Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 143, Issue 99
Thursday, May 17, 2007
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Thursday, May 17, 2007
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, during the last federal election campaign,
our government promised to create a national seniors council to give seniors a
say on issues that matter to them.
I am proud to say that we have delivered on this promise. Next week, our
government will convene the inaugural meeting of the National Seniors Council
here in Ottawa. Our National Seniors Council has a mandate to advise our
government on issues that matter to Canadian seniors such as health care,
personal safety, and stability and income security.
I am particularly excited about the members of our National Seniors Council.
The six women and three men appointed to this council were selected through a
public recruitment process in which an advertisement was listed both online and
in the Canada Gazette.
A selection panel was held, which made recommendations to our government, and
the appointments were announced on the front steps of Parliament Hill by
Minister Solberg and me on May 3.
The individuals who sit on our National Seniors Council represent a wide and
diverse range of issues relevant to seniors. All of them bring unique
perspectives, both personally and regionally.
The members of our council include a woman from New Brunswick who managed an
in-home support agency for seniors and the disabled for over 13 years, as well
as a former registered nurse from Nova Scotia who currently works with seniors
as an addictions specialist.
Our council also includes the rector of the largest seniors residential care
facility in Ontario, several experts on gerontology and healthy aging and two
researchers on elder abuse. Several National Seniors Council members have
received awards for volunteerism, and all are leaders within their communities.
The chair of our council, which we announced on March 5, is Jean-Guy
Soulière. He is a distinguished former public servant who is head of one of the
largest seniors' stakeholders' networks in the country. His career
accomplishments stand on their own merit.
Honourable senators, seniors asked us for a national seniors' council to
study and deliver on the issues that matter to them. We have listened to seniors
and seniors' groups and this council is the result.
Next week, our council will meet for the first time. I am excited about
working with the council to study the issues and to work with our government, so
that we can continue to deliver on the priorities of Canadian seniors.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I had the pleasure of attending
the sixth annual Halifax Regional Historica Fair in Cole Harbour on May 5.
I am always impressed by the level of enthusiasm shown by the students when
talking to them about their projects. It is evident that a lot of hard work went
into the planning of their special projects. It is also encouraging to see the
young people of Nova Scotia sharing their heritage.
The projects were not only beneficial to the students, but were also
invaluable to those who were in attendance, as it gave us all another
opportunity to gain a better understanding of our country, its history and its
people through the eyes of our young Canadians.
Throughout the years, I have seen that the Historica Fair program has
developed into an effective way to interest young people from across the country
in discovering and learning about where they live. Canada is a vast country,
rich in heritage, with so many stories to tell. I believe that Historica Fairs
can serve as the spark to ignite a curiosity to learn about Canada's history.
Honourable senators, my congratulations go to the organizers of the Halifax
Regional Historica Fair. These events do not happen without a lot of work. My
congratulations also go to the students, whose projects were a reflection of the
proud history of our country.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, today is World Hypertension
Day, which Senator Murray would be happy to know.
As honourable senators are aware, high blood pressure or hypertension is a
chronic condition that can damage key organs and lead to kidney disease, stroke,
confusion, dementia and death. It also results in cardiovascular disease, which
accounts for more than 30 per cent of deaths around the globe.
A startling report was recently published by three international researchers
— Dr. Jan Ostergren of Sweden's Karolinska University Hospital; Dr. Panos
Kanavos of the London School of Economics; and Dr. Michael Weber of the State
University New York Downstate Medical College.
Their work revealed that almost one billion people on this planet have high
blood pressure — one in four adults putting their health in serious risk. If we
do nothing to combat the condition, the incidence of hypertension is expected to
swell to 1.5 billion by 2025.
Part of the blame lies with the worldwide move toward a more Western
lifestyle, along with its high-fat diets, long stress-filled working hours and
lack of exercise. It is a lifestyle that I am sure many people in this room find
all too familiar.
The bottom line of the report is that we appear to be in the midst of a
global epidemic and the implications of this epidemic are staggering.
At the release of this report, one of the co-authors, Dr. Kanavos,
underscored this point when he stated:
Uncontrolled high blood pressure among people in their 30s, 40s and 50s
will inevitably lead to increase in cardiovascular disease and stroke that
will strike down men and women at the height of their earning power,
potentially turning them from drivers of economic growth and sources of public
revenue to long-term recipients of extensive social benefits with increased
The growing number of chronically ill people at risk of serious disease will
put a heavy burden on our health care and social assistance systems at a time in
their lives when they are positioned to contribute. This will be the case around
the world. Perhaps the only glimmer of hope we can point to in North America is
that we have a better record than the rest of the world.
The fact is, we are guilty of resting on our hypertensive laurels rather than
pressing ahead with the ongoing struggle. Dr. Weber stated:
Over the past 40 years, focused efforts to diagnose and control high blood
pressure have helped to achieve significant reductions in cardiovascular
disease, stroke incidence and death. However, we have become complacent about
these achievements. The rate of cardiovascular disease reduction has levelled
off and the number of people with uncontrolled high blood pressure is once
again on the rise.
The challenge for us as policy-makers, physicians, scientists and individuals
responsible for our own health is to determine a course of action that we must
take now in order to avoid more serious consequences later.
Hon. James S. Cowan: Honourable senators, last Saturday our colleague
Senator Dyck was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree by Cape Breton
University for her outstanding contributions to science, Aboriginals and women.
The citation noted her tireless efforts in encouraging improved access for women
and Aboriginals to education and careers in science.
Since her appointment to the Senate in 2005, she has continued those efforts
across Canada and has repeatedly reminded us of the importance of these issues.
I am sure I speak for all honourable senators on all sides of this chamber in
congratulating Senator Dyck on this well-deserved honour and in assuring her how
much we value and appreciate her ongoing contributions to the Senate and to the
public life of this country.
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, I rise today to discuss a
matter of great importance to Canadians: the costs associated with reducing
greenhouse gas emissions.
The report released by Environment Canada entitled, The Cost of Bill C-288
to Canadian Families and Businesses, showed for the first time the price tag
that Canadians would face in meeting the targets in the 2008 to 2012 period.
While the model employed in this analysis was validated by some of Canada's
leading economists, I know some honourable senators have reservations about the
approach and feel the report overestimates the costs.
I would like to share comments made by Carl Sonnen, from Informetrica
Limited, and Professor Chris Green, from McGill University, to help allay these
concerns. Mr. Sonnen said:
While certainty about the precise impact magnitude on the economy will
never be agreed, that the effects would be significantly negative to overall
real GDP and incomes, and that these would be disproportionately severe for
energy-intensive industries is expected given the need to concentrate actions
in such a short period of time.
He went on to say:
Compared to meeting targets over a longer time frame, compressing the time
available to meet the Kyoto targets sensibly makes it more difficult to locate
(or have available) energy-saving technologies and to have them become a major
proportion of the capital stock. Under this circumstance, if there are limits
to emission reductions that can be achieved through changes to intensity, it
follows that meeting the targets would necessarily require a reduction in
In reviewing the report, Professor Green, from McGill, University, said:
. . . if anything, Environment Canada's estimated reduction in GDP was too
low — that the overall cost to the Canadian economy (measured in terms of GDP
reduction) would be greater than Environment Canada had estimated.
. . . I indicated to Environment Canada that they could be confident that
they had not overestimated the GDP cost of meeting the Kyoto target. I said
that I thought that if Environment Canada had erred in its estimate of the GDP
reduction, they had erred on the low side. That is, I indicated that the cost
of meeting the Kyoto emission reduction target would be greater than
Environment Canada had estimated.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, today I am speaking to encourage both this chamber, which defends
minorities, and the government to think more about linguistic duality and
official language minority communities, especially in light of the events of
On the same day, the work of the Official Languages committee of the House of
Commons was suspended and the Commissioner of Official Languages released his
In this report, Mr. Fraser expressed his concerns about the promotion and
advancement of linguistic duality within federal institutions. He is worried
about the impact certain government decisions, made without much consideration,
will have on official language minority communities. I find these events
troubling. Judging by the situation and the reaction of community
representatives and other political parties, I am not the only one. Even the
Quebec National Assembly made its concerns known yesterday, when it unanimously
adopted a motion urging the federal government to follow up on the report of the
Commissioner of Official Languages.
The current government makes some grand statements in the media and in this
chamber, but the concrete action it takes, for example, in suspending the work
of the Official Languages committee in the other place and cancelling certain
programs, does not seem to match these fine words.
Honourable senators, I would like us, as senators and defenders of minorities
in this country, to think seriously about this apparent lack of consistency
between what they are saying and what they are doing in order to ensure the
continued promotion and advancement of linguistic duality within Canadian
society and our institutions.
Hon. Lise Bacon, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport
and Communications, presented the following report:
Thursday, May 17, 2007
The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications has the
honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Canada
Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential
amendments to other Acts, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of
Wednesday, March 28, 2007, examined the said Bill and now reports the same
with the following amendments:
1. Page 20, clause 29:
(a) Replace lines 2 and 3 with the following:
"way, a railway company shall cause only such noise and vibration as
is reasonable, taking into"; and
(b) Replace lines 7 to 11 with the following:
"(b) its operational requirements; and
(c) the area where the construction or operation takes place.".
2. Page 44, new clause 64: Add after line 12 the following:
"COMING INTO FORCE
64. Section 27 comes into force on a day to be fixed by order of the
Governor in Council.".
Your Committee has also made certain observations, which are appended to
to the Tenth Report of the Standing Senate
Transport and Communications
The Senate Committee on Transport and Communications held five meetings on
Bill C-11, an Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway
Safety Act, and heard from many stakeholders. In addition to making two
amendments to the bill, your Committee wishes to make some observations about
what it heard.
A number of stakeholders recommended that your Committee make changes to
the bill, all of which were given serious consideration. Your Committee notes
that a third and final bill to amend the Canada Transportation Act is
expected in the near future, which will give some of these stakeholders
another forum to present their concerns. Your Committee's evaluation of
stakeholders' recommendations respecting provisions that they believed would
have a significant impact on their industry is summarized in the following
Clause 7 of Bill C-11 formalizes the Canadian Transportation Agency's
authority to provide mediation and/or arbitration services to resolve disputes
within its jurisdiction or under commercial dispute resolution processes if
all parties agree. Representatives of Canadian rail shippers expressed concern
that these provisions would limit their ability to engage private sector
mediators and to resolve disputes over cross-border rail services. Your
Committee is of the opinion, however, that since the provisions explicitly
state that recourse to the Agency's mediation and/or arbitration services
requires agreement from all parties, the legislation will not prevent rail
shippers from engaging a non-Agency mediator if they wish. Also, your
Committee is confident that the wording of the provisions is sufficiently
broad to allow the Agency to mediate between any Canadian shipper and any
railway regardless of whether the shipment crosses into the United States.
Clause 12 of Bill C-11 sets the statutory review period of the Canada
Transportation Act at eight years from the day the provision comes into
force. While some stakeholders objected to the postponement of the review of
the entire Act for eight years, arguing that the Canadian transportation
industry will be slow to react to shifts in global markets in the interim,
your Committee believes that the extended time frame will allow a review panel
to better assess the full impacts of recent and upcoming amendments to the
Canada Transportation Act. If sectors of the Canadian transportation or
shipping communities identify legislative impediments as global markets
evolve, your Committee is confident that the Minister of Transport will
respond by undertaking an early review of all, or parts of, the Act.
Clause 27 of Bill C-11 obliges the Agency to make regulations requiring
airlines advertising services originating in, or destined to, Canada to
include all costs of providing the service in the price. While consumer groups
generally supported this provision, some Canadian airlines felt that it would
put them at a competitive disadvantage for internet sales, which represent a
substantial share of total sales, as foreign airlines may not be affected by
the regulations in the same way. The Committee notes that, at present, most
U.S. and European carriers advertise "all-in" or almost "all-in" prices on
the Internet. Moreover, the regulatory process includes a separate
consultation process, giving the airlines an opportunity to have their case
examined by Transport Canada and the Treasury Board, should the proposed
regulations have a potentially significant negative impact. Nonetheless, your
Committee added a new clause to the bill, allowing the Governor-in-Council to
postpone the date that the provision respecting airfare advertising
regulations comes into force so that the airlines and the government will have
more time to consult.
Finally, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport,
Infrastructure and Communities amended clause 29 of Bill C-11 to require
railway companies to cause "as little noise and vibration as possible" when
constructing or operating a railway, with due consideration to its obligations
and operational requirements and the potential impact upon its residential
neighbours, if it has any. Before the amendment, the standard was that the
railways "must not cause unreasonable noise." Canadian railway companies
believed that the new standard could present a significant threat to their
economic viability as there is no jurisprudence on its interpretation. As
such, the railway companies recommended that the standard of "reasonableness" be restored to the provision. While accepting that the new
standard would be conditional on the railways' operational needs and
obligations being met, as stated in new subsections 95.1 (a) and (b), your
Committee believed that a standard based on "reasonableness" would be more
clear and easier for the Agency and the courts to interpret. We have therefore
amended the provision by restoring the concept of "reasonableness" and
removing the reference to residential neighbours.
While your committee passes this bill with two amendments, it remains
conscious of other concerns raised by the transportation industry and its
users, and will monitor the impact that these and other provisions may have.
After a period of two years, and should it be necessary, your Committee would
then be prepared to seek an order of reference to review these new provisions.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Bacon, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Tommy Banks, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy,
the Environment and Natural Resources, presented the following report:
Thursday, May 17, 2007
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural
Resources has the honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-288, An Act to ensure Canada
meets its global climate change obligations under the Kyoto Protocol, has, in
obedience to the Order of Reference of Thursday, March 29, 2007, examined the
said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the third time?
On motion of Senator Banks, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third
reading at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino, Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on
Foreign Affairs and International Trade, tabled the following report:
Thursday, May 17, 2007
The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade
has the honour to present its
Your Committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday May 9, 2006,
to examine such issues that may arise from time to time relating to foreign
relations generally, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending
March 31, 2008.
Pursuant to section 2(1)(c) of Chapter 3:06 of the Senate Administrative
Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy,
Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that Committee are
appended to this report.
CONSIGLIO DI NINO
(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix,
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Di Nino, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on
Foreign Affairs and International Trade, presented the following report:
Thursday, May 17, 2007
The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade
has the honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-48, An Act to amend the
Criminal Code in order to implement the United Nations Convention against
Corruption, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Thursday, May 10,
2007, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.
CONSIGLIO DI NINO
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the third time?
On motion of Senator Di Nino, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third
reading at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in
both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on
Official Languages, an interim report entitled Relocation of Head Offices of
Federal Institutions: Respect for Language Rights.
On motion of Senator Chaput, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Canada-China Legislative Association Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 23(6), I
have the honour to table in the Senate, in both official languages, the report
of the Canada-China Legislative Association and the Canada-Japan
Inter-Parliamentary Group regarding the Thirteenth Annual Assembly of the Asia
Pacific Parliamentarians' Conference on Environment and Development (APPCED)
held in Islamabad, Pakistan, from February 26 to March 3, 2007.
Hon. James S. Cowan: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 23(6), I
have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian
delegation of the Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group regarding the annual
visit of co-chairs which took place in Tokyo, Hiroshima and Miyajima, Japan,
from March 10 to 16, 2007.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, it is becoming increasingly
difficult to believe almost anything that this government says. Case in point:
Minister Baird has been defending a climate change plan for weeks now that will
not meet Kyoto objectives for at least 13 years, if ever — that is, 13 years
past the time that the Kyoto Protocol established that those objectives must be
At the same time, last week in Question Period, Minister Baird said, "We
have not turned our backs on the Kyoto Protocol; we are still part of the Kyoto
Protocol." One must wonder, which part?
To the Leader of the Government in the Senate, how can Minister Baird say
that he is supporting Kyoto when his own climate change plan will not meet Kyoto
objectives for at least 13 years, if ever?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for his question. Minister Baird,
when he made the announcement on our plans for the environment, said quite
clearly that the Kyoto goals are something that we support. He pointed out that,
under the plan that we have introduced, had this plan been introduced in 1997 —
10 years ago — then we would have met the Kyoto targets.
Unfortunately, as Minister Baird pointed out, and I am sure all of us know,
we are not in 1997; we are in the year 2007. Therefore, the Kyoto targets as set
by the previous government — and, as Mr. Goldenberg said, those targets were set
even though that government knew they could not meet them — does not take away
from the fact that the goals are laudable. However, it is quite impossible to
meet those goals.
As Senator Mitchell well knows, and outside experts have confirmed, to meet
the goals of Kyoto would take the country back to a recession far worse than
that experienced in 1981-82, which, coincidentally, was during the years of the
National Energy Plan under the Trudeau government. I emphasize, honourable
senators, that it was not the people within our government who were saying this
but, rather, outside experts who had also reported this fact to the former
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, speaking of 1997, of course the
leader forgets it was during that period of time that the current Minister of
the Environment was then the Minister of Energy in Ontario, presiding over the
doubling of carbon emissions by coal-fired power plants in that province, not
helping the national situation.
The new French president makes the point that more countries will also make
soon when he promises to impose high import duties on products from countries
that do not respect Kyoto. Is this neo-Conservative government not putting at
risk Canadian companies that export products abroad to France and many other
places when it sends the clear, unequivocal message, by resisting tooth and nail
Bill C-288, that it does not respect Kyoto in any way, shape or form?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the fact is that the leader of
the honourable senator's own party made it clear in a July 2006 interview that
the Kyoto targets could not be met.
The other fact is that our government has introduced a tough new plan to
reduce greenhouse gases and air pollutants, cut air pollution in half by the
year 2015, reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 per cent by 2020 and impose, for
the first time ever, mandatory emissions and air pollution reduction targets on
industry. Our government is the first ever to introduce such a plan.
Some industries felt that we have gone a little too far, and I believe it has
been proven since our announcement that, in fact, it was a plan for all
industries, but it was done in a way that was fair to everyone. We will involve
the Canadian public because the Canadian public has a responsibility in this as
well, and we take this issue seriously. I am pleased to see that a significant
number of Canadians support what we plan to do.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, while mouthing the supposed
positions of Canadian industry on Kyoto, is the Leader of the Government in the
Senate not aware that the forestry industry in Canada is already 44 per cent
below emission levels of 1990; the chemical producers industry in Canada is
already 56 per cent below 1990 levels, which is seven and nine times their Kyoto
objectives; and that industry can do remarkable things if only they would be led
to try by a government that is afraid to lead and will not try?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, that is a big mouthful.
The government is working and has worked closely with industry.
Senator Mitchell: You are killing me with those quick comebacks.
Senator LeBreton: The thought of that is so delicious for me to think
of that I can hardly contain myself.
We have worked with industry across the board. We had to be cognizant of
industries and the impact on the Canadian economy. I think that honourable
senators will agree with me that a poll released only a couple of days ago shows
that the Canadian public, while they want something done with the environment,
when it comes to doing it themselves, are not so enthusiastic.
Senator Mitchell: That is what leadership is all about.
Senator LeBreton: That is right. That is why the government brought in
a plan, for the first time, that regulates emissions and applies standards.
Unlike the previous government, which did nothing and worshipped at the feet of
that fraud Al Gore, this government is doing something.
Speaking of Al Gore, it was interesting to note today in the Ottawa Sun
that Al Gore, in 1997, refused to endorse the Kyoto accord. Why? Here is
what Mr. Gore said:
We will not submit this (Kyoto) for ratification until there's meaningful
participation by key developing nations . . . .
The article goes on:
Problem is, Kyoto required nothing of developing countries such as China
and India when Gore made that statement 10 years ago . . . .
Nothing requires them now to do the same thing, so Al Gore, for all of his
running around mouthing off, living in a house that creates a huge environmental
footprint, but he, like the previous government here in Canada, did nothing.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, it appears that the Leader
of the Government in the Senate wants to continue to live in the past. She is
now quoting old statements by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. I want to move
this debate into the present and into the future. The enthusiasm that the Leader
of the Government in the Senate has for this file is overwhelming. You can feel
the energy in here. She really wants to get at this job.
Yesterday, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's environmental advisor, Terry
Tamminen, said that Canada's growing-old government is making the same mistake
that the Bush government is making by failing to take urgent action on climate
change. The intergovernmental panel on climate change has warned that the world
has about 15 years to avoid catastrophic damage to our environment. It is not
hard to see that the plan of Canada's growing-old government does not go nearly
Indeed, former U.S. vice-president Al Gore, whom the leader likes to quote,
has called the plan a fraud. David Suzuki, a great Canadian environmentalist,
says it is an embarrassment. Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate
even believe in the science of climate change, since her government's plan does
nothing to fix the problem?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): The honourable senator should have listened to my answer to the
last question, because he did not catch it when I said that Al Gore is the
fraud, not our plan, or he would not have been quoting his hero, Al Gore.
The fact is that the cleaning up of the environment, reducing greenhouse
gases and reducing air pollution are very serious issues. The Canadian public
deserves action. We are providing action. In Budget 2007, we invested $4.5
billion to clean our air and water, reduce greenhouse gases, and protect our
natural environment. The budget confirms that there is $1.5 billion in the
Canada ecoTrust for a provincial and territorial clean air and climate change
project, and we have been watching the various announcements that have been made
between the federal and provincial governments; the latest in that beautiful
part of Nova Scotia at Pictou Lodge on the weekend. There is $2.2 billion for
measures to support cleaner transportation, including a new rebate for
fuel-efficient vehicles, a new excise tax to discourage inefficient vehicles, a
scrappage program for older vehicles, and support for renewable fuels.
We also introduced $93 million for a national water strategy to clean up the
Great Lakes and the Lake Winnipeg Basin, among other things, and the budget
confirms that there is $225 million for the Nature Conservatory of Canada and
provides funding for ecologically important lands in the Northwest Territories
and for British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest.
Of course, we are phasing out the accelerated capital cost for general
investment in the oil sands by the year 2015.
Senator Mercer: Honourable senators, the leader insists on doing this
to herself so I must help her along.
She again called former Vice-President Al Gore a fraud. What former
Vice-President Al Gore is to this government is an inconvenient truth because he
speaks the truth.
Canada's growing-old government says it has a plan. The same plan allows
emissions to increase for the next five years. I told the leader a moment ago we
have only 15 years left, so for five years we are still increasing emissions.
If the Leader of the Government in the Senate believes in the science of
climate change, she must believe that carbon emissions cause climate change.
Only yesterday, it was announced that Toronto is one of 16 cities around the
world receiving a portion of $5 billion in financing to "go green" by
renovating buildings to cut carbon emissions. This financing was not announced
by our Prime Minister or by Minister Baird, however, but by former U.S.
President Bill Clinton. Clinton said Citi, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase, UBS
and ABN Amro, have each committed $1 billion to finance these upgrades.
If a former President of the United States can help one of our own cities
"go green", can the Leader of the Government tell us why Canada's growing-old
government will not admit its Green Plan is a sham and not even worth the paper
it is printed on?
Senator LeBreton: We have our Green Plan. I remind honourable senators
that there were three federal budgets in the year 2005, when the honourable
senator's government was in office, including the NDP-driven budget, which would
have given the honourable senator a little clue, do you not think?
I also point out to honourable senators that environmentalists at the time
were not at all impressed with the February 2005 budget or with the fact that
Mr. Goodale's budget speech did not even mention the word "Kyoto" once. Then,
of course, we had other colleagues of the senator's, former Liberal Environment
Ministers Christine Stewart and David Anderson, along with the aforementioned
Eddie Goldenberg, who have admitted that the honourable senator's government,
the Liberal government, and Mr. Dion never had a real plan or a real commitment
on the environment. In contrast to that, we are taking serious and active
With regard to the honourable senator's question of the announcement
yesterday in New York, I watched part of it on the news last night, and I think
Senator Dawson: I saw you on the news last night.
Senator LeBreton: Yes, I saw that too. I think any measure like that
of former President Clinton is a credible initiative, and anyone who cares about
the environment would be happy to see more initiatives like that.
Senator Mercer: The Leader of the Government in the Senate continues
to dwell on the past and talk about what we did not do. She continues to remind
us that last year they won the election.
I want to know, after all this time, when will the leader stop talking the
talk and start walking the walk? Let us get the job done.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Senator Mercer is out of touch.
He has not seen all the Ecotrust announcements and he has not seen the
regulations announcement by Minister Baird. I have pages and pages of
announcements the government has made on the environment, and I will be happy to
provide them to Senator Mercer in large print.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: We saw the leader walking the walk last night on
As you know, Senator Mercer talked about Mr. Tamminen, environmental adviser
to Mr. Schwarzenegger. Since the Prime Minister will be meeting with Mr.
Schwarzenegger in a couple of weeks for a photo opportunity, perhaps the Leader
of the Government could ask the Prime Minister to request a meeting between Mr.
Baird and Mr. Tamminen to discuss the environment in order to keep updated on
what is happening.
You mentioned Mr. Gore earlier. In French we have a saying that only
Conservative ministers and fools never change their minds.
My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Many experts
have criticized the dishonest study ordered by the Minister of the Environment
to analyze the impact of the Kyoto Protocol on the Canadian economy. These very
experts have refuted the falsely disastrous economic forecasts Minister Baird
read into it.
Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate still believe that the
figures presented by the minister are correct?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, the fact is, as The Globe and Mail
editorial pointed out a week ago, these economic impact studies had been done
and presented to the previous government, which lacked the courage to take the
steps that we are taking. I will not comment on the honourable senator's
insulting remark about what they call us in French. The fact is that the
honourable senator's government had those impact studies and they chickened out
and did not get the job done. We intend to get it done.
Senator Dawson: Honourable senators, I find it irresponsible to
support the faulty statements of the Minister of the Environment that have been
shot down by everyone.
Dave Martin of Greenpeace mentioned that the cost of taking action to combat
climate change is 20 times less than the cost of not taking action. Line
Beauchamp, Quebec Minister of the Environment, described the government's stand
as an alarmist one. Clare Demerse, of the Pembina Institute, said that the
Conservative government's study did not take into consideration the costs of
climate change and the benefits of taking action. Anthony Cary, High
Commissioner of Britain to Canada, has criticized the Harper government's
Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate believe that all these
experts and public figures from around the world, representing a majority of
public opinion and the international community, are mistaken and that only she,
the Prime Minister and Mr. Baird are right?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, my response to that is: Of
course not. Only Liberals think that way. The honourable senator might as well
throw in David Suzuki and Al Gore. The people he has listed have a view on this
However, other people have studied the impact of implementing Kyoto, not only
Mr. Baird or our government. The result was an impact study done by the previous
government and supported by economic experts. That impact study showed that if
Kyoto is implemented, 275,000 Canadians would lose their jobs by 2009; the cost
of electricity bills would jump by 50 per cent; the cost of filling your gas
tank would jump by 60 per cent; and the cost of heating a home with natural gas
I heard Senator Cordy say "fear-mongering." We are not fear-mongering, we
are simply reiterating the report as it was presented to your government, which
you did not acknowledge. That report has been backed up by independent experts.
The Canadian public, quite rightly, wants the government to take action on the
environment, and we are doing so. They want us to do it in a reasonable and
balanced way that deals with the issues of climate change, pollution and safe
drinking water. At the same time, they want us to do it in such a way that their
lives are not unduly affected by loss of income or jobs.
We have always approached this subject with three things in mind: the
environment, the Canadian energy sector — which is so important to the health of
the Canadian economy — and the economy itself.
The launch of Minister Baird's program and the many announcements we made all
over the country, despite all the screeching of the Suzukis and the Gores, have
managed to penetrate Canadian thinking, because most Canadians are reasonable
people and they know nothing was done. They know absolutely nothing was done,
and they know that we have a plan that is reasonable, balanced and fair, and we
will implement it.
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, in the next few weeks, I
will take a trip to the Arctic to visit people in some of the Arctic
communities. While I am there, I hope to drop in close to the North Pole to see
Santa Claus. As you know, Santa Claus is real and true. He lives in the North
and depends on cold weather to be happy so that he can make the toys for the
people of our country.
Climate change in our country is felt most in the Arctic. Already winters are
milder, summers are warmer, and people are seeing birds and insects that elders
have never seen before. The climate in the North is truly warming up.
Infrastructure such as roads, highways and airports are affected by this warm
weather. People of the North, when they heard that the government initially
would deal with the issue through the Kyoto accord process, were happy that the
government in the South would do something that may reduce the greenhouse gases
that have the effect of warming the North.
The Government of the Northwest Territories is trying to deal with the
effects of global warming, but they, of course, have limited budgets. Is the
leader's government willing to do something? What is the government prepared to
do to help the governments in the North deal with the effects of global warming?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, it is too bad the senator started off with
the reference to Santa Claus and the North Pole, because this issue is serious.
Mentioning Santa Claus is almost as ridiculous as Senator Munson's question
asking me where Osama bin Laden is.
Senator Mercer: Conservatives are against Santa Claus.
Senator LeBreton: Making reference to Santa Claus and the North Pole
is a little bit beyond the pale.
In any event, the Arctic, in all of its possibilities, is important to this
government, not only on the environmental side but also in terms of our
sovereignty over our northern waters and, therefore, in terms of our military
capability in the North. These issues are all important for our government.
I harken back to the government of John Diefenbaker in the late 1950s and
early 1960s, when he made a real effort to develop the North and help the
livelihood of the people living north of 60. He embarked on a program called
"Roads to Resources" that was derided at the time by the Liberals as roads
from igloos to igloos. I hope we will not have that situation again. I dare say
that had any Conservative ever said that, we would have been roundly criticized
from coast to coast to coast.
Honourable senators, the Prime Minister, during the election campaign before
Christmas in Winnipeg in December 2005, made an important announcement with
regard to Arctic sovereignty.
I can say only that the Arctic is of great importance to the government. We
are working on several fronts, and also in conjunction with the governments of
the territories. I hope that the government will soon be in a position to make
announcements on all fronts with regard to the North.
Senator Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I can see that the Leader of
the Government has no sense of humour. I raised the issue of Santa Claus because
Canadian children truly think that he lives in the Arctic. I was trying to
lighten the atmosphere in here. In the last few days we have heard venomous,
viperous remarks from the Leader of the Government. We in the North are not very
partisan. We come to this place with a view to doing the best we can for our
constituents. What we have heard from the government leader is so partisan that
it brings down the worthiness of this place. For her to admonish me about
talking about Santa Claus is just not called for, with all due respect.
I said it with a sense of humour. Where is the Leader of the Government's
sense of humour? Where is her goodness? Where is her innocence, as it were?
I am asking because I do not like to be admonished and criticized for talking
about Santa Claus. I say it sincerely. I am saying I am going to the North. I am
going to talk to the people of the North. While I am there, I will look for
Santa Claus. Does he not exist at the North Pole? Canadians think that he does.
I do not appreciate being admonished in any way by the government leader, and I
just say that she is truly a Scrooge!
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting two answers to oral questions: One
raised by the Honourable Senator Hays on February 28, 2007, regarding summer
jobs for students in the wake of the decision by Canada Border Services Agency
officers; another raised by the Honourable Senator Milne on May 3, 2007,
regarding financial assistance to help farmers and other producers manufacture
and market innovative products.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Daniel Hays on February 28, 2007)
The presence of students in Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) positions
where officers are to be armed will be phased out over time. Students will be
replaced by part-time, fully-trained and equipped CBSA officers. Any person
who is carrying out the duties of a CBSA officer at an armed location will be
fully trained and equipped. However, the Agency will continue to employ
students in positions such as postal centres and airports, where CBSA officers
are not to be armed.
That being said, the arming of CBSA officers will have no impact on the
hiring of students in this organization for summer 2007.
(Response to questions raised by Hon. Lorna Milne on May 3, 2007)
Canada's New Government recognizes the opportunities innovation brings to
the agricultural sector. The development and commercialization of innovative
technologies and products are key to a vibrant and sustainable agricultural
sector, and can have additional environmental and social benefits.
The Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Program, commonly referred
to as ACAAF, is a five-year, $240 million program launched in 2004 which aims
to position the sector at the leading edge in its ability to seize new
innovative opportunities. Numerous projects, both on regional and national
levels, have been funded through this program to help the sector in the
development and adoption of innovative products and processes, and in bringing
these products and processes out of the research stage and into
On January 23, 2007, Canada's New Government announced the
Agri-Opportunities Program. This five year, $134 million program seeks to
position Canada's agriculture and agri-food sector at the leading edge to
seize new opportunities, increase demand for primary agricultural products and
generate benefit across agricultural value chains. Agri-Opportunities aims to
accelerate the commercialization of new and innovative agri-products or
bioproducts, processes or services that are ready to be introduced into the
market place and that are currently not produced or commercially available in
Canada. The program provides a maximum contribution of $10 million per project
and per recipient, regardless of the number of projects, over the life of the
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, at the end of Question
Period on Wednesday, May 16, 2007, Senator Tardif rose on a point of order to
object to statements made by Senators Angus and Cochrane. Referring to the
Ruling of May 2, she noted that rule 22(4) states that, when making statements,
"a Senator shall not anticipate consideration of any Order of the Day."
Honourable senators, guidance on this matter is to be found in rules 23(8)
and 44(3). Rule 23(8) states that, after Question Period, the Speaker shall call
for Delayed Answers, Orders of the Day, Inquiries, and Motions. Rule 44(3) is,
in turn, quite clear that a putative question of privilege is taken up after the
Senate has completed consideration of the Orders of the Day or by 8 p.m.,
whichever is earlier. By its very language, stating that consideration of a
putative question of privilege will occur "when the Senate has completed
consideration of the Orders of the Day," it is clear that, under rules 43 and
44, this does not fall into the category of items included in the Orders of the
Day. A putative question of privilege, rather than being an Order of the Day, is
an opportunity for a senator, providing certain conditions respecting notice are
met, to raise an urgent matter relating to privilege.
As Senator Corbin explained, Senators' Statements and Question Period are not
times for debate. The essential characteristic of debate is that it is a process
whereby the senators participating seek to support their own position and to
bring others around to it. This was not the case with respect to the statements
in question. Senators Angus and Cochrane were expressing themselves, in
accordance with rule 22(4), on a matter they considered to be of public
consequence. This is distinct from, although it may be close to, the more
argumentative process characteristic of debate. This issue happened to relate to
the question of privilege of Senator Tkachuk, of which he had given oral notice
only moments earlier. There is nothing to prohibit several senators addressing
the same topic during Senators' Statements, just as can be the case during
Question Period. Furthermore, giving oral notice does not deprive another
Senator of the opportunity to make a statement before the matter has been taken
up by the Senate.
The statements in question did not, therefore, violate rule 22(4) and were in
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Fairbairn, were you intending to raise a
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: I believe, Your Honour, that the issue has been
settled by both sides that the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and
Forestry is prepared to go on its way to Nicolet.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Di Nino, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Nolin, for the third reading of Bill C-252, to amend
the Divorce Act (access for spouse who is terminally ill or in critical
condition).—(Honourable Senator Trenholme Counsell)
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: As one of the speakers to Bill C-252,
to amend the Divorce Act (access for spouse who is terminally ill or in critical
condition), I wish to tell honourable senators that in committee we had a long
and good discussion about the intrinsic meaning of this bill. We had two worthy
representatives from the Department of Justice who answered our questions and
provided further explanation of the bill and the process that it has gone
through. In the end, I believe I speak for all senators on the committee in
saying that on that day of additional hearings and clause-by-clause
consideration, we were reassured that there are two essential features of the
First, there must be a material change in terms of the condition of the
non-custodial parent; in other words, either in terms of a terminal or critical
illness, which would have to be well documented by the attending physician.
Second, in all cases, as always, one would look to the presiding judge to
assure that whatever decision came from that appeal regarding material change in
the condition of the original settlement case was in the best interests of the
child. We spoke repeatedly about the best interests of the child, about what
this means and how it is protected, no matter what the circumstances.
Essentially, the same principles, of course, apply to this bill as to the
Divorce Act. In the Divorce Act, the best interests of the child are first and
foremost, and underlie all considerations.
I wish to say that our committee had a worthwhile discussion and we believe
that this bill deserves to go forward. It will be helpful in a certain number of
cases where there is an ongoing domestic dispute and where the non-custodial
parent, in the case of a terminal illness or critical condition, would indeed
have the possibility of asking that there be one or more opportunities to see
the child under these most extraordinary circumstances.
It was a privilege to study this bill. Bill C-252 advances the law and the
justice of this country on behalf of not only children but also parents.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: I want to speak to this bill, but I am not ready
to speak to it today.
On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Dallaire, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Banks, for the second reading of Bill C-293,
respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad.—(Honourable
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, this morning we discussed this with the Deputy Leader of the
Opposition. We wanted the speech at second reading to be delivered by a senator
from our party this afternoon. However, I found out around ten o'clock this
morning that our spokesperson will be absent this afternoon. Unfortunately, he
will not be able to give his speech today. I would like to assure you that the
speech will be given at the next sitting of the Senate. If our spokesperson is
not here next Tuesday to deliver his speech, we will proceed with referring the
bill to the committee, and the speech will be delivered at third reading. As
such, I would like to adjourn the debate.
On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the ninth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Transport and Communications entitled The Challenges
Ahead for the Canadian Television Fund, tabled in the Senate on May 10,
2007.—(Honourable Senator Bacon)
Hon. Lise Bacon: Honourable senators, I had the pleasure of presenting
the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications
entitled The Challenges Ahead for the Canadian Television Fund. The
committee met several times and heard witnesses who enabled it to put the main
issues relating to the Canadian Television Fund into perspective.
Our attention was drawn to the fund when two major companies decided to cease
making their monthly contributions to it. We wanted to find out more about their
concerns and the current state of affairs.
In light of everything we have learned, we are now in a position to take a
more informed look at the fund. We wanted to highlight certain realities that
affect the Canadian television market. Our market is small.
We have two television systems: one in French and the other in English. We
live next door to the largest producer of television content in the world, the
It would be considerably unfair to compare the Canadian reality to the U.S.
experience in the area of television. Successful American shows earn significant
revenues and have large audiences. Despite this intense competition, Canada can
be proud of its many success stories in television.
This is true for the francophone market and for the anglophone market. From
La petite vie to Degrassi, the Next Generation, Canadians recognize
themselves in their television shows. They have a window on their world and
television programming that reflects who they are.
We must never fall into the trap of minimizing our success. Nonetheless, we
have to look to the future with determination and identify the challenges to
come. We must continue to believe in a strong public broadcaster, the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation. In the report, we mention practical reasons why the
public broadcaster, CBC and Radio-Canada, should be entitled to receive money
from the fund.
CBC/Radio-Canada has historically made more effective use of money received
from the fund, for television dramas in particular. The world we are living in
is ever-changing and the arrival of new broadcasting methods is no longer
strictly science fiction. In its third recommendation, the committee suggests
that the fund should include in its spending envelopes funds to support new
We reiterate in our report that it is a privilege to be part of the
broadcasting system in Canada. The policy of subsidies for Canadian television
production has been in place for almost a quarter century. We are not opposed to
commercial interests, quite the contrary, but we want to make sure that social
and cultural needs are met.
The report is not an exhaustive study on guidelines for funding Canadian
television. We candidly addressed a number of matters, pointing out that,
despite the need to question how the fund currently operates, it is still
imperative to prevent the industry from developing in a context of financial
Our first recommendation reflects that concern. We recommend that the CRTC
immediately change the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations to make the monthly
contributions to the Canadian Television Fund a legal requirement. We would like
to see objective performance criteria put in place to help the fund fulfil its
mandate more effectively. We are well aware that our input is just the first
step in a more far-reaching examination of the future of Canadian television
It will be important to consider how a production assistance fund can evolve
so as to be even better able to promote the creation of more Canadian programs
and how it can motivate producers to make the necessary efforts to improve
I hope that the work of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications will serve as a springboard to a broader reflection on the future
of television in Canada, and I thank all the senators who took part in our
discussions and deliberations during this study.
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Would Senator Bacon accept a question?
Senator Bacon: Yes.
Senator Losier-Cool: You are talking about public money. When you
conducted your study, did you meet with Acadians or francophones from minority
communities, who feel that Radio-Canada and RDI programming does not really
reflect the whole country?
In other words, on RDI, we often hear people say, "Here in Quebec". If
Peter Mansbridge were to say, "Here in Toronto," what would happen to the rest
of Canada? Did your report raise the issue of programming to reflect Canada's
entire francophone community, which is really one of Radio-Canada's objectives?
Senator Bacon: That issue was not covered in our report. The terms of
reference did not include programming per se. The issue under study was how the
Canadian Television Fund is distributed and what its future would be.
We will have to take the study that we have undertaken with this report
further and take a deeper look at the various areas, as you are suggesting
The Hon. the Speaker: If no other senator wishes to speak, this item
is considered debated.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, may I begin by informing the
Senate and His Honour that should His Honour find that I have presented evidence
of a prima facie case of a question of privilege, I am prepared to move the
necessary motion to have this matter sent to committee.
My core issue is that the conduct of Senator Banks has obstructed me from the
ability to discharge my duties in committee. On Tuesday, May 14, after the bells
rang in the Senate and the Speaker called for quorum, the upper chamber was
adjourned. I and my colleagues, Senator Cochrane and Senator Angus, waited for
the Speaker to leave, as is the custom in this place, and then made our way to
the East Block, as members of the Energy Committee, to participate in clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-288.
I left the chamber following the Speaker and went directly to the committee
room in room 257 of the East Block. As I entered the meeting room, Senator
Banks, to my surprise, did not call the meeting to order but adjourned it. In
the absence of any Conservative members of the committee, Senator Banks had
conducted clause-by-clause consideration on the bill and was going to report it.
Actively assisting Senator Banks, and without protest, were Senator Milne,
Senator Mitchell, Senator Kenny and Senator Lavigne. The Clerk of the Committee
was neither asked by the chairman for her opinion of the proceedings nor did she
offer to share one. Not one senator raised their voice in protest.
I erroneously mentioned in my statement yesterday that Senator Spivak took
part in these events. I have since learned that she went to the committee
meeting, but was not present during that time of the committee meeting, and I
want to apologize to her for my misrepresentation yesterday.
According to the Debates of the Senate, the Senate adjourned at 7:20
p.m., and, according to the evidence from the committee, Senator Banks called
the meeting to order at 7:23 p.m. They then passed all clauses of Bill C-288
before we could physically get to the meeting. The meeting was over in less than
two minutes. The actual time it took them to do clause by clause was, I am told,
less than a minute. In fact, in my hand I have the transcript of the committee
hearing. It is less than two pages long and consists of 179 words of dialogue.
The Senate ordered me, by making me a member of the committee, to participate
in the deliberations of the committee, including its examination of Bill C-288.
The first duty of all senators is to attend and to devote their attention to the
deliberations of the whole Senate. When we meet in this chamber, the duty to be
in this chamber, unless otherwise excused, is basic and primary. Any action that
impedes a parliamentarian from that attendance can be and has been considered a
Many cases dealing with the other place are outlined in Marleau and Montpetit
on pages 83 to 89. In Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice, twenty-second
Edition, page 121, it says the following:
The House will proceed against those who obstruct Members in the discharge
of their responsibilities to the House or in their participation in its
At page 95, May has this to say:
An individual Member takes part in a proceeding usually by speech, but also
by various recognized forms of formal action, such as voting . . .
The Senate expects members to be in this chamber. Indeed, we do not permit
committees to meet while the Senate is meeting, except with specific permission
of the whole Senate.
Honourable senators, allowing for the exit of the Speaker, the chair of this
committee gave us less than three minutes to get from the chamber in Centre
Block to room 257 in the East Block before starting clause-by-clause
consideration, which itself was completed in less than a minute. It was a
blatant and obvious attempt by the chairman of this committee, abetted by his
Liberal colleagues, to prevent us from doing our duty as senators.
While we may have used the rules to try to encourage further consideration of
this bill, just as the majority used their numbers to force a clause-by-clause
vote by a strange display of adjournment and then not adjournment, this is part
of the business of this place. We came up short in our endeavour and were
prepared to go and fight it out in committee. We believed we could cause debate,
but, in the end, they had the numbers to overwhelm our side. We had amendments
to consider that would have made the bill more palatable and reasonable,
amendments based on the testimony of witnesses, but, in the end, we believed we
could not win if the majority were set on passing the bill as it stood.
This is not a game, though one Liberal senator mentioned to one of my
colleagues Tuesday night that, as far as he was concerned, it was. This is
serious business. We believe, based on the testimony of witnesses that both
sides found credible, that this bill will force undue hardship on Canadians.
Those opposite believe it is necessary to save the planet. There is a chasm
here, though one that is, I believe, bridgeable, a point that my colleague
Senator Angus made time and again in committee. Instead of working together to
bridge that chasm, I, as a senator, along with my colleagues, was denied the
right to speak, participate and vote.
As I walked out of the committee meeting, I thought about those who vote in
countries where thugs with guns try to prevent them from doing so. I thought
about my grandparents who came here and taught me about my obligations to vote.
For them, it was most important. Some here believe they are so firmly entrenched
that they can deny others their rights and no harm is done. It is just a game.
Honourable senators, this is the Senate. If there is one thing that we are
here to do, it is to carry out our obligation to protect democratic freedoms and
to set examples for this nation and the world. Arranging it so that certain
members of this committee are unable to vote is hardly setting an example. When
I walked into that room, certain senators there were snickering and laughing, as
were their aides. Their bosses set a fine example for all of them. Chamber of
sober second thought? I do not think so.
The right to vote is the most important right in this place, and honourable
senators have a duty and an obligation to protect that right. A chairman of a
committee has a moral obligation to protect that right. A chair is not a chair
of the Liberal side of the committee or the Conservative side of the committee;
he is a chair of the entire committee. The chair should have been looking after
my interests, at least as far as procedural fairness goes.
Senator Baker, in consideration of Bill S-4 in committee, made a strong
argument about procedural fairness, giving an impassioned plea in that regard
for Bill S-4 in committee last week.
By contrast, this chair acted in a way that prevented me from doing my job
and my parliamentary duty. As a member of the committee, I am supposed to ask
questions, debate bills and issues and propose amendments to bills and,
certainly, vote on clause-by-clause consideration of a bill. Those are my
functions and our functions. They are the functions of each and every one of us.
To interfere with me or with any honourable senator in performing our functions
is a breach of privilege.
With respect to privilege, Beauchesne states the following:
Parliamentary privilege is the sum of the peculiar rights enjoyed by each
House collectively as a constituent part of the High Court of Parliament, and
by Members of each House individually, without which they could not discharge
their functions . . .
Honourable senators, parliamentary privilege comprises the right, according
to parliamentarians and to Parliament, to enable them to fulfill their
parliamentary functions without interference and without obstruction. Any such
actions that obstruct Parliament and its members in the performance of their
duties are considered contempt of Parliament. The behaviour of the chair
constituted such actions.
What I am seeking is a genuine remedy that the Senate has the power to
provide. I am raising it because I believe that the actions of the chair of the
Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources
constitute a grave and serious breach that I believe needs to be corrected.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, it was recognized in earlier decisions such as the one rendered on
October 20, 2005: "Traditionally, committees are regarded as the master of
their own proceedings." For a committee to meet, the rules require that there
be a quorum, and that the committee give public notice of the meeting.
When the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural
Resources met on Tuesday, after the Senate adjourned, quorum was met and notice
had been given that the bill would be examined clause by clause.
In addition, I would like to remind everyone that some standing committees
have previously done their work and continue to do their work, even if members
from the other side are not present.
The committee had given public notice that it would be meeting, just as other
committees had, and therefore, it met at the adjournment of the Senate, as it
There is nothing untoward about the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the
Environment, and Natural Resources having met on May 15. Other committees such
as the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade also
met that night at the adjournment of the Senate.
Senator LeBreton: They waited until people got there.
Senator Tardif: The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and
International Trade, which is chaired by Senator Di Nino, even heard from
Minister of Justice Nicholson in their study of Bill C-48. No one has objected
to that committee having met when the Senate rose the day before, or that its
proceedings are not legitimate.
I also wish to note that it is normal practice that committee members gather
in the room where the committee holds its meetings so that when the Senate
rises, the committee can begin to work as soon as possible.
What we have before us, therefore, is not a question of privilege but,
rather, a complaint that an attempt on May 15 to manipulate the normal course of
conduct in the Senate, in order to prevent the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources from meeting on the Kyoto bill,
did not succeed.
What the Speaker and all of us must think about and consider is the relevance
of using the Senate itself as nothing more than a tool to prevent the committee
from meeting and examining a bill largely supported by Canadians across the
This is what we should be discussing, rather than this complaint disguised as
a question of privilege.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, first, I, too, am
disappointed by the actions of Senator Banks as chair of the committee. The
normal courtesies that we extend to each other, as chair or as members of a
committee, are that unless it is absolutely impossible, no business is conducted
without both sides being present. That is a courtesy which has been accepted and
used by this chamber for the number of years that I have been around this place.
I must say that chairmen of committees from the Liberal side of the chamber
have been very courteous to me in particular because, as honourable senators
know, our numbers have been such that at times we are running from one place to
another, and I have had committees awaiting my arrival before starting their
meetings, and I thank them for that. I believe that is the right thing to do.
That is a courtesy that we have extended which makes this place work.
However, I understand that there are times when that is not possible, or
there are times when, because of certain disputes, that will not happen. There
was absolutely no indication at this time that the members from this side would
not be attending that meeting. There was no indication given, to the best of my
knowledge. If any indication existed, it was probably in the minds of members
and not in reality.
The comment was made about the Foreign Affairs Committee. I think my
colleagues on both sides will back me when I say that I will not run a meeting,
and I have not done so —
The Hon. the Speaker: If I may interrupt the honourable senator, not
only because the rules require that the honourable senator must speak from his
or her place in the chamber, but there is a technical reason and that is so that
we can all hear through the microphones.
Senator Robichaud: He wants to come on this side.
Senator Di Nino: I advise His Honour that they will not let me speak
from over there; otherwise, I would join my friend any time, as a friend.
The point I am trying to make is that at the meeting of the Foreign Affairs
Committee, which was held at the same time, I, as chair, waited until we had not
just a quorum but enough members from the other side who had indicated an
interest in attending, even though I had a quorum, because we felt that the
issue being discussed was an important one. It is a courtesy that I believe has
been the norm in this chamber.
My honourable colleague the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggested that
this side was attempting to obstruct the process of the committee. I would say
that she could have used that argument if there had been a period of five
minutes or a period of 10 minutes. We know very well that it takes more than one
minute — unless you are God, and certainly no one on this side is God — to go
from this place to the committee room in the East Block. Perhaps Senator Mercer
is a god, but I am not.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition talked about continuing to work as soon
as possible. That, honourable senators, does not mean commencing the discussion
or the process on a very important piece of legislation which is contentious,
which has opposition, and with which we do not agree, within a minute after the
adjournment of the Senate. That is unreasonable.
Honourable senators, I suggest that the actions taken were an insult and an
offence to each and every one of us, including myself.
Hon. Elaine McCoy: Honourable senators, since Senator Tkachuk
mentioned that I was at the meeting, I rise to thank him for what I took to be
an implied compliment that I might indeed have helped this senior senator from
Saskatchewan in his predicament.
As an independent observer at the meeting, I wish to say that I did not
intervene for one reason: that I had no knowledge of the strategy that might
have been worked out in a caucus to which I do not belong, the Conservative
caucus. Having observed the activities in this chamber, which seemed to have
been a delaying tactic to pre-empt the meeting of the committee, which failed
because they were unable to maintain a quorum, I was not certain as to what
their next step might be. For example, I had observed this very senator leave
the Environment Committee meeting a few days earlier, saying that he "did not
have to listen to this" as he left the committee room. I thought that perhaps
he did not want to participate in the debate after all.
On the other hand, I have seen him, and others of his caucus, not join other
standing committees as well, so, rather than interfere with the private matters
of the caucus, I did not want to put myself forward. I also observed other
senators arrive from this chamber and gather in short order after the vote had
been taken, so I take it to have been a possibility to have actually,
physically, made the meeting within the limited time.
To explain my non-intervention as a neophyte senator, I just wanted to put on
the record that there are considerations beyond that which have been raised by
the senator from Saskatchewan.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, in speaking to Senator
Tkachuk's question of privilege, I want to say that he has not been denied the
right to debate this question and he has not been denied the right to introduce
amendments to the bill, because I anticipate, now that the debate on the bill in
substance will begin presently, that that debate will be hearty, long and
complete. As all senators know, amendments to bills can be introduced at the
third reading stage, and often have been.
As to the questions about the clock, as His Honour noted a couple of weeks
ago, there are clocks and there are clocks. It has been said by members
opposite, and repeated in the newspapers, that this meeting concluded its
business in a minute or less.
Now, I can speak quickly, but there were 21 questions put to that meeting;
each of them was put individually in the proper and prescribed order as per the
minutes of the meeting the leader has before her. There were 21 questions on
that list, senator. I cannot ask 21 questions in a minute and a committee cannot
respond if we rehearsed for a week to do so. It cannot physically be done.
Senator LeBreton: It was.
Senator Banks: I want to point out, parenthetically — this is not
directly related — Bill C-288 is the expressed will of the House of Commons and
that is what we are dealing with here, whether we oppose the will of the House
of Commons, but that is a matter for debate.
With respect to the question of privilege, it is interesting to note that
this complaint about Conservative senators not being present at committee
meetings comes from a Conservative side whose leader has forbidden her members,
including Senator Tkachuk, from attending meetings of other committees, of
Senator LeBreton: That is not true.
Senator Banks: It is clear that the government side has no problem
with the non-attendance of Conservative members at committee meetings.
In fact, there is no requirement anywhere in the Rules of the Senate
that members of any particular political party be present as a condition of the
commencement or conduct of a meeting of a committee of the Senate.
The requirement is that there should be a quorum and, as we shall see, there
was a quorum at the meeting to which Senator Tkachuk refers. It was a quorum
that was comprised, as he has also said, not only of Liberal senators, and there
is, therefore, no question of privilege.
Paragraph 807 of Beauchesne's says: "Although not obligated to do so
by the Standing Orders, it is," as Senator Di Nino has said, "a courtesy for the
Chairman to wait until a representative of each party is present before
commencing a meeting."
This is a courtesy, which all honourable senators know, I have meticulously
observed, even when that results in —
Senator Comeau: He says with a straight face.
Senator Banks: — discourtesy to witnesses or others who have been
waiting. Courtesy works both ways. On Tuesday it did not.
Honourable senators, everyone in this place knows, and Senator Tkachuk and I,
in particular, know, because of the years we spent in the entertainment business
before we came here, in negotiating contracts with people, it is not a good idea
to begin or to interrupt a negotiation or a conduct of business, by the
application of a sharp stick in the eye of the other person. That, in my view,
is what happened on Tuesday night. Everyone in this place knows, and senators
opposite know, perfectly well that if the conduct in this place on Tuesday night
had proceeded apace and normally, then the conduct in the meeting would have
proceeded apace and normally.
That is not what happened here on Tuesday night. They did not proceed apace
and normally. What happened here was the introduction of a simple and clever
procedural ploy that was designed for the explicit purpose, as has been referred
to by senators opposite, of stopping the Energy Committee from convening and
from doing what its notice said it would do in its properly convened meeting in
the proper way on that night. It was a simple ploy and it was clever and no one
on this side expected it or anticipated anything like it. It nearly worked. I
commented at the time to some colleagues on how clever and simple it was.
However, sometimes clever ploys have the capacity to backfire, as it did in
this case. One side in this place set a clever trap and then stepped in it.
That problem could be solved by the simple expedient of the Prime Minister
appointing 12 Conservative senators. Then we would not have that problem.
One side here contrived to stop the other side from doing its job.
Senator Comeau: We are afraid of getting more Mercers.
Senator Banks: One side in this place contrived to stop that committee
from doing its job and the other side contrived, in a way, to ensure that the
committee would and could do its job, and that other committees could sit as
Senators, I regret that I must speak at some length on this question because
it is important that His Honour and all senators be well informed on it.
Suggestions have been made here that are wrong and things require clarification.
I will refer, as well, in addition to what Senator Tkachuk said, to
statements made on Tuesday by Senator Cochrane and Senator Angus because those
statements are umbilically connected to Senator Tkachuk's point, as His Honour
has pointed out.
A bit of background information is essential to understanding the question.
The prescribed time for the Tuesday meetings of the Standing Senate Committee
on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources is — I quote from the rules:
"When the Senate rises but not before 5 p.m." That sometimes causes
awkwardness, as you can appreciate.
As I said here two weeks ago, everyone knows what "when" means. It means "upon the occasion that." That is precisely what happened on Tuesday evening.
Senator Tkachuk, Senator Cochrane and Senator Angus have referred to the
proceedings and procedures over the past weeks by which the committee has
conducted its business, including the meeting of the previous Thursday, and the
honourable senators have suggested that some of those proceedings and procedures
were untoward, unfair or even improper. It has been suggested that the conduct
of some of those meetings has been "arbitrary," and that decisions of the
steering committee have been deficient or have not been followed.
I must take the time, therefore, to show that these things are simply not
true. At the meeting of Tuesday, February 27, which is prior to Bill C-288
having been referred to the committee, our steering committee made up of the
Honourable Senator Angus, Senator Milne, Senator Spivak and me — Senator
Cochrane was away on the day — met in Room 7 of the Victoria Building at 7:55
p.m. Our committee researchers and several senators' staff members were also
At that steering committee meeting, the business was consideration of a draft
agenda. Along with other things that were agreed to in that meeting, it was
agreed that the committee would set aside its other business when Bill C-288 was
referred to the committee to deal promptly with that bill. That meeting
adjourned at 8:30 p.m.
On February 28, I wrote to Senator Tkachuk, who is the critic for Bill C-288,
advising him of that decision and of the decision of the committee to "put aside
our other work when and if that referral occurs and to deal with that bill
thoroughly and forthwith."
In that letter, I informed Senator Tkachuk that, "The plan is to set aside
two meetings for witnesses proposed by Senator Mitchell, the sponsor of the
bill, and two meetings for those proposed by you as the critic of the bill,
following which the committee would enter into its discussion with a view to
reporting its recommendation to the Senate."
"It would be helpful," I continued, "if you could provide the clerk a list of
your proposed witnesses as soon as possible. You can of course propose
individuals, organizations or panels."
My letter continued on with other suggestions as regards witnesses and stated
the hope that "this plan meets with your approval," et cetera. I explained
with respect to a proposed witness list that, although we did not yet have
possession of the bill, "it would be useful if, when that occurs, we can push
the button to start the process as quickly as practicable."
I made a similar request of Senator Mitchell. On March 6, we received Senator
Mitchell's list of proposed witnesses and began contacting them in preparation
for setting dates for hearings.
On March 8, I sent a message to the clerk of the committee asking that
Senator Mitchell's list be circulated to the steering committee for its approval
and asking that we remind Senator Tkachuk's office that we were waiting for his
proposed list so it, too, could be circulated to steering committee members.
On March 9, the clerk advised me by email she had been informed by Senator
Tkachuk's office that, given the fact that the bill had not yet been referred to
the committee, they will likely provide a list of suggested witnesses when that
I received a response from the clerk of the committee saying that, "As for
C-288, I believe that the senator is working on a list but I cannot say for sure
whether or not it will be provided to us before the bill is referred to the
On Tuesday, April 3, the following message was sent by the clerk to all
members of the steering committee, which is to say, Senator Cochrane, Senator
Angus, Senator Milne, Senator Spivak and me. It was a message from me addressed
to steering committee members and it said:
Bill C-288 has now been referred to us for study. The Steering Committee
has decided on a minimum of four meetings to hear witnesses before we give
further consideration to the bill. Senator Mitchell is the sponsor of the bill
and Senator Tkachuk is the critic.
I propose that we proceed as follows:
Meeting of Tuesday April 17 , witnesses proposed by Senator Tkachuk;
Meeting of Thursday April 19, witnesses proposed by Senator Mitchell;
Meeting of Tuesday April 24, witnesses proposed by Senator Tkachuk;
Meeting of Thursday April 26, witnesses proposed by Senator Mitchell.
To continue the quote: "Please let Keli . . ." — the name of the clerk of
the Committee — "know as soon as you can whether you are in agreement with this
proposed plan of work, in order that invitations to witnesses can be issued."
The message is then signed by me.
In response to that message, I received the following replies: On Wednesday,
April 11, from Nicole Power, "Senator Cochrane is fine with this work plan."
On Thursday, April 12, from Jonathan Bishop, "Senator Milne approves of the
work plan laid out by Senator Banks in the message. . . ."
On Thursday, April 12, from Barbara Robson, "In case you have yet to hear
from the Senator, she is in agreement."
On Thursday, April 12, from France Lepine, "I haven't heard back from Senator
Angus, but I am sure he would agree with the decision of the Vice-Chair."
On the basis of these approvals by members of the steering committee, we
proceeded with plans for the appearance of witnesses on Bill C-288.
On Friday, April 13, the clerk sent another message to the steering
committee, seeking their approval, which said:
Senator Banks has suggested that the committee invite Mr. Pablo Rodriguez
to appear on Tuesday April 17 at 5:30 p.m. or when the Senate rises for a
period of one hour, as well as the Minister of the Environment following Mr.
Rodriguez. If the Minister is unavailable, then Senator Banks suggests that
the Committee invite him to appear on May 3.
Continuing the quote:
The remainder of the schedule for Bill C-288 would be as follows:
Thursday, April 19, Senator Tkachuk's witnesses
Tuesday, April 24, Senator Mitchell's business people
Thursday, April 26, Senator Tkachuk's witnesses
Tuesday, May 1, Senator Mitchell's NGOs
Thursday, May 3, Clause-by-clause, following the Minister's Appearance.
Please advise as soon as possible whether your Senator is in favour of the
On Monday, April 16, the clerk sent the following message to members of the
The email below is on behalf of Senator Banks. Please note that the
Steering Committee meeting will take place tomorrow in room 172E, Centre
Block, at 5:30 p.m. Please let me know if your senator is able to attend. . .
Keli, the clerk of the committee, sent to all members of the steering
committee a note I sent to her. My note to her said:
Keli: I am not comfortable or convinced that we have a clear indication now
of how members of either the committee or the Steering Committee have
authorized us to proceed.
We have not as yet, so far as I am aware, received a response from Senator
Tkachuk to our request for a list of proposed witnesses.
We will therefore please cancel the committee meeting for Tuesday, April
17, and we will instead have a Steering Committee meeting at the usual meeting
time, but it can of course be in a place not equipped for television. Please
decide upon and find a room that you think most appropriate and advise the
Then please tell the members of the Steering Committee that the purpose of
the meeting is to consider the following proposal that I now make for
consideration of Bill C-288:
Thursday, April 19, Mr. Rodriguez, the author of bill;
Tuesday, April 24, witnesses as proposed by Senator Tkachuk, the Critic
of the Bill
Thursday, April 26, witnesses as proposed by Senator Mitchell, the
Sponsor of the Bill
Tuesday, May 1, witnesses as proposed Senator Tkachuk, the Critic of the
Thursday, May 3, witnesses as proposed by Senator Mitchell, the Sponsor
of the Bill
Tuesday, May 8, The Honourable The Minister of Environment and Mr.
Thursday, May 10, Clause-by-clause consideration of the Bill.
If this proposal is satisfactory to the members of the Steering Committee,
then Tuesday's can be a very short meeting, and we will then be able to
proceed with invitations to witnesses.
I am sorry to read this into the record, honourable senators, but it has been
suggested that these procedures were not followed and that the committee has
been operating arbitrarily. I want to demonstrate irrefutably that is not so.
These are the minutes of the meeting of the Steering Committee on April 17:
The subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure met this day in camera in room
172-E, Centre Block, at 5:45 p.m., the Chair, The Honourable Tommy Banks
Members of the subcommittee present: The Honourable Senators Angus, Banks,
Cochrane, Milne and Spivak (5).
In attendance — from the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament:
Kristen Douglas. Senators' staff: Jonathan Bishop, France Lepine, Nicole Power
and Tom Smith.
It was moved by Senator Angus that Senator Milne be able to participate via
The question being put on the motion, it was adopted.
A discussion of issues related to Bill C-288 followed.
It was agreed that the committee meeting on April 19, would start at 8 a.m.
and that Pablo Rodriguez would appear from 8 a.m. to 8:45 a.m., followed by
Minister Baird from 8:45 to 10:15 a.m.
It was agreed that the committee would hold five (5) meetings on Bill
C-288; two meetings with witnesses proposed by the sponsor of the bill, and
two meetings with witnesses proposed by the critic of the bill, and one
meeting on the constitutionality of the bill as proposed by Senator Murray.
It was agreed that the committee would hear from the following witnesses:
Thursday, April 18, 8:00 to 8:45 to a.m., Pablo Rodriguez; 8:45 to 10
a.m., The Honourable John Baird PC MP.
Tuesday, April 24, witnesses proposed by Senator Mitchell, Panel of four;
Richard Evans, President and CEO of Alcan; William Andrew, CEO of Penn West
Energy Trust; Gordon Lambert, Vice-President, Suncor; and Clive Mather
President and CEO, Shell Canada.
Those were Senator Mitchell's witnesses. I continue:
Thursday, April 26: witnesses proposed by Senator Tkachuk, Panel of four;
Pierre Alvarez, Canada Association of Petroleum Producers, Richard Paton,
Canadian Chemical Producers' Association; Hans Konow, Canadian Electricity
Association; Perrin Beatty, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters Association;
Dr. David Keith, Director ISEEE Energy and Environmental Systems Group,
University of Calgary; Don Drummond, Senior Vice-President TD Bank; Dr. Bob
Page, TransAlta/University of Calgary; Aldyen Donnelly, Greenhouse Emissions
Tuesday, May 1, witnesses proposed by Senator Tkachuk . . .
We did not have a hard list at that point.
Thursday, May 3, witnesses proposed by Senator Mitchell, Panel of four:
Richard Nesbitt, TSX group . . .
That operates the Toronto Stock Exchange:
Nancy Olewiler of Simon Fraser University; David Schindler of the
University of Alberta; and Matthew Bramley of the Pembina Institute.
Tuesday, May 8, witnesses proposed by Senator Murray: Sharon Sutherland,
University of Ottawa; Peter Aucoin, Dalhousie University; Jim Mitchell, Sussex
Group; Kelly Blidook, McGill University.
It was agreed that flexibility be given to the chair and clerk in
scheduling the witnesses.
At 6:30 p.m. the subcommittee adjourned to the call of the chair.
To the extent possible, and to the extent of the availability of the
witnesses in that agreed-to time frame, that is what we did. It has been
suggested that I have been arbitrary, and in one sense that is true. Members of
the committee indicated that we should hear more about the concept of
international emissions trading, and so I arbitrarily extended the series of
meetings considering Bill C-288 by an additional meeting at which experts on the
matter of international emissions trading were called to testify.
It is at that meeting, it has been suggested by more than one senator
opposite, that I was high-handed; that, according to Senator Angus, "Senator
Tkachuk was summarily and abruptly denied the right to question witnesses"; and
that, "A decision was arbitrarily made to conduct clause-by-clause on May 15."
Honourable senators, I refer you to the notice of that meeting, which stated
clearly that the witnesses would be heard from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and that the
committee would then go in camera to discuss and determine upon future business.
That was the agenda stated in the notice given for the meeting of that day.
It is important to understand that the Thursday morning meetings of this
committee, which occur no earlier than eight o'clock, must perforce conclude at
10:30 a.m. because the scheduling of committees by the Senate provides that
another committee convenes in that same room at 10:45, and 15 minutes are needed
to reconfigure the room and allow for necessary changes in clerks, interpreters,
stenographers and the like. We do not get to decide when our meeting ends. It is
prescribed when our meeting ends. We cannot continue the meeting beyond that
point. That is not an option that is open to us. When we bump up against that
time, the meeting is over, period.
I must read to you from the transcript of that meeting, at which the witness
was Mr. Andrei Marcu, the executive director of the International Emissions
Trading Association. Following Mr. Marcu's testimony and opening questions,
first by Senator Cochrane and then by Senator Mitchell, I said:
Honourable senators, this part of this meeting must end at ten o'clock so
that we can proceed with business of the committee, which is not an
afterthought but is to plan between now and when Parliament will rise for the
summer. Thus, I would ask senators to keep their questions as concise as
There then followed questions by Senator Milne, Senator Spivak, Senator Angus
and Senator Adams. At that point in the meeting, I said:
We are constrained by time. Senator Tkachuk is the critic of the bill and I
must allow him time for a question. I have many other senators on the list,
but we have to stop at 10 o'clock and go to other business.
Senator Tkachuk: Do we have other witnesses?
The Chairman: No.
Senator Tkachuk: Why not just continue on?
The Chairman: We have to deal before 10:30 with future business of
the committee, which we have to do today.
Senator Tkachuk: Why do we have to deal with future business today?
The Chairman: We have to deal with the question of what the
committee will address in the remaining meetings between now and the time we
can reasonably expect to rise. We have a full plate of business with which we
must deal and the committee must determine what that will be before we can
Senator Angus: From 10:00 on, after Senator Tkachuk's question, it
is business other than Bill C-288.
The Chairman: It includes all the bills that are before us,
including Bill C-288. It is scheduling of the business of the committee, as
the notice says.
Senator Tkachuk, you are the critic, so please ask a question of the
witnesses and then we will have to conclude and go in camera.
Senator Tkachuk: I have the right to ask more than one question.
The Chairman: There are other senators who have questions, and I
have not yet asked a question. We are restrained by time. According to the
notice, we must deal with future business.
Senator Tkachuk then asked four questions.
Following him posing his fourth question, I said:
Unfortunately, this has to be the last question.
Senator Tkachuk: Mr. Chairman, this particular witness has been
interesting. The buying and selling of emission credits is a big part of this
bill. Why would we not want to learn about this?
The Chairman: I think we are interested in learning about this, but
this must be the last question. The witness is asked to answer the question,
and the meeting will then go in camera.
Senator Carney: I am asking for the compliance of my colleagues. As
former Federal Minister of Energy, I have an issue to raise that has not, as I
understand it, been raised.
The Chairman: I will explain again, members, that in this room, the
meeting of the Social Affairs Committee begins at 10:45. It is now 10:10. We
have less than 20 minutes now. We only have 15 minutes, because we have to
clear the room in order to deal with the procedural matters with which this
committee has to deal between now and the time the Senate begins. That is what
the notice said, and that is what we will do.
There is more, Your Honour and honourable senators, but you get the gist.
The meeting then went in camera, as the notice said it was intending to do.
The committee determined that clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-288 would
be given on Tuesday, May 15 at a meeting beginning when the Senate rises but not
before 5 p.m. in Room 257 of the East Block. That brings us directly to
On that occasion, honourable senators, no infraction of any rule occurred. No
infraction of any rule of the Senate occurred. There was, contrary to reports in
the newspapers, no meeting convened or started while the Senate was sitting, nor
were any senators here unaware of that meeting. Senator Angus, Senator Tkachuk
and Senator Cochrane in fact were in the meeting room immediately adjacent to it
earlier, eating some of the superb cuisine that our committee provides to its
members on Tuesday nights.
Nor were senators other than Conservative senators in starting blocks outside
this building. We were all there. We were all standing there in the lobby and in
the foyer of the Senate. Senator LeBreton can tell you that because she walked
back and forth between us two or three times. Senator Di Nino can tell you that.
We were here. We were in the Centre Block. They all saw us standing there, while
the Senate continued its business and while the bells rang.
Senator Tkachuk and I, before we came to this place, as I said, both had
considerable experience in negotiation. We know that the way things are going
here is not the way things ought to go; but we did not start it. The application
of Machiavellian devices by one side is apt to trigger the devising of
Machiavellian ploys by the other. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is, as
history has shown irrefutably, that is not a good way to run a business and it
is not a good way to run a country. It is a very slippery spiral, and no
rational person wishes to embark upon it.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have determined that I
have heard enough. I have been referred to a number of the procedural authors. I
have been referred to a precedent. Therefore, I will take the matter under
advisement. I will attempt to provide my determination on whether or not a prima
facie case of privilege exists on the day that we return.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Your Honour, would it then be acceptable for some
of us to raise what we wanted to say under the rubric of a point of order? You
have decided that you have heard enough, and I believe there are still many
senators who would like to speak. I am just wondering, what are senators
supposed to do who wanted to make important points in the debate?
Your Honour, I am pleading with you. The rule you have invoked to say that
you have heard enough is a rule that was put there ostensibly to prevent
questions of privilege from lasting for days and days. There are many of us who
wanted to make important points especially to assist Your Honour in making this
difficult decision. What is different today about this particular question of
privilege, Your Honour, is that an individual senator has been named and
identified, and that means a more thorough debate should be allowed.
I am wondering if Your Honour could allow the debate to go on for the next
few speakers who wish to speak.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it is my approach that I am
the servant of the house. The rules provide that on these matters the Speaker
listens attentively and carefully. I am very comfortable with the excellent
interventions that I have heard to be sufficiently able to deal with the
question with which it is my duty to deal. Therefore, I simply advised the
house. I thank the honourable senators who have spoken.
However, in the spirit of understanding, I am happy to hear other senators,
if they wish to rise. Will Senator Cools rise?
Senator Cools: Your Honour, thank you for this. I appreciate this
opportunity, because your role is to ensure that the use of time is not
violated. Thus far, I have seen no violation.
Honourable senators, I wanted to make a few brief points. This is important
because this is a particularly unique debate as one senator has been named. The
complaint that Senator Tkachuk has placed before us is not about the committee,
per se; the complaint is about an individual senator.
I would like to begin at the beginning and say that I observed that, in his
remarks, Senator Tkachuk cited the high court of Parliament. I would like to
tell Your Honour that whenever any senator here invokes the high court of
Parliament, inviting the high court of Parliament to dip into and even exercise
its mighty course of penal powers, it is a very serious matter.
In terms of the invocation of the high court of Parliament, that court is
presided over by Your Honour on this occasion. The position has its historical
roots in the position of the Lord Chancellor of England — it was the Lord
Chancellor at the time. The high court of Parliament has all the characteristics
of the highest court of the land, particularly the Lord Chancellor's principles
from the courts of equity that appeals of this nature — those plaintiffs,
individuals and petitioners who bring such complaints — should come with clean
hands. This is a major principle in equity.
Senator Tkachuk and the government do not come to this debate with clean
hands. Yesterday, I defended him and said that he was not out of order, which I
believed then. Yesterday, he gave a lengthy notice that mentioned many things,
except the impugning of Senator Banks.
I submit to Your Honour that there is no prima facie question of privilege
here. What is here is a reasonably felt complaint. I understand the complaint,
but what we have before us is a consequence of a misfired strategy, which is an
entirely different matter.
There is no moral ground here. Senator Tkachuk and the government cannot
stand on any moral or high ground here.
Senator Tkachuk: Who are you to say?
Senator Cools: I am going with the Senate record, which I have right
here in front of me, and which I was reading as Senator Banks was providing the
details. I am looking at the Senate debates of Tuesday, May 15, when the
government was doing an unusual thing, which was trying to hold the chamber in
debate to prevent the committee in question from sitting. The government did not
have the capacity to produce a quorum to conduct its own strategy.
While we are at it, let me point out that the government has been relying on
the opposition for over a year now to produce a quorum. What I mean when I say
"no clean hands" is the government's failed strategy.
I am no stranger to party warfare. The fact is, the government's strategy
failed. We have here a failed strategy, a misfired plan. That is the issue.
If Senator Tkachuk had named the committee, it would be a different matter
from his naming of an individual senator and tying his whole complaint to the
behaviour of one individual. I would like to say to Senator Tkachuk that it is
one thing to raise a question of privilege; it is another thing to smear a
senator. It is a totally different thing.
In any event, Your Honour, when a senator is impugned, that senator is
entitled to notice. That is a basic common law principle. We will come to the
whole question of notices at another time. I was here on Tuesday evening. The
government's failed strategy is one wherein perhaps honourable senators on the
government side should look into their own souls and hearts as to what is
happening in the Senate.
To raise one last point on the question of courtesies and conventions — they
are not conventions in any event — and the business of opposition members at
committee, this government has spoken loudly and clearly and has informed us all
that they are prepared to dispense with what I used to think was the necessity
for government members to attend every committee. I will not list the
committees. The government has dispensed with the practice of both political
parties being present. I submit that in those kinds of behaviours and
statements, the government has forfeited its right to complain about certain
courtesies. Courtesies are precisely that: they are courtesies. Courtesies can
only survive when all sides are courteous. When courteousness is abandoned, the
abandoning party does not believe that the others are bound to courtesy. I have
been appalled and shocked, I must say, at this government's treatment of
committees, not to mention its committee members.
Honourable senators, I just wanted to provide His Honour with some assistance
in this matter. His Honour has become Speaker at a strange time in the history
of this institution. He brings a wide variety of gifts to the job. Perhaps
instead of raising questions of privilege, there are times in life when some
people need to offer a private apology or a public apology. Senator Carstairs
made a brilliant point yesterday. Often, in the course of proceedings, mistakes
are made or things happen. Apologies go a long way.
It seems to me, honourable senators and Your Honour, that there was no breach
of privilege here. There has definitely been a breach of some egos, but there
has been no breach of privilege.
There are moments and times when perhaps we should not look to the law for
solutions. Perhaps we should look into our hearts and souls.
I would like to end with a quotation that I found in a book called Weeds
Among the Wheat, written by a Jesuit priest, Thomas H. Green. It is a book
dealing with discernment. Thomas Green, who I believe is still alive, works with
individuals doing retreats and attempting to discover different aspects of
themselves. In this book, Thomas Green quotes a man from France, Jacques
Guillet, who wrote a book called Discernment of Spirits. He states:
Man is plunged into a threefold darkness. God commands without being seen:
Satan conceals himself, suggests more than he affirms, proposes more than he
demands. . . . Finally, there is the darkness in man himself, who is incapable
of seeing his own heart clearly, incapable of grasping completely the
seriousness of his actions and the results deriving from them.
Honourable senators, it is often difficult for human beings to see into their
own hearts, even sometimes to discern their own motivation. However, what
happened here in the last few days was that the government side conceptualized a
plan or strategy to prevent a committee meeting from happening. Their plan
misfired and ran aground because they were not in control of the situation. The
first lesson in any battle is to ensure your soldiers are at your side and with
you. The first lesson is to ensure the troops are right there.
The Conservative government did not have their troops and their plan fell
apart around them. There are now a few damaged egos.
Senator Banks is an honourable member. I thank him. I hold him in high
esteem. To my knowledge, most senators here hold him in high esteem. Maybe he
had prior notice that he would be singled out; I certainly did not. Based on the
law of Parliament, on reality, and on my knowledge of this place, there is no
question of privilege here. There are only damaged egos over a failed strategy.
Furthermore, I would like to say that most senators here have obliged to keep
the government going by providing quorum. I do not know how many of them were
ever thanked. Truth be known, I did not come into the chamber that night for
quorum. I will tell honourable senators why. Earlier that day, I saw Senator
Jaffer refused five minutes' time to speak. Honourable senators, I figured I was
Hon. Joan Fraser: This has been a most interesting and wide-ranging
debate. I want to come back, if I may, to the core issue. The core issue is
whether the meeting of the Energy Committee was properly constituted. If it was,
then, by definition, Senator Tkachuk's privileges were not breached.
It is clear that the meeting was properly constituted. It was held at the
appointed time, when the Senate rises. The Rules of the Senate do not say
that committees can only meet 10 or 15 minutes after the Senate rises. They meet
when the Senate rises. That was when the committee was called and that was when
The rules do not say that members from both sides must be present in order
for a committee to conduct its business. No rule of the Senate says that. To the
best of my knowledge, no rule of the Senate has ever said that, for the very
good reason that then it would be possible for one side to paralyze the
functioning of committees.
The rules do say that a quorum must be present. A quorum was present, and it
consisted not only of Liberal members.
Marleau and Montpetit say, on page 844:
As a courtesy, most committees do not begin their meetings until at least
one member of the opposition is in attendance, even if a quorum is present.
However, committees may meet and adopt motions in the absence of one or all
What is true for the opposition would also be true for the government. There
is substantial precedent not only in the Senate, but also in the House of
Commons, for precisely that to happen.
On June 4 and 5, 1991, the Rules Committee met, with no Liberal members
present, to deliberate on amendments to the Rules of the Senate, and
adopted the report on June 5, leading to new Rules of the Senate.
In that same year, the Foreign Affairs Committee considered Bill C-6, and I
believe conducted clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, with no Liberal
members present. I do not know whether the Liberal members had chosen to stay
away. They had the right to do that. They did not have the right to paralyze the
workings of the Senate.
I believe it was October 2003, that the Rules Committee met, heard witnesses
and conducted clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-34. At that time,
Conservative members were not present. This is not even to mention the truly
famous occasion when a standing vote was conducted in this chamber, when the
Liberal members were outside the locked door and were not able to participate in
that vote. I believe that was during the GST debate in the 1990s.
It is true that, as a matter of courtesy, senators usually wait to ensure
that both sides are present, but courtesy was not much in evidence here
yesterday. That is not, however, the issue. As Speaker Hays ruled on November 3,
As Speaker, however, I do not have the authority to impose cooperation.
This is something that can only be achieved by senators themselves.
The rules were observed. Therefore, it is clear that Senator Tkachuk's
privileges were not breached. Indeed, the government side retains all of its
power to continue vigorous debate, including the production of amendments, at
third reading in this chamber. Therefore, in my view, there is no question of
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I will try to make my remarks brief as well.
As senators, we are here to play a number of roles. We represent our regions,
examine bills and conduct studies. As a chamber, we have powers that are equal
to the House of Commons, the notable exceptions being the inability to initiate
spending bills or to impose taxes.
I will not be sidetracked by such arguments as to whether or not games were
being played or if we had a failed strategy. These are irrelevant arguments in
We must be mindful of the core arguments that should be looked at by the
Speaker. We are here to carry out our responsibilities. We must be allowed to
attend to the duties of this chamber. A number of people have said this
afternoon that it is the role of the government to ensure quorum. In no way is
it the responsibility of the government to ensure quorum. It is the
responsibility of each one of us. We are a parliamentary chamber; that is our
job. It upsets me to continue to hear that it is the government's responsibility
to ensure quorum; it is not. We are a parliamentary chamber. However, that is a
side issue as well. I do not wish to be sidetracked.
Senator Tkachuk's key issue is that by not allowing sufficient time for him
to return to the committee from a vote in the chamber, the chairman, by
convening the committee, obstructed his ability to discharge his duties before
the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources,
a committee of which he is a member under the rules of this place.
By convening the committee almost simultaneously with His Honour the Speaker
rising on adjournment in the Senate, before our members or a number of members
could make it to the committee room, the chairman of the committee denied the
Conservative members of the committee an opportunity to express their views
during clause-by-clause consideration, denied them the opportunity to move
amendments and denied them the opportunity to vote on individual clauses of Bill
In my 17 years on the Hill — and some have not always been fun years but some
have been very interesting years — I have never witnessed such an affront to the
privileges of senators. We have a duty to devote our attention to the
deliberations of this chamber when we meet here. That is our primary duty. That
is why, when committees want to meet during Senate chamber times, they must seek
the permission of this chamber.
Honourable senators, this is a serious business. The arguments being made
both by Senator Fraser and Senator Tardif are that we must choose between either
voting in this chamber or waiting at a committee room somewhere for the chairman
to bang the gavel so that they can attend to committee business. That is what is
being proposed. That is what they said: There are no rules that state that the
committee chairman cannot convene the meeting the second His Honour walks out of
Senator Banks: I could not; I was not in the room. How could I do
that? I was here.
An Hon. Senator: You were not here.
Senator Comeau: If I am not mistaken in the timeline, I think His
Honour the Speaker has the ability to obtain this information. There are
records, and so on, of the time that the meeting started and the time that the
There are many relevant citations that His Honour might wish to refer to in
Marleau and Montpetit and in Erskine May. In particular, the definitive work on
procedures of the United Kingdom, Erskine May's Parliamentary Practice,
has this to say at page 121 of the 22nd Edition:
The House will proceed against those who obstruct Members in the discharge
of their responsibilities to the House or in their participation in its
It was physically impossible for members of the committee to have attended
both the proceedings in the Senate chamber and to have been present at the
commencement of the committee, given the time at which Senator Banks called the
meeting to order and the very rapid manner in which he dealt with the various
clauses of Bill C-288.
Honourable senators, we have heard Senator Murray, time and again in this
chamber, state that "If you are calling a vote, remember that my office is in
the Victoria Building." By the time he leaves there and is able to make it here
to this chamber, he does not like even a 15-minute bell; he wants a half-hour
bell. The two whips in this chamber have been accommodating our members because
of this. Some of the distances they have to travel are quite large. Some of us
are in the Centre Block and we can make it to the chamber quite quickly, but
some members are farther away. Trust me: The East Block is a little distance. By
the time you leave from the East Block and arrive here, His Honour has left the
chamber. There is some distance to cover.
There is a long-standing rule that committees not meet while the Senate is
sitting, except when permission is granted, as I noted earlier. This is to allow
senators to attend to their duties in this chamber before proceeding on to a
committee. We have never had this problem before — this is the very first time
that I have ever heard of it — as the long-standing convention is that we allow
senators sufficient time to travel to their committee meetings. We provide a bus
service to the Victoria Building to facilitate this and there is a tunnel to the
East Block. The reality, however, is that even if you go directly to your
meeting the second His Honour adjourns the Senate — and to do so you would have
to run out in front of him — you will need a few minutes to make it to the
This meeting was allowed to start before senators could travel from this
chamber. The opposition senators were at the committee room, ready to ram this
bill through the second they got the signal — by however means they received
that signal — that the Senate had risen. If I, as a senator, find that I cannot
attend both to vote in the chamber and to deal with legislation in committee,
then I am prevented from discharging my duties as a senator.
I sit on the Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages. If it were to be
the case that that committee were to start its meeting as soon as His Honour
walked out of this chamber, I would be slighted. I would say, "How can I arrive
five, six or seven minutes late at a meeting and still be a participant in it?"
I think it makes abundant sense that the convention is that we allow senators to
reach their meetings.
For all these reasons, I support the question of privilege as stated by
Senator Tkachuk. I believe that there has been a breach of the privileges of all
honourable senators. I would ask His Honour to rule that this is a prima facie
case of breach of privilege.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I was not intending to
speak, but I must respond to what the Deputy Leader of the Government has had to
say. I think it is unfortunate. I have been in many committees at four o'clock
on a Wednesday afternoon, or at five or 5:30, when it is hoped that this place
will rise, when the bell goes and the gavel drops. That has become a frequent
custom here. There is nothing in the rules that prevents it. Maybe the rules
should be changed. Maybe we should have a 10-minute rule which states that a
meeting cannot begin until 10 minutes after the Senate has risen, but we do not
have such a rule. As a result, you cannot have a prima facie case of a breach of
privilege because what occurred was a quick beginning of a meeting, when there
are quick beginnings of meetings every single week around this place.
As to the issue of a choice between either one or the other, clearly we all
have choices and we make those choices every single day. Look around us. Are
there 105 senators, minus the 12 vacancies, present in this place right at this
moment? People have made choices.
The Hon. the Speaker: Again, honourable senators, I thank you for your
assistance. I will take it under advisement and report back.
Hon. Charlie Watt, pursuant to notice of May 8, 2007, moved:
That the Senate take note and concur with the resolution of the House of
Commons apologizing to the survivors of Indian Residential Schools for the
trauma they have suffered as a result of policies intended to assimilate our
First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, causing them harm and the loss of
their aboriginal culture, heritage and language while also leaving a sad and
tragic legacy of sexual, emotional and physical abuse.
He said: Honourable senators, I gave a notice of motion on May 8, 2007 that
the Senate takes note and concur with the resolution from the other place. The
resolution is the apology to the survivors of Indian Residential Schools for the
trauma they suffered. This was as a result of the policy of the government in
its intent to assimilate First Nation Inuit and Metis. The effect of those
policies have caused our people harm and the loss of their Aboriginal culture,
heritage and language, while also leaving a tragic and sad legacy of sexual,
emotional and physical abuse.
On May 1, 2007, and after a week of discussion, the government finally
decided to support the motion in the other place. As stated in the letter from
the Archbishop of the Anglican Church, reported in the other place, we have
learned that for many survivors an apology is at least as important as a
financial compensation, if not more so. People whose lives have been shattered
through no fault of their own are helped by having their suffering acknowledged
and by hearing the words of an apology. The apology from the other place will
greatly help the healing process and will invite us to learn from our mistakes.
Honourable senators, I invite you all to support my motion.
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak on
this motion and tell you about my knowledge of the residential school system and
my own experience.
The residential school system was a system in the early years of our history,
where Aboriginal children were brought from their homes and parents to a school
where they lived and boarded, usually for 10 months of the year, and were then
able to go home. However, some remained there for many years. I have cousins who
stayed away from their homes and parents for over 10 years without going home.
It was also a system where young children were taught as much as they could
and also taught to work. I had an Uncle Ted who has since died, but when he
talked about problems, he said he spent many years there, and out of his many
years he got a grade 3 education. He used to smile and say, "I got a grade 3
education from the University of Fort Providence," which is where his
residential school was situated. Essentially, it prepared young people to go
from the residential school out into the world. My uncle began trapping and
eventually made his way in the world, but he did generally appreciate the
education that he got.
Many of the missionaries who came north and west were from Quebec, so my
first language at the residential school was French, because I only knew the
Dene, the native language, so it was French, and now English.
The Indian residential school system predates Confederation, and it grew, in
part, out of Canada's missionary experience with various religious
organizations. The federal government began to play a role in the development
and administration of this system as early as 1874, mainly to meet legal
obligations under the Indian Act, as well as to assist in the integration of
Aboriginal people into the broader Canadian society.
The schools were located in every province and territory except Newfoundland,
New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Of the 130 schools that existed over
time, it is estimated that up to 100 of these could be involved in claims.
The Government of Canada operated nearly every school as a joint venture with
various religious organizations. On April 1, 1969, the government assumed total
responsibility for the school system, although churches remained involved for
some years in many instances.
Some residential schools ceased to operate in the mid-1970s. The last
federally run residential school in Canada closed in 1996.
In the Northwest Territories, where I come from, schools were established by
the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches in the 1800s. The residential school
that I first attended was Sacred Heart School in Fort Providence, which had been
set up in 1858, and that is a long time ago. It eventually closed in 1968 or
thereabouts, so we have had a system of residential schools in the West and the
North for over 100 years.
You can imagine that there were hundreds and thousands of young Aboriginal
students who had gone through the process. In the North, that was the main
system of educating the people. Many of my relatives, many people that we know
in the North and many who have died over the years, have gone through the
residential school system.
Honourable senators, the Indian residential school settlement agreement,
which will come into effect this fall, is an important step for our country in
dealing with the legacy of Aboriginal people who attended residential schools in
our country. The agreement, initiated under the previous government and
completed under the current government, will make a real difference in the lives
of survivors across the country. I have expressed my appreciation and am truly
thankful to the federal government and the churches that they are dealing with
this whole issue.
The agreement contains many important elements. There is a cash payment to
every former student in recognition of the personal and cultural damage done.
Former students who suffered sexual and physical abuse will receive additional
compensation, as well as counselling and medical care. There are funds for the
Aboriginal Healing Foundation, which has been going on for a number of years and
which has been very good. In our area, we have used monies from there to heal,
and I can say that I feel a lot better and healthier today than a number of
years ago because I have dealt with the trauma of having been sent away to
residential school when I was so young.
There will be a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which will begin in the
not too distant future and will be an opportunity for Aboriginal people across
the country and non-native Canadians to hear about the stories and hear some of
the things that occurred in these schools.
One thing that is missing from all of this scenario so far is a simple
apology from the government. There have been expressions of regret and sorrow,
but that is not the same. Two weeks ago, the House of Commons passed a motion
apologizing for the trauma suffered by former students, and we in the Senate
should do likewise. This is what this motion is attempting to do, namely, to
have senators understand, and if, in their wisdom, they think that they ought to
apologize to the Aboriginal peoples of our country, it would be a positive
In the end, I feel that the federal government, as the government of the
people, ought also to apologize, and this is what we are working towards and we
hope that it will eventually occur. There have been vague, general attempts at
apology. The Statement of Reconciliation in 1995, speaking on a whole range of
historical injustices, said the following:
The Government of Canada today formally expresses to all Aboriginal people
in Canada our profound regret for past actions of the federal government which
have contributed to these difficult pages in the history of our relationship
For students who experienced physical and sexual abuse, it went on to state:
To those of you who suffered this tragedy at residential schools, we are
When the settlement agreement was reached, there were again expressions of
regret or sorrow for survivors' suffering made by the ministers and government.
While these statements seem like an apology, they lack the essential qualities
of acknowledged responsibility and sincere promises to make amends and do
better. Compare this to the statement of the Prime Minister regarding the
Chinese head tax:
. . . on behalf of all Canadians and the Government of Canada, we offer a
full apology to Chinese Canadians for the head tax and express our deepest
sorrow for the subsequent exclusion of Chinese immigrants.
The statement continues further on:
This was a grave injustice, and one we are morally obligated to
Prime Minister Harper made this apology even though, according to one of the
news reports, Justice Canada lawyers had advised him not to do it because they
feared it would lead to increased liability and demands from other groups for
compensation for past historical wrongs. A similar, full apology was made some
years ago by Prime Minister Mulroney to Japanese Canadians. More recently, Maher
Arar received a formal apology as part of his settlement with the government.
That is what we want. As Aboriginal people, we want an apology from the
government. I heard people say, "Yes, it will be nice because some day, if I get
an apology, I can show my children, and my grandchildren can see it, so they can
understand why I am the way I am."
All of these apologies that I referred to were fully deserved, and I do not
begrudge those who received them. As a senator, I, too, feel obliged to
apologize to those who suffered because of the actions or failures to act of
Many Aboriginal leaders have called on the Prime Minister to issue a formal
apology. Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said:
A formal apology from the Prime Minister will mean a great deal in terms of
reconciliation and contribute to the healing of those who were directly
affected or impacted by the residential school system.
The Assembly of First Nations had sought a national apology as part of the
settlement when negotiations began and were disappointed when neither the
current Conservative government nor the previous Liberal government would
consider doing so.
Editorial writers from various papers across the country have also called for
an apology. The Globe and Mail, on March 28, said:
On behalf of all Canadians, minister, say we're sorry.
It is just that simple. Just say you are sorry and that would go a long way
to appease and satisfy the Aboriginal people.
The Toronto Star said:
The Harper government should apologize for this stain on Canada's history
which, in the pain and suffering it created, is every bit as shameful as the
treatment of the Chinese migrants and Maher Arar.
The Daily News, of Truro, Nova Scotia, from those in the eastern area,
The request is for a sincere apology. Under the circumstances, that's not
asking a lot.
Why have some groups received apologies but not Aboriginal residential school
survivors? The staff writer at Windspeaker, which is Canada's Aboriginal
newspaper, claimed to know why. A writer said:
Because the government knows full well the true extent of the damage caused
and what it would cost. An apology would acknowledge that damage and legally
expose the government to the full liability for the harm done.
From Windspeaker's perspective, the residential school experience lies
at the heart of the "human misery that persists in too many remote
communities." The yearly "abduction" of children was "a soul-destroying moment
for the community . . . when things started to come apart."
Is there merit in this claim? Does the government take the advice of the
justice lawyers with respect to residential schools that they rejected regarding
the Chinese head tax? Was it to avoid possible liability? I certainly ask this
question. There is some reason to think this might be. Clause H of the "whereas
section" of the residential school agreement says:
This Agreement is not to be construed as an admission of liability by any
of the defendants named in the Class Actions or the "Cloud" Class Action.
Imagine the government having an agreement in which one of the clauses says:
"Even though they are making the payments, there is a clause that says this does
not admit to an admission of liability."
Minister Prentice denies that legal liability is the reason for not making
the apology. As a lawyer, I know we are taught to be cautious, taught to advise
our clients to be careful with words, to admit nothing that might cause trouble
in the future. First and foremost, we are taught to do what is right.
Apologizing wholeheartedly, sincerely and without reservation, is undoubtedly
the right thing to do. In my life experience, whether it is to your spouse, your
children or your friends, it is never bad, never wrong to apologize and forgive.
This is what I think makes the world move forward. Our world and our country
need to know the healing and the positive nature of apologizing.
As I said, we need to do what is right and, hopefully, eventually the
government will apologize. It seems overly cautious and even mean-spirited to
not go the final step. The settlement acknowledges that harm was done. It
provides for those who suffered particular and serious harm additional avenues
for redress. It even recognizes that some survivors might not feel it is
sufficient and allows them to opt out and continue through the courts.
In his excellent report from February 2006, The Power of an Apology:
Removing the Legal Barriers, the ombudsman for British Columbia, Howard
Kushner, examined the matter of public apologies and the issue of liability. He
wrote about the ability of a sincere apology to satisfy a person who has a
complaint, and cites research that shows that apologies do not increase
liability but actually seem to reduce it or at least reduce the likelihood of
litigation, perhaps as much as 30 per cent.
An apology is not simply a matter of saying "I'm sorry," but requires an
acknowledgement that actions have caused harm, an acceptance of responsibility
for that harm and the promise to do something about it. Through the settlement
agreement, the government has already promised to do something about the harm
that was caused. They are making payments, and that is very good, and we are
generally very grateful for that.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I regret to advise that
Honourable Senator Sibbeston's time has expired.
Senator Sibbeston: May I have a few more minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Five minutes.
Senator Sibbeston: As I say, an apology is important because to make
an apology is also to ask for forgiveness and to forgive is always the first
step towards true personal healing. I know this to be true.
The Indian Residential School Settlement is an important first step, both in
the healing that Aboriginal people in their communities need to do and in the
reconciliation process with Canada, but much work still needs to be done. The
Aboriginal Healing Foundation must continue its important work. The truth and
reconciliation commission, when it is set up, will be very good for all
Canadians to be involved with.
We should not wait until their work is done before offering a late and
half-hearted apology. We should take the lead, make a full, sincere apology and
we will make the work of the foundation and commission more meaningful and the
results more complete.
I want to tell honourable senators about a book that I read a number of years
ago by Viktor Frankl called Man's Search for Meaning. He wrote that book
in 1946 after he had been in a concentration camp. He survived and he wrote
about his experience of what he went through and what really helped him in his
life there and how he survived. He was a doctor and a psychiatrist who was
particularly interested in how people react to extreme, harsh survival
situations such as existed in the concentration and extermination camps.
Viktor Frankl related his experiences of being taken on a train to an unknown
destination, with 1,500 persons in total and 80 people crammed in each boxcar.
They arrived at the camp hungry, having had no food for four days, herded into a
shed, men in one area and women in another, with their entire personal luggage
left on the train, never to be seen again. Clothes, watches and what little
jewellery or worthy things they had were all taken away.
At this point, most of the people were herded into the gas chambers, but Mr.
Frankl lived. He was herded into another area because he was more fit and able
to work. Mr. Frankl was lucky to survive. There was a further stripping of
anything else hidden in clothing or shoes, and everyone was stripped naked
except for shoes and belts. Then they were sent to another room where they were
shaved. He says not a hair was left on their entire bodies. Finally, they went
into a shower room.
That was the start of a very cruel, excruciating, painful life at Auschwitz,
working and living with meagre food, meagre clothing, meagre shelter, brutal
cruelty and a demeaning of human dignity and in many cases death. As I read this
book about this Jew's experience in Auschwitz, I began to recall memories. I
began to relate to some of the experiences this gentleman went through, but I
would never for a moment compare our experiences with the concentration camps in
However, it is important that I remembered many of the things that he talked
about because we were taken from our parents. My mother voluntarily put me on
the mission boat that went up the river to the residential school, but there
were other kids who were taken from the grasp of their parents. We did not know
where we were going. Like the trains to Auschwitz, we did not know where the
boat was going. Remember that we were all five to eight years old, just little
kids. There were literally hundreds of us taken on the boat to Fort Providence.
When we arrived, we saw a big house. Once we got off the boat, we were herded,
boys this way, girls that way. We were eventually herded into this big house
where we were shaved. Every piece of hair was taken off, and all our little
souls. I remember arriving there with a little bag of my personal belongings. It
was all I had, and it was taken away.
I see, Your Honour, that you are concerned about the time? I am just about
Senator Comeau: Your Honour, what is happening?
The Hon. the Speaker: The honourable senator's extra five minutes has
expired, and it would require him to seek unanimous consent to be provided with
Senator Cools: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker: The honourable senator would first need to make
Senator Comeau: How much time is the honourable senator asking for?
Senator Sibbeston: I need two minutes.
Senator Comeau: That is fine.
Senator Sibbeston: Victor Frankl, who wrote about his experience, was
a grown man relating his experience. We were young children. From our eyes, our
experience was horrible.
As children, we were resilient. Children are resilient, and able to withstand
all sorts of horrible experiences. This was what our experience was. I often say
to people, "Imagine sending your five to eight-year-old child away to a
residential school and not seeing him or her for 10 months. Imagine not seeing
him or her for 10 years. How would you feel? How would the child feel and how
would you feel as parents?" I am telling you, this was what Aboriginal people,
children and parents alike, experienced. This is what the residential school
issue is all about.
I just wanted to let you know that this is what we are talking about. As a
result of that, the effects have been lifelong. To this date, I suffer from
depression, sadness, and sometimes I have a hard time coping with life. I do not
mind saying that I take anti-depressants and I must take medication just so
that I can live a normal life.
When we began dealing with the residential schools issue, many of us would
gather and say, "We have everything in life, we have so much in life." In my
case, I have one of the best jobs in the country as a senator, but you are not
happy. You do not know how to enjoy life and there is a sadness and darkness
that used to exist in my life.
We eventually decided to do something about it. We began gathering and
sitting in a circle, talking about our experiences. It is not rocket science
but, amazingly, when you sit around a table and speak about your experiences, it
is like magic in the sense that we all began feeling better. This is how we
dealt with our issues.
I appreciate, again, that the clerk is standing and that time is limited. I
want to thank honourable senators for listening. If in any way I have given you
an understanding of what the residential schools issue is all about, I am happy
to have done that.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Resuming debate?
Senator Comeau: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw to your
attention the presence in the gallery of a group of students from the
Maurice-Lavallée School in Edmonton. They are accompanied by Annie Dansereau,
Carl Girard and Deborah Mahaux.
They are guests of the Honourable Senator Claudette Tardif.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs, for Senator Fairbairn, pursuant to notice of
May 10, 2007, moved:
That, pursuant to rule 95(3)(a), the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry be authorized to sit on Friday, May 18, 2007, even
though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.
Motion agreed to.
Leave having been given to revert to Other Business, Other, Order No. 9:
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Trenholme Counsell
calling the attention of the Senate to concerns regarding the Agreements in
Principle signed by the Government of Canada and the Provincial governments
between April 29, 2005 and November 25, 2005 entitled Moving Forward on
Early Learning and Child Care, as well as the funding agreements with
Ontario, Manitoba and Québec, and the Agreements in Principle prepared for the
Yukon, the North West Territories and Nunavut.—(Honourable Senator Mercer)
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure to speak
today on Senator Trenholme Counsell's inquiry on the funding agreement signed
with the provinces from April 29, 2005, to November 25, 2005, for early learning
and child care.
In this new era of Conservative budget cuts to programs, they are leaving no
stone unturned. Cutting funds for student employment, literacy programs,
volunteers and productivity has permeated every home in this country. Child care
is no different.
The Conservatives hide behind their slogan of choice; choice for parents and
for children. However, Canada's growing-old government is asserting its will on
provinces to fund their own programs with less help from the federal treasury.
The Conservatives chose to provide "direct financial assistance" to
parents. They see this as choice: $1,200 per year; $100 per month. After taxes —
yes, that money is taxed — that is almost $60 per month. That is hardly enough
to pay for a week of child care, let alone a month's worth.
Yet the Conservatives consider this choice to be a good thing for Canada's
children. I say shame on them. This is not a choice; it is an imposition. Our
future belongs to our children and they deserve to be treated as such, not as
pawns in a silly game of Conservative choices.
On November 20 of every year, Senator Munson and I host National Child Day,
where we are reminded of our responsibility to build a secure and nurturing
society for children everywhere. The day commemorates the unanimous adoption by
the United Nations General Assembly of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, thereby committing us to protecting and ensuring children's rights.
National Child Day highlights the basic human rights that all children are
entitled to, from the fundamental right to be protected from abuse to their
entitlement to grow into fully participating members of society.
Canada's growing-old government is hardly protecting our children and is not
living up to their responsibilities.
Honourable senators, let us recall some history now, as my colleagues have
We will recall that the debate on this issue started when the Right
Honourable Jean Chrétien proposed a national child care program in the first
Liberal Red Book. It was not a great success because proposed funding agreements
became a stumbling block to the negotiations between the federal government and
the provinces. Unfortunately, no one could agree.
We must keep in mind as well the large debt that Mr. Chrétien was left after
the Mulroney years. While trying to balance the budget and keep Canada's social
programs afloat, we still tried to start a national child care program.
Ten years later, in December 2003, the Liberal government pledged that early
childhood development would be a priority for the government. I have heard
colleagues opposite decry the amount of time it took to start anything or even
finish it. I am proud of the record, and so are Canadians.
Canada's growing-old government seems to be proud of it, considering they
recycle Liberal programs quicker than pop cans in the blue bin. They have not
recycled the child care program yet. Stay tuned.
Honourable senators, in Budget 2005, the Liberal government followed through
on the pledge for an early learning and child care program initiative for the
whole country, with $5 billion in new investments.
In February 2005, the Minister of Social Development, Ken Dryden, met with
the provincial and territorial social services ministers to discuss the new
policy framework for child care and early learning. This was done by recognizing
the specific needs of the provinces and how their departments or programs were
unique amongst themselves, since it is the provinces that have the
responsibility for early learning and child care. This time we prevailed.
Agreements in principle were obtained from April 29 to November 25, 2005. It
is interesting to note, honourable senators, that funding levels appear nowhere
on any government website. We have looked for them and they have mysteriously
However, in 2007-08 alone, funding would have reached the following levels —
I want you to listen to the levels for your own province. These are levels,
according to my briefing notes, when these agreements were made: New Brunswick,
$34.4 million; Prince Edward Island, $6.4 million; my home province of Nova
Scotia, $43 million — boy, we could use that money now; Newfoundland and
Labrador, $23.5 million; Quebec, a staggering $269.7 million; Ontario, $585.5
million; Manitoba, $54.8 million; Saskatchewan, $45.6 million; Alberta a
whopping $152.4 million; and British Columbia, $197.9 million. That is almost
$1.5 billion in total.
Honourable senators, these agreements were milestones in the history of
social program development for Canada. Now they are gone. For a few dollars a
month, Canada's growing-old government envisages a first-class child care
system. I remind honourable senators they cannot fill up their gas tanks in
their cars for $60 a month, let alone ensure that our country's children are
properly cared for and are encouraged to become our next great leaders.
Honourable senators, Conservative times are indeed hard times. Canada's
growing-old government is saying "no" to children, "no" to students, "no"
to literacy. With child care, Canadians were left with a promise of 125,000
child care spaces. How many have been created since the Conservatives took
power? There have been little or none. I have not been able to find any.
For a country where 84 per cent of parents work either in or outside the home
to provide their families with the tools they need to succeed in the future,
this situation is unacceptable.
According to research, the rising participation of women in the work force
has heightened demands for affordable, quality child care programs. In 2002, 65
per cent of women in Canada with children under the age of six were employed. At
the same time, developments in neurobiology and social sciences have highlighted
the importance of the early childhood period in setting the stage for long-term
emotional, behavioural and intellectual well being. Canada's growing old
government has turned its back on children and parents who so desperately need
Canada continues to lag behind many of its counterparts in the Organisation
for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, with regard to early childhood
development programs, both in terms of the proportion of GDP spent on public
funding of early childhood and care, and in terms of enrolment of children in
Yet the Conservatives have wasted all our good work, all good Liberal
government work. They have turned back the clock on child care in this country.
Honourable senators, the commitment of the Liberal Party of Canada to child
care and early childhood development began in 1993. I, no doubt, will hear my
colleagues across the floor say we did nothing during our tenure in government.
What is the Liberal record on child care?
According to research over the past decade, the federal Liberal government
adopted a more proactive approach to collaborating with the provinces and
territories to improve services for young children. Our initiatives led to the
creation of a National Children's Agenda, a framework envisioned for working
together to improve the well-being of children.
This framework led to the development of a series of measures for young
children, including the Canada Child Tax Benefit in 1998, the Early Childhood
Development Initiative in 2000, and the Multilateral Framework on Early Learning
and Child Care in 2003.
In fact, the establishment of the Canada Child Tax Benefit was the most
significant national social program created since medicare. With other important
elements such as the Head Start program, we planned to pump in an additional $5
billion over five years to help build an early learning and child care
initiative. That is the Liberal record.
However, honourable senators, the Conservatives then were elected and they
broke their promises to children. During the election campaign, Stephen Harper
promised to keep programs such as child care alive, and then swiftly cancelled
all our agreements. This cancellation means the federal government cannot move
forward with the provinces toward a shared vision that provides flexibility to
address the needs of children and families across this diverse country, because
they decided to offer a choice. They are now hiding behind their own choice.
According to an article I read last month in the Toronto Star, Ontario
is set to receive $100 million of federal money for daycares this year; enough
for 10,000 new spaces. Child care advocates say it falls too short of the real
According to Monica Lysack, the Executive Director of the Child Care Advocacy
Society of Canada, "for a government that identified childcare as one of their
priorities, this is an admission of failure."
She said this after Finance Minister Flaherty released his budget.
They have conceded that the former government had the right plan and
they're following in their footsteps with the huge exception of having 80 per
cent less of the funds that were available.
They beat the program and received the money.
The Conservatives cancelled our program after only two years and replaced it
with a monthly cheque of $100 for parents of children under six, with another
plan to give businesses and non-profit organizations the funding to build
However, in this budget, Minister Flaherty decided to give the money
allocated for businesses to create spaces directly to the provinces. Why did he
do that? He did that because, after more than a year in government, they had to
admit their plan was a failure.
I read another interesting story in The Chronicle Herald of Halifax
that said that more than $2 billion of federal child care funding has flowed
into a "virtual accountability void" in the last three years.
Officials in Canada's growing-old government have few clues as to how well
the cash was spent by most of the provinces since 2004.
Honourable senators, the Conservative actions are a true reflection of their
fend-for-yourself approach to social policy. By cancelling the Liberal child
care agreements and sending parents a small allowance in the mail, the
Conservative government is leaving families to deal with the child care crisis
on their own.
Honourable senators, I think it is clear that I and millions of Canadians are
left wondering when Canada's government will grow up. With a child care plan
like theirs, it does not look like it will be any time soon.
I want to relate a quick story to you, honourable senators. The Standing
Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry was conducting their study on rural
poverty. We were in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. I asked a question of
one of the witnesses: Has this $100 per child had an effect in your community?
The answer I received was, yes, it has had an affect. It has had the effect of
increasing daycare costs in Charlottetown by $100 a month, because people put
the price up by $100 a month. I have told you it is clawed back, so they really
receive only $60. The net increase is $40 per family.
What a shame, honourable senators. I encourage you to support this study.
On motion of Senator Fairbairn, debate adjourned.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:
That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday,
May 29, 2007, at 2 p.m.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, May 29, 2007, at 2 p.m.