Are honourable senators clear on the question? Is it your
pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker: All those opposed will please say "nay."
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the "yeas" have it.
And two honourable senators having risen:
The Hon. the Speaker: Call in the senators. Do the whips have an
agreement on the bell? There being no agreement, the bells will ring for one
Senator Tardif: Thirty minutes.
The Hon. the Speaker: The vote will take place at four minutes before
Senator Tardif: Your Honour, I do not see a quorum.
The Hon. the Speaker: There is not a quorum. Would the pages go to the
adjacent rooms and summon senators. We will wait five minutes.
Honourable senators, five minutes have elapsed, and I still do not see a
quorum. Pursuant to rule 9(2)(b), the bells will ring for 15 minutes to summon
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I do not see a quorum.
Therefore, pursuant to rule 9(3) I declare the Senate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, May 16, 2007, at 1:30 p.m.