Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I rise today to point
out what I believe is a regrettable action taken by one of our colleagues. While
sitting in the chamber last night, I happened to be reading the Senate
communications which referred to an article in The Hill Times written by
"Liberal Sen. Larry Campbell" with the title, "A constitutional crisis from
within." The opening remark was a quote attributed to me which stated:
We cannot engage in a consultation process between premiers. To me that's
There was no further comment or elaboration upon my role in the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, except for this reference.
This statement was clearly misleading. My comment was obviously intended to
state that the process in which we were engaged was outrageous, meaning that we
were not going to go to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill S-4 as agreed,
but we were delaying, yet again, government business.
Honourable senators have been known to be fair and cautious when quoting
colleagues. If Senator Campbell, despite not alerting me that he was doing so,
wished to quote me in an article, I would have hoped that he would have been
fair in his quote. Rather than quoting the entirety of the thought which I
expressed, which was that I found the proceedings of May 9, 2007, in the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to be highly
unusual, he chose to quote one sentence leading to my conclusion and not the
prior five and a half paragraphs, which the record shows, nor the following five
The meeting had been set for clause-by-clause consideration of Bill S-4. We
were advised that, rather than proceeding, members opposite wished to circulate
a letter from one premier to other premiers. As was rightly noted, the premiers
had been canvassed and they were given a time limit to respond. The premier's
letter came later and we were asked to circulate it to other premiers for their
opinions. My objection was to the further delay of government business since we
had already canvassed the premiers.
Anyone reading the full statement, which I will not put on the record here,
would understand that I was questioning the delay tactic as I perceived it, and
the methodology of approaching premiers in this fashion. To simply put on the
record that consulting with premiers, in my opinion, was outrageous is
fallacious and not worthy of the usual good standards that we set in this
chamber. Senator Campbell knows, or should know, that when I referred to
"outrageous," it was not to the premiers and the consultation, but rather, to
the delaying tactics.
While I respect each and every senator's opinion and their ability to put
their points across, I expect the same courtesy in turn. I hope that Senator
Campbell will reconsider and apologize for what I believe is an inappropriate
and inaccurate reflection of the comments I made.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, Library and Archives Canada
provides access to many genealogical resources via its website. The resources
are freely accessible to Canadians wherever they live and at their convenience.
These resources from the Library and Archives Canada historic collection have
been digitized and made searchable on the Internet.
These resources also include the 1851, 1901, 1906 and 1911 Canadian census
records — images of actual census records, plus images of selected passenger
lists of people emigrating to Canada over the period 1865 to 1922. Use of these
web resources is significant. For instance, images from the 1911 census alone
are downloaded over 6 million times per year, while the website of Library and
Archives Canada receives 12 million visits per year, 20 per cent of which are
I know Senator Comeau will be interested to learn that access to the 1911
census images has produced no complaints whatsoever to the Privacy Commissioner.
In fact, there have never been any complaints about access to the historic
census records from either the users of the resource or from anyone whose
privacy might have been violated.
In addition to digital resources, Library and Archives Canada has many other
records in its collection that are of interest to genealogists, whether it be
microfilm copies of other census records, their extensive newspaper collection,
additional immigration and military records,
or photos, artwork and moving images that represent Canadian people, places and
events. All these resources combine to provide a wealth of material for
researchers. This wealth translates into more than 20,000 in-person visits and
inquiries per year.
As part of its continuing efforts to improve accessibility to genealogical
information, Library and Archives Canada announced on June 1 a new
public-private partnership with Ancestry.ca, a major provider of on-line
Initially, Ancestry.ca and Library and Archives Canada will focus on indexing
the Quebec City passenger lists from 1870 to 1900, comprising more than 750,000
names. The digital images of these and other passenger lists are already on the
Library and Archives Canada website. The index for Quebec City will be available
free of charge on their website, as well as on Ancestry.ca.
Library and Archives Canada and Ancestry.ca will continue to work together to
ensure that eventually all Canadian passenger lists from 1865 to 1935, which
includes the ports of Halifax, Saint John, Vancouver, Victoria and North Sydney,
are digitized and indexed.
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, it is unfair to penalize
industries in Canada that have already more than met their share of Canada's
commitment under, dare I say it, the Kyoto Protocol. Greenhouse gas emissions
from Canadian manufacturing on the whole are some 7.4 per cent below their 1990
levels. The forestry industry is down 44 per cent, while some of its members
have achieved a 70-per-cent reduction. The construction industry emits 30 per
cent less than it did 17 years ago, while mining, which includes the Alberta oil
sands development, has increased its emissions by 104 per cent.
In moving the goalposts from 1990 to 2006 as the base year for determining
mandatory reduction, the government not only refuses to comply with Canada's
international obligations as they were, it also sends entirely the wrong message
to our industrial sector. That message, in essence, is: Early action will only
make it more difficult to comply with new laws. The salve that the Government of
Canada is offering — credit for up to 15 million tonnes of early reductions — is
no salve at all. One B.C. paper company alone requires 1 million tonnes of
I hope that the Government of Canada will increase the amount it will grant
industries that have not simply sat out a decade and a half of government
inaction. To the credit of these industries, they have taken steps that reduce
their costs and benefit all of us. No matter which greenhouse gas emission plan
finally comes into effect, the efforts of those industries that took early
action should receive full recognition.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I am pleased to
bring some excellent news to the Senate's attention with respect to the work of
two committees of the Senate who have worked to moderate the impact of the
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, WHTI, as passed by the United States a few
years ago, and the recent steps in Congress. These steps, if implemented on both
sides of the aisle and both sides of Congress in the United States, will avert
massive economic dislocation to practically every community across Canada and
along both sides of the border.
On May 9, 2007, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter of the House of
Representatives announced that H.R.1684, the Department of Homeland Security
Authorization Act, passed the House of Representatives on May 8, 2007, by a vote
of 296 to 126. The bill included language drafted by Congresswoman Slaughter.
The provisions authored by her and included in H.R.1684 come from H.R.1061,
the Protecting American Commerce and Travel Act of 2007, which she sponsored.
With respect to the WHTI provisions, these provisions would require the
Department of Homeland Security to do the following: complete an extensive
cost-benefit analysis before implementing the initiative; conduct trials on
passport technology and share the results with the U.S. Congress before issuing
a final rule implementing the initiative; develop a six-month grace period for
travellers who are not carrying the required WHTI documentation; develop a
public outreach plan in coordination with the travel and trade communities;
exempt children aged 15 years and younger from the document requirements for
land and sea, with flexibility for groups of children; and report to the U.S.
Congress every 120 days on the implementation of the initiative. I will not
detail, as has Representative Slaughter, the other changes she will require for
NEXUS and FAST, which are two other acceptable travel documents that will
I want to commend as well Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Senator Ted
Stevens of Alaska. On June 14, during its mark-up of the fiscal year 2008
Homeland Security appropriation bill, the Senate Committee on Appropriations
adopted an amendment sponsored by Senator Leahy and Senator Stevens. The
amendment would extend the implementation deadline for land and sea portions of
the WHTI. This amendment was co-sponsored by Senators Larry Craig of Idaho and
Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico.
Last year, Senators Leahy and Stevens included language in the fiscal year
2007 homeland appropriations bill allowing the Departments of Homeland Security
and State to delay the implementation of the WHTI until June 1, 2009, or three
months after all requirements have been met and certified, whichever comes
I will not detail the other requirements, but they are extensive. They
include seven certification requirements adopted last year before the WHTI could
I want to commend Senators Leahy of the U.S. Senate and Congresswoman Louise
Slaughter of the House of Representatives, both old friends of the Canada-U.S.
Inter-Parliamentary Group, for their continued leadership in avoiding what we
consider a tsunami of delays and bottlenecks all along the Canada-U.S. border
that would economically ravage communities on both sides of the border.
Stay tuned, honourable senators. This summer your Canada-U.S.
Inter-Parliamentary Group will continue its work across America in support of
this excellent lobby.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before moving to Tabling of
Documents, I wish to draw to your attention the presence in the gallery of the
Honourable Judge Sandra E. Oxner, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Judicial
Education Institute, headquartered at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova
Scotia, together with participants of the Intensive Study Programme for Judicial
Educators. They are guests of the Honourable Senator Cowan.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table,
in both official languages, the 2006-07 annual report of the Ethics Commissioner
on activities concerning public office holders, pursuant to section 72.13 of the
Parliament of Canada Act.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain, Chair of Standing Senate Committee on
Aboriginal Peoples presented the following report:
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples has the honour to
Your Committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Thursday, March 29,
2007, to examine and report on recent work completed in relation to drinking
water in First Nations' communities, respectfully requests the approval of
funds for fiscal year ending March 31, 2008.
Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) 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.
GERRY ST. GERMAIN
(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix,
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator St. Germain, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
As everyone knows, the government has just implemented a no-fly list.
Canadians will not be allowed to consult this secret list. They will have no way
of knowing whether their name is on the list until they are denied the privilege
of boarding an aircraft. There will have been no charges, interrogation, or
They will have no knowledge of the criteria used by the RCMP or CSIS to add
their names to the list. Need I remind you that a member of the other place,
John Williams, found out that his name was on just such a list when he was
trying to travel to the United States? Has the government considered that this
no-fly list could contravene our Charter of Rights and Freedoms and our laws
that guarantee freedom of movement and the presumption of innocence?
We have been told that there will be some 500 to 2,000 names on the list. Yet
the list is secret, so how can we be sure that there will not be 44,000 names on
the list, which is the case in the United States? How can we be sure that this
list will not include the names of people who oppose a given regime or party?
Without transparent criteria, anything is possible.
Honourable senators, this situation brings up too many questions. What is the
process for putting a name on the list? What are the criteria? Who administers
this secret list? If a Canadian ends up on the list by mistake, what can he or
she do to get his name off the list?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. First, the
Passenger Protect program, which was specifically designed in Canada, went into
effect, as the honourable senator knows, yesterday, June 18, for Canadian
domestic and international flights. Reports have come back after the first day
of implementation of this program that there were no problems at our airports.
Travel, with the normal security measures, was as usual.
Individuals are added to the specified persons list based on actions that
would lead to a determination that they may pose an immediate threat to aviation
security should they attempt to board an aircraft. I think most Canadians, as
they board aircraft, are comforted by the fact that our security officials have
an eye out for these people. The guidelines for making the determination are
focused on aviation security and may include an individual who has been involved
with a terrorist group, who has been convicted of one or more serious crimes
against aviation security, or who has been convicted of one or more serious and
life-threatening offences and who may attack or harm an air carrier, passengers
or crew members.
On the issue of privacy concerns, Transport Canada, in putting together the
Passenger Protect program, worked in consultation with the Office of the Privacy
Commissioner and also consulted many cultural and civil liberties groups.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, the Leader of the
Government in the Senate is not convincing me that having a list will protect
Canadians against people with bad intentions. This list will have to be
expanded. Will this list be used for all sorts of purposes such as when we take
the bus or subway, or when we go into malls or concert halls, to protect us
against people with bad intentions? This list would apply to passengers on
airplanes, without any criteria being known. Why would we not protect ourselves
in other public places in Canada? What is the ultimate goal of this infamous
Senator LeBreton: Obviously, other agencies of government, our police
forces specifically, have responsibility for protecting Canadians in public
places where they work and in many perhaps vulnerable venues in the country.
Most senators and most people in general would realize that aviation is a unique
circumstance, in view of past events. Aviation is unique because planes, once
they leave the ground, are particularly vulnerable.
For people who may show up at the airport and who may be asked to step aside
because there is a conflict with their name, there is immediately a process in
place to deal with those issues. The fact of the matter is that this measure has
been brought in to protect Canadians. Canadians want to feel that every possible
measure is being taken to protect their safe travel in the air, as well as in
other modes of transportation, but, as I mentioned, there are other people with
responsibility specifically for those areas.
I believe that most Canadians would support this measure — certainly anyone
who is worried about terrorism or the safety of their families when they board
aircraft. Law-abiding Canadian citizens need not fear the Passenger Protect
Senator Hervieux-Payette: I would still like the Leader of the
Government to tell me how many countries will be sharing this list and how many
other countries will be sharing their lists with us. Terrorists are not
necessarily Canadian citizens, so I would like her to give us the list of
countries we will be sharing it with and who will be adopting no-fly lists.
Senator LeBreton: The regulations prohibit air carriers from sharing
the specified persons list. Obviously, police authorities such as the RCMP and
CSIS and various police authorities around the world would have the means to
share information. However, air carriers are prohibited from sharing the
specified persons lists.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, to set the stage, on May 29,
1914, the Empress of Ireland was rammed, and she sank in 14 minutes in
the St. Lawrence River off Father Point; 1,012 people died that day, a greater
loss than the Titanic. Many were members of the Salvation Army, and there
is a memorial to those members of that organization in Toronto.
Phillip Beaudry discovered the wreck in 1970, and he mined artifacts from it
for 30 years, until it was declared a Canadian heritage site and looting became
The Canadian Culture Export Review Board has blocked him from selling the
ship's bell to foreign collectors for years, but I have just learned that
Minister Oda, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, has given permission to export
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate intercede with Minister Oda
to prevent this from happening?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. I was not aware
of the specific incident she raises, so I will take her question as notice and
Senator Milne: I thank the minister for that.
The Musée de la Mer in Pointe-au-Père has offered Mr. Beaudry $325,000 for
his collection of Empress of Ireland artifacts, but he wants $1 million
dollars for the bell alone.
Will the minister please prevent this bell, taken from the gravesite of 1,012
people, from being removed from Canada? I have to tell the minister that I have
a personal interest in this matter because my mother, Dorothy Bainbridge at the
time, came to Canada on the Empress of Ireland with her mother and her
older brother in 1911, so I would like to see this bell kept in Canada, where it
Senator LeBreton: As with the answer to the first question, I will
refer this matter to the Minister of Heritage, and report back to the honourable
senator as soon as possible.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. The latest study by the Atlantic
Provinces Economic Council, or APEC, provides some discouraging analysis of the
new equalization program announced by this government.
The APEC report shows that under the new equalization program every province
in Atlantic Canada will be worse off. For example, Prince Edward Island will get
less money in 11 of the next 13 years. The APEC study forecasts a loss of $196
million to the provincial treasury in the equalization program alone. Our
province relies more heavily than any other province on equalization, which
accounts for one quarter of the province's revenue.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate explain why the new
government's new equalization formula gives Prince Edward Island less in almost
every fiscal year for the foreseeable future?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. This report has
already been the subject of some questions, because when the forecast was made
for Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, the numbers were not available. As I
said earlier, this report is a study like all other studies; many times,
forecasts are wrong.
All provinces will benefit from the O'Brien formula. With the exceptions of
Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, and, in another form, Saskatchewan,
it was supported by all provinces. In any case, the previous and, I believe,
present governments of Prince Edward Island supported this new formula.
The budget has brought in this new formula, and the government believes that
once the provinces deal with the monies they get through the equalization
formula as well as the other monies directly transferred to provinces, such as
infrastructure and education funds, the Province of Prince Edward Island will be
ahead of where it was prior to the budget of March 2007.
I would be happy to obtain a specific list of all monies directed to Prince
Edward Island through equalization and other programs that were in Budget 2006
and Budget 2007 to better address the full financial picture.
Senator Callbeck: Honourable senators, it is fine to talk about other
programs, but the minister and I know that programs come and programs go. I am
concerned about the long-term funding of equalization, which, according to the
APEC study, will be reduced in 11 of the next 13 years.
The study also points out that this year's budget gives Nova Scotia and
Newfoundland and Labrador the option of keeping the old fixed framework for
equalization. However, that option was not offered to Prince Edward Island.
Why are provinces being treated differently? Why was Prince Edward Island not
given the same option as some other provinces, an option that would have allowed
us to keep the $200 million that we will be losing under this new framework?
Senator LeBreton: I do not accept the premise that Prince Edward
Island will be losing $200 million. The budget was presented in such a way that
there were specific concerns regarding Newfoundland and Labrador in terms of
their offshore resources, as was the case with Nova Scotia. The budget was moved
to the O'Brien formula, with the exception of those two other provinces, where
they were given the choice of staying with the old Atlantic accord and the
formula that was in place at the time the accord was signed by the Martin
government or, in fact, opting into the new.
We must remember that the O'Brien commission was set up by the previous
government. As a matter of fact, it was presented to all the provincial
ministers of finance and premiers. They could not agree amongst themselves.
Equalization is a federal program and all provinces made it clear to the expert
panel during the discussions that they wanted to return to a formula-based
equalization program. We took this action in Budget 2007 in response to what the
provinces requested, putting equalization on a principle-based footing with a
10-province standard based on this expert panel's report.
Again, to the Honourable Senator Callbeck, on all matters in the budget,
there are many programs other than equalization that go to the provinces. As I
have said earlier in this place, one of the areas that has not received a lot of
attention is the amount of money paid directly to the provinces for education,
child care, infrastructure and the eco-trust. There are any number of programs
that directly fund projects in the provinces. In the interests of fairness, I do
not believe one portion can be selected out for disagreement without
acknowledging the bigger picture.
Senator Callbeck: Honourable senators, I wish to confirm that the
Leader of the Government in the Senate said she would table the figures on
equalization for Prince Edward Island for the next 13 years.
Senator LeBreton: Actually, I did not say that, honourable senators. I
said I would be happy to table figures from Budget 2006 and Budget 2007 in terms
of the amounts of money that will be targeted directly to Prince Edward Island.
With regard to the APEC report cited by Senator Callbeck, the numbers in that
report are being questioned by some people, given the speculative nature of the
results down the road.
Therefore, I did not say that I would table such a document. Going back to
what I said, the equalization program has a 10-province standard that puts the
provinces and the federal government on very stable footing such that, year in
and year out, equalization does not become a political football that satisfies
some provinces but not others.
By following the O'Brien commission report, I believe we will be successful
in putting the whole equalization question on a principled and economically
sound footing. It is hoped that, once the provinces have had an opportunity to
work on their budgets and realize the amount of funds they are getting from the
federal government through this principle-based equalization, plus other
programs, they will come to understand that they are ahead of where they were
prior to the budget of March 2007.
Senator Callbeck: The government leader says there are problems with
the figures I have used from this APEC study. Will she present her government's
figures for the estimated amount of equalization that Prince Edward Island will
receive over the next 13 years?
Senator LeBreton: I shall take that question as notice.
Hon. Percy Downe: The information that Senator Callbeck requested of
the government is public information. If the minister stands in this chamber and
indicates that the APEC figures are wrong, then she has a responsibility to
table the government figures. Will she do that?
Senator LeBreton: I did not directly say the figures were wrong. I
said that some commentary in the public venue had questioned the APEC numbers.
Every day, we have think-tanks or study groups releasing reports that sometimes
are correct and sometimes are incorrect.
I will say to the honourable senator as I said to Senator Callbeck: I will
refer his questions to the Department of Finance, and they will be happy to
provide any information that is public information.
Senator Downe: APEC, as the honourable senator knows, is an
independent and non-political body. They have analyzed this budget, and it is
their conclusion that Prince Edward Island will lose $196 million over the next
Does the Government of Canada have an accurate figure to reassure Islanders
it is correct? What is the correct figure? Can the leader provide that
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for his question.
I cannot provide those figures today. I am not an economist. I can take his
question as notice. As I have said before, many independent and non-political
organizations prepare forecasts and make recommendations to governments. That is
within their rights, but they are not always right.
I have heard people questioning the forecasts of APEC in the media. With that
said, in answer to the honourable senator's first question, I will be happy to
refer his comments to the Department of Finance. I am sure they will provide all
of the information they have that is public.
Hon. Tommy Banks: My question is to the Leader of the Government in
the Senate. I will ask a non-partisan question for the second day in a row. I
will further offer assistance, if I can in a bootleg way, to the leader in
respect of answering Senator Milne's question. I will have my pulse checked
The question that Senator Milne has raised is important. A number of my
constituents in Alberta went to Alberta on that ship and on other ships of the
Great White Fleet, as it was then called. The Empress of Ireland was part
of that fleet. The Canadian Pacific organization was the largest transportation
system in the world at that time.
Many of my constituents have an interest in those same artifacts to which
Senator Milne referred, to the extent I have written several letters over the
past several months to four successive ministers of Canadian Heritage, including
the current minister and her three predecessors.
The answer from each of them has come back to the effect that they cannot
find anyone in Canada interested in acquiring these artifacts. That is not true.
The Musée de la mer that Senator Milne referred to in Pointe-au-Père, run by
Serge Guay, is interested in obtaining those artifacts. The difference is in the
amount of money that he has been able to offer Phillipe Beaudry from his own
resources and those of his organization, and the difference is significant. I am
sure that something can be found.
Few museums are able to suddenly cough up the kind of money needed to buy
these artifacts. I would be happy to provide the honourable leader with copies,
should she wish, of all of the correspondence in that regard with successive
ministers, and provide her with Mr. Guay's telephone number, address and email,
should that be of use to her.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. With regard to
artifacts that have specific interest to Canadians, there was an issue not long
ago where Canadians tried to prevent a Victoria Cross from being sold on eBay.
This issue is a difficult one, and, as the honourable senator says, a lot of our
smaller museums and people from veterans' groups or legions do not have money to
compete with some of the other people in the world that perhaps have an interest
and more dollars. I was unaware of this situation. I had not heard of this
particular issue. I will be happy to determine from Canadian Heritage if there
is a specific policy that protects Canadian interests with regard to historical
Senator Banks: I can assist the minister. There is a means by which
the export of artifacts of that kind can be stopped. It has been in place for
the past several years. It has now been lifted and is no longer a prohibition.
Rather, it is an opportunity that is provided to find competitive buyers in
Canada for something that could otherwise be sold, one assumes for more money,
elsewhere. That prohibition or stoppage has now been lifted.
Mr. Beaudry, who owns the artifacts, is now free, which he has not been until
now, to sell them wherever he likes. The question is whether this government,
and the previous government, would not come up with the money to assist the
Musée de la mer to purchase those artifacts at an amount that Mr. Beaudry would
be prepared to accept.
Hon. Hugh Segal: I have a supplementary question on the artifacts.
When the minister checks into the matter, might she look at the option of an
independent assessment for the bell and the artifacts and then submit that
assessment to the cultural properties review board, which makes independent
assessments on behalf of the Canada Revenue Agency, to determine that the value
is fair? Normally, two or three estimates are required.
If the gap is substantial, as Senator Milne has suggested, between what is
being offered by the museum and what the value is, there may be the ability for
a donation to the Crown. That could then provide a tax benefit to the donor,
which might reduce his loss but still keep the asset in Canadian hands. The
minister could interact to constructively suggest that, if she chose to do so,
after the honourable senator's representations.
Senator LeBreton: I certainly will ascertain that.
Hon. Tommy Banks: My question deals with a matter of concern to all
Canadians, particularly those who live in Manitoba, and to all United States
citizens living in Minnesota and North Dakota. My question is in regards to
We did not have a resolution but a temporary stay, if I can put it that way,
in the problem of releasing the waters, which in some senses are spoiled, from
Devils Lake, which is not a natural lake — it has no input or outlet — into the
Cheyenne River, which then flows into the Red River, which then flows into Lake
There was an agreement, as a result of pressure from the provinces and the
surrounding states on the State of North Dakota, to stop until it could find a
way to resolve the situation by putting in a proper system of filtering so the
things which we did not want to flow into places, which they have not been
before, would not.
The constitution in that country is different from the Constitution here.
This is an absolute right of the state. I am hopeful that the Leader of the
Government will, from time to time, keep us apprised as to the efforts being
made by the Government of Canada to resolve that situation and somehow stop that
water from polluting — there is no other word for it — the Cheyenne River, the
Red River and Lake Winnipeg. I know the government has made efforts in that
respect, but can the minister, from time to time, now, if you have anything,
bring us up-to-date on those efforts?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): The Devils Lake issue, as the honourable senator knows, has come
up again. There is some concern on both sides of the border. I know it has been
discussed in the other place. I will ask for an update from the Department of
Foreign Affairs, and inquire as to the next steps that the government proposes
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting delayed answers to three oral
questions raised in the Senate. The first response is to a question raised in
the Senate by Senator Rivest on May 15, 2007, in regard to official languages,
the report of the Commissioner, the recommendation to create a ministerial
portfolio. The second response is to a question raised in the Senate by Senator
Milne on May 30, 2007, in regard to agriculture and agri-food, the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency, the safety of food imports. The third response is to a
question raised in the Senate by Senator Segal on May 30, 2007, in regard to
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada programs encouraging Canadians to eat locally
(Response to question raised by Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest on May 15, 2007)
As Minister for La Francophonie and for Official Languages, the Honourable
Josée Verner works with her Cabinet colleagues to see that linguistic duality
is integrated into the process of developing policies and programs. She is
responsible for coordinating the entire range of federal government activities
concerning official languages and to that end, she maintains an ongoing
dialogue with official languages communities and key stakeholders such as
provincial and territorial governments, on behalf of the Government of Canada.
The Minister works closely with her colleagues to ensure that the institutions
for which they are responsible fully comply with the Official Languages Act,
including Part VII of the Act, for which she has specific responsibilities.
The government is committed to supporting bilingualism, and to supporting
the minority language communities across the country. The 2003 Action Plan
for Official Languages provided $642 million over five years for the
promotion and development of official languages in Canada. Budget 2007 built
on this commitment by providing an additional $30 million over two years for
cultural and after-school activities and community centres. These activities
will help enrich the benefits of bilingualism among youth, including through
exchanges and youth programming.
It is inaccurate to say that the President of the Queen's Privy Council, or
any other Minister in the Prime Minister's portfolio, has "authority over all
the departments" or "has supra-ministerial authority". It is customary to
have horizontal coordination of issues carried out by one Minister who will
receive support from a department or agency.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Lorna Milne on May 30, 2007)
All domestic and imported food products in Canada must comply with Canada's
food safety standards, which are established by Health Canada and enforced by
the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Canada's import inspection programs are based on internationally recognized
standards and principles, and are comparable to the import inspection systems
of other developed countries, such as the United States.
The CFIA's food laboratories test for a wide range of chemical and
biological contaminants in imported and domestically produced food products.
With reference to the hormone, recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST),
Health Canada determined several years ago that rbST did not pose a health
risk to humans; however, rbST is not approved for sale in Canada because of
animal health concerns. Testing cannot distinguish between rbST (artificial
growth hormone) and bST (natural growth hormone). As there are no human safety
risks associated with rbST and because testing cannot distinguish rbST, CFIA
does not test for this hormone in imported dairy products.
With respect to labelling, the Consumer Packaging and Labelling
Regulations which apply to all food sold in Canada require that
pre-packaged products that are wholly manufactured or produced in a country
other than Canada have the words, "Imported By" or "Imported For" on the
label, unless the geographic origin of the food is stated on the label — for
example "Product of USA."
All consumer products sold in Canada are subject to the Consumer
Packaging and Labelling Act (CPLA) and Regulations. The Regulations do not
require specific country-of-origin markings although labels on wholly
imported, prepackaged food products and bulk product packaged at other than
the retail level, must include "Imported By" or "Imported For" and the
name of the Canadian dealer or an indication of the geographic origin.
Imported fresh fruits and vegetables are required to indicate their country
For processed fruit and vegetable products, as well as most other foods
containing a mix of domestic and imported material, for example, apple juice,
the product may declare "Product of Canada" if it can be demonstrated that
the last substantial step in the product's production happened in Canada with
Canadian direct labour and/or material content of at least 51 per cent.
This 51 per cent figure is calculated as a percentage of the product's
total direct labour and/or material cost. "Coming into being" in Canada
means that the last substantial step in the production of the product took
place in Canada. This is consistent with the Government of Canada policy on "Made in Canada".
Canadian-produced foods are not required to indicate they are Canadian;
however, some imported agricultural products are required to indicate their
country of origin, e.g. imported dairy, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, or
fish, if not from Canada.
In keeping with the Government of Canada's general policy for consumer
packaging and labelling of consumer goods, the CFIA applies the following
rules in its analysis of a declaration claiming Canada to be the country of
origin for goods incorporating foreign raw materials or components. The last
substantial transformation of the goods must have occurred in Canada, and at
least 51 per cent of the total direct costs of producing or manufacturing the
goods is Canadian.
For all remaining non registered food commodities, the CFIA uses the
Government of Canada "Made in Canada" policy to assess "Made in/Product of
(Response to question raised by Hon. Hugh Segal on May 30, 2007)
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is considering the issue of local food
consumption as well as the other issues that were raised during the
consultation process for the Next Generation of Agricultural Policy framework.
The federal government is committed to working with provincial and territorial
governments and stakeholders to develop the policy framework to contribute to
a competitive and profitable agriculture sector for years to come.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I would like to refer to
the record of the Debates of the Senate of June 14, wherein I was asked a
question by Senator Cools when speaking on the report of the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Bill S-4, Senate tenure. She
asked me a question about some information regarding the drafting of a bill,
which she had requested from Privy Council Office and Department of Justice
officials when they appeared before the committee on March 21, 2007.
I undertook to find that information. The information requested by Senator
Cools was prepared by the Department of Justice and transmitted to the committee
clerk, Shaila Anwar, on March 27, 2007. Ms. Anwar subsequently indicated that
she would circulate it to all members of the committee forthwith. Since Senator
Cools was not a member of the committee, she may not have received the
information when it was circulated. I have received a further copy of that
document from Mr. King of PCO, and I am pleased to table it now, as I undertook.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is permission granted, honourable senators?
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the Message from the House of
Commons concerning Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the
Public Service Employment Act.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I move:
That the Senate concur in the amendment made by the House of Commons to its
amendments to Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the
Public Service Employment Act; and
That a Message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House
Honourable senators, I will be brief, if only to tell you how proud I am that
the government recognized the effectiveness of our work. You will recall that we
put forward 12 amendments to this bill; 11 of which were adopted.
There were five groups of amendments. The first group dealt with the famous
bingo cards; the second dealt with the section of the act on coming into force;
the third concerned the amendments that affect casual and temporary employees at
Elections Canada; and the fourth dealt with the date of birth issue. We are
pleased to note that everyone in the other place restrained themselves and
accepted, I believe, the wisdom of our amendments, and that they all recognized
that we were right.
Last, we had Senator Joyal's amendment on increasing sentences. I think the
government, and all members were pleased with the change proposed by Senator
The only amendment that is causing a little problem with the House is the
question of "coming into force" — and only the coming into force of the
section that deals with those famous bingo cards.
To give honourable senators some of the history, first, it was not part of
the bill. It was introduced in committee, and the House of Commons committee
suggested a two-month coming-into-force period.
When our committee heard the presentation of the Chief Electoral Officer, he
convinced us it was appropriate to give him 10 months to put in place all the IT
work that needs to be done to give birth to that new form of information that
will remind all the political organizations every 30 minutes on election day. We
agreed to 10 months. Members in the other place looked at that and decided to
shorten the period to six months.
I took the liberty, because I was to speak to this today, to talk on the
phone this morning with the Chief Electoral Officer and ask his opinion on the
decision of the members of the House of Commons. Of course, he would have liked
to have had the full 10 months. However, he is ready —honourable senators will
have to take my word on that — to accept the six months.
Let us assume that the bill will be passed and that Royal Assent could take
place as soon as possible. The six-month clock will start on that day. He is
ready to take the gamble that there will be no general election within the next
six months. However, if need be, he will do his best. As he said this morning,
he will probably be 85 per cent ready by then, so we will live with that.
In a nutshell, that is what we have in front of us — to shorten the time from
10 months to six months. I think it is fair; it is a good compromise, so I am
recommending that we accept this amendment.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I want to join Senator Nolin in
supporting the message from the House of Commons. I just want to add one thing
to the words of Senator Nolin.
When the Chief Electoral Officer testified before the committee, he requested
a period of 10 months. That is where that figure comes from; it does not come
from the senators around the table. Of course, he proposed that period of time
because of all the other aspects of the implementation of the bill, which are
Probably the best approach for the Chief Electoral Officer would be to use
the advisory committee, where all the parties are present, and raise the
progress of the implementation of the bill with those representatives and advise
accordingly. I have no doubt that there is a way to face the technical problems
that might lie ahead, which need to be solved for the "bingo card" to be
implemented. I concur with Senator Nolin and I will be happy to support the
message of the House of Commons.
Senator Nolin: I forgot to mention that, in our telephone conversation
this morning, the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Mayrand, informed me that he was
going to contact the various political parties and his advisory committee to
ensure that, with regard to the implementation of the appropriate mechanism for
producing these famous bingo cards, everyone would be well aware of the
challenges he faced and that everyone would help him achieve the objectives of
the bill. Thus, you were quite right to raise that in your question, and the
Chief Electoral Officer was one step ahead of you.
Hon. Lorna Milne: I have a further question for the honourable
senator. I, too, am quite willing to go along with this reduction in time.
The Chief Electoral Officer's main concern was having adequate time to change
their computer programs. He said that he would be 85 per cent ready, but 85 per
cent of a voters' list is not a whole lot. I should like to have a little more
information in terms of what the Chief Electoral Officer plans to do, if the
honourable senator has anything further to add.
Senator Nolin: I also asked 85 per cent of what? Is it 85 per cent of
the names? No, the Chief Electoral Officer received that figure from his
specialist this morning. Strangely, they were not informed of that until my
call. He checked with his people. My understanding is that there are no test
runs for these kinds of programs until there is an election. The 15 per cent is
likely in consideration of adjustments to problems that will arise during an
Therefore, it is important to be in touch with the various political
organizations to monitor progress. Definitely, the fact that each elector will
be assigned a number will facilitate the production of that process. However, we
never know in advance just how well it will work. We will have to make
corrections to various processes after the first election. Definitely, the big
cards will be ready.
Senator Milne: The honourable senator is saying that, no matter how
great a length of time Elections Canada had, they would still be 15 per cent
short and have to wait until the first election to test the program.
Senator Nolin: You are absolutely right.
Senator Milne: In that case, I have no problems with this.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Nolin, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Stratton, for the third reading of Bill C-18, to amend
certain Acts in relation to DNA identification.
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, I rise to speak
on behalf of the opposition for Bill C-18. I regret that I was not in the
chamber yesterday when the Honourable Senator Nolin spoke to the bill and gave a
very good summary of the committee's hearings on Bill C-18. I appreciate that
Senator Nolin said that this bill is truly not a partisan measure and that the
result of its passage will be a safer Canada. In essence, the bill is very much
about the science of the law and bringing into greater use DNA processes in the
identification of criminals and in the pursuit of justice.
I was interested in the comments of both Senators Joyal and Baker following
Senator Nolin's speech. Senator Joyal spoke to the need for a review and Senator
Baker commented on the issue of a clerical error in the carrying out of an
order, both of which were addressed by the committee.
I thought it would be relevant prior to concluding third reading debate to
read into the record the observations made by the committee at its last meeting
following clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-18.
I will read the observations from the report of the Standing Senate Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on Bill C-18:
Provided that an individual's rights under the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms are respected, giving police the tools to utilize DNA
fully in the investigation of crime is a worthy objective. Your Committee
therefore supports the overall goals and methods of Bill C-18. We do, however,
have concerns with some of its details.
First, there is the international sharing of information made possible by
We have reservations about the sharing of information found in the National
DNA Data Bank with foreign jurisdictions. Our concern is that these
jurisdictions may ask for information from the Data Bank in their efforts to
resolve offences which are not offences under Canadian law. For example,
non-violent political dissent may be considered a criminal act in certain
jurisdictions and we do not wish to see the Data Bank facilitating the
prosecution of these offences. Therefore, we recommend that one of the
criteria for the sharing of information with foreign jurisdictions be that the
offence alleged to have been committed in the foreign jurisdiction be
considered an indictable offence under Canadian law and that appropriate
legislation or regulations be prepared.
Second, we spoke about the process in the case of an administrative error:
Your Committee also has concerns about the ability of the Attorney General
to make an ex parte application, that is, one without notice to, and in
the absence of, the affected individual, in order to correct a clerical error
on a DNA order. Given that, in almost all cases, the facially defective order
will have already been executed to obtain DNA evidence that may later be used
against an individual, the government should consider a future provision by
which the affected individual or his or her counsel would either receive prior
notice of the application or disclosure that the application has been made and
the order modified.
Our third observation had to do with evaluating the work of forensic
Your Committee notes the last recommendation of the Auditor General of
Canada in her May 2007 report regarding management of the Forensic Laboratory
Services. She stated that the RCMP should ensure that parliamentarians receive
the information that they require in order to hold government to account for
the performance of the FLS. Your Committee emphasizes that Parliament needs
full and transparent reporting by the government in order to monitor and
evaluate the cumulative effect that successive pieces of legislation have had,
not only on the FLS, but on the operation of the DNA databank and its impact
Our fourth observation concerns the need to examine the DNA bill through a
parliamentary review. This review is already two years behind.
The DNA Identification Act came fully into force on June 30, 2000.
Section 13 of the Act required a review of the provisions and operation of the
Act within five years, to be undertaken by any committee of the Senate, of the
House of Commons or of both Houses of Parliament. To date, no such review has
been undertaken. Your Committee is concerned that two bills that originally
set up a DNA data bank and now alter the manner in which it is operated and
used will have been adopted by Parliament without a fundamental review of the
system taking place. A review of the DNA system is urgently required, so that
Parliament may determine what, if any, changes are required to improve it and
the manner in which it is used.
It would seem that this does address the concerns spoken of at length by
Senator Joyal, and those are the only considerations I wish to read into this
record at third reading.
As I said in my speech on May 9, 2007, I consider this to be an important
bill and an important step forward. The proposed legislation was passed in the
House of Commons with only one abstention. It was passed by all parties, and it
has received that same support at committee here in the Senate. This bill
advances not only the safety of Canadians, but also the science and the art, if
you will, of our judicial system, especially with regard to serious offences.
It has been my privilege, on behalf of the opposition, to speak to this bill,
and I trust that it will receive the support of all honourable senators.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, for the second reading of Bill
C-47, respecting the protection of marks related to the Olympic Games and the
Paralympic Games and protection against certain misleading business
associations and making a related amendment to the Trademarks Act.
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, I speak today with
reference to Bill C-47. I will be relatively brief, as I believe that the
government minister yesterday explained the bill in great detail.
This bill makes the will of Parliament clear on the protections and legal
remedies that the Vancouver Organizing Committee, or VANOC, should have. It
waives the onus on VANOC to prove the most difficult part of the trademark legal
test — that of proving irreparable harm. This will allow VANOC to react quickly
and effectively stop illicit use of this brand.
This bill is in line with the strengthened legal provisions given to the
Olympic Games by Australia, the United States, Greece and Italy. It is limited
to commercial uses and will not affect the non-profit community at all. It will
help to address any potential Olympic cost overruns by allowing VANOC to raise a
significant amount of money from sponsorship, partnership and licences. It is
interesting to note that approximately 40 per cent of the revenues for VANOC
will come from these sources.
This bill allows clear exemptions for freedom of speech, freedom of
expression and freedom of commentary. It exempts artistic creations, news,
criticism and parody from the restrictions. It allows legitimate use of the
Olympic or Paralympic mark words in a business context. Businesses will be able
to use geographic names to describe their market or explain their services, for
example, addresses such as 2010 Olympic Avenue or similar. Athletes with
sponsors other than official Olympic Game sponsors maintain their relationships
with these sponsors. Anyone who adopted or used an Olympic mark prior to March
2, 2007, will be able to continue using the mark for the same purpose and will
not have to change the name of the business.
Honourable senators, this is an important bill for the Olympics, for
Vancouver, for British Columbia and for Canada. I urge your support.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Di Nino, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Oliver, for the second reading of Bill C-14, to
amend the Citizenship Act (adoption).
Hon. Mac Harb: Honourable senators, Bill C-14 is a Liberal bill that
was originally introduced in the last Parliament as Bill C-76 under the previous
Liberal government. One would think, honourable senators, that we should be
celebrating today the fact that this bill has come to the Senate, but the
reality is that we should not be celebrating. Rather, we should be deploring the
fact that it took more than 10 years for a good piece of legislation to make its
way from the other place to this side, all because of unnecessary delays,
internal bickering, unnecessary referrals and an irresponsible act on behalf of
some in the other place. Needless to say, this demonstrates that when the shoe
is on the other foot, or both in reverse, we are in the opposition and were able
to move this bill very quickly, in fact, in record time, and are standing here
today in order to ensure the smooth processing of Bill C-14 so it can finally
Honourable senators, why is this bill so important? It is important because
it affects the lives of so many Canadians — about 2,000 of them on an annual
basis. The proposed legislation we are debating today seeks to minimize the
difference in eligibility for citizenship between adopted and natural-born
children of Canadian citizens. In doing so, it would make citizenship automatic
for adopted children, as it is for children born to Canadians.
Under the current system, parents of children adopted abroad must first apply
for a permanent residency for the children and ensure that they meet the
residency requirement before they can apply for the children's Canadian
citizenship. Canadian citizens who adopt children outside of Canada may face a
lengthy and costly process before their children can attain citizenship. In
contrast, children who are born abroad to Canadians are automatically citizens.
Under the existing law, adopted children are treated differently from biological
children born abroad to Canadian citizens.
With respect to the Citizenship Act, 1997, the proposed amendment is based on
prior legislative proposals and consultations: Bill C-63 was introduced in
Parliament in 1998; Bill C-16 was introduced in 1999; Bill C-18 was introduced
in 2002; and Bill C-76 was introduced in 2007.
As I mentioned, it was a Liberal government that introduced the previous
bills; however, ultimately and unfortunately, those bills did not pass. The
precursor to this legislation, Bill C-76, was the last bill deposited in
Parliament in 2005. It is our hope that Bill C-14 will go through the normal
process and become law as soon as possible.
The Liberal government worked hard on behalf of adoptive families, creating a
tax incentive for adoptive parents to offset some of the huge costs they incur
when they make the choice to adopt. With some of these foreign adoptions, the
costs can literally run quickly into tens of thousands of dollars. This tax
incentive was a big step forward for Canadian families. This latest proposed
legislation is another step in the right direction.
Many Canadians, honourable senators, are choosing to adopt children who were
born abroad, and they are choosing this route for a variety of reasons,
including creating or adding to their families or adopting to help children who
face difficult conditions in their birth country — in short, to offer them the
opportunity of a better life. In 2004, Canadians adopted 1,955 children from
abroad compared to 2,180 the year before. Intercountry adoptions to Canada have
been relatively stable for the last 10 years, running between 1,800 and 2,200
Just out of interest, the top countries from which Canadians adopt children
are: China, Haiti, Russia, South Korea, the United States, the Philippines,
Thailand, Columbia, India, Ethiopia and Belarus, to name a few.
Making the decision to pursue an international adoption is not taken lightly.
International adoptions are the most difficult adoptions to arrange, for a
number of reasons: first, the ever-changing legislation, regulations and
policies in the child's country of origin; second, sensitive political issues
that countries face when their children are adopted by foreigners; third,
unscrupulous practices of some private adoption intermediaries in other
countries; fourth, the requirement of meeting Canada's immigration and
citizenship legislation, provincial regulations and the Hague Convention on
Intercountry Adoptions; and, finally, technical difficulties in reaching
officials in foreign jurisdictions, as well as differences in language, culture
and interpretation of procedures.
In international legal matters, there are no guarantees. One might begin the
process to adopt a child, only to have the process or costs change or the
program end without notice. Also, reasonable time must be allowed for each
agency and department to complete its procedures and to forward documents. Most
international adoptions take an average of one to two years to complete — some
take much longer — and cost an average of $18,000.
Even when these obstacles and expenses have been overcome, families must face
the bureaucracy of the immigration process. People hoping to adopt
internationally must also arrange for sponsorship for a child through a Canadian
This piece of legislation is very important not only to adopted children and
adoptive families but also to our country. Given the declining birth rate, we
must rely increasingly on immigration if we want to have enough people in this
country to ensure our future.
Obviously, honourable senators, Canada must work to reduce any existing
obstacles adoptive parents may be facing in their attempts to grow their
families. While the process of adopting is a matter of provincial jurisdiction,
once an adoption is finalized at the provincial level, Bill C-14, if passed,
will ensure that Canadian citizenship is automatically granted to the adopted
child, as it is for children born to Canadians.
Honourable senators, Bill C-14 is good proposed legislation, and is long
overdue in our country. The bill respects provincial jurisdictions and fulfils
federal responsibilities. Its objectives are meant to help Canadian families
welcome their newly adopted children.
This bill, honourable senators, amends the Citizenship Act, to allow a grant
of citizenship to a child adopted overseas by a Canadian. In other words, Bill
C-14 treats adopted children the same way biological children are treated. As I
mentioned earlier, the bill eliminates the need for an adopted child to first
become a permanent resident of Canada and then apply for full citizenship later.
This proposal has been supported by the courts. The Federal Court has
indicated that distinctions in the law based on adoptive parentage violate the
equality rights provisions in section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms. Also, under the existing law, children adopted by Canadian parents who
are living abroad and who wish to continue doing so cannot become permanent
residents and therefore cannot become Canadian citizens.
In 2001, the Liberal government established a special interim measure to deal
with this problem under the Citizenship Act, but it was a temporary solution,
one that will finally be resolved by the passing and coming into force of Bill
Under Bill C-14, the adoption must meet certain criteria, four in particular.
First, the adoption must be in the best interests of the child as defined by the
Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of
Intercountry Adoption. It was important to ensure that provisions of the Hague
convention were upheld, and the proposed legislation does that.
Second, a genuine relationship must be created between the parent and the
child, which means the building of the family and the building of a parent and
Third, the adoption must have been done in accordance with the laws of the
jurisdictions where the adoption took place and the laws of the country of
residence of the child. The law of the province in which the adoption has taken
place as well as the laws of the country of residence where the adoptive child
was born and lived must be upheld.
Fourth, the adoption must not have been entered into for the purposes of
acquiring status or privilege in relation to citizenship or immigration. In
other words, the adoption cannot be one of convenience.
This bill, honourable senators, also includes specific and important
recognition of Quebec's particular adoption process. As we have heard already,
that it is a crucial part of this legislation.
Our colleagues in the other place have done a very good job, under the
circumstances, of working together to study and improve this proposed
legislation. They examined issues relating to the appeal process and the issue
of adult adoption if the adoptive parent acted as the person's parent before he
or she was 18.
I commend my colleagues in the other place, specifically the members of the
standing committee, for their hard work to ensure that this proposed legislation
was well-studied, passed and sent to us for our consideration without undue
Finally, this bill is about fairness, equity, common sense and compassion.
Once the adoption process has been completed, these are Canadian parents with
Canadian children who will be raised in Canada, children who should have the
same rights and privileges as any other Canadian child.
I would encourage honourable senators to support this bill.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Cochrane, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Segal, for the second reading of Bill C-22, to amend
the Criminal Code (age of protection) and to make consequential amendments to
the Criminal Records Act.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I should like to join today in
the debate at second reading of Bill C-22, a bill that I consider to be very
serious. This bill affects the status of teenagers in relation to the Criminal
Code, since it raises the age of consent from 14 to 16 years. For us, as a
chamber of sober second thought, it is important to stop for a moment and try to
understand the impact this bill, if passed, could have on Canadian society as we
I do not intend to delve into an in-depth historical background of the age of
consent. However, many of us who have studied Canadian history will know that at
one time, one could get married at 12 years of age. Why? At that time, the
so-called colonial government wanted to increase the population. At that time,
people married very early, as soon as they were capable of becoming pregnant.
The age of consent for marriage was adjusted to the socio-economic conditions of
Today, we are asked to consider increasing the age of consent, a measure that
will certainly have an impact on the kind of society in which we live.
The first element to understand is the sexual activity of teenagers. Who are
the teenagers that get involved in sexual activity? I wish to bring to
honourable senators' attention the most recent report of Statistics Canada, from
2005, which is close in time in terms of relevance. That report concluded that 5
per cent of teenagers aged 12 to 13 years have had sexual relations; 13 per cent
of teenagers aged 14 to 15 have had sexual relations; and 41 per cent of
teenagers aged 16 to 17 have had sexual relations with a partner. Among the
teenagers aged 14 to 15 who are sexually active, 37 per cent had their first
sexual contact between the ages of 12 and 13; 36 per cent at the age of 14 and
27 per cent at the age of 15.
The statistic we must keep in mind is that 41 per cent of Canadian teenagers
aged 16 to 17 have had sexual contact with a partner.
It is important that we are called to legislate on a matter that will affect
a large number of teenagers in Canada, 41 per cent of them. I took those
statistics from the testimony of Ms. Lynn Barr-Telford of the Canadian Centre
for Justice Statistics, Statistics Canada, provided in her testimony Thursday,
March 29, 2007, when she appeared in the other chamber. That is the first point
I wanted to bring to the attention of honourable senators.
The second point I want to bring to honourable senators' attention is in
relation to the teenagers that are the most vulnerable, those who find
themselves caught in the legal system of Canada. That, honourable senators,
needs to be added to the statistics that Senator Dyck mentioned last night. It
was quite late, around 10:00. I was listening carefully to Senator Dyck when she
described the social condition of Aboriginal youth in relation to education.
Today, let us focus on Aboriginal youth conditions in relation to the penal
system. I say that, honourable senators, with great concern. Some senators will
remember when this chamber was called upon by the former government to review
the Youth Criminal Justice Act in 2002. I believe Senator Milne was chairman of
the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for the review
of the act. I remember that Senator Grafstein was a member of the committee.
We introduced an amendment to that bill, Bill C-7. We signalled to this
chamber that that bill was in conflict, in our humble opinion, with the Charter.
Following that, the Court of Appeal of Quebec and the Court of Appeal of British
Columbia confirmed there was a problem with the Charter. Since then, the problem
has been remedied.
All amendments that we introduced at that time in the chamber were defeated,
save for one. Let me remind honourable senators which amendment was carried by
this chamber, and by one vote. I thought the amendment would have been defeated,
like the others, but it carried. That amendment, honourable senators, was
related to the sentencing conditions of Aboriginal youth. Section 38(2)(d)
of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, sentencing principles, reads — and I quote:
(d) all available sanctions other than custody that are reasonable in the
circumstances should be considered for all young persons, with particular
attention to the circumstances of aboriginal young persons . . .
This, honourable senators, speaks to our concern about the condition of
Aboriginal youth facing the penal system. If we are to legislate and create
additional circumstances that teenagers will find themselves in when facing the
penal court, we will have to ask ourselves this question: What will be the
impact for Aboriginal youth?
Let me remind honourable senators of the telling figures in relation to
Aboriginal youth. I took these figures from a 2004 report of Statistics Canada,
"The Daily," Statistics Canada, Wednesday, October 13. Let me quote the
paragraph where this issue is addressed in the report:
Aboriginal youth accounted for one in five admissions to correctional
services. At the same time, Aboriginal youth represented approximately 5 per
cent of the total youth population. There were approximately 6,200 admissions
of Aboriginal youth to some type of correctional service. One-quarter of all
admissions to sentenced custody, 22 per cent of all admissions to remand and
15 per cent of all admissions to probation were of Aboriginal youth.
In simple terms, Aboriginal youth constitute 5 per cent of the total youth
population and 25 per cent of all the youth caught in correctional services.
The report continues:
Aboriginal youth had higher levels of representation in sentenced custody
compared to their representation in the Canadian youth population in almost
all provinces and territories. For example, in British Columbia, six times as
many Aboriginal youth were admitted to sentenced custody than their
representation in the youth population.
Honourable senators, that provides a quick outline of the problem in relation
to Aboriginal youth. While both Aboriginal male and female youth are highly
represented in correctional services, this is particularly true for Aboriginal
female youth. For example, in 2004-05, female Aboriginal youth represented 35
per cent of all female youth admissions to secure custody and 29 per cent of all
female admission to open custody. In other words, there is a double distortion.
There is first a distortion for the group, and then an additional distortion for
the female Aboriginal youth. It is a serious concern, honourable senators.
It might not look at first sight as something that is obvious in Bill C-22,
but I want to draw your attention to it. I have reviewed the witnesses in the
other place. There were 37 witnesses that appeared at the committee stage in the
other place, and none of those witnesses discussed the issue of Aboriginal youth
in relation to sexual crime or sexual activities. The report of Statistics
Canada that I want to bring to your attention contains important figures also. I
have the French version, but I will translate it for you, honourable senators.
It says that we observed a general reduction of one quarter of the rate of
incarceration between 1990 and 2005 in relation to sexual offences. In other
words, for the last 15 years, there has not been an increase in the number of
sexual offences. There has been a decrease of 25 per cent.
Therefore, what is the basis for this bill? Has the issue of sexual offences
in Canada reached such a level of "crisis" that this bill is justified by this
Honourable senators, from the testimony of Statistics Canada, that is not
what comes from the analysis they provided. The testimony of Statistics Canada
was that, on the basis of present statistics, they cannot predict the direct
impact of the adoption of this bill on the number and nature of sexual offences
that will be brought to the attention of police.
In other words, there is a lack of information, from as much of the testimony
in the other place as I could read quickly because I know the government wants
to move with this bill, and I have no objection to that. However, there are
elements in this bill that we need to look into when this bill is sent to the
Honourable senators, comments were made by other honourable senators who have
taken part in the debate, and I refer to Senator Callbeck, who signalled a
problem with the age of consent in relation to marriage. The age of consent in
provinces for marriage is 16 years old, but in the territories it is 15. If we
make a crime of having a sexual relationship with someone older by five years,
and it is illegal in a province but legal in the territories, we need to address
this provision because it is a real problem. The definition of "marriage "and
the definition of "age for marriage" is a provincial matter, of course. When
we dealt with the Civil Marriage Act, we knew what we were able to legislate and
what the prerogative of the provinces was. We need to review that situation to
make sure there is no discrepancy.
Let us take some statistics from the Yukon. In the Yukon, Aboriginal adults
make up 74 per cent of the total prisoner population. In other words, to bring
the Aboriginal reality there, we will need to streamline, in one way or the
other, the age of consent for marriage in the territories versus the provinces
because in the territories they are allowed to marry when they attain the age of
15. Professor Daphne Gilbert from the University of Ottawa raised that technical
issue when she appeared in the other place, and there is no question that the
committee will want to review this issue and see how that can be addressed.
Honourable senators, finally, there is the overall context of this bill.
There is no question that when we bring a change that seems to be innocuous or
well intentioned, because everyone who speaks in support of this bill wants to
protect teenagers, we must look carefully at how that bill would impact on the
sexual education and capacity of teenagers to seek advice and support, and how
we address the issue of sexuality among teenagers.
Honourable senators, I refer you to another report published in 2003 by
Statistics Canada entitled, Pregnancy outcomes. I want to quote the main
The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt, but the honourable
senator's time has expired.
Senator Cools: Ask for more time.
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Joyal: Thank you, honourable senators.
This important study, as you see, is long. It was published in 2003 by
Statistics Canada. It concludes the following:
The teenage pregnancy rate declined from 1994 to 1997, reflecting lower
teenage birth and fetal loss rates. Through this period the abortion rate
remained stable, with the result that slightly more than half of all teenage
pregnancies ended in abortion by 1997.
That is serious, honourable senators, because abortion is now a method of
contraception, a way to prevent pregnancy. Teenagers do not use the pill or
other ways to protect themselves. They say, "If we become pregnant, we will
have an abortion." It is stunning to see those statistics. Half of teenagers
who become pregnant resort to abortion. That is the conclusion of this important
In other words, there is a great need for sexual education. When we adopt a
bill that will have an impact on the sexual status of teenagers in Canada,
changing something that seems simple in principle from 14 to 16, we must be
careful of what we create in terms of bringing the teenagers to their mature
responsibility of deciding upon their lives and how they can be assisted by the
education system to understand the implication of sexual activities. If we
criminalize sexual activities at the moment they are teenagers, when they should
be open and seeking advice, it asks of us, certainly, the responsibility to seek
expertise. I hope the committee will be in a position to hear from experts,
representatives of youth, social workers, those responsible for education and
the Aboriginal people's community how this problem is addressed in their
community, so that when we legislate, we will, as much as possible, have the
general picture of the implications of such an important bill.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I wanted to ask our
distinguished colleague some questions, but he is out of time, so I will speak
briefly and get out of the way.
It strikes me that philosophically, while I do not in any way differ with the
references to Statistics Canada reports about sexual activity in young people,
and I defer to all the lawyers in the room — God knows those of us who are not
lawyers are probably outnumbered — but I do not view the Criminal Code as a sex
education program. I do not view the Criminal Code as a social instrument for
the achievement of certain levels of behaviour. I certainly do not agree with
the notion that the Criminal Code should apply differently to different groups
of Canadians as defined either by geography or by ethnicity.
The Criminal Code, in a society of voluntary compliance, is about
establishing standards. We do not have enough police officers, thank goodness,
to enforce the Criminal Code broadly. It is, by and large, the norms established
by the Criminal Code that constitute the basis upon which the vast majority of
our society chooses to live.
I very much respect what my distinguished and much more experienced colleague
has raised with respect to some of the social implications upon which senators
would justifiably want to reflect.
To be fair to the senator, he was not suggesting that, when the government
acts in a prophylactic fashion to protect young people through legislative
change, this somehow constitutes social insensitivity, but he was suggesting
that might end up being an unwitting result and would, in terms of what Criminal
Code amendments achieve, overreach with respect to the expectation.
In the broad range of representations I receive from hundreds of parents,
teachers and others across the country, there is a strong desire to have this
proposed legislation proceed and to have the extra protection put into place.
I am not one of those who believe that we should necessarily be consulting
Statistics Canada with respect to issues of what I would call humanistic and
moral balance, which we believe is broadly protective for our society as a
whole. That is what I believe to be the intent of this bill, which is why I
support it and why I hope it can be referred to committee as quickly as
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I am curious about
Senator Segal's analysis. Does he believe that if the application of the
Criminal Code at an earlier age increased recidivism, that would be a good
outcome of this proposed legislation?
Senator Segal: Of course not, but I do not believe it is the role of
the Criminal Code to be doing what parents should be doing, to be doing what
peer pressure should be doing, to be doing what social understanding of what
constitutes social norms and rules should be doing. That is not the precise job
of the Criminal Code. The Criminal Code, as my distinguished colleague will know
better than I, lays out those rules on which Her Majesty has the right to
intervene with respect to protecting the public from acts that are deemed to be
outside the law. I do not believe that we should be loading upon the Criminal
Code the job of child rearing or creating a sense of what is appropriate and
fair and what respects other people's rights, specifically when they are
younger. The job of the Criminal Code is to lay out the rules under which the
Crown will intervene. That is the purpose of this act. If there are social
issues that must be addressed, they should be addressed in other places and
other contexts. They should not be avoided, but to load that on to the code is,
in my judgment, simply unfair and unmanageable.
Senator Grafstein: The purposes of the criminal law are, as the
senator says, to establish principles or standards. However, the purpose of the
criminal law is also not to be made an ass. When sociological facts overwhelm
the argument about encapsulating conduct within the criminal law, then the
criminal law becomes an ass. Obviously, that is not desirable, because we are
here to uphold standards that are feasible.
If, in fact, the application of this law would increase recidivism, increase
criminal conduct, that would be contrary to the purposes of the Criminal Code
and the criminal law.
Senator Segal: I agree with the honourable senator that any law that
brings the administration of justice into disrepute is not to be recommended. I
would also make the case that if one looks across the broad spectrum of social
workers who are associated with the courts through intervention agencies that
are engaged in supporting the activity of the courts, there is by and large no
lack of ability, to the extent they have the capacity, to be sensitive and
understanding of circumstances. Crown attorneys are charged with the duty not
only of looking at the law, but also of looking at the actual context of the
alleged event and determining whether it is in the public interest to proceed
with the prosecution.
In that context, comments made by the honourable senator and the questions
raised by Senator Grafstein will all be part of the record that will be looked
at over time with respect to how Crown attorneys will evaluate any event with
respect to what criminal intent may or may not have been, which is one of the
critical issues relating to the Criminal Code and how it is administered.
I agree with the general principle that there should not be any law passed
that will, by definition, bring the administration of justice into disrepute. I
do not believe that we cannot, as a society, act to protect young people without
being continually constrained by notions of how this might be seen in
administrative and/or statistical analysis sometime in the future. On that
basis, we could never act. I think the public of Canada would like to see young
people protected in the precise way this legislation proposes.
Senator Grafstein: I assume, therefore, that the senator who is
proposing this bill would have no objection to have sociological information at
committee to determine whether the changing standard or principle proposed by
this bill would have the detrimental effect that I pointed out.
Senator Segal: I have no intention whatsoever of expressing a view as
to how the steering committee of that committee particularly will determine what
is appropriate, but I trust all my fellow senators to act in the public interest
with respect to the scope of inquiry and understanding necessary for them to do
their job at that committee, as I expect they will do remarkably well.
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, I offer another perspective. In
our schools, a growing number of children are becoming sexually active as early
as age fourteen and a half. As we all know, some fourteen-and-a-half-year-old
girls look like they are 16 years old. If these young girls have sexual
relations with someone older than they are, let us say five years older, one of
their girlfriends, who might be disappointed because she wanted to go out with
that particular boy, could disclose this information, namely, the fact that
so-and-so is having sexual relations with so-and-so.
This could result in the arrest of the two young people. I find this
completely unacceptable. Under the current legislation, if the young girl is
married or pregnant, this section does not apply. However, if she has sexual
relations with someone older than she is, it could be enforced.
I think we are running the risk of criminalizing our youth more and more,
instead of providing them with the sex education they need.
Senator Segal: I attended a denominational school so I would not
really know what you are talking about. I do not believe that the Criminal Code
of Canada, or even the changes proposed by the government, can serve to redefine
relationships between consenting youths.
The amendments to the Criminal Code proposed by the bill will provide the
guidelines to be followed by officers of the Crown and police officers when
complaints are made.
In my opinion, the legislation will be defined in a completely responsible
manner and will be flexible. That is generally what they do at present, except
that the government wants to raise the age of consent, which is a very positive
The reason why we are divided on this subject in this chamber perhaps has to
do with the fact that we have different social views with regard to the laws and
the standards that must be in place.
Senator Pépin: When you speak of complaints, I feel like I am going
back to the early 1960s. I always attended a catholic school, but I think that
young people who go to catholic schools spend their weekends at home.
In the 1960s, when abortions were illegal, a woman could be arrested for
having an abortion if she were reported to the police. My fear is that, with
your system, the same thing could happen to young people.
Senator Joyal: I would like to add to the honourable senator's
comment. The senator is right. The law is the law for everyone, especially in
the Criminal Code more than any other code. However, there are some adjustments
on the sentencing provisions of the code in relation to the Aboriginal people
generally. There is a specific section in the sentencing provisions of the code
that call upon the justice, once he has pronounced on the guilt or innocence of
the accused and he has come to the following step which is the sentencing.
At the sentencing level, the code specifically calls upon the justice to take
into consideration the fact that the accused belongs to the Aboriginal community
and that in the Aboriginal community there are sometimes ways to address the
sentences that are more effective than to stick Aboriginal people in prison
where they will be at the "university of crime."
The statistics I have provided are a fact of life. We cannot ignore them when
we are asked, as legislators, to add to the number of crimes, especially in the
context of a group of Canadians who are already overrepresented and already lack
the kind of social assistance needed to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into
the Canadian mainstream.
I want to signal that it is important when we add to the list of crimes in
the Criminal Code from a situation where the sexual rapport was allowed, was
totally legal and totally legitimate and was creating an additional burden on
that segment of teenagers; we must fully understand why we are doing it. That is
why I tried to find out from the witnesses in the other place where the proposed
legislation comes from. We are all for the good of society. We are all for the
protection of society. The protection of society is a balance between freedom
and prohibition. That is where we live in a free and democratic society.
The role of the legislature is to balance the harm we wish to repress in
relation to sexuality versus the desire to legislate morality. In the decision
of the Supreme Court in 1992 in the case of Butler, the Supreme Court
pronounced on the definition of "obscenity." Honourable senators might
remember that famous case, where the court established a clear distinction
between legislating morality, what is right or wrong according to some
principles, and legislating or preventing harm done to an individual.
That is where the line must be traced in the sand. However, it is not easy
and that is why in my remarks today I tried to signal to the other senators
that, for the sake of an objective that seems to be desirable, we will be
creating a situation we cannot ignore and say the other one will take care of
it. When we are changing the situation and adding to the penal responsibility of
citizens, especially citizens who are more vulnerable, teenagers who cannot form
a definite judgment and are not mature under the law, then we have an additional
responsibility to know exactly what we are imposing on them and why we are
imposing it on them.
Honourable senators, that is essentially what I wanted to say.
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, in listening to
this debate today, it strikes me that there are many very profound social issues
to consider here, not just issues of the law. I am not sure what committee this
is going to, whether it will go to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs or to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology. As a physician who practised for 27 years and dealt with
the most intimate kind of situations in which young people find themselves
needing advice, medical help and counselling, these are profound issues that go
beyond the law and society in general. Whichever committee gets this bill, I
hope the witnesses called will most certainly include people who understand the
health, the social practices, the needs, the problems, and so on, of our youth,
as well as the changing times.
This is a very profound issue, as honourable senators have mentioned, and it
is one that will need a great deal of study before final passage. If it does not
go to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, I
hope there will indeed be health care professionals, social workers and many
people who can address the issues alluded to here today.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, to which committee is the
government planning to send this bill?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): This bill
would be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Senator Cools: I must admit I have not looked too closely at the bill.
However, after what Senator Joyal and Senator Segal and Senator Trenholme
Counsell have said, I would like to take the adjournment and take a look at it.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Oliver, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Di Nino, for the adoption of the thirteenth report of
the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill S-4,
to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate tenure), with amendments, a
recommendation and observations), presented in the Senate on June 12, 2007.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, I would like to speak to the
report of the committee on Bill S-4.
I am pleased to participate in the debate today on the thirteenth report of
the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, regarding
Bill S-4, to amend the Constitution Act regarding Senate tenure.
I want to begin by thanking all those honourable senators who took part in
the committee's study of this bill. The interventions in committee and the
probing questions there were invaluable as the committee explored the possible
ramifications of this bill and its lasting effect on our parliamentary system.
When I spoke to this bill at second reading, I recall one of my main concerns
with Bill S-4 was the length of the term initially chosen by this government. A
second, but no less important, concern was that under Bill S-4, as originally
proposed, a senator's term may be renewable. Both of these concerns led me to
this question: Does Bill S-4 exceed the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal
Parliament in that it affects both the fundamental features and the essential
characteristics of the Senate?
While your committee heard some evidence that would serve to relieve my fears
regarding the length of term, most of the evidence suggested that my
apprehension was justified and that the term chosen by this government was
simply too short.
Keep in mind, honourable senators, that the preamble to Bill S-4 clearly
states that the Parliament of Canada wishes to maintain the essential
characteristics of the Senate within Canada's parliamentary democracy as a
chamber of independent sober second thought. With that in mind, I wanted to
determine through the committee hearings if Bill S-4, as originally written,
would alter the balance between the desires of the present government to
increase the Senate's so-called democratic legitimacy while keeping in place the
The Hon. the Speaker: I wish to interrupt the Honourable Senator Milne
for greater clarity in my mind. The item that was called was No. 2, and is that
consideration of the report?
Senator Milne: It is No. 1 under Reports of Committees.
The Hon. the Speaker: I wanted to be clear. Thank you, honourable
senators. I apologize for the interruption.
Senator Milne: With that in mind, I wanted to determine through the
committee hearings if Bill S-4, as originally written, would alter the balance
between the desire of the present government to increase the Senate's democratic
legitimacy while keeping in place the essential independence of senators.
When Professor Andrew Heard appeared before your committee, he noted that
since 1965, only 17 per cent of senators with less than four years of service
have ever held a position of leadership in the Senate. He defined a "position
of leadership" as an office that has some kind of stipendiary remuneration
attached to it: in other words, pay.
Professor Heard further noted that he believes history shows that the
Senate's seniority system is not only a case of waiting your time, but also
evidence of the need to acquire institutional experience and knowledge before
senators can be effective in these leadership positions. He concluded that the
eight-year term is too short for senators to gain enough experience and to be
fully integrated into the work of the Senate.
Alan Cairns, Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia, noted
during his testimony that senators need much experience before they are fully
aware of, and understand, how the Senate works.
He also argued that a senator's term should be long enough that a prime
minister will have considerable difficulty if the prime minister tries to pack
the Senate overwhelmingly with the prime minister's own supporters. Professor
Cairns concluded, therefore, that eight years seems too short.
Another potential concern that was brought to the attention of your committee
during in its review of Bill S-4 was the notion that an eight-year senator
coming to the end of a term would be more likely to be less independent,
diminishing the Senate as a deliberative body capable of sober second thought.
Professor Errol Mendes from the University of Ottawa noted that an eight-year
senator could have lots of time left in their career and, therefore, their
quality of independent sober second thought may be affected by seeking either a
renewal of the eight-year term or a senior public office appointment after the
end of that term.
Professor Mendes concluded that an eight-year term is too short and could be
constitutionally suspect. He feared that if all senators have an eight-year
term, a future prime minister could appoint the entire Senate. He concluded that
serious consideration should be given to a much longer term, in the region of 12
years or longer.
What is the right number, or, as my colleague Senator Fraser pointed out
during your committee's hearings, where does the crossover point come? How and
what criteria do we use to determine at what point those fundamental and
necessary characteristics of the Senate are affected?
In the Upper House Reference case of 1979, the Supreme Court
essentially concluded that if a government were to provide it with a proposed
change in tenure, it could determine at that time whether it would be deemed
As Henry S. Brown of Gowling Lafleur Henderson so eloquently stated in his
testimony before your committee:
. . . you are permitted to amend, but you may not go to the point of
impairing sober second thought. In other words, some affecting of sober second
thought is permitted, but impairment is not.
The second main concern I raised during the second reading of Bill S-4 was
the notion of a senator's term being renewable. I am not alone in having this
concern, and that is reflected in the observations that are appended to your
committee's report on the bill.
In fact, the initial quotation from George Brown, Father of Confederation, on
February 8, 1865, echoes my concern exactly 142 years later:
Suppose you appoint them for nine years, what will be the effect? For the
last three or four years of their term, they would be anticipating its expiry
and anxiously looking to the administration of the day for reappointment; and
the consequence would be that a third of the members would be under the
influence of the executive.
The possibility that the prospect of having a senator's term renewed would
affect their independence was supported by numerous witnesses before your
committee, all echoing the sentiment of Mr. Brown.
In light of this evidence, I do not think there is any question that the
possibility of a senator's term being renewed would cross the line from
affecting sober second thought to impairing it, and, as such, would be deemed
unconstitutional if the question were referred to the Supreme Court. It was for
this reason, honourable senators, that your committee amended the bill so that a
senator would be appointed for a longer non-renewable term.
Why did your committee then recommend referral of this bill to the Supreme
Court of Canada in its amended form? In my mind, honourable senators — and the
observations of your committee reflect this view — I have concluded that there
are still significant constitutional concerns as to whether this bill can
properly be passed by Parliament alone.
In addition, I feel that by referring the proposal of a 15-year non-renewable
term to the Supreme Court, the government of the day can perhaps prevent a
period of constitutional confusion down the road.
What if the Supreme Court determines that a 15-year term will impair the
functioning of the Senate in providing what Sir John A. Macdonald described as a
sober second thought in legislation? Is it not better to know now before the
change takes place rather than many years later when the functioning of the
institution has already been compromised?
What if the Supreme Court determines that the Parliament of Canada is not
empowered to present these amendments to the Constitution without agreement from
the provinces? Is it not better to know now, before a change possibly affecting
our constitutional legitimacy takes place, rather than have this government
embarrassed at a future date when it is told it has violated the principal
document in Canadian law, the Constitution?
In closing, honourable senators, it is not a question of being opposed to
Senate reform because I support term limits. It is a question of making
alterations to the Senate in a manner respectful of the constitutional
guidelines that are currently in place to entrench the independence of senators.
I was not convinced that Bill S-4 accomplished this goal in its original
form, and I still question whether the Parliament of Canada is allowed to act
unilaterally with this proposal even in its current form.
However, instead of defeating the bill on these grounds, I feel that
Canadians and their government deserve an answer to the question of whether both
the content and the way in which Bill S-4 has been proposed is in violation of
I ask honourable senators to continue to reflect on this issue as they arrive
at their own conclusions on this serious matter. I urge the adoption of this
Hon. Tommy Banks: Speaking to the same report, I want to tell
honourable senators briefly what the view of the Alberta Liberal caucus is in
respect of it and this bill.
The Alberta Liberal caucus is in favour of parliamentary reform, including
reform of the Senate, and has said so. However, in the process of considering
aspects of this bill, and the association that this bill has with Bill C-43, an
umbilical connection, the committee, while in favour of the principle of Senate
reform and parliamentary reform, took the trouble to write to the Premier of
Alberta and the Minister of International, Intergovernmental and Aboriginal
Relations of the Province of Alberta, both of whom replied to me to the effect
that our premier, the Honourable Ed Stelmach, and the Government of Alberta are
in favour of Bill S-4 as it was first presented to us unequivocally. That is the
position of the Government of Alberta.
It is also the case that the Senate Liberal caucus has taken into account the
fact that the Provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New
Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador and the Territory of Nunavut have
expressed adamant opposition to Bill S-4, and therefore we concur with the view
of the report that it would be intemperate, at least, to proceed with the
passage of a bill that would certainly be tested in court, according to the
information that we have from the heads of those respective governments, of the
other orders of government, as opposed to asking for a reference from the court
that would settle the constitutional questions, to which Senator Milne has
referred, once and for all. If the court was to determine that it is within the
purview of Parliament to pass a bill such as Bill S-4, that would settle that
issue and remove all impediments to doing so.
It is simply prudent, we think, to ask the government — because we cannot —
to ask for a reference from the Supreme Court in order that we can stop arguing
about the constitutionality of this bill and find out what the Supreme Court
says without submitting the bill having been passed to a test in the court,
which would be infinitely more complicated, infinitely more expensive and
infinitely more trouble. We can answer the question quicker by asking for a
reference to the court. That is the view of the Alberta Liberal caucus.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Your Honour, let the record show that it was a
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Let the
record show that His Honour did not hear the "on division" from this end.
The Hon. the Speaker: The motion is carried, on division.
Senator Cools: After the fact. I noticed that it was unanimous.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-208,
to require the Minister of the Environment to establish, in co-operation with
the provinces, an agency with the power to identify and protect Canada's
watersheds that will constitute sources of drinking water in the future.—(Honourable
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I rise to ask something which
is a little unusual, but in light of the fact that everyone would agree, as a
matter of course, that the object of Senator Grafstein's bill is to provide
clean drinking water and it is a matter that has been referred to by Senator St.
Germain's report as well.
Senator Nolin has raised, however, a very interesting set of points in
reference to an act of Parliament that already exists, and which addresses, in
some senses, the same question. I will ask honourable senators that without
referring the bill for study to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the
Environment and Natural Resources — and I am raising the name of that committee
of which I am the chair because it has considerable experience in these matters
— on the understanding that that committee would examine the question of both of
the extant act of Parliament and the bill, and examine in respect of the content
of the two documents, and the extent to which they either complement each other,
overlap or are redundant, then that committee would be able to report to
honourable senators its view before we deal with the substance of the bill.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Therefore, honourable senators, I move:
That Bill S-208 be not now read the second time but that the subject-matter
thereof be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the
Environment and Natural Resources; and
That the Order to resume debate on the motion for the second reading of the
bill remain on the Order Paper and Notice Paper.
If an explanation of that is in order, honourable senators, and I hope that
it would be, with the indulgence of the house, I would ask Senator Grafstein,
whose bill it is, to speak to it.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, on the motion in amendment.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I will not try your
patience. The hour is late. I rise to support Senator Banks' motion and to
respond briefly to Senator Nolin's speech with respect to the substance of Bill
Senator Nolin, as Senator Banks pointed out, raised two problems from his
perspective with respect to my bill. The first was the constitutional ambit and
jurisdictional issue, and the possible bureaucratic overlap with the Canada
In the circumstances, Senator Nolin and I have agreed, subject to the
concurrence of our leadership and support on both sides, to refer the subject
matter of my bill, Bill S-208, to committee as set out in Senator Banks' motion.
The committee will then have before it not only my proposed Bill S-208, but also
the Canada Water Act to determine if there is an overlap between the two.
Let me address the history and the purpose of the Canada Water Act. The
intent of my private member's bill and the Canada Water Act are quite different.
The intent of Bill S-208 is to map watersheds and water tables, the sources of
Canada's drinking water. The primary purpose of the Canada Water Act is to deal
with water pollution and was not enacted to specifically address the question of
watersheds, water tables or the sources of Canada's drinking water.
Part II of the Canada Water Act, at the outset, was focused on large polluted
water bodies like the Halifax harbour, not on mapping or on protection of source
drinking water as set out in Bill S-208.
I say regrettably that the Canada Water Act has fallen into disregard and
Part II of the Canada Water Act has never been appropriately implemented,
even though the legislation has been in force for decades. Reports, as mandated
by the legislation to report to Parliament, have not been made since the year
2000. Simply speaking, the federal government does not have a national water
strategy. As a leading expert and esteemed former high civil servant advised me
just today — and I quote: "What the government has called a national water
strategy is neither national nor strategic — rather, a set of seemingly random
and discrete spending initiatives."
I urge senators to refer the subject matter of Bill S-208 to the committee.
As Senator Banks has pointed out, he has agreed to give both the bill and the
legislation a thorough review. What will emerge from that committee, I hope,
will be a road map to finally divine and map out Canada's shrinking national
treasure — its watersheds and sources of drinking water — to protect present and
I urge the subject matter of this bill be referred to Standing Senate
Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
On motion of Senator Banks, subject matter of bill referred to the Standing
Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.
Resuming debate on the Honourable Senator Goldstein, seconded by the
Honourable Senator Chaput, for the second reading of Bill C-280, to amend the
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111
and 171).—(Honourable Senator Comeau)
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak in
favour of Bill C-280, a bill sponsored by the Honourable Senator Goldstein.
Honourable senators, many refugees come to our shores. Most are legitimate,
some are not. All, however, have the right to two things: First, they have a
right to a speedy decision; second, they have a right to an appeal of that
decision, if the decision is not in the refugee's favour, because this decision
is made by only one person and mistakes can be made.
Parliamentarians agreed with that concept when they passed the Immigration
and Refugee Protection Act. However, both under the former government and this
one, the appeal division has never been brought into force.
Honourable senators, both governments have used the excuse of backlogs for
the reason not to bring the appeal division into force. This is unfair. Would we
use the excuse that those convicted of an offence not be allowed to appeal
because our courts are too busy? Of course, we would not. We know that mistakes
are made in our justice system, and the right to appeal is essential to our
belief in the rule of law. So, too, should be the right of a refugee to appeal a
ruling of only one adjudicator.
Honourable senators, it is very clear that there is a refugee backlog in
Canada, but that is hardly the fault of the refugee. Indeed, it results in
problems both for the refugee and for our country as a whole. The problem for
the refugee means that the longer they are separated from their country, the
more difficult it will be for them to adjust if they are, in fact, forced to
It also raises serious questions and concerns with respect to the children
that may be born in Canada during this delayed period. These children have a
claim to Canadian citizenship. Quite frankly, if one reads the Convention of the
Rights of the Child carefully, decisions affecting children must be made in the
best interests of the child.
Perhaps I am just a very proud Canadian, but I happen to believe that the
best interests of most children would be for them to remain in Canada. However,
that comes in direct conflict with their right to be raised by their natural
parents. Therefore, it is imperative, in my view, that refugee claims be heard
quickly, to be followed equally quickly by an appeal, if such an appeal is
The reason this does not happen is insufficient resources and manpower to
make it happen, but it is a false economy. If they remain in Canada — and many
of them should, in my view — it is a very costly matter. They must be supported,
although these costs are usually borne by the provinces — education, welfare and
health care costs. The federal government does not do the right thing; we do not
eliminate the backlogs and we pass the costs on to the provinces — another
example, I would suggest, of off-loading.
Honourable senators, we are speaking about human beings — men, women and
children. Yes, there are probably some bad apples. There can be no excuse for
not weeding those bad apples out, but we should do it quickly. Even a bad apple
is entitled to an appeal.
So, too, should the genuine refugees be dealt with quickly. Many have had
horrendous lives. If they are going to be accepted as genuine refugees, their
settlement will be more positive if they can do it quickly. They will then be on
their way to being successful Canadians.
Honourable senators, I urge you to support this bill.
On motion of Senator Tkachuk, for Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Andreychuk,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Stratton:
That, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed
response from the Government, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs being
identified as the Minister responsible for responding to the twelfth report of
the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, entitled: Canada and the
United Nations Human Rights Council: At the Crossroads.—(Honourable
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Honourable senators, I am prepared to have a
debate with Senator Andreychuk, who presented this report. For reasons that
escape me, it seems that we are never in this chamber at the same time, or this
item on the Order Paper is called very late in the day. I do not see the point
in debating it when everyone would rather go home to bed.
However, I have a solution. Would Senator Fraser, the Deputy Chair of the
Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, agree to answer my questions on
behalf of her colleague, the chair of the committee, Senator Andreychuk? I would
not want to be accused of holding up adoption of this motion. We hastily adopted
the text of the report; it was agreed that I would be given the opportunity to
ask my questions during study of the request for a government response to the
Would Senator Fraser agree to my request?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
is leave granted for Senator Fraser to answer the questions?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Fraser, do you
agree to answer the questions?
Hon. Joan Fraser: If the chamber had not granted leave, I would have
said that I intended to say a few words about this motion myself and that
Senator Corbin could have asked his questions afterward. I am not at all certain
that I will be able to answer his questions, but if he wants to ask them and the
chamber has agreed, I will try to answer, although I would like to say a few
Senator Corbin: Thank you, honourable senators. This report was not
the final report of the committee that studied the organization and operations
of the new United Nations Human Rights Council, which replaced the now-defunct
Human Rights Commission.
That being said, and having read the report carefully, I feel that it is
premature because the council is far from having made all of its internal
governance arrangements. Moreover, the committee indicated that the council was
making some of the same mistakes as the former commission. In other words, the
Human Rights Commission was being used to play the geopolitical tension game,
which was not only disadvantageous, but is now having a negative impact on the
work of the council, which, after all, is trying to achieve specific goals
related to human rights.
In that sense, I find that the report is incomplete and premature. However,
Senator Andreychuk told us that the council had been in place for a year and
that it was probably a good idea for the committee to inform the government of
its concerns with respect to the issues I just brought to the attention of
Senator Fraser can respond to that, but, personally, I think that the council
will have to work very hard to bring order and sense to its way of doing
business and that we do not know the whole story.
One of the recommendations that particularly caught my interest involved the
creation of the position of a Canadian ambassador for human rights. It was
explained why this might be a good idea. Something did occur to me, however,
after reading in the text of the report quotations from the Canadian delegation
to the Human Rights Council, which seems to me to be doing an excellent job. It
appears that this suggestion to appoint an ambassador could be interpreted as a
message that we are not satisfied with the Canadian delegation to the council. I
am not sure if this is an accurate assumption, because, to back its report, the
committee refers repeatedly to the excellent work of the Canadian delegation
with respect to the council.
I do wonder, however, why we need such an ambassador if our representatives,
our Canadian diplomats, are doing a good job. First, an ambassador means an
expenditure of at least $5 million, considering all the machinery that goes
along with such a position.
Perhaps Senator Fraser could tell us whether the idea came from the Canadian
organization itself or grew out of certain suggestions made by NGOs. Having read
the report, I know that Canadian NGOs have some rather strong views — I would
even say expert views — regarding certain issues. Where did this idea come from,
this idea to ask the government to create a new position of ambassador for human
rights, who would be attached to the council and could also travel around Canada
to raise awareness among Canadians about the importance of human rights? Could
the honourable senator please share with us any information she may have on
Senator Fraser: First, allow me to say very explicitly and for the
record that the committee in no way meant to criticize, directly or indirectly,
the work of the people representing us in Geneva at this time. They are doing an
excellent job. The idea of having a new ambassador for human rights had rather
more to do with complementing their work. Those officials are in Geneva. Their
duties keep them busy full time in Geneva. Theirs is not an easy job, but it
seemed to us — and I hope the other committee members will find this to be an
accurate summation of the substance of our discussions — that it also made sense
to have someone with greater freedom to travel, not only in Canada but also
internationally, as an official representative of the Government of Canada, to
deal with other governments in order to try to advance our diplomatic position
in this area, which is so important.
It would also show Canadians and the entire world that for us, human rights
are not of secondary importance but are a top priority, and that we find this
issue so important that we had to appoint a very high-ranking, official
representative to promote human rights.
I would like to get back to the comments you made at the beginning of your
speech about the fact that it was an interim report. I am not quoting you
exactly, but I think that what you were saying was that it was a bit early to be
making recommendations and criticisms, as we had done.
The situation is a bit odd. The council has been in operation for one year,
but when we wrote our report some very important things remained to be
determined. Key negotiations were to take place this month—in June of this
year—on procedural requirements, which will be very important. These
negotiations will not be about the colour of the paper used to write letters.
They will have to do with, for example, how to conduct the "universal periodic
review," which is perhaps the most important tool that has been given to the
new council and which could be gutted if the proper rules are not chosen.
We thought it would be useful, without overestimating our importance, to add
our voice to those that support good procedural rules, a solid system with teeth
that will be able to conduct the inquiries, for example, in the universal
periodic reviews. I apologize for not knowing the French term.
It is definitely somewhat odd to be making recommendations when the
arrangements have not been finalized; however, the whole situation is a bit
strange. We felt it was in keeping with the traditions of the Senate to make
recommendations in an interim report. This is not the first time this has
happened. We have seen it in other cases, for example, when the Standing Senate
Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology studied the health care
system and produced several interim reports. These did have an impact. We hoped
to have some influence at a key moment. We know that more study is required. The
situation is not yet very clear and that is why it is just an interim report. We
will submit a final report when we can.
Senator Corbin: I thank my colleague for this information. I must say
that it is difficult to read the report given that, as an interim report, it is
missing information about when witnesses appeared, committee travel, the quality
of witnesses, their expertise, and so forth. We will certainly have to wait for
the final report to obtain that information. I must say that the lack of basic
information makes it more difficult to read the report.
I was very surprised by something else when I read this document: it says
that Canada is losing its traditional allies in endeavours seeking to improve
human rights efforts. Australia, New Zealand and other partners are no longer
its allies because the council was established on the basis of regional blocs.
This has deprived Canada of its traditional allies and reinforcements. It is
somewhat isolated. That is what your report says. I am not certain that creating
an ambassadorial position or appointing an ambassador will fill this void.
I get the impression, given the comments in the report on the now defunct
commission and the comments on how the new council has been operating for the
past year, that, even though there are encouraging aspects, as you just
indicated, absolutely nothing has been gained in terms of goodwill. It will take
a long time to work objectively when it comes to human rights. There are all
sorts of regional geopolitical factors that come into play in the decisions of
council members. I find this very discouraging.
The establishment of the new council stirred up a lot of hope. Unfortunately,
we should not be surprised, but all the United Nations bodies are rather
cumbersome, and this one seems even more so. Instead of correcting the old
problems, it is perpetuating them and adding new ones. That is how I perceive
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
Senator Corbin's time has expired.
Senator Corbin: Could I have a few more minutes to allow Senator
Fraser to respond?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
is it agreed?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, the former commission lost a lot
of its strength, credibility and effectiveness because of the policies and
influence of geopolitical blocs. It was hoped that creating this Council would
dampen the influence of these groups. So far, the signs are not very
encouraging. We have to recognize that the group of countries that more or less
share Canada's opinions do not have as much weight within the new council,
compared to what they had in the former commission.
The observation Senator Corbin brought up in our interim report about
Canada's traditional allies refers to that and also to the fact — we really have
to take this with a grain of salt — that even countries that share our opinions
most of the time have found on some occasions in the past year, with the new
council, that some of our positions were a bit too cut and dried, that we were
not open enough to the possibility of compromise. We heard that from a number of
sources, including some very credible NGOs. That is why you found these
references in the report. You have to understand that we were not criticizing
Canada's basic position. These are Middle East issues. The committee was not
taking a position against the government's policy in general, but on certain
issues, on certain votes.
We were told that Canada may have been a bit too rigid in its positions. I am
trying to choose my words carefully. Perhaps Senator Andreychuk would like to
say a few words to elaborate on this. I leave it entirely up to her to do so.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Continuing debate.
Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, I want to speak. I do not wish to
adjourn the debate. I wish to speak briefly, if I may.
Honourable senators, I have warned a number of people, including His Honour,
that when this item came up for debate, I would rise to address this point.
Let me say first that I support the motion. I think it is a good motion and
that it is in order both procedurally and in the sense of being an appropriate
motion for us to adopt. It is a good idea to have governments respond to serious
reports produced by Senate committees.
However, senators may recall that, during the week when this item first came
up, there was much discussion and argument and one could even say confusion
about various things — about the correct form of motions; about the correct form
of moving for the adoption of committee reports. I would ask very humbly if,
perhaps over the summer, the Speaker might be willing to produce a little cheat
sheet for us. It is, for example, well known to all of us that it is customary
practise in this place, when a report is on the Order Paper, to stand up and
say, "I move the adoption of this report."
However, rule 57(1) states:
Two days' notice shall be given of any of the following motions:
(e) for the adoption of the report of a special or special joint
The report of the special committee on the subject matter of Bill S-4 is what
first brought this matter to our attention.
Rule 58(1) states:
One day's notice shall be given of any of the following motions:
(g) for the adoption of a report from any my standing or standing joint
Our long-standing practice, in which every single one of us has engaged, does
not seem to match the plain black-and-white words of the rules. It would be nice
to have some clarification in that regard, if we could get it.
There is also the matter of rule 131(2), which applies to the precise motion
that Senator Andreychuk wisely and graciously agreed to split so that we would
adopt the report and have a separate motion to call for a response from the
government. As rule 131(2) reads, I would agree that the original motion was
probably in order. The rule states:
The Senate may request that the government provide a complete and detailed
response to a report of a select Committee, which has been adopted by the
Senate if either the report or the motion adopting the report contains such a
request, or if a motion to that effect is adopted subsequent to the adoption
of a report.
I draw the attention of honourable senators to that middle passage. One can
ask for a complete response to a report that has been adopted by the Senate if
either the report or the motion adopting the report contains such a request. It
does seem to me that this starts to become a little convoluted and labyrinthine.
This would not necessarily have to be part of the cheat sheet that I am
requesting, but it might be worthy of consideration by the Rules Committee to
come back and say that it would indeed be cleaner to call for two different
motions in this case, the first for the adoption of the report and the second
requiring a response from the government, which I think was Senator Corbin's
original point when he raised this issue. We were asking for one motion to do
two separate things, and that may indeed be a little beyond our normal practice.
I do support this motion and urge honourable senators to support it.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Continuing debate?
Senator Corbin: On the point of order.
Senator Fraser: That was not a point of order.
Senator Corbin: The content was actually a discussion of or debate on
a point of order. Senator Fraser and I seldom agree; we split hairs.
When Senator Andreychuk presented the report to the Senate, she did not
request a ministerial response. She introduced the aspect of requesting a
ministerial response when she rose in the house and asked for adoption of the
report. That is the first time we ever heard of a request for a ministerial
response. The request for a ministerial response has to be preceded by a notice
of motion, which was not done in that case, and that is why Senator Carstairs
and I rose to point out that the whole thing was irregular, to say the least.
However, I agree with Senator Fraser that this particular rule or any rule
that contains an "either/or" should be scrapped from the rule book, and we
should come out with clear, black and white directives so that there is no
fooling around with these matters.
Hon. David Tkachuk: I am sorry, honourable senators, but I was not
clear whether Senator Corbin was raising a point of order or whether he was
responding. He was raising a point of order? Very well.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: On the point of order,
I wish to thank the Honourable Senator Fraser. I will let the Honourable the
Speaker know about the summer assignment that he has been given.
With respect to Senator Nolin's point of order, a decision will be
Further debate on the motion?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It was moved by the
Honourable Senator Andreychuk, seconded by the Honourable Senator Stratton, that
pursuant to rule 131(2) — shall I dispense?
Hon. Senators: Dispense.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon rose pursuant to notice of June 5, 2007:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the state of research in
He said: Honourable senators, a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister and the
Minister of Industry announced Canada's new science and technology strategy. The
government's strategy to achieve the goals set out in last November's economic
plan, entitled "Advantage Canada: Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's
Advantage," is a truly remarkable document. In my view, if it is supported
nationally and implemented vigorously and imaginatively by all sectors of our
economy, this coherent strategy has the potential to position our country for
its economic future.
Science and technology is a prime basis for the economy because real wealth
is created by science and technology, by research and development. I will not
try in the short time that I have to justify to honourable senators the
dependence of wealth on science and technology, but I will use two examples.
My own area of health care depends on fundamental scientific research in
biology, sociology, ethnography, information technology, material science and
many other areas, and on the development of the technologies to which
fundamental research gives rise.
Health represents approximately 10 per cent of our economy. Our health care
system also underpins the rest of the economy. For example, it is broadly
recognized that our health care system reduces the cost of an automobile made in
Canada by $1,000 compared to the U.S.A.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his recent speech to the Economic Club of
Toronto, made very similar points with respect to the environment. He outlined
the commitments being made in California to scientific research and development
of technologies in global warming and sustainability of the environment. He
eloquently stated his firm belief that, in addition to their environmental
beliefs, the economic quality-of-life benefits to California of environmental
initiatives will be comparable to those of the aerospace and information
Honourable senators, let me try to offer a flavour of what I see as some of
the most important aspects of this strategy.
The strategy's central driving theme is to ensure Canada's international
competitiveness. A country's economy depends on succeeding in competition with
other countries. We, of course, in Canada have not exploited science and
technology to the fullest at this point.
While Canada's economy appears to be flourishing at the moment, our
industries overall are much less competitive internationally than they should
be. We must recognize this fundamental fact. Our few shining examples of
international leaders must not blind us to the problems faced by our overall
The strategy clearly recognized that governments themselves cannot create
national wealth. Governments can only set the overall context within which
science and technology performers can function together to create national
wealth. This is necessarily a continuing process.
Governments can also help stimulate industry through carefully crafted and
targeted support programs such as the National Research Council Industrial
Research Assistance Program. The competitive environment is continually
changing, because other countries will adapt their our own science and
technology contexts when they perceive they are losing out; so governments, like
scientists and industry, must continually stay ahead of the game.
Wayne Gretzky's trite comment about skating to where the puck is will be
highly relevant to national economic competitiveness.
The strategy "Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage" sets
out four guiding principles. The first principle is, "promoting world class
excellence." Success in competition means winning, and we do not win unless we
are consistently the best.
The second principle is "focusing on priorities." The strategy clearly
recognizes the importance to Canada of excellent basic research across a broad
spectrum of science. This is necessary because expertise cannot be turned on
like a tap, though expertise can be lost quickly. This is especially important
because no one can predict the area of science that will yield the most benefits
to the mid-term and long-term. However, the strategy also recognized that some
areas offer special advantages or needs at any one time and, hence, need
The third principle is, "encouraging partnerships." Led by such initiatives
as the Networks of Centres of Excellence program and the collaborative programs
of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canadians are excellent in
partnership; indeed, we are recognized as world leaders.
Governor Schwarzenegger's visit to sign partnership agreements with Ontario
and British Columbia demonstrate unequivocally both his recognition of Canada as
a productive partner and the excellence of Canada's opportunities.
The fourth principle is "enhancing accountability." Of course,
accountability means ensuring that our resources are used as intended. However,
accountability includes also a more complex concept: that of continuing review
of progress so that overall directions and operational details can be modified
as success and failures emerge or the context changes.
To this end, the new Science, Technology and Innovation Council will replace
the current three governmental science and technology advisory bodies. I had an
opportunity on two occasions to mention to the Prime Minister and to the
Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Industry, that
we cannot stay where we are when it comes to advisory councils. We must ramp up
to the level of Japan, for example, that has a science advisory council that
advises their prime minister every month. We should at least ramp up to the
level of our American friends.
The new council will advise government and benchmark Canada's science and
technology performance against international standards of excellence. This is an
astute move on the part of the government and I look forward to the improvements
that will accrue from this council.
Guided by these four principles, the strategy commits the government to
policies that seek to create advantage for Canada under three sector themes:
entrepreneurship, knowledge and talent. A fourth overarching one, of course, is
The first theme is, "to create an entrepreneurial advantage." As the title
implies, this set of policy commitments is directed to industry. It seeks to
foster a competitive and dynamic business environment that encourages science
and technology investments.
Our exporting industries flourished when our low dollar relative to the USA
allowed them to export without paying much attention to productivity. At the
same time, all sectors suffered from relatively high costs of imported equipment
As a result, Canada's productivity, which was 91 per cent of the USA's in
1984, fell to 74 per cent of theirs in 2004, and appears to be falling still.
This is unsustainable. Canada is the only major country with a consistent
surplus and we also have the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio among our major
competitors. The loonie is now approaching parity with the greenback.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The Honourable Senator
Keon has six minutes left for his speech, but it being 5:15, pursuant to rules
67(2) and 66(3), I must interrupt the proceedings and order the bells to call in
the senators to be sounded until 5:30 p.m., at which time the Senate will
proceed to the taking of the deferred vote on the subamendment to Bill C-288.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mitchell, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Trenholme Counsell, for the third reading of Bill
C-288, to ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Angus, that Bill C-288 be not now read a third time
but that it be amended:
(a) in clause 3, on page 3, by replacing line 19 with the
"Canada makes all reasonable efforts to take effective and timely
action to meet";
(b) in clause 5,
(i) on page 4,
(A) by replacing line 2 with the following:
"to ensure that Canada makes all reasonable efforts to meet its
(B) by replacing line 6 with the following:
"ance standards for vehicle emissions that meet or exceed
international best practices for any prescribed class of motor vehicle
for any year,", and
(C) by adding after line 13 the following:
"(iii.2) the recognition of early action to reduce greenhouse gas
(ii) on page 5,
(A) by replacing line 9 with the following:
"(a) within 10 days after the expiry of each",
(B) by replacing line 23 with the following:
"first 15 days on which that House is sitting", and
(C) by replacing lines 26 and 27 with the following:
"each House of Parliament is deemed to be referred to the standing
committee of the Senate and the House of Commons that";
(c) in clause 6, on page 6, by adding after line 29 the following:
"(3) For the purposes of this Act, the Governor-in-Council may make
regulations restricting emissions by "large industrial emitters",
persons that the Governor-in-Council considers are particularly
responsible for a large portion of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions,
(a) persons that are part of the electricity generation
sector, including persons that use fossil fuels to produce electricity;
(b) persons that are part of the upstream oil and gas sector,
including persons that produce and transport fossil fuels but excluding
petroleum refiners and distributors of natural gas to end users; and
(c) persons that are part of energy-intensive industries,
including persons that use energy derived from fossil fuels, petroleum
refiners and distributors of natural gas to end users.";
(d) in clause 7,
(i) on page 6,
(A) by replacing line 32 with the following:
"that Canada makes all reasonable attempts to meet its obligations
(B) by replacing line 38 with the following:
"ensure that Canada makes all reasonable attempts to meet its
(ii) on page 7, by replacing line 4 with the following:
"(3) In ensuring that Canada makes all reasonable attempts to meet
(e) in clause 9,
(i) on page 7, by replacing line 33 with the following:
"ensure that Canada makes all reasonable attempts to meet its
(ii) on page 8,
(A) by replacing line 3 with the following:
"Minister considers appropriate within 30 days", and
(B) by replacing line 7 with the following:
"(1) or on any of the first fifteen days on which";
(f) in clause 10,
(i) on page 8,
(A) by replacing line 9 with the following:
"10. (1) Within 180 days after the Minister",
(B) by replacing line 11 with the following:
"tion 5(3), or within 90 days after the Minister", and
(C) by replacing line 38 with the following:
"(a) within 15 days after receiving the", and
(ii) on page 9,
(A) by replacing line 6 with the following:
"Houses on any of the first 15 days on", and
(B) by replacing line 9 with the following
"(b) within 30 days after receiving the advice,";
(g) in clause 10.1, on page 9,
(i) by replacing line 17 with the following:
"and Sustainable Development may prepare a",
(ii) by replacing line 32 with the following:
"report to the Speakers of the Senate and the House of Commons",
(iii) by replacing lines 34 and 35 with the following:
"Speakers shall table the report in their respective Houses on any
of the first 15 days on which that House".
On the subamendment of the Honourable Senator Di Nino, seconded by the
Honourable Senator Oliver, that the motion in amendment be amended by replacing
paragraph (g) with the following:
(g) in clause 10.1, on page 9, by replacing line 17 with the
"and Sustainable Development may prepare a".
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the question is as follows:
It was moved by the Honourable Senator Di Nino, seconded by the Honourable
Senator Oliver, that the motion in amendment be amended by replacing paragraph (g)
with the following:
(g) in clause 10.1, on page 9 —
Shall I dispense?
Hon. Senators: Dispense.
The Hon. the Speaker: All those in favour of the motion in
subamendment will please rise.
Motion in subamendment negatived on the following division:
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS
The Hon. the Speaker: The question now before the chamber is the
motion in amendment of Senator Tkachuk, seconded by Senator Angus.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I am pleased to have this
opportunity to participate in debate on the proposed amendment to Bill C-288.
Honourable senators, climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our
time. It is real, it is happening now and the consequences are huge for all of
us — which is why it should be treated seriously. Climate change could have
serious effects on our health, environment and standard of living. Sadly,
however, Bill C-288 is neither a rational nor a practical plan to deal with
By requiring Canada to do in six months what is simply not doable, and what
was not done in 10 years, Bill C-288 sets up the country and all those who care
about this issue for another failure.
The economic arguments against Bill C-288 are strong and compelling. Should
this bill be fully implemented, thousands of Canadians would lose their jobs by
2009. Prices for natural gas and electricity would go through the roof. The cost
of transportation, especially in Canada's rural areas, would skyrocket. As the
committee dealing with agriculture and rural poverty has found, this would be
particularly hard on the poor and the impoverished living in many parts of rural
These are just the minimum official projections arrived at by the Crown in
its analysis of Bill C-288 and what it would do with respect to economic
Honourable senators, it is not just the Government of Canada that is making
this point. Let me quote the Montreal Gazette of June 9, which stated
that Bill C-288 was "intellectually bankrupt." The editorial noted:
Mr. Rodriguez introduced no such bill while the last Liberal government was
ignoring its own promises about Kyoto. The Liberals must know Kyoto compliance
is now utterly impossible.
In the June 15th edition of The Globe & Mail, Jeffrey Simpson, the
loquacious, balanced, careful, thoughtful, always assiduous columnist, wrote
that Canada's opposition parties are — and I quote:
. . . convinced that Canada can meet its Kyoto targets by 2012 without
seriously damaging the economy. They are wrong. Canada will not, cannot and
should not meet its Kyoto targets by 2012 of reducing emissions 6 per cent
below 1990s levels when the country is already at about 35 per cent above that
Earlier, we talked about how any law that brings the administration of
justice into disrepute is a bad law. Any law that destroys the good faith and
the will to succeed of a country on the environmental front, which Bill C-288
would do by setting us up for failure, is also a bad law.
Consider the sentiments once held by the bill's sponsor in this place, my
good friend and esteemed colleague, Senator Grant Mitchell. When he was leader
of the Alberta Liberals, poor, benighted, in difficulty — do not leave senator,
you will love this — in the period leading up to the negotiation of the Kyoto
Protocol, he appeared a lot more mindful of potential economic repercussions for
his home province than he is now. He also seemed a lot more sensitive to the
need for federal-provincial harmony.
Let me quote The Globe and Mail of October 1, 1997:
Alberta Liberal Leader Grant Mitchell, obviously sensing that even Liberal
supporters not ready for a new federal energy program that could reduce
Alberta's energy revenues by 30 per cent and cause growth and output in
population to slow dramatically, called on Mr. Chrétien to at a minimum start
a national public debate on the issue. He said the Prime Minister, like Mr.
Clinton, should chair a national meeting of provincial energy and environment
ministers, industry representatives and the public.
According to the Calgary Herald on September 26:
. . . the Alberta Liberal caucus support limits on greenhouse gas emissions
as a worldwide goal, but not at the expense of the province's oil and gas
That, honourable senators, is on the public record.
In view of these prior positions, one would think, at a minimum, the
honourable senator would be a bit more leery about advancing a bill with such
negative economic repercussions, particularly for his home province.
I am proud to stand here as a senator from eastern Ontario defending the
economic interests of the good people and taxpayers of the Province of Alberta.
They are Canadians too! They deserve to be protected and not treated with the
back of our hand, as we so often do, especially when Liberals are in power with
confiscatory programs like the National Energy Program, the worst disregard for
Alberta colleagues and citizens.
Turning back to the generally excellent amendment proposed by my colleague
from Saskatchewan, a son of the prairie, Senator Tkachuk, I note that paragraph
(g)(i) changes from mandatory to permissible the requirement that the
Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development prepare a report at
least once every two years. It seems to me that such a report is indeed required
and should not be optional.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Keon calling the
attention of the Senate to the state of research in Canada.—(Honourable
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, we now return to Inquiry
No. 35, Senator Keon, for the remainder of his time.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I truly appreciate having
an opportunity to continue my speech. I was afraid that the speech by my
soft-spoken friend, Senator Segal, may have lulled some of you to sleep. I will
attempt to wrap things up.
I left off identifying the four priorities in research, which are
environmental sciences and technologies, natural resources and energy, health
and related life science technologies, and information and communications
technologies. These are the priorities of the government for the present time,
and they will be periodically reviewed.
Agencies responsible for supporting research in universities and federal
research performing organizations will collaborate to build critical masses in
these priority areas by supporting multidisciplinary research that brings
together the needed expertise. The programs will also be studied to identify
best practices and thus further strengthen them.
One important initiative is to review the federal government's in-house
research programs to determine how government will be best able to deliver
benefits to Canadians.
To fulfill its policy and regulatory mandates in areas such as health, safety
and the environment, government must have rapid and efficient access to
top-level science and technology expertise. Strong research within government
facilities is therefore necessary, and Canada's government researchers serve
Canadians very well.
The intention in the strategy to transfer non-regulatory federal laboratories
to universities or to the private sector will require careful balancing of many
competing priorities. What will best serve Canadians must be determined by the
four principles on which the strategy is based and not be subsumed under other
objectives such as cost savings or regional concerns.
The strategy's third theme is to create a people advantage. People, not
institutions, do science and technology. Talented, skilled, creative people are
the most important, critical element of a successful national economy over the
long term. Talented, skilled and creative Canadians work all over the world, and
this illustrates the problem.
We have the highest fraction of any OECD country of people within tertiary
education. However, we are in the bottom half of OECD countries in terms of the
percentage of degree holders who are trained in natural sciences and
engineering, the ratio of young Canadians with Ph.D.s, and the fraction of total
employees who are in the S and T occupations. We are extremely low compared to
other OECD countries.
We do not produce enough S and T personnel, and we lose many of those we do
produce to other countries. We would be in even worse straits without the
ability to attract talented and trained people from other countries, but many of
these people are driving taxis.
Well-trained and dedicated people are very mobile. Excellent people spend at
least a decade in university education and training and demonstrating their
potential through publications in the international science and technology
They then want to use their talents and contribute. They will do so whenever
they can find an environment that will meet their professional and quality of
life aspirations. International organizations compete vigorously for such
people. Canada may compete fairly well in regard to quality of life, but we do
much less well in terms of professional advancement.
The strategy therefore rightly targets the need to train, attract and retain
excellence. It returns again to taxation, with commitments to make the taxation
system fairer so as to ensure that Canada attracts and retains the highly
skilled workers who are essential to fostering innovation and growth.
The strategy aims to reduce the barriers to mobility and recognition of
professional qualifications that now bedevil optimal workforce practices. It
seeks to provide stable and predictable funding for post-secondary education,
increase support for research internships in industry and provide more and
higher value scholarships for advanced level trainees.
Honourable senators, I have tried to summarize what I see as a very important
strategy for Canada's future economic growth: mobilizing science and technology
to Canada's advantage.
There is a story of a meeting between American and Japanese automakers
talking about long-term planning. Timescales were the major factor impeding
effective communications. Five years was a very long term for the Americans; 25
years was getting close to being interesting for the Japanese. This strategy
seeks to think like the Japanese. It seeks to position Canada far beyond the
life expectancy of any government.
Anyone can find fault with aspects of a strategy as complex as this one. I am
definitely concerned about some of its emphasis. The point is that we have an
outstanding science platform collectively built over the past 20 years by
government, academia and industry. By many yardsticks, it is outstanding
compared to global standards. This platform has been given a huge boost in the
last budget, with $9.2 million supporting the collective Canadian effort. We now
have an excellent science and technology strategy so we can move with confidence
to a knowledge-based economy where we should be and not rely totally on our
On motion of Senator Losier-Cool, debate adjourned.
Hon. Tommy Banks, for Senator Day, pursuant to notice of May 31, 2007,
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on May 11, 2006, the
date for the presentation of the final report by the Standing Senate Committee
on National Security and Defence on the services and benefits provided to
Canadian Forces, veterans of war and peacekeeping missions and members of
their families in recognition of their services to Canada, be extended from
June 30, 2007, to March 31, 2008.
He said: Honourable senators, Senator Day is the chair of the subcommittee of
the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. As we all know,
he is presently chairing the Finance Committee dealing with Bill C-52. He has
asked, therefore, that I move the motion standing in his name. This has the
effect of extending the deadline date for the presentation of a report by that
subcommittee on the services and benefits provided to Canadian Forces veterans
of war and peacekeeping missions, et cetera. It is exactly the same order of
reference as presently possessed by the committee, and I move the adoption of
the report in his name.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon, pursuant to notice of June 7, 2007, moved:
That, notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on December 14, 2006,
the date for the presentation of the final report by the Standing Committee on
Rules, Procedure and the Rights of Parliament, authorized to examine and
report upon the current provisions of the Constitution Act, 1867 that
relate to the Senate, be extended from June 21, 2007, to June 24, 2008.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
The Senate in Committee of the Whole in order to receive Ms. Christiane
Ouimet respecting her appointment as Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
The Senate was accordingly adjourned during pleasure and put into Committee
of the Whole in order to receive Ms. Christiane Ouimet on the matter of her
appointment as Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, the Honourable Rose-Marie
Losier-Cool in the chair.
The Chairman: Pursuant to the order, the Senate put into Committee of
the Whole in order to receive Ms. Christiane Ouimet on the matter of her
appointment as Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
Before we begin, may I bring your attention to rule 83 which states:
When the Senate is put into Committee of the Whole every Senator shall sit
in the place assigned to that Senator. A Senator who desires to speak shall
rise and address the Chair.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, that rule 83 be waived?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, I move, seconded by Senator
LeBreton, that Ms. Christiane Ouimet be invited to take a seat in the Senate
The Chairman: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Chairman: Ms. Ouimet, on behalf of all the honourable senators, I
welcome you to the Senate. You have been invited here to answer questions
regarding your appointment as Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
We will begin with your opening statement, after which, I will open the floor
for questions from senators.
Ms. Ouimet, you may begin with a brief statement.
Ms. Christiane Ouimet: Madam Chair, honourable senators, I am very
pleased to be here with you today to discuss my appointment as Public Sector
Integrity Commissioner. It is a true privilege and a great honour for me to be
considered for this position.
I would like to share my background with you and tell you about my
perspective on the responsibilities associated with this position, which is
important to the public service, to Parliament and, I think, to all Canadians.
By way of introduction, let me tell honourable senators a little bit about
myself. I come from the small village of St. Albert, Ontario, where I was born
on a dairy farm to Madeleine Laflèche and the late Albert Ouimet. I finished my
primary education at the local school and then went on to "le village voisin,"
to the Casselman High School. Subsequently, I completed my honours degree in
French Letters at the University of Ottawa and then completed two bachelor's of
law, one in civil law and the second in common law. I articled with a local
firm, with a focus on general practice, and then I completed my bar
examinations. My husband and I have been married for 26 years, and we have two
I joined the federal public service in 1982 as a recruit of the then Atomic
Energy Control Board, now known as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, as a
regulatory and public consultation officer. This was also my introduction to the
importance of a sound regulatory framework for the benefit of the public and
industry alike. I then moved on as a Public Service Commission Appeal Board
Chair, where I conducted inquiries into the appointment and release of public
servants. This involved a quasi-judicial role in ensuring that the merit
principle was adhered to when an appointment was made and that employees who
were demoted or released from their positions had been given a fair chance to be
In all cases, of course, the principles of natural justice have to be
respected. A new tribunal now embodies those principles in relation to
appointments. Sound, fair, transparent and meritorious stamping processes are
the foundation of a public service that is able to provide the best services to
After a short term heading the Regulatory Affairs Directorate of Revenue
Canada, in the customs division, I became the first director of the merged
enforcement operations section, which included commercial fraud investigations
and the drug interdiction program. As a result of the rigour of our processes
and the diligence of our officers, we had an excellent record of prosecuting
In 1992, I joined the machinery of government secretariat in the Privy
Council Office, where I had the privilege of serving three prime ministers and
providing advice on the economic portfolio in the context of transitions and
government restructuring. Providing guidance on the roles and accountability of
senior public office-holders was also part of my ongoing responsibilities. In
that context, I learned about the functioning of the government and the
importance of independent advice from the public service to ensure continuity
and good government.
I later served at the Department of the Solicitor General of Canada for five
years, where I eventually became Assistant Deputy Solicitor General with direct
responsibility for the Aboriginal Policing Program. I will forever treasure the
honorary title that the First Nations Chief of Police Association awarded me as
Honorary First Nations Chief of Police.
At the end of 1999, I became the CEO of Consulting and Audit Canada at Public
Works and Government Services, where we offered, on a cost-recovery basis, a
full range of services aimed at improving effectiveness, efficiency and
accountability. A few years later, I would come back to that same department as
Associate Deputy Minister, during which time I guided a major restructuring of
an organization with more than 14,000 employees. I was also very much involved
in the department's new Values and Ethics Action Plan in 2004 and assisted in
resolving a number of operational issues.
Just prior to that, I served as Executive Director of the Immigration and
Refugee Board, the largest administrative tribunal in the country post-September
11. During this period, a very successful alternative dispute resolution model
was developed within our Immigration Division. I do know that alternative
dispute resolution is key for the sound operation of administrative tribunals,
which are set up specifically to render justice more quickly and simply than
traditional courts in specialized fields.
Finally, I shall make a few comments about my current position as Associate
Deputy Minister at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. My role there is to support
the deputy minister as he or she sees fit and to act on their behalf as
required, but I have been primarily involved during the last few years with
corporate issues such as relations with employee unions, grievances, diversity
issues, human resources strategies and audit. I have also been charged by the
current deputy minister with the role of Champion, Values and Ethics.
One might say that I have had an eclectic career. However, I think the common
thread has been a desire to serve and to make a contribution in the public
I believe my legal background has served me well, especially in
quasi-judicial environments that are, of course, similar to the Office of the
Integrity Commissioner. I do feel privileged to be considered for the position
of Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
I have examined the new provisions of the Public Servants Disclosure
Protection Act to assess the tasks that lie ahead. As I see it, the intent of
these new provisions is to legislate a strong regime to govern the disclosure of
wrongdoing in the federal public sector. The key elements include the creation
of the position of commissioner, reporting directly to Parliament, with an
expanded jurisdiction and significant investigative and enforcement powers;
authority for the commissioner to report on investigation findings, to make
recommendations when wrongdoing is established, and to make annual and special
reports to Parliament; and a clear prohibition against reprisal action against
Added protection to potential complainants is offered through an application
by the commissioner to the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal for
determination on reprisal as warranted. A number of other provisions, such as
legal assistance and protected disclosure, also strengthen the role of the
commissioner and enhance the accessibility of the process.
In due course, I would carefully examine the relationships between the role
of the commissioner and those of other oversight bodies and parliamentary
agencies, but again, the legislative framework set out in the act will be the
ultimate goal and guide.
The position of Public Sector Integrity Commissioner is one that carries with
it the trust and confidence of Parliament. Simply put, the essential role of the
commission and the office will be to give effect to an act that has the purpose
of encouraging employees in the public sector to come forward if they have
reason to believe that serious wrongdoing has taken place and to provide
protection for them against reprisal when they do.
The goal is a system that is fair and accessible and allows justice to be
served. More important, the goal is to protect the public interest.
Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of serving Canadians in
various roles. I am honoured that you would consider me for the position of
Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. The commissioner helps improve the
reputation of the public sector by providing greater transparency and openness
for anyone who feels they have been mistreated.
I come from a humble background, but one where honesty and frankness are
important values. My father was always seen as a man of great integrity, and I
am proud of that. This reputation was, in a way, his trademark, not only in our
small community of St. Albert, but also in the surrounding communities.
In his memory, it is with humility and pride that I will bear the title of
Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, if the committee and the Senate decide
that I am deserving of their trust.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, we will now proceed to a question
Senator Hervieux-Payette: I have no intention of casting doubt on Ms.
Ouimet's merits or her career. I would like to remind honourable senators,
however, that I made it clear that I opposed this bill and that I am against the
principle of whistle-blowing. In my opinion, this principle undermines the trust
that should prevail between members of the public service and constitutes a
system that runs parallel to our justice system. I simply wanted to point out my
It would be up to you to prove, through your actions and in the execution of
your duties, that my fears concerning abuses that could result from
whistle-blowing are unfounded and that our justice system would be generally
This system has been in effect in the United States for several decades. We
all remember certain notorious whistle-blowing cases involving private companies
that committed serious infractions, costing the American economy billions of
dollars. I would remind the Senate of the person who discovered flaws in the
American security system, which otherwise could have prevented the events of
September 11, 2001. These people who denounced the flaws and who had even
prepared reports not only were not compensated, but they were in fact punished.
Most of them were women, who have since encountered considerable difficulties in
their careers. Rather than advancing in their careers, they have taken a step
However, some people can be wrongly accused. This might happen out of
jealousy by a colleague, out of a sense of competition, malice or vengeance. I
have not seen many cases where reprimands were issued for the consequences of
these false accusations.
The Auditor General can notify us of mismanagement or honest mistakes, but
incompetence is another matter. There is also the Attorney General. In the case
of an offence, prosecution is the usual course of action. If a person commits
theft or an offence, namely, misappropriates funds, the private sector turns to
the existing justice system. I therefore do not see the need for a different
system for public servants.
You say that the system will be fair and independent. I am not challenging
what you are saying. However, I have some reasonable doubt about the role
itself. I think this tool can be used in an invidious manner. I knew of real
cases in the public service where people were victims of unjustified
whistle-blowing. These people became sick and had to be hospitalized. Some
people had to resign from the public service because the stress was too much to
We have to weigh the consequences of the complaint against these
disadvantages for the accused. I would like you to specify the tools that will
be available to you, both to protect the rights of the accused when you
undertake an investigation and to guarantee integrity.
I am referring to people who were subjected to investigations concerning
their honesty. A team of auditors examined all the figures, from A to Z, for
months, looking at taxi chits to see how money was spent. In the end, the
investigation cost more than the alleged infraction. It is a question of just
how much we are willing to spend to reach the conclusion that there was indeed a
violation, versus a $100 million misappropriation of funds. A sizeable amount
could be spent on that. A similar situation arose in the Department of National
Defence, where $90 million was misappropriated, and our current justice system
took care of it properly.
Can you please tell us how you plan to carry out your duties? It will be
quite a challenge for you to prove that Canadians can benefit from the services
of a Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, without discouraging people from
joining the public service and without suggesting that they will be constantly
scrutinized or under the watchful eye of people who may wish to harm them and
could use this system to do so.
Ms. Ouimet: Thank you, Madam Chair. I would first like to say a few
words in response to Senator Hervieux-Payette's concerns. I think there are
three features that are absolutely crucial for anyone who wishes to fill the
position of commissioner.
The commissioner must play a neutral role and must be perceived as doing so,
taking into account all the important factors. More than 25 years ago, I took
the Barristers Oath. To quote an excerpt from that oath, as an officer of the
court, I am obligated to protect and defend the rights and interests of my
fellow citizens. I must also ensure that no one's rights are neglected. There is
a particular provision under which I cannot refuse causes of complaint
reasonably founded, nor can I promote suits upon frivolous pretences. I take
this very seriously, as an officer of the court.
Second, I would be guided by the parameters of the law. A Supreme Court
decision handed down several years ago makes it very clear that, when it comes
to the rights of individuals, whether complainants or respondents, it is
absolutely crucial to follow the principles of natural justice. This applies to
everyone who might be involved, either directly or indirectly.
In my statement, I said that I would carefully examine the roles of officers
of Parliament who have not only specific mandates and any monitoring agency, in
order to ensure not only that we work together, but also that the best expertise
is drawn on when needed.
Finally, I take the reputation and rights of individuals very seriously. Over
the years, and in all the roles I have had, I have always been aware of the
impact these administrative decisions could have, in some cases on the life of a
refugee and in other cases on the reputation of an individual.
I would like to provide as much assurance as possible that I will fill this
position with diligence and dedication.
Senator Segal: Welcome, Ms. Ouimet. I am always delighted to see an
alumnus of the University of Ottawa be elevated even further in the firmament of
the federal government. Félicitations sincères et profondes.
You will have an interesting and compelling task not only to sort out the
frivolous complaints, as suggested by my colleague Senator Hervieux-Payette, but
also the fact that the mere existence of your office may be used by various
players in the broad democratic and political game to advance their cause
independent of what your findings in any particular case might be.
For example, you receive, let us say, two complaints. Let us assume that one
of them is not frivolous but substantial, and the other one is, but you cannot
tell, prima facie, and you must investigate.
It strikes me that one risk you face, and I would be interested in your
reaction to this, is that one of the complainants, and we do not know whether it
is the substantial or the frivolous one, decides to release the nature of their
complaint to the media, precisely at the same time they share it with you.
Already the problem of the attacked public servant's reputation is in play
before you even have a chance to begin your work with respect to what substance
may or may not exist.
In the subsequent case, let us assume, as an officer of Parliament, you find
yourself in the context where, either in the other chamber or in this chamber,
questions are asked of government ministers about an allegation that has been
made relative to a public servant, to which the response of the minister may
well be, "I understand the matter is under investigation by the Public Integrity
Commissioner, so it is inappropriate for me to comment at this time."
In every one of those circumstances, the existence of your office,
independent, if I may say, of the substance of the complaint, may be used for
various dynamics. I would be interested in, as you approach your task and become
established in the role, how you intend to protect yourself, your independence
and your capacity to conduct investigations in confidence in the broader context
of the dynamic that tends to play out when these sorts of things become matters
of public interest.
Ms. Ouimet: Thank you very much, Madam Chairman. I would like to
perhaps add to my previous response in responding to Senator Segal that I value
the importance of the role as agent of Parliament and tabling the report in the
approach that I will take in dealing with specific cases. I will seek guidance
in an open way from both chambers with respect to how I will deal with specific
issues. I will receive some reaction, hopefully, from both Houses.
With respect to the specific cases that have been raised by the senator, of
course there is a detailed procedure with respect to how disclosure is made. Of
course, a complainant who comes forward may be entitled to protected disclosure
if specific criteria of the legislation have been met, for example, if there is
an issue of security or if time is of the essence, but at that point in time it
is no longer called a "protected disclosure." That happened in a number of
instances previously where people would decide to take their case to the media.
I do not think that is the proper way to handle it. Once we have specific
criteria, we need to be respectful of institutions that have been set up
democratically for the benefit of the complainant and the respondent.
I cannot comment on the specific cases, but, of course, the act will no
longer offer the protection that it would offer such as anonymity and protection
of the information, if the individual comes forward.
I will be guided by the legislation as to how each case needs to be handled,
and there is a full range of tools including, first, determining the scope of
the mandate, the jurisdiction, and assigning an investigator to look
specifically at all the details. There are specific provisions under natural
justice as well. A hearing is useful. In the cases where there is an allegation
of retaliation, the tribunal will be set up.
All this is to say I would expect that there will be some cases that are more
meritorious and others that are less so, but I will follow the process set out
in the legislation and will ensure every step of the way that individuals are
given a fair chance to be heard and that, as commissioner, I will look carefully
at all angles of the issue.
There may be situations, and the honourable senator is correct, where the
case may be discussed by senior public office-holders. It will not deter me from
ensuring that we look at the evidence as it is presented in the context of the
investigation and, again, that natural justice and procedural fairness is
respected in every way possible.
Senator Segal: You will have obviously some modest staffing to do to
assist you in this process. If you could wave a magic wand and have precisely
the staff that you think would best serve this purpose, could you provide us a
general view of what their professional formation would be? Would they be
lawyers such as yourself? Would they have an investigative background? In a
perfect world, what kind of staff would you hope to be able to have?
Ms. Ouimet: I will look for the magic wand, and maybe next time I will
bring it with me.
First, it is not the quantity but the quality of the staff that matters. I
will build on some excellent work that has been done over the last five years.
While I was in quasi-judicial roles, I had colleagues that had a legal
background. I think it could be an asset in certain instances. I also had
colleagues that brought a full range of backgrounds and experiences such as
human resources, labour relations, as well as some with an enforcement
Depending on the case, whether a person is a researcher or an investigator, I
would definitely look for credible people with integrity who will follow the
guidelines set out in the legislation.
Senator Tkachuk: Thank you for your presentation. Welcome to the
Senate, Ms. Ouimet.
I have a couple of questions as to when you become involved in a case or a
situation. Let us say there is a whistle-blower who sees something wrong such as
an ethical or perhaps a criminal situation, where there may be fraud going on or
something like that, and they take action by reporting it. At that time, do they
report it to you? Do they report it to their superior and then to you? How do
you become involved and what do you protect in the case of someone who is
reporting a situation?
Second, how do you check out the mischief that is possible in all of this?
This is a huge organization with many jealousies and tens of thousands and
people. It can be difficult.
How do you get involved when a whistle-blower says, "This is a bad situation
and it is going on in my department"?
Ms. Ouimet: First, as set out in the legislation, the dévoilateur has
the option of either going to his immediate supervisor, to the officer
responsible for disclosure within the department or to come directly to the
office of the commissioner. It will then fall upon the commissioner to determine
whether, prima facie, the case falls within his jurisdiction.
At that point, there must be a determination of criminal activity. That was
very much my philosophy when I was working at customs. I was responsible for
criminal investigations. Of course, detecting fraud was one of the key elements
of our activities.
I had specially trained people, especially when dealing with fraud, to
execute search warrants with the approval of the court. That gets into a very
delicate area. It is a very intrusive power when you execute search warrants,
which I have done, on private residences or on commercial premises. I will have
to decide whether the issue would be best pursued under a criminal investigation
led by police officers or by enforcement authorities.
That is why I indicated earlier that it is critical that, while we establish
the mandate, we must also look at staffing matters. There is a specific tribunal
that now has responsibility for appointment reviews. There is a reason why each
organization has been set up, but we have to ensure that there is no duplication
and that the complainant is best served by the institution that has the clear
mandate and all of the tools. If it falls within my mandate, I would follow the
process I referred to earlier.
Senator Tkachuk: Where is the onus, though? If someone comes to you
and reports something that you may suspect is criminal, is the business of the
bureaucrat that came to you complete? Does he have an obligation to report the
incident to the police or, once he reports it to you, is it over and you decide
whether or not it should go to the police? It seems strange to me, and I am
still trying to figure out how this organization will work.
Ms. Ouimet: Everything depends on the case, for example, the
seriousness of the evidence, whether the lives of individuals are at stake, and
whether we are looking at a national security issue.
There is provision for legal assistance to the complainant, and I would not
hesitate to use it. There is $1,500 available for that purpose, up to $3,000,
but the tribunal would also have some flexibility.
The onus would be on the commissioner's office to guide the complainant. The
complainant has an onus, has brought forward critical and serious issues, and he
or she must be able to collaborate and bring forward whatever reasonable
evidence there is. That is the way the legislation is crafted. It is useful for
the appropriate determination.
Senator Fraser: Welcome to the Senate. I have what I think is a simple
question. What do you expect to be your budget and your staff? I am not asking
to the dollar or to the part-time telephone operator, but can you give us an
order of magnitude?
Ms. Ouimet: I received a brief courtesy call by the existing executive
director or acting commissioner. He informed me that there are currently about
12 to 15 people and they expect to double the resources. I did not ask
specifically what the budget was. I have looked at previous years as to what the
budget was. I wanted to be briefed on the people who will be selected to occupy
It is always difficult early in a mandate to determine the exact resources
that are required. I will not hesitate to come back to this house in my first
report to provide the specific details required by the honourable senator.
Senator Fraser: You said you looked at earlier years' budgets. What
did you glean from them?
Ms. Ouimet: I gleaned that it was a very small office that was
beginning a mandate. There were a couple of million dollars available, if I
recall correctly. There was a proposal to double in size. I do not know the
exact number; I apologize.
Senator Fraser: Perhaps when you are aware of that, you could send us
a note to keep us informed.
My last question: Do you expect your major expense for this operation to be
staffing costs, or are you planning to hire many outside lawyers in addition?
Ms. Ouimet: I would presume the major expense would be permanent
staff. Most of the resources would go to hiring human capacity.
Senator Nancy Ruth: During our discussions on Bill C-2 there was a lot
of talk that there might be a chill on the civil service if there were
whistle-blowers and a commissioner, et cetera.
You have worked through a lot of departments. You must have many contacts. Do
you have the sense that your appointment will give a sense of relief to the
civil service, as opposed to a chill?
Ms. Ouimet: Madam Chair, I truly believe that the whole of the public
sector welcomes the legislation if it is well administered and if it is
addressed in a neutral fashion with respect to some of the issues that have been
I fully expect, knowing the public sector as a whole, that there will be full
cooperation with respect to wrongdoing, if and when it is identified. As well,
it will serve a useful purpose not only from an enforcement perspective, but
also from a prevention perspective, and to ensure that there is good
communications. I think this function sends an important signal of transparency
and accountability, of having a system that may not be used on a daily basis,
but it is available and prepared to react and to respond to concerns.
In the end, while there may be some initial anxiety, it will be welcomed and
seen as a useful institution; at least, that is my hope, Madam Chair.
Senator Nancy Ruth: It sounds like you figure that setting a climate
is an important thing you need to do.
When I hire people in my businesses I always ask them, if they had a magic
wand, what would they like to change, do or make happen. If you had a magic
wand, what would you like to leave when you leave this job? What will have
happened? How will Canada be different in the public service?
Ms. Ouimet: Madam Chair, if I had a magic wand, I would want the
institution and the role of the commissioner to be seen — not only be, but be
seen — as having done justice, having been accessible, and having done the right
By that, I mean that it would be seen as an institution that has legitimately
and fairly protected the interests of Canadians and of the public sector.
Senator Nancy Ruth: Does that mean you will try to hire staff who have
a natural inclination towards fairness and justice?
Ms. Ouimet: Madam Chair, I think it is important that whoever joins
the small office shares the same values but, at the end of the day, is guided by
the legislation. This office has a legislative mandate and will report directly
to Parliament. I think every officer of that office will have that same duty to
report to Parliament through the commissioner.
Senator Kinsella: Given that the model of this whistle-blowing
legislation is a complaint-based process, would you comment on your views as to
how important it is or will be that the manner in which the whistle-blowers are
protected from retaliation or reprisal, particularly in the early days of the
Ms. Ouimet: Madam Chair, I think the whole purpose of the legislation
is to reassure, first, even for Canadians who are not part of the public sector,
that they can come forward and they can disclose wrongdoing and that they are
absolutely protected from the fear of reappraisal.
Some of the role of the tribunal, and this is set out as well in one of the
first functions of the commissioner — I do not have the exact language — is to
give information and educate with respect to what the tribunal's function is.
One of the clear functions would be education, communication and making sure
that the role is well understood.
It may take a little while. It may take a few months because it is brand new
legislation, brand new territory. This is the first function in Canada. In fact,
as a whole, this legislation may be a first worldwide, as I understand.
In the end, I think the goal is clear with respect to ensuring that whoever
comes forward is protected from reprisal.
Senator Kinsella: Upon receiving a complaint of apprehended wrongdoing
and subsequent to investigation by your office, will there be an attempt to
effect a settlement through conciliation with the respondent department? What
role do you envisage that you or your office will play to attempt to effect a
settlement of the matter complained of?
Ms. Ouimet: I am pleased the senator has raised this issue. As I
indicated in my opening statement, I am a firm believer of alternative dispute
resolution. In fact, way back when I was a young appeal board member, we started
what was called disclosure, divulgation préliminaire. We did not have the
specific mandate in the legislation, but we always thought that it was extremely
critical to ensure, as early as possible in the process, that all the parties
come together to share the facts and the explanations. More often than not, we
were able to resolve a lot of the issues and bring a solution that, first, was
more timely; it did not take as much time, but it was to the satisfaction of
everyone and was seen to be probably even fairer.
I would use this tool to ensure better communication and quicker resolution
of the issues.
Senator Kinsella: Madam Chair, I find that reassuring. As the
experience of the human rights commission has found to this day, I think in the
order of over 90 per cent of the complaints they receive are resolved through
conciliation settlement and do not go to adjudication before an administrative
tribunal such as a board of inquiry.
As you have been reflecting upon this important role, what are some of the
estimates you have allowed to flow through your mind as to the magnitude of the
complaint load? A phrase I use to describe this is: How many cases do you think
you would see if you compare it to what Dr. Keyserlingk saw under his model?
Ms. Ouimet: In the course of a brief discussion with the acting
commissioner, he did not anticipate a large number at the outset. The act has
been in effect now since April 15, and this is someone who has worked in the
area for the last five years. Therefore, it is important that we disseminate
information with respect to the mandate, what it can do, at all levels of the
organization. That would be my first priority. I would find it difficult to
speculate at this point in time but definitely the same numbers you have seen in
the past. In the end, though, we will deal with every case as diligently as
possible, and as effectively and rapidly as possible.
Senator Fox: Welcome to the Senate, Ms. Ouimet, and thank you for
spending the evening with us.
I must begin by saying that I am very pleased that we are being given someone
with extensive experience in the public service of Canada, roughly 20 years, and
in departments that were not all very easy over the years.
I want to echo the words of welcome of Senator Segal, who spoke of your
background as a student at the University of Ottawa. I was quite surprised to
hear him still call it the University of Ottawa instead of Canada's University,
which is its new name.
Speaking of Canada's University, I hope that one day you will be able to
follow in the footsteps of Ms. Labelle, the university's chancellor, who was
also a great public servant. I had the pleasure, in a past life, of having her
as a deputy minister and I know how much work she did and the success she
achieved within the public service. To me, this is truly an example for us all,
men and women, francophone or anglophone, whatever our political stripe.
I have two questions and one suggestion, and I hope that in your first report
you will come back to us with a suggestion for a more elegant way of describing
what you do. I see that this function is described as "public servants
disclosure protection"; I find that a bit cumbersome and I hope that, in time,
we will come up with something more elegant.
In speaking of your role, I would tend to think, and I would like to have
your reaction to this idea, that your success will be measured, I believe, not
by the number of whistle-blowers who come forward, as there will definitely be
some, but, rather, by the type of climate — and I hope that is part of your role
— that you will be able to establish within the public service. The public
service should be a place where — and you have spoken about alternative methods
of conflict resolution — there will no longer be the need to write these letters
that will be placed in brown envelopes, in your case, with return addresses.
At first, there will certainly be some; however, over the years, I hope that
your success will be indicated by reports that will point to complete success
where, in a given year, there will be no whistle-blowers and we will no longer
need a commissioner for that purpose.
Ms. Ouimet: You have very eloquently expressed one of my hopes. That
was also the approach I advocated when I worked at customs, where we spoke not
only of enforcement of the law but also of compliance, which we hoped would
encourage individuals to observe the requirements of the law without the threat
of a big stick. There will be interesting challenges in the first months with
respect to education, communication, and co-operation in order to ensure that
there is a good understanding of the mandate.
I agree completely that we must not measure the success of an organization
such as this one by the number of interventions but, rather, by how well
differences are resolved and by the fact that everyone views this institution as
being approachable and representing democracy in Canada.
Senator Fox: Thank you.
Senator Fairbairn: Congratulations on what will undoubtedly be a very
dynamite-charged future ahead of you. You are being given a huge responsibility,
one that might cause some Canadians to feel somewhat anxious. Once you get the
group of people who are working with you, how open will your workplace be in
terms of public knowledge of what you are doing? Will the people who will be
assisting come exclusively through the public service, or, with your own
background and the things that you have done, could you have the opportunity of
looking also into the private sector?
Ms. Ouimet: With respect to the first comment of whether the office
would be open to people coming to it, I think I would like the office to reach
out and, in fact, go to other organizations and provide the information very
informally but in a very accessible way. My first step would be to look at an
education, training and communications program. We will go to the public sector
to share that knowledge.
The second point is that the employees are appointed under the Public Service
Employment Act, which is a tool for recruitment, but that tool can be used both
to recruit from within the public sector and outside. Depending on the specific
people that we would require, and I do not know the exact mix of skills that we
have presently, I have already indicated to the executive director, who was very
open to it, that I would look at our capacity and our mix of talent. If I need
to go outside through the process that I am allowed to use, I would not hesitate
to do so.
Senator Fairbairn: In your dealing with the government, not the
political end of the government but the public service end of government, will
you have any connecting links with the Clerk of the Privy Council Office and its
operation, which is very significant within the hierarchy of our governance?
Ms. Ouimet: The question is twofold. On the one hand, as an agent of
Parliament, I will report to Parliament, and I am no longer within the community
of deputies, as I am currently. Certainly, there is that arm's length
relationship with respect to specific cases and, of course, through the
reporting. By the same token, through education, training and communications, I
will reach out to all levels of the public sector. I will make sure, just like
the Auditor General does, that there is that good exchange, not only when there
is a problem but also in anticipation of issues that may be raised. That would
include the Clerk of the Privy Council Office.
Senator Fairbairn: We are in a difficult situation right now in
Canada, working on the kinds of difficulties that have been coming out in
parliamentary discussions on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Will you have a
linkage to that level of integrity and concern with your operation?
Ms. Ouimet: Without commenting on the specific situation, I would
simply offer the following comment: The act covers members of the RCMP. There
are specific exclusions with respect to various aspects, but I have not really
focused on how they would be used. The act certainly covers the whole of the
public sector, with a few national security exceptions and the Armed Forces. I
would definitely entertain whatever would fall within the mandate of the office.
Senator Fairbairn: Would you also — and the answer will probably be
yes — be in a position, as other entities in this kind of world are, to appear
before parliamentary committees on perhaps an annual basis as your position and
the work you do gets rolling along? Would that be part of your openness with the
general public through the parliamentary committee?
Ms. Ouimet: Madam Chair, I understand this is part of the duties and
responsibilities of the commissioner.
Senator Fairbairn: Thank you very much and good luck.
Senator Comeau: Welcome to the Senate, Ms. Ouimet. It is a pleasure to
have you here. I have a few short questions to ask you. You are responsible for
protecting whistle-blowers. It is not always easy to protect the identity of
whistle-blowers. There is currently a bill before the Senate proposing that
audit working papers from the Commissioner of Official Languages and the Auditor
General be made public. This means that if someone comes forward with a concern
about official languages or finances, at the end of the audit, the employer
could find out who lodged the complaint. People could hesitate to file a
complaint for fear of retaliation.
If you had to comment on this private member's bill, what would you say about
making working papers public at the end of the audit?
Ms. Ouimet: If I may, Madam Chair, I would like to focus on the
existing legislation, because it is a bit difficult for me in my position to
comment on policies or bills. However, I would like to reassure the senator that
I am entirely comfortable operating within the parameters of the Public Servants
Disclosure Protection Act — I will try to come up with a shorter title, as was
previously suggested — where disclosures are protected.
In the context of the legislation, I am entirely comfortable with the kind of
protection available under the responsibility of the commissioner.
Senator Comeau: If this bill were now in force in Canada, you would
probably be exempt because, as Integrity Commissioner, you are not included in
the proposed legislation. So perhaps those with official languages concerns
would prefer to go and see you to divulge information about employers who fail
to comply with the Official Languages Act. Would you be available to meet with
such people or would you direct them to the Official Languages Commissioner?
Ms. Ouimet: Madam Chair, it is true that there are some exclusions
with respect to access to information. I took note of them as I read through the
act. I would have to act according to the parameters set out in the legislation
that I administer. Any request, regardless of its origin — serious breaches of a
law, serious mismanagement, security breaches, et cetera — must comply with very
specific parameters. I would act according to the legislation and my mandate,
disregarding other avenues. If there was a specific mandate that belonged to
another organization, I think it would be my duty to take it into consideration.
Senator Andreychuk: The Human Rights Committee in the Senate has
studied the employment equity issue. Four target groups are underrepresented as
Canadians in the Public Service Commission. You will be at the other end
investigating the operations and the complaints. How will you factor in the
cultural differences of Canadians within those groups? As we discovered, part of
the problem was the existing culture. We do not need extra laws, but we need to
implement different attitudes toward the varying groups of Canadians that may
come before the Public Service Commission. How will you factor that into your
Ms. Ouimet: Throughout my career, and even more so in the last 10
years, I have been heavily involved in employment equity issues. At Agriculture
and Agri-Food Canada, I was the chair of a group that dealt with what were
called inclusive management issues. I have also worked with Aboriginal people.
These are issues that I think are very important in any organization. However, I
will have to go back to the legislative parameters of the role of the
commissioner. If issues that I bring forward are pertinent as evidence, as
facts, again within the specific parameters of the provisions that I will have
to administer, then they will be relevant. This will be done following due
Senator Nolin: Good evening, Ms. Ouimet. I also studied at the
University of Ottawa. Since we are being asked to ratify your appointment, so
allow me to ask a few incisive questions. Please forgive me if I should happen
to offend you.
First, why did you accept this position? You are a young woman in the prime
of your life, and you do not seem to me to be anywhere near the end of your
career in Canada's public service. Do you think of this as your last job with
the public service?
Ms. Ouimet: Madam Chair, when I was approached about this position, I
was a little surprised. I asked for some time to think about it. I thought about
it for 48 hours, and I decided to accept it. I carefully considered the
magnitude of the task, the significance of the mandate, and the fact that this
is a first for Canada. In all sincerity, I feel that it is an honour to have the
confidence of Parliament, and I feel privileged to have been considered for this
job. I assure you that I will do it with enthusiasm, devotion and the
professionalism that I have developed over the years.
Senator Nolin: Without going into too much detail, and I understand
why you might hesitate to talk about it, you would be responsible for the RCMP.
The minister responsible appointed an investigator to look into what was going
on within the RCMP. He concluded that a change is needed within the culture of
that police force, which is the pride of all Canadians.
With all the passion you have shown us this evening, and all your enthusiasm
after taking 48 hours to decide whether to take this on, how do you think you
might be able to change the culture of the RCMP?
Ms. Ouimet: First, I have no illusions about this. It is indeed a very
In the course of my career, I have had to perform duties and make decisions
that were not always easy, whether in a quasi-legal context or in examining
fraud files, or in the context of problems concerning Aboriginal police forces.
There was quite a stir following 9/11, when I was at the Refugee Board. We
had some serious challenges to overcome. Some were a matter of life and death.
We were making decisions affecting people who could have been returned to their
countries and tortured or even killed.
I do not take such things lightly. I would like to assure the Senate that I
would not hesitate to exercise the full powers entrusted to the commissioner.
Certain powers under the Inquiries Act could be considered rather coercive. I
would also not hesitate to make the necessary decisions, but it is important
that these decisions be justified and that the evidence be very clear, because
the right of oversight will exist and the decisions can always be re-examined by
In the end, you will judge my mandate and how I carry it out. I will leave
you with that promise.
Senator Nolin: Thank you very much, Ms. Ouimet. I wish you good luck.
Senator Corbin: Madam Chair, I would like to start by taking Ms.
Ouimet to task. She told us that she was born on a dairy farm; however, she
neglected to tell us about the famous and delicious Saint-Albert cheese. What a
golden opportunity to promote it!
Ms. Ouimet: It is true, I confess!
Senator Corbin: I am not really being serious. However, I would like
to know what you think about the challenge posed by the vastness of this
country. Would you establish satellite offices in the regions of Canada? Do you
intend to travel to the regions from time to time?
You are aware that public servants in the regions do not think like the
multitude of Ottawa officials. They have particular needs and grievances.
Relations with their local superiors are quite different than those in Ottawa.
How will you address this challenge, which is very real in a large country such
Ms. Ouimet: I must tell you that at least seven times in my career I
have had the pleasure of managing regional offices of various sizes and with
different mandates. It is very important to go on site, to communicate and to
understand the culture because there are regional cultures that are very rich. I
have always enjoyed that aspect.
I think that, in the context of the mandate that may be conferred on me, I
definitely see that this task must not be carried out in a vacuum. I have
already spoken about a communication program and it would be with great pleasure
that I would travel throughout Canada, as appropriate, because there is
definitely work to be done. If need be, I would report to Parliament on the
needs of regional offices, but at this stage, I am not really sure of the need.
However, I believe that the commissioner's mandate is to ensure that the
information is available all across the country and that we are open and
Senator Corbin: There will undoubtedly be a need to change attitudes
and to provide education about your responsibilities. I believe it is imperative
that you travel to these regions as soon as you take up your responsibilities so
that there is a better understanding of your mandate, its potential and its
Ms. Ouimet: Duly noted, Madam Chair.
Senator Joyal: Welcome Ms. Ouimet. My first question is on the
presentation of your biographical notes, your profile. I see that on the bottom
of page 2 — and you referred to this in your last response — you propose very
sensitive tripartite agreement negotiations for Aboriginal police services in
First Nations communities throughout Canada, for Mohawks in Oka in particular.
Were you the one who negotiated the agreement with James Gabriel that caused
difficulties and confrontations later and the difficulties that followed with
the police forces that had to intervene on the reserves in the Montreal area?
Ms. Ouimet: I did indeed have direct meetings with James Gabriel and I
took part in the negotiation of that agreement. At the time, it was seen as a
great success where we restored safety in the community. And I was there when
the first police station opened in Kanesatake.
Senator Joyal: An inquiry is currently underway on how the money was
made available by the Canadian government following the negotiations in which
you were involved. The purpose of this inquiry is to determine the nature of the
mandate given to the police forces and how the use of the money allocated for
the implementation of the police services should have been audited.
Ms. Ouimet: It goes without saying that every agreement included
audits. Following the policy that had been approved, there was also an entire
evaluation system, but this goes back a few years. I was not involved in that
inquiry. No one came to see me, but if ever they did, I would be quite willing
and ready to share the information that was available at the time.
Senator Joyal: In a way, you have answered my question directly. The
Minister of Public Safety called an inquiry into the use of money in a context
that raises doubts on its destination. I wanted to know whether you had been
contacted, since you were one of the people involved in the negotiations, in the
definition of the mandate and in the scope of the responsibilities that were
vested in the police and the way in which they were supposed to use and account
for the money allocated to them under the agreement.
Ms. Ouimet: Nobody approached me so far. I was in charge of the
program, but I had negotiators who were negotiating the framework of the
agreement that was signed in accordance with the existing parameters.
Senator Joyal: Do you know whether there were conditions attached to
the use of the funds transferred to Aboriginal police forces?
Ms. Ouimet: I do not remember the provisions of the agreement exactly,
but, in short, every agreement had its terms and conditions and requirements for
assessment. There was an accountability factor in every agreement that was
signed. There were more than 125 of them across Canada when I left the program.
Senator Joyal: Are you saying that conditions pertaining to reporting
and accountability were attached to the use of the funds transferred to the
Ms. Ouimet: Let me address that in terms of the agreements as a whole.
Each one had specific measures relating to the use of funds. That was part of
the policy governing all tripartite agreements.
Senator Joyal: Thank you. I would now like to refer you to subsection
25.1, paragraph 4 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.
Ms. Ouimet: Which paragraph?
Senator Joyal: There are nine paragraphs, and I would draw your
attention to paragraph 4, which states that the maximum amount that may be paid
to any particular public servant is $1,500.
I will read the subparagraph for my colleagues:
The maximum amount that may be paid by the Commissioner under this section
for legal advice provided or to be provided to any particular public servant
or person in relation to any particular act or omission that may constitute a
wrongdoing or reprisal is $1,500.
You are a lawyer and you will agree with me that $1,500 does not buy a lot of
legal advice from a lawyer.
Since you are the one who has to make legal advice available to the
particular public servant or person, you have the responsibility of determining
what legal services are needed. I do not know whether you intend to hire within
the private sector or have a legal unit set up in your office, but, to me,
$1,500 seems well below what it would cost in the private sector to retain the
services of a law firm.
How do you think you will manage to implement the legislation in this area,
with such a small sum, in order to help a complainant prepare his or her case?
Since this can go before the court, there will be a legal proceeding that can
contradict what the complainant puts forward. How do you think a public servant
could defend himself if you give him a maximum amount of $1,500?
Ms. Ouimet: Madam Chair, that is an excellent question. I would also
like to draw the senator's attention to paragraph 6, where it mentions that if
the commissioner is of the opinion that there are exceptional circumstances, the
maximum amount provided for is deemed to be $3,000. Therefore, there is some
latitude. I agree, however, that this is not a lot of money when we consider the
However, I hope that we could draft a list of experts, and we are talking
here about support for disclosure, not reprisals. The court also has some
latitude for reimbursing expenses. It is important to make these distinctions.
As far as disclosing wrongdoings is concerned, and the amount of $1,500 to
$3,000, I think it will be incumbent upon the commissioner to provide support,
share precedents and ensure that certified experts who know the system and who
can guide the discloser are available.
Senator Joyal: I agree with you completely. Your approach, which
involves drawing up a list of consultants, is completely reasonable. You know as
well as I do, however, that drawing on a list of consultants is more expensive
than using the services of lawyers who practice general law. It is like going to
see a specialist instead of your family physician. Consultation is even more
costly when we turn to people who have more specialized expertise.
I understand that procedures might be more straightforward in the case of a
wrongdoing, but, in cases involving reprisals, it seems to me that the evidence
can sometimes be much more difficult to present and prepare.
Accordingly, because you have even more experience in the public service than
we do, since this has been your bread and butter for a number of years, the sum
of $1,500 seems almost ridiculous in relation to what we hope to achieve, which
is to truly protect the whistle-blower, or the public servant who is victimized
after making a disclosure, because the two statutes are complimentary to some
Ms. Ouimet: Madam Chair, I am prepared to act in accordance with the
law and, if needed, submit a report on the relevance of the amount. Thank you;
it is duly noted.
Senator Joyal: Do I have enough time to pose another question, Madam
The Chair: You have one minute.
Senator Joyal: In the same piece of legislation, subsection 21.7(1)(f)
has to do with compensation that can be paid to a complainant. If I may, I would
like to read this portion of the legislation:
Compensate the complainant by an amount of not more than $10,000, for any
pain and suffering that the complainant experienced as a result of the
An amount of not more than $10,000 — based on contemporary jurisprudence and
amounts awarded by courts or adjudicators, in the case of collective agreements,
for pain and suffering, including psychological stress or the stress associated
with a process of this nature — poses a problem for me.
Once again, does this not seem like such a modest amount that, in practical
terms, it could discourage an individual from initiating a process where it is
often difficult to predict the outcome, the duration and the context in which it
will unfold, as well as what will happen to the individual's career?
Ms. Ouimet: Madam Chair, in the event of reprisals, it will be up to
the court to determine the amount. I believe we need to have a bit more
experience with the legislation and to see how it is applied. Again, this could
be dealt with in the next annual report.
Senator Joyal: Thank you for your answer; that is what I thought you
would say. I would simply like to draw your attention to subsection 21.6(2),
which states that, as commissioner, you have a position before the tribunal, and
The Commissioner must, in proceedings before the tribunal, adopt the
position that, in his or her opinion, it is in the public interest having
regard to the nature of the complaint.
You have intervener status with the court, and you can certainly tell the
court what you think it should consider when deciding on the amount of
compensation, but nothing in the act prevents you from making representations to
the court. Obviously, your representations would seem to be quite limited, given
the conclusions of the investigation you yourself could have conducted and the
nature of the injury to the person in the context of the reprisals they
Ms. Ouimet: Madam Chair, I would like to assure the committee that, as
commissioner, it will be my duty to support the court, to provide all the
evidence, and to make any relevant comments. I will not hesitate to do so.
Senator Joyal: Thank you, Madam Chair.
Senator Banks: Welcome, Ms. Ouimet, and thank you for your time here.
All senators here will very much appreciate your courtesies. However, for the
next time you come to visit us, you will have noticed that in this place we have
rather less formal habits than in other places and we speak directly to each
other rather than through anyone else.
When you mentioned that you would have a very small office with a budget of
$2 million, some ears perked up here, because that is 13 times the budget of any
senator's office. When you next come to visit us, perhaps saying "just a little
office with a $2 million budget" would not be a good place to start.
This is the last question. A few years ago, we were sitting here asking
questions of a person who was nominated for a position similar to yours. We were
intrigued in that case, as we are in yours, by your qualifications and your
presentation to us. We neglected, however, to ask some particular questions at
the time, one of which would have been, if we had adduced the answer we wanted:
Are you presently undergoing a process of personal bankruptcy? In that
particular case, the answer would have been: Yes, I am.
In the interests of full disclosure, is there anything you have not yet been
asked that you think would be in the public interest for us to know about you?
Ms. Ouimet: There is no issue, no matter that I am aware of, that
should be brought forward with respect to the way that I have discharged my
responsibilities as a public servant so far.
Senator Banks: Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you, Ms. Ouimet. As I am sure you surmised from
their many questions, the senators are very interested in this matter.
I wish you good luck and a fair and honest magic wand.
Ms. Ouimet: Thank you, Madam Chair.
Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, I think we all agree that the
Committee of the Whole has completed its deliberations.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The sitting was resumed.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the sitting of the Senate
Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, the Committee of the
Whole, which has received Ms. Christiane Ouimet, has asked me to report that the
committee has concluded its deliberations.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Would
honourable senators be agreeable to revert to Motion No. 2, which deals with
this subject matter?
The Hon. the Speaker: Is that agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, I move:
That in accordance with Section 39 of the Public Servants Disclosure
Protection Act, Chapter 46 of the Statutes of Canada, 2005, the Senate
approve the appointment of Christiane Ouimet as Public Sector Integrity
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to speak briefly
in support of the motion to approve the nominee, Christiane Ouimet, for the
position of Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
With the coming into force of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
on April 15, 2007, Canada now has a legislated process to protect from reprisals
public servants and Canadians who make disclosures of wrongdoing in the public
As an agent of Parliament, the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner is
responsible for the administration of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection
The commissioner will conduct independent reviews of disclosures of
wrongdoing in an equitable and timely manner, issue reports of findings to
enable organizations to take appropriate remedial action, and submit annual and
special reports to Parliament.
In support of public servants, Parliament and Canadians, the Public Sector
Integrity Commissioner will play a vital role in ensuring the protection of
those who have been witnesses to wrongdoing so that they are able to come
forward without fear of reprisal. This position requires an individual who has
demonstrated the highest ethical standards, sound judgment, objectivity,
fairness and leadership.
Like all agents of Parliament, the incumbent requires the trust of both
Parliament and the Canadian people.
A senior public servant, Christiane Ouimet has gained a unique combination of
skills and experiences over the course of her career, making her an ideal
candidate for this position. In her introductory remarks tonight, she apprised
honourable senators of her impressive resumé. I must say, having been born and
raised on a dairy farm in Eastern Ontario, I was particularly impressed with
that part of her resumé and the obvious love she has for her family and her
parents — and they must be very proud of her.
A graduate of the University of Ottawa, with an Honour's Degree in French
Letters, as well as two Bachelor of Law degrees, one in civil law and one in
criminal law, and from her present position of Associate Deputy Minister of
Agriculture and Agri-foods, and a former Deputy Minister of Public Works and
Government Services, she brings a wealth of experience to this position.
A lawyer by training, Ms. Ouimet has a strong quasi-judicial background,
having conducted inquiries into the appointment and release of public servants
while serving with the Appeal Board of the Public Service Commission. As well,
her support of the largest administrative tribunal in Canada, the Immigration
and Refugee Board, as the board's executive director, her strong negotiation and
interpersonal skills in her capacity as Assistant Deputy Solicitor General,
Corrections and Aboriginal Policing with the Department of the Solicitor
General, and as the first Director of the Enforcement Operations Section of
Revenue Canada, which included commercial fraud investigations, have all
provided an in-depth understanding of the structure and the organization of
Obviously, honourable senators, she is well prepared to lead the full
implementation of both the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
and the new regime for the protection of whistle-blowers.
Honourable senators, Ms. Ouimet's unique background and her strong commitment
to serve in the public interest will bring to the position the requisite skills,
knowledge and experience to fulfill the role of Public Sector Integrity
Commissioner with credibility, professionalism and distinction.
With this in mind, I urge all honourable senators to support this motion that
the Senate approve the appointment of Christiane Ouimet as Public Sector
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I am pleased to join Senator
LeBreton to support the nomination of Ms. Ouimet. I will just add a few words.
As we have heard from Ms. Ouimet, she is fluently bilingual. Any public servant
who wishes to address Ms. Ouimet will be able to address her in his or her
language of choice — something that must be underlined. Ms. Ouimet's fluent
bilingualism was not mentioned in our deliberations tonight, but it was quite
The honourable government leader will know that there have been criticisms in
the past weeks about appointments whereby some persons, very qualified on other
aspects, could not really provide their service in both languages. Ms. Ouimet is
a stellar example of someone who will be able to discharge her function with a
high degree of competence. Besides that, she is a woman, and it is very
important that, in that capacity at the highest level, we support women when
there is an opportunity. There was a question about equity in the public service
from Senator Andreychuk, and the government must be commended for that
nomination. I support the nomination.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, June 20, 2007, at 1:30 p.m.