Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
2nd Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 144, Issue 5
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Pana Merchant: Honourable senators, this Saturday on Parliament
Hill, 20,000 Hellenic Canadians will gather to decry the grievous wrong imposed
upon them by the recent actions of Prime Minister Harper. Symbols are crucial.
Symbols of nationhood have profound resonance for every nation, and particularly
for the nation of Greece, Canada's ally and the cradle of democracy.
The region of Macedonia and its name have belonged to Greece since antiquity.
In naming a new sovereign state carved out of the former Yugoslavia since its
breakup 16 years ago, the Government of Canada, until now, has deemed it
appropriate to refrain from meddling in this symbolic issue.
The territory in question was recognized in 1993 by the United Nations as the
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The term, Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia, FYROM, was based on historical fact, an acknowledgement of the
differences in a region characterized by centuries of turmoil.
In conformity with international practice, our Department of Foreign Affairs
has referred to that territory as "FYROM." Suddenly, in Canada, we find the
Prime Minister using the disputed term, "Republic of Macedonia" to describe
the territory north of the Greek border. This meddling in European politics by a
Canadian prime minister is unprecedented.
Many Canadians demand that the Prime Minister recognize, as the 27-member
European Union recognizes, that the use of the name "Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia," or a new name that distinguishes that country from the Greek
Province of Macedonia as a geographical entity, is the appropriate way to
acknowledge the harmful challenges to Greek sovereignty.
Tens of thousands of Canadians are not only perplexed, but also infuriated
with this Prime Minister's insensitive twisting and distortion of historical
fact by sanctioning the use of a disputed name for that country. The Prime
Minister's action not only shows disrespect for the position taken by the UN and
the EU, but is also an insult and a provocation toward Canadians of Greek
I call on the Prime Minister to cease this provocation and to respect the
Greek diaspora in Canada.
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, October is Autism Month, a
time to raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders. ASDs include five
pervasive development disorders, the most commonly known of which are classic
autism and Asperger's syndrome. As a spectrum disorder, the symptoms range from
mild to severe but generally include difficulty with social skills;
communication problems; behavioural issues, such as repetitive movements and
restrictive interests; as well as difficulty with audio and visual processing.
The ASD rate often cited for Canada is one in 166 and is found about four times
more often in boys than in girls. This translates into 48,000 autistic children
up to age 19 and 144,000 adults.
These individuals face many difficulties while still children. Those who are
able to take part in the regular school stream are often victims of bullying.
Combined with other social and academic struggles, it can be hard for them to do
well in areas of strength. As adults they have a tendency toward impulsive and
addictive behaviour resulting in strained relationships at home and in the
As honourable senators are aware, the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology recently completed a study on autism entitled
Pay Now or Pay Later. We learned how difficult life can be for families
whose lives are touched by autism in some way. Senator Munson has devoted a
great deal of time to the families of autistic children and has done a great
deal during the summer to heighten awareness.
The Government of Canada has been supportive of efforts to overcome ASD in a
number of ways with a research chair focusing on the study of treatments and
interventions. As well, the Canadian Research Chair Program has 10 chairs
working on related research. There is ongoing research through the Canadian
Institutes for Health Research, CIHR, where $26 million has been spent since
2000. An ASD research symposium was held November 8 to 9, 2007, to provide
up-to-date information and a website has been provided to the general public.
Indirectly, a number of programs are also supportive, such as the
Pan-Canadian Health Human Resource Strategy and tax measures through the
Department of Finance. As well, Human Resources and Social Development Canada
has provided supportive efforts through the Social Development Partnerships
Program. However, there are tremendous problems with the situation, a number of
questions to be answered and a tremendous need for more research.
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, this summer, a documentary film
entitled Nomad's Land got a lot of attention. When RDI broadcasts it on
television for the first time, the film is sure to stir up controversy.
This film gives a voice to military wives. These women remind us that, even
though they are not members of the military, the army runs their lives, forcing
them to move repeatedly and subjecting them to trying separations. These
circumstances often leave them feeling isolated and vulnerable.
This is not the first time I have spoken to this chamber about the challenges
that military spouses and their children grapple with. I have always admired
their courage. Every time I meet one of them, I find their desire to empower
themselves, despite the magnitude of the task, reassuring.
The Canadian Forces recognize the importance of stable families.
Consequently, they do a lot to support the women and children living in these
unique conditions. The Chief of Defence Staff Military Families Fund was created
to do just that. I am sure that more initiatives will be forthcoming.
Still, any organization always has room for improvement. I believe that
Nomad's Land will galvanize the energies needed to achieve the common goal
of providing better support to military families.
It is heart-wrenching to hear these wives talk about how they suddenly found
themselves alone with a baby, with neither friends nor family nearby. Staying at
home makes them feel unimportant. People only pay attention to their partners in
the military who are on missions. In fact, such is their discretion that people
tend to forget that they exist and that they play an essential role.
As I have said before in this chamber and in other forums, we should make a
greater effort to let them know how much we appreciate them and value their
contributions. The other day, I heard someone say that there are four branches
in the Canadian Forces: army, navy, air force, and military wives. That is so
true, despite the fact that they do not wear uniforms.
By taking care of their households and supporting their husbands in the
military, these wives are making their own contribution to the success of our
troops. We should highlight that more often. Members of our military are able to
do such excellent work because of the women who stand behind them.
Honourable senators, I encourage you to express your appreciation and support
for military wives every chance you get. Do not forget that they are the fourth
branch of the Canadian Forces.
Hon. Charlie Watt presented Bill S-214, an Act to amend the Income Tax
Act and the Excise Tax Act (tax relief for Nunavik).
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
On motion of Senator Watt, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second
reading two days hence.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services will not be
surprised by my question. We learned today that two buildings in British
Columbia have been removed from a sales transaction involving nine federal
buildings, among the 30 buildings that will be sold off in the coming weeks.
This is certainly not in the best interest of Canadians.
These two buildings were removed from the sales transaction because of a
Federal Court ruling handed down on September 28, 2007, putting a halt to the
transaction, because of unresolved Aboriginal land claims concerning the land on
which the buildings were built.
During hearings of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples that
considered leasebacks for federal buildings, it would appear that you disrupted
those hearings by refusing to disclose the details of the sale of those nine
It would appear that the sale, valued at more than $1.5 billion, was
concluded without the necessary preliminary analyses — such as the standard
title search — and without knowing all the ins and outs of that particular
After such a blunder on the part of the government — perhaps not the
minister, but people who work with him — how can we be sure that Canadians will
benefit from this transaction?
Hon. Michael Fortier (Minister of Public Works and Government Services):
I thank the honourable senator for having shielded me somewhat from this barrage
of criticism, but I do not need her protection, because I fully support the
First of all, as a matter of information, there are not 30 buildings involved
in the sale, but rather, nine. A few weeks ago, a First Nations group in
Vancouver, the Musqueam, obtained a court injunction forcing us to remove two
buildings from the sales process.
All government responsibilities with regard to this sale were fulfilled,
including consultation with the First Nations. It was precisely because we
consulted the First Nations about these two buildings in Vancouver that they
decided to exercise their rights, which, in their view, would prevent us from
selling the buildings.
Therefore, we decided to withdraw these two buildings from the sales process
and we will proceed with the sale of the other seven buildings.
I will also tell the honourable senator, before she asks a supplementary
question, that this sale will benefit taxpayers because the government is
transferring the risks of ownership to the private sector.
As honourable senators know, very few businesses in Canada own their own
buildings. They have entrusted them to companies specializing in building
The Government of Canada is transferring seven buildings but still owns more
than 45. Thus, ownership of a tiny minority of these buildings will be
transferred. It is advantageous for taxpayers, and there should be no doubt
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I still do not
understand why these buildings are being sold. The minister spoke of the
transfer of risk, but I have never seen many risks associated with a building.
As far as I am concerned, proper maintenance of a building ensures its
longevity. We have all noted the significant budget surpluses of the federal
government. If it were 1993, when his government had a deficit of $43 billion or
$45 billion, we might understand that the buildings were being sold to help
balance the budget and ensure that obligations pertaining to the payment of
salaries or other expenses were met, or to decrease debt and borrowing.
In the present case, thanks to good Liberal administration, the government
has been running a surplus for a number of years, a surplus the opposition has
criticized and which is now even greater.
What is the real reason the government wants to sell these buildings? I am
being told it was not 30 buildings for sale, but nine. I am also being told that
other buildings will probably be put up for sale. What is the reason for this?
As far as the real estate risk is concerned, having been a part of the
business world, I believe the government knows how to manage its buildings and
has always known how to do so. That is why I am asking the minister to tell us
why he wants to proceed with the sale of these buildings.
Senator Fortier: I have to take exception to that because the
government, unfortunately, has been a very bad building administrator, all
across the country. I would be pleased to give the honourable senator the list
of buildings that no longer have running water and others where general
maintenance work was not done. The total bill for the entire real estate
portfolio has now reached nearly $4.5 billion.
Look at the private sector. The honourable senator probably knows that every
major private corporation has sold its buildings. The banks have done that, but
they have maintained ownership of the branches for strategic purposes. But the
huge office towers in downtown Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver have all
been sold to corporations that specialize in building management.
This is not a partisan issue. Before I assumed my duties, the honourable
senator's colleague Scott Brison wanted to create an income trust with 370
buildings, including museums, prisons and laboratories. None of that made any
I am only talking about office buildings where expertise exists in the
private sector. We are talking about selling nine buildings. I have to say, the
transaction came at a good time, just before the credit crisis we witnessed this
summer. Taxpayers are going to get a big cheque. More importantly, honourable
senators, we are transferring the real estate risk to the private sector.
By not selling these buildings, we would be keeping this real estate risk.
After 25 years of mismanaging the buildings, we would end up with a structure
whose only value would be in the land it was built on.
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: I do not wish to take issue with the minister
but the Vancouver buildings he is speaking about have certainly been maintained
and are, in fact, heritage buildings. The Sinclair Centre, for one, is probably
one of the premier buildings in the city.
Honourable senators, I am not taking issue with the government selling the
buildings. I am taking issue with the fact that the buildings were probably sold
for $600 million less than they were worth, according to a study from
Since the minister says his ministry is in debt some $3 billion with regard
to buildings, I wonder how he can afford to let buildings go for $600 million
less than their worth. The buildings were sold for $1.64 billion; the assessed
value of those buildings by Informetrica was $2.3 billion.
Senator Fortier: I welcome that question, honourable senators. I would
invite the honourable senator to review the public materials on the website.
There are two studies, one jointly by the Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank of
Canada, and one by Deutsche Bank. The honourable senator will conclude, as I and
the government did, that we had a tremendous auction. The price we got for the
buildings in question is far higher than the valuation to which the honourable
The buildings under question were listed at $400 million or $500 million on
the government books. In January, an independent appraiser valued these
buildings at $1.15 billion.
Any way you peel the onion, we exceeded by far any valuation of these assets.
When we launched the auction, more than 11 bids came in for the assets, and I
had included a condition that we wanted control to be Canadian. Had I opened it
up to anyone, we could have had far more bids, and we probably would have had a
better offer. We wanted the landlord to be Canadian because this landlord
becomes the single most important landlord of the federal government in terms of
Despite putting that condition in there, we exceeded everyone's high range in
terms of the estimate. The honourable senator can ask experts; everyone will
tell him that the government did very well with respect to its auction.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Veterans Independence Program does
not currently provide services to all surviving spouses of veterans.
The Prime Minister, when he was Leader of the Opposition, made a clear
promise to extend this program. On June 28, 2005, he promised in writing that,
upon forming a government, and I quote from his letter to Ms. Joyce Carter of
The Conservative government would immediately extend the Veterans
Independence Program services to widows of the Second World War and Korean
War veterans regardless of when the veterans passed away.
The current government was sworn into office more than 20 months ago. To
date, there are no signs that this government has any plans to extend the
Veterans Independence Program.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate confirm that the government
has now abandoned its promise to extend the Veterans Independence Program?
Senator Robichaud: Someone said there is no greater fraud than a
promise not kept.
Senator Tkachuk: You should know.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, in view of the interjection of Senator
Robichaud, so as not to give information that could be misinterpreted, I will
take Senator Callbeck's question as notice.
Senator Corbin: Very wise.
Senator Callbeck: I have a supplementary question to the leader.
Over four months ago, I asked the minister roughly the same question, and it
was taken as notice. Now, I would like an answer. The spouses of these veterans
would also like an answer. The Prime Minister said that when he formed a
government he would immediately extend these programs. This promise is in
writing. I would like an answer.
Senator Grafstein: That was the new, new government.
Senator LeBreton: As the honourable senator knows, Greg Thompson, the
Minister of Veterans Affairs, has undertaken many programs in support of our
veterans. I remember the question vividly, and I will attempt to ascertain where
the answer is to the honourable senator's specific question.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I have a lot of time to
read and supervise the House of Commons and the Senate. I now see that some
senators would like a national referendum to abolish the Senate.
Some Hon. Senators: What senators?
Senator Prud'homme: I know that some senators would like to elect the
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Angus: Senator Fortier can conduct an auction.
Senator Prud'homme: I know that some senators would like to have an
equal Senate. Some senators are reform-minded people, although, as you know, I
believe strongly that if there is an institution that needs to be reformed to
start with, it is the House of Commons.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Senator Angus: You will bundle them.
Senator Prud'homme: Having said that, will the minister again consider
asking the Prime Minister of Canada to appoint immediately, in the spirit of
equality, due to the fact it is difficult to elect women, due to the fact there
is a lack of women in the House of Commons —
Senator Mitchell: Question!
Senator Prud'homme: Thank you, Senator Mitchell. I am trying to
It was Senator Mitchell who interrupted me. He is a bad influence because
when he has the floor he speaks for so long. Even I, who am very attentive, lose
track of what he is saying.
The Prime Minister has the option. Perhaps honourable senators will remember
the famous phrase, "You had an option." He has the option to put one house
ahead of every other house in the world. Even before the next election in
October 2009, if that is when it will be, we can have 53 women and 52 men in the
Will the Prime Minister consider asking women across Canada to submit names
of potential appointees, maintaining his ability to choose from among them? In
the meantime, we will have a debate in Calgary or Edmonton on reform of the
Senate. I hope and pray that I will return in good health. I love debating, and
I am back to shake up the debate.
Senator Mercer, whom we wish good luck, has presented a very good proposal to
appoint more women to the Senate. Continuing in the spirit of our new colleague,
Senator Brown, and his efforts to reform the Senate, I suggest that in the
meantime something must be done.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank Senator Prud'homme for the question. He said that he is
imitating Senator Mitchell. Senator Mitchell is a very pale imitation of Senator
The honourable senator referred to the motion placed on the Order Paper
yesterday by Senator Segal. I look forward to debate on the matter from all
sides of the chamber. If passed, Senator Segal's motion would serve as advice to
the government, and we look forward to whatever advice the chamber decides to
give us in this regard.
On the subject of filling vacancies in the Senate, I am glad that Senator
Prud'homme used the word "again," because he knows that I have apprised the
Prime Minister of his admonitions in this regard in the past. I can only promise
Senator Prud'homme that I will again raise his concerns with the Prime Minister.
Hon. Robert W. Peterson: Honourable senators, my question is directed
to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Saskatchewan voters will be going
to the polls on November 7. With talk of the federal government falling on a
non-confidence vote following the Throne Speech, the matter of the equalization
commitment has emerged as a major issue in this campaign.
Prior to the 2006 federal election, the Prime Minister stated emphatically
that 100 per cent of non-renewable resource revenues would be excluded in
determining the equalization calculation. The Prime Minister has now reached a
side deal with Nova Scotia.
Will he do the right thing and give Saskatchewan the same consideration? Are
we not an equal partner in Confederation?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for the
question. My answer today will be no different than my answer in the last
session of Parliament. Budget 2007 was a great budget for Saskatchewan. I do not
know the extent to which this is an issue in the Saskatchewan election. I would
have to consult my Saskatchewan colleagues on that.
Under Budget 2007, Saskatchewan is receiving the largest per capita gain of
any province under the fiscal balance package. Restoring fiscal balance brings
federal support to the province up to $1.4 billion in 2007-08. There is $878
million in new spending, and this funding will directly improve the lives of the
people of Saskatchewan, including funding for equalization, health care and
If this is an issue in the Saskatchewan election, I hope that people who are
making it an issue will point out all the benefits that have been sent
Saskatchewan's way by the federal government.
Senator Peterson: Would it be possible for the government to table
these calculations in this chamber so that honourable senators might be able to
determine how it arrived at this number? There seems to be a significant amount
of controversy as to exactly how this is being achieved.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, these numbers are contained in
Hon. Jean Lapointe: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary
question that follows on Senator Prud'homme's question. My question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate, a charming woman, whom — as she knows —
I hold in high esteem, and a very good skater, among other talents I ascribed to
her last year. She skates very well. Many an NHL player should skate as fast as
she does. She has been very adept at handling certain situations.
That said, honourable senators are aware that I object to Senate reform and
an elected Senate. I therefore would like to ask her today whether it would be
possible to administer a test to determine the IQ of the members of this chamber
and the other place.
Let me just say in advance that the results in the other place would be
pitiful, because the people there are a bunch of idiots. Some have talent, of
course. When I was appointed by Jean Chrétien, who was then Prime Minister, I
asked him whether there were as many idiots in the Senate as in Parliament, and
he said, "No," fortunately. A prime minister told me that.
I ask the Leader of the Government to suggest, if she could, that we be
tested. We would all pass. Senator Keon alone would put us 1,500 points ahead.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank Senator Lapointe for the question. I believe in the last
session of Parliament the honourable senator said that I was a good tap dancer
and now I am a good skater. This could become quite interesting as we go along.
I take note of his comments and suggestion that there be a survey. However, a
survey was conducted with regard to the members in the other place and that was
the general election. Therefore, far be it from me or any of us to question the
wisdom of the electorate.
I do take Senator Lapointe's interesting suggestions, and his point. I thank
him for his supplementary question.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: My question is for the Leader of the Government
in the Senate. The present government has turned its back on the Kelowna Accord.
This agreement was an historical and landmark agreement for the Aboriginal
peoples of this country. It promised access to adequate infrastructure, quality
health care and worthwhile education. These essential elements of the agreement
were meant to enable Aboriginal peoples to overcome finally the vicious circle
of poverty they face. The agreement was signed by the vast majority of
Aboriginal leaders. Recently, the government has taken a solo, cavalier approach
to Aboriginal issues. Against the will of the provincial premiers, the present
government refused to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour,
has confirmed that this government's position towards the resolution has been a
disgrace for Canada on the international stage.
Does Canada's decision to reject this UN declaration signal an alignment of
Canadian foreign policy with the Bush administration or a simple complete
disregard for Canadian Aboriginal people on the part of the Prime Minister?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the senator for the question. As I have said many times
in the last session, there is no such document as the Kelowna Accord; it is the
Kelowna press release.
With regard to the question on the text of the declaration, as the honourable
senator knows, and as was the case with the previous government, the text in its
current form is inconsistent with our Constitution, Supreme Court rulings, the
National Defence Act and policies under which we negotiate treaties. It does not
recognize our need to balance indigenous rights to lands and resources with the
rights of others. It lacks clear guidance for implementation. While some say the
document is aspirational and not legally binding, there could be attempts to use
it in the courts and in negotiations. Its wording therefore is extremely
important. No previous Canadian government, as I mentioned at the beginning, has
supported the current text of the declaration.
With regard to Aboriginal peoples, our government has placed great importance
on delivering tangible, concrete results for Aboriginal peoples, such as
speeding up land claims. We launched a national consultation process on
matrimonial real property rights for women on the reserve. The Throne Speech
stated that our government remains committed to repealing section 67 of the
Canadian Human Rights Act, which I would hope everyone on all sides would
support, to give First Nations on reserve the same access to human rights
protection as other Canadians.
I hope all opposition parties support this initiative. I am proud that our
government was the one that brought a resolution to the residential schools
issue; and as was stated in the Speech from the Throne, the Prime Minister will
apologize on behalf of the Government of Canada.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, I can applaud any
government's actions to promote and address the needs of our Aboriginal people,
but the Kelowna Accord was a rare occasion in the history of this country that
gave Canadians, parliamentarians, an opportunity to move forward on issues that
affected our Aboriginal people. It was an agreement endorsed by so many of those
people that I feel it was a lost opportunity.
Do you plan to revive the Kelowna Accord in any form? This historical and
landmark agreement with the Aboriginal people of this country can help them
achieve real development. Will this government continue its cavalier approach to
First Nations leaders by forcing made-in-Ottawa solutions on them?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, we do not intend to re-release a press
release of the previous government. The government of which I am a member, the
previous Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Jim Prentice, and
now Minister Chuck Strahl have worked hard to address the ongoing issues with
regard to our Aboriginal peoples. In our short period of time in government, a
few of the things we have done for Canada's Aboriginal people include finalizing
Indian residential schools agreements; announcing an action plan to change the
way specific land claims are resolved; making progress in our action plan for
safe drinking water on reserves; providing $33 million over three years to the
National Association of Friendship Centres for urban Aboriginal youth programs;
launching consultation on matrimonial property rights for women; and
establishing on-reserve pilot projects for patient wait-time guarantees in
prenatal care and diabetic care.
In Budget 2007, we provided funding for the Aboriginal Justice Strategy and
for First Nations fisheries management on the East Coast. In addition, the
Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership was more than doubled, and $300
million was set aside to develop individual property ownership on reserve.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I find myself compelled to
stand tall here and correct the record. I am not short, but I will confide in my
colleagues that people of my size, five feet six and nine-sixteenths inches
tall, will often find people of Senator Prud'homme's height to be freakishly
tall. It is a pleasure to sit beside him, provided honourable senators can see
me over his head and recognize me. Thank you for doing that today.
The Chief Electoral Officer has established that the Conservative Party of
Canada broke the law in what has now been described widely as the in-and-out
Conservative election expenses scandal. Since someone lied about $1.2 million in
national Conservative campaign expenses by putting those funds into Conservative
constituency campaigns, the Conservative Party stood to gain $720,000 in
election rebates from the taxpayers of Canada that they would not otherwise have
received. I am not a lawyer, but that, honourable senators, is fraud.
My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Why is it that
the Prime Minister seems hardly to be able to wait to get to his feet to talk
about crime, but when it is his party that broke the law, he sits quietly on his
hands and says absolutely nothing? Is it not time to get tough on Conservative
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I hate to disappoint the honourable senator, but the Prime
Minister did respond to this yesterday. I will say much the same thing today: I
dare Senator Mitchell to utter the words he used in here outside of this
Senator Comeau: Do it!
Senator LeBreton: This from a Liberal.
Senator Comeau: Sponsorship!
Senator LeBreton: Canadian taxpayers are still waiting to see, hear
about or have some proof as to the $40 million —
The Hon. the Speaker: Order! Honourable senators, the time for
Question Period has expired.
The Hon. the Speaker: I wish to draw the attention of honourable
senators to the presence in the gallery of participants in the Sixth Canadian
Parliamentary Seminar of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. David Angus moved second reading of Bill S-2, to amend the
Canada-United States Tax Convention Act, 1984.
He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to move second reading of Bill
S-2, An Act to amend the Canada-United States Tax Convention Act, 1984.
I have often had the opportunity in this chamber to speak on various
conventions or treaties that Canada has entered into over the years with its
major trading partners, all with a view to avoiding double taxation, aiding tax
enforcement and enhancing economic cooperation between the contracting parties.
I believe Canada is party to some 89 such conventions. Just over a year ago,
I spoke at second reading and acted as sponsor of Bill S-5, An Act to Implement
Conventions and Protocols concluded between Canada and Ireland, Mexico and Korea
for the avoidance of double tax and the prevention of fiscal evasion with
respect to taxes on income. In my remarks at that time, I explained that
conventions such as these are an essential element of Canada's overall
comprehensive taxation system and that the Conservative government of Prime
Minister Stephen Harper is committed to maintaining a well-functioning tax
system and in a modern, up-to-date state. This includes ensuring that our
network of international tax treaties, conventions and protocols are up-to-date
and comply as fully as possible with the accepted norms presently applicable to
such instruments, such as conforming to the OECD model convention.
As a result, it is not my intention today to offer repetitive details
respecting the roles and the whys and wherefores of these conventions in
contributing to a competitive and modern tax system for Canada. Rather, I wish
to focus on the key elements of Bill S-2 and explain how it represents yet a
further positive step in the upgrading, modernizing and improving of our
existing international tax conventions.
Honourable senators, are well aware that our neighbour to the south is our
most important and longest standing trading partner and that our economies and
socioeconomic relationships are profoundly and I believe inextricably
intertwined. It follows that the Canada-United States tax treaty is one of the
most extensive and important of those on our books. Our first comprehensive tax
convention with the U.S. was concluded in 1942, expanding on a more summary
agreement first entered into in 1928.
The 1942 agreement was overhauled, modernized and replaced with a new
comprehensive convention in 1980. The 1980 convention has since been amended,
upgraded and fine-tuned by protocols on four occasions since its original
ratification, namely, in 1983, 1984, 1995 and 1997.
Bill S-2 is the fifth amending protocol. Its purpose is to implement in
Canada the fifth such protocol together with two exchanges of diplomatic notes
which deal with very technical issues.
The fifth protocol was signed and the diplomatic notes exchanged in an
impressive ceremony at Meech Lake just over a month ago, on September 21. At
that ceremony, the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, represented
Canada and Henry Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury, represented the United
States. This signing ceremony concluded nearly 10 years of negotiations aimed at
modernizing and improving the 1980 convention for the betterment of individuals,
families and business on both sides of the border.
The fifth protocol has, in the interim, been scrutinized by Canadian
stakeholders, such as the Canadian Tax Foundation, and I understand no
opposition whatsoever has been forthcoming. Finance Department officials have
assured me that the bill is not controversial and will be positively received by
all interested partners and parties.
Honourable senators, I am comfortable in asserting that this legislation,
which resolves a number of critical and outstanding bilateral tax issues, will
also stimulate increased Canada-U.S. trade and investment and, at the same time,
will make both countries' tax systems more efficient.
Honourable senators, Bill S-2 will have the effect of delivering significant
benefits to Canadian individuals, families and businesses in a number of ways.
First, Bill S-2 will eliminate source-country withholding tax on cross-border
interest payments. For example, a resident of Canada who borrows money from a
U.S. lender will no longer have to withhold and remit Canadian tax on the
Second, Bill S-2 will allow taxpayers to require that otherwise insoluble
double tax issues be settled through arbitration. This arbitration rule is an
important element of the bill because it will increase taxpayers' confidence
that the tax treaty will resolve potential double taxation situations.
Third, Bill S-2 will ensure that there is no double taxation of the gains or
deemed gains of emigrants from Canada. I asked the officials what that was all
about. There is a law in Canada that when people leave the country and emigrate
to the U.S., there is a deemed realization of their property, and there is a big
tax situation, and there is also tax in their new place of residence. This bill
fixes an anomaly whereby double taxation occurs in a number of circumstances.
Fourth, this bill will extend treaty benefits to limited liability companies
by removing a potential impediment to cross-border investment, and this arises
from private equity funds and their comings and goings.
Fifth, this bill will give mutual tax recognition to pension contributors. In
other words, provided certain conditions are met, cross border commuters may
deduct, for residence country tax purposes, the pension contributions they make
to a plan or arrangement in the country where they work. Someone who moves
temporarily from one country to the other for work reasons can, subject to
certain conditions, get tax recognition in their temporary new home country for
pension contributions they continue to make to their original employer's pension
plan. This proposal will facilitate movement of personnel between Canada and the
U.S. by removing a possible disincentive for commuters in temporary work
Sixth, this bill will clarify how stock options are taxed, or, in other
words, harmonize the rules in both countries. These are complicated rules, and
often there is double taxation. This area has been worked on and clarified in
this bill and in this latest protocol.
Seventh, Bill S-2 will implement many technical improvements and updates.
Honourable senators, as I said a moment ago, the U.S. is Canada's closest
neighbour and largest trading partner. It is only natural that we would want and
do have a special relationship. The new tax convention protocol contained in
Bill S-2 will enhance this relationship by proposing to update the long-standing tax agreement between Canada and the U.S. I am convinced that its
benefits are clear.
In today's highly competitive global economy, we need to continually explore
ways to grow, expand and compete in the global marketplace. Further, improving
and refining our relationship with our friends and neighbours to the south is
essential. This new protocol will do just that, by providing individuals,
families and businesses on both sides of the border with predictable and
equitable tax results in their cross-border dealings.
More than that, honourable senators, this protocol will strengthen the bonds
of economic cooperation between our two great countries. In the spirit of such
cooperation, I would encourage all honourable senators to give this proposed
legislation the consideration it deserves and pass it with due dispatch. I hope
this bill will be referred without delay to the Standing Senate Committee on
Banking, Trade and Commerce. In order to come into effect January 1, 2008 and
its benefits not be delayed for a year, the bill needs to pass through the House
of Commons after third reading in the Senate and receive Royal Assent by
December 31, 2007.
On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Comeau, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Brown:
That the following Address be presented to Her Excellency the Governor
General of Canada:
To Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Chancellor and
Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the
Order of Military Merit, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Merit of
the Police Forces, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY:
We, Her Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the Senate of Canada
in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your
Excellency for the gracious Speech which Your Excellency has addressed to
both Houses of Parliament.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, as we say in Quebec, first
the flowers, then the flowerpot. This is why, in my speech today, I will
highlight the tiny bouquet — the few positives for Canadians in the Speech from
the Throne — before I begin tossing brickbats — and there are many.
As a proud citizen of Quebec's national capital, I am pleased to see that the
Throne Speech specifically mentioned the celebrations for Quebec City's 400th
anniversary. I can assure the Senate that preparations are coming along nicely.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite my fellow parliamentarians to
visit Quebec City in 2008.
I would also like to suggest that the Prime Minister take advantage of his
meetings with dignitaries from various countries to invite them to come
celebrate the French fact in North America with us. I would also note that this
year, Quebec City will host the annual meeting of the Association des
parlementaires francophones and the Francophone Summit. The former Liberal
government worked closely with the organizers of the 400th anniversary
celebrations, and I hope that the Conservative government will meet the
expectations of Quebecers, francophones outside Quebec, and all Canadians for
this great event.
I also welcome the government's intention to monitor the federal spending
power. I would point out that, like my colleague, Senator Segal, I was a strong
supporter of the Meech Lake Accord. The government's current proposal, though
less ambitious than what was put forward at the time of the Meech Lake Accord,
seems to be a step in the right direction. I am very much looking forward to its
bill on this subject, and I will pass judgment later on the specific measures it
contains. I would emphasize that the Liberal Party will make sure that the
government has the decency to consult the provinces on this issue, which affects
them directly, rather than force changes on them that they did not agree to.
I also wish to welcome the government's intention to follow through with what
is known as the Dion Plan for official languages, but I would point out that
intentions mean nothing unless they are accompanied by real action. The Throne
Speech reference to an official languages strategy was extremely vague. It
remains to be seen whether it meant a light version of the Dion Plan or an
improved one. Unfortunately, the following statement made in 2001 by the very
conservative current Prime Minister leaves considerable room for doubt:
Make no mistake. Canada is not a bilingual country. In fact it is less
bilingual today than it has ever been. As a religion, bilingualism is the
god that failed. It has led to no fairness, produced no unity, and cost
Canadian taxpayers untold millions.
This is a quote from Stephen Harper, honourable senators. I admit that he has
improved on this issue, but we cannot ignore what was said in the past.
I want every linguistic minority community in Canada to know that the Liberal
Party has never hesitated to defend them, and it will never stop fighting the
enemies of official languages.
Now that I have handed out the bouquets, here come the brickbats.
The government should be ashamed of telling Canadians they are not well
served by the Senate in its current form. I wonder whether the Prime Minister
recognizes the extraordinary work the Conservative senators do in this place. I
would hate to be in the shoes of my Conservative colleagues, for whom their
leader seems to have no regard or recognition. I would like to remind the Prime
Minister that the senators in this chamber, from every party, do incredible work
and produce studies on matters of great importance, matters such as Canadian aid
in Africa, mental health, assisted suicide, and airport security, to name a few.
What about the hundreds of amendments that are moved every year by the Senate
in order to improve the bills passed in the other place? We play a very positive
role. And what about the hundreds of hours of hearings held by parliamentary
committees to give people a chance to express their views on bills?
Although I am in favour of modernizing the Senate, I sincerely believe that
it would be in the Prime Minister's interest to consult his provincial
counterparts before moving forward with any reform. Rather than hold
consultations, the Prime Minister imposes his vision and tries to slip his
ideological reforms in through the back door. Quebec's Intergovernmental Affairs
Minister has always said that the provinces should be consulted on this.
Furthermore, when he appeared before the Special Committee on Senate Reform, he
was very clear on the fact that the federal government cannot make unilateral
changes to parliamentary institutions.
My friend Senator Segal has suggested a new approach — a referendum on the
issue. In his speech, Senator Segal spoke to the suggested number of years for
length of tenure. Last year, for example, a bill tabled in the Senate limited
the tenure of senators; another bill was tabled in the House of Commons. That
approach indicates a failure because, if the Prime Minister had been serious
about the issue, he would have consulted with the provinces and tabled one bill
with the cooperation of everyone. If that was considered an unsuccessful
attempt, it was an unsuccessful attempt by the government, not this place.
In the Speech from the Throne, the government promised another GST cut. But
who will benefit the most from this measure? As we all know, 1 per cent less on
bread and milk does not add up to much, but 1 per cent less on a luxury car or
on a construction project would make quite a difference. I would remind the
Senate that, while the government cut the GST by 1 per cent, it increased income
tax for the poorest families.
Several points in this Speech from the Throne left me disappointed, but it
was definitely what was missing, — what should have been there — that upset me
the most. If I may, honourable senators, I would like to give you a few examples
of what is not in the Speech from the Throne. It is missing measures for women's
equality, the reinstatement of the Court Challenges program, measures to ensure
that the French language is once again given its rightful status in the Canadian
army, a firm commitment concerning the Kyoto Protocol and measures to
effectively fight poverty and social exclusion.
I am very disappointed with the absence from the Throne Speech of any
measures for, and nothing more than a mention of, the issue of women's equality.
I am well aware that the Conservatives have never been the most ardent defenders
of women's rights, but there must be a limit.
During the previous Parliament, this government cut the operating budget of
Status of Women Canada by nearly 40 per cent and removed the word "equality"
from the program's mandate. How can Canadian women place their trust in a
government that does nothing to improve their situation?
Not only did this government cut funding to groups that defend women's
rights, but it also refused to pass federal legislation on pay equity, for which
many women's groups have been calling. I would like to remind all Canadians,
particularly the Conservatives, that women earn only 71 cents for every dollar
earned by men for the same work. Honourable senators, this reality is
unacceptable in 2007. What is this government waiting for to take action and
finally introduce proactive pay-equity legislation and restore funding to groups
that defend women's rights? The Prime Minister must know that equality before
the law is not synonymous with equality in reality and that women in this
country deserve the support of their government to fully achieve real equality.
Honourable senators, eliminating the Court Challenges Program for ideological
reasons was a very bad idea on the part of this Conservative government. I would
have thought that with the frustration and the protests coming from many groups
that defend the interests of women, linguistic minorities, religious minorities,
sexual minorities and others, this Conservative government would eventually
realize what a monumental mistake it had made and would revive this program,
which Canada badly needs.
The saving of the Montfort Hospital in Ottawa is the perfect example of why
this program is needed. I do not have to go into detail about what happened,
because everyone in this chamber knows the story of the Montfort Hospital. The
important thing to remember is that Franco-Ontarians fought hard to keep the
only francophone hospital in Ottawa and that funding from the Court Challenges
Program was vital to their struggle. Without that funding, Franco-Ontarians
likely would not have access to the same quality of service in their mother
tongue, here in the nation's capital.
Not only does this program serve people's interests, but it also enhances
jurisprudence and law in Canada. This government should be ashamed of letting
down a segment of the population. I would again remind the Prime Minister that
equality in law does not always mean equality in fact.
I would like to say a word about bilingualism in the army. I was astounded
that this government tried to undermine French in Canadian public institutions
during the last session. The new language policy of the Department of National
Defence takes the Canadian Forces back 40 years. Under this policy, senior
officers of only half the units will be required to be bilingual, whereas the
former policy required that all high-ranking officers be bilingual. In practice,
this means that our soldiers can communicate in French in francophone and
bilingual units only and no longer in all units, as they could previously.
I hope that the government will reverse its decision and give French back its
rightful place in the Canadian Forces. Canada is a bilingual country, honourable
senators, and my francophone compatriots have the right to be treated with
dignity and respect by the country they are risking their lives for.
With regard to the environment, I certainly have no reason to congratulate
this government. Since it came to power, it has eliminated programs to fight
climate change and has undermined Canada's credibility and leadership on the
world stage, something the previous Liberal government and my leader, the member
for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, had established.
Of course, this government, which is more concerned about partisan polls than
the interests of Canadians, had to rethink its ideological cuts and bring those
programs back a few months later with new names, less stringent targets and much
Canadians are not fools. They know the importance of effectively fighting
climate change and they know that this government is not doing enough to protect
the environment. While the Conservatives are wasting Canadians' time in the
fight against climate change, the Liberal opposition has not given up.
My colleague, the member for Honoré-Mercier, introduced Bill C-288, to force
Canada to meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
Our colleague, Senator Mitchell, did a wonderful job on the bill here in the
house, and I want to congratulate him on that.
I gave him my full support in his attempt to serve the interests of my fellow
citizens, who rightfully want the Government of Canada to take action to protect
the living conditions of future generations.
The residents of Quebec City regularly ask me to take action and to be
proactive in the matter of climate change. But the government takes no notice.
Although Bill C-288 was passed by the three opposition parties, the
government continues to refuse to put in place effective measures that will
enable Canada to attain the Kyoto Protocol targets and thus regain its
credibility in the international community in this regard. How can citizens
trust a government that does not even respect the laws democratically adopted by
Parliament? That is shameful!
I have kept for last a subject that deeply touches me as a human being and a
father, and that is poverty. Every day on my way to work I see with my own eyes
the poverty of certain individuals. Many people of all ages, who do not have a
roof over their heads or food to eat, have to beg. It is not acceptable that a
society as prosperous as ours allows individuals to live in such miserable
It is true that Canada's economy is doing well, but not everyone benefits.
For example, in many large cities, the cost of living has increased considerably
in the past few years and these increases have outstripped many families'
resources. The federal government has a number of tools available to fight
poverty. Why is it not using them?
I am very sad that this was mentioned only briefly in the Speech from the
Throne, and that no specific commitment was made. The fight against poverty
should be a priority for all parties. Canadians are full citizens. None of them
should be overlooked by their government.
In conclusion, I would once again like to remind Canadians that I am not
concerned about what is in the Throne Speech, but what is not in it. The Liberal
Party will work very hard to make the current government take action to ensure
full equality for women, to reinstate the Court Challenges program, to ensure
that French has its rightful place in all spheres of Canadian society, to fight
climate change, and to implement effective measures to considerably improve the
living conditions of the less fortunate.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Would my honourable friend take a question?
Senator Dawson: I would be surprised if the honourable senator did not
Senator Segal: My question relates to what my colleague from Quebec
said about public consultations via a referendum on the future of the Senate.
Let us take for granted the established principle that any constitutional change
affecting the Senate of Canada requires dialogue among provincial premiers,
governments and legislatures. Does the honourable senator support the idea of
public dialogue, or is he opposed to it — on the basis of principles that I am
sure I can understand?
Senator Dawson: I am sure that I will have an opportunity to comment
on the honourable senator's motion. However, I think it is worth noting that, in
his analysis of the situation, he mentioned failures.
I think that the government and the political parties can make a renewed
attempt at dialogue through consultations with the provinces. We were just days
away from reaching an agreement on the Meech Lake Accord. Although it would not
have settled the matter of an equal, elected Senate, the accord would have
resolved a number of issues for the long term. The provinces would have been
satisfied with that kind of progress.
I am asking the government to do what it has avoided doing for a year and a
half: convene the provincial premiers and initiate talks. They are our partners
and we owe our existence to them. As such, we should work with them, with or
without a referendum.
Quebec has held a number of referendums, all of which have produced divided
results. We cannot create unity by polarizing people's opinions.
Should a referendum be held, would 50 per cent plus one choose an elected
Senate? Perhaps. But would we have made any progress on the issue? I do not
think so. We would still come up against a major obstacle: Canada's
Hon. Serge Joyal: Would the honourable senator take one question?
Senator Dawson: Of course.
The Hon. the Speaker: Unfortunately, I must inform Senator Dawson that
his time is up. Would he like to ask for five more minutes?
Senator Dawson: Yes, please.
Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, my question is on the introductory
part of Senator Dawson's speech, when he made reference to the celebrations to
commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City. In that
regard, I would like to quote from the Speech from the Throne:
Next year we mark important anniversaries spanning our country and its
history. We will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec
City. Canada was born in French.
I was listening to what the honourable senator had to say. Is the Speech from
the Throne not ambiguous as to what we are celebrating in 2008?
On October 8, two weeks ago, the French foreign affairs minister said during
a press conference in Paris:
In 2008, we will celebrate the founding of Quebec City and the creation
I get the impression that in public speeches we are dissociating these two
elements and making this simply a celebration of the founding of Quebec City.
Obviously, when Samuel de Champlain settled in Quebec City in 1608, it was not
to found a city; it was to stake a claim on the continent in the name of the
king of France, and the French colonial empire covered three quarters of North
America and the United States. Furthermore, Prime Minister Harper was very
clear, when it came to the Canadian government taking part in the 400th
anniversary activities, that this should also be done from a Canadian
Does the senator realize that his comments perpetuate the ambiguity I see in
the Speech from the Throne and that, in fact, we will not be celebrating the
400th anniversary of Canada at this time?
Senator Dawson: The senator is probably right. I could take another
look at that part of the speech.
There is a conflict. When the previous Canadian government negotiated with
its municipal and provincial partners on the structure of the 400th anniversary
celebrations, it was the federal government's idea to say that we would also be
celebrating Canada's anniversary.
It is my understanding from certain members of the Conservative Party in the
other place that there may be some ambiguity. Indeed, we are celebrating Quebec
City, New France and the arrival of the French in North America.
In the eyes of the Canadian government, the biggest partner in this event,
this occasion has always also been a celebration of Canada. However, I could
have corrected my remarks and I will certainly ask the Prime Minister to correct
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: I would like to remind honourable senators
that the French had arrived in Acadia a few years earlier. The Acadians already
celebrated their 400th anniversary in 2004.
On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.
Hon. Hugh Segal moved second reading of Bill S-202, An Act to amend
certain Acts to provide job protection for members of the reserve force.—(Honourable
He said: Honourable senators, a little more than one year ago I introduced a
motion in this chamber urging the government to bring into force a section of
the Public Safety Act that would provide some level of job protection for the
Canadian women and men who volunteer to train and serve with the Canadian Forces
Reserve. A little less than one year ago, that motion was passed unanimously by
both sides of this chamber. On behalf of all members of the Canadian Forces
Reserve, I want to express our appreciation for the vote that took place at that
Since that time, the Government of Canada has made attempts to mitigate the
inequity suffered by those who choose to train and serve alongside regular
Canadian Forces but in some situations are fearful of doing so because they
might return to the civilian unemployment line after their service. Jean-Pierre
Blackburn, Minister of Labour, and Rona Ambrose, Minister of Intergovernmental
Affairs, are meeting with provincial counterparts to look at ways to legislate
job protection for reserve force members at the provincial level. Currently,
three Canadian provinces — Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan — have such
protection. The Prime Minister personally made the request to Premier Robert
Ghiz in Prince Edward Island. That province, as well as Newfoundland and
Labrador, have committed to making these legislative changes as well. This
consultation is welcome and necessary because something must be done quickly
considering the nature of our current NATO commitments. The consultation is also
coming after the highly publicized case of a reserve forces major in
Newfoundland and Labrador who returned from Afghanistan to civilian
unemployment. This issue was also addressed in the Throne Speech being debated
by this chamber, proof that the government recognizes the inequities and intends
to address the situation.
No one is naive, and we know that legislating such protection will require
coordination among many government departments, as well as the provinces.
However, I believe it is incumbent upon the federal government to lead by
example. It is for this reason that I introduced Bill S-202, to ensure that a
quick first step is taken for those serving with the Canadian Reserve Forces and
that they are supported at the federal level when they return to their civilian
working lives in the federal public service, in Crown corporations and in
corporations regulated by the federal Crown. As their representatives and
legislators, it is the least all of us can do. We can ask them to serve this
country, but if they are to be separated from family and if they put their lives
on the line, how can we do so without providing them with some peace of mind
with respect to their jobs? Honourable senators, it is the right thing to do.
There are currently more than 33,000 reservists across Canada; 2,500 of them
are on active duty and more than 300 are working and fighting alongside our
regular forces in Afghanistan. Here in Canada, they have on many occasions come
to the aid of Canadians in times of homegrown crises — the Winnipeg and Saguenay
floods and the ice storm of 1998, to name a few. As one who experienced
first-hand the six days of darkness and cold in the 1998 ice storm, I was
thankful, as was my wife, daughter and our neighbours, of the assistance
provided by the reserve forces in Kingston, Trenton and Brockville in our
The reality of a reservist's situation is that training and active-duty
deployment can keep him or her away from a civilian job for up to one year. The
Canadian Forces readily admits that their jobs would be more difficult, if not
impossible in some situations, without the backing and supplementing provided by
the reserves, Afghanistan being the most obvious. However, how many reservists
are, or were, unable or unwilling to volunteer for this mission for fear of
unemployment upon their return — the inability to provide for themselves or
their families? The federal government departments and agencies should be the
leaders in facilitating such a guarantee. However, honourable senators, this is
not the current case. Bill S-202 would make it the case.
One would think that federal government departments would be the first to
understand and attempt to accommodate reservists in training or deployment
situations. I thought so as well, until I was told of a young man who was
informed by his superior that should he volunteer for active duty in
Afghanistan, something for which he had planned and trained, his civilian
position would need to be filled, not only during his absence but permanently.
He would lose his seniority, his benefits and would need to reapply for a
position upon his return. His superior did promise him, however, a favourable
reference upon reapplication. Honourable senators, this young man worked in a
clerical capacity on a Canadian Forces base in this country.
The arguments against legislated job protection for reservists are exactly
the same arguments put forward when legislation was introduced regarding
maternity leave and, more recently, parental leave and compassionate leave. Will
employers even consider hiring a woman of child-bearing age? Will employers even
consider hiring a reservist who may volunteer for active duty? How can an
employer provide job protection for a parent wanting to stay home with a newborn
for up to one year? How can an employer provide job protection for an individual
who may require a leave of absence to train and serve for up to one year? In
today's world, the notion that it would be acceptable to tell a woman that,
unfortunately, if she is unable to return to her position within a week or two
of giving birth, she will be replaced, would be utterly unthinkable. In today's
world, the notion that it would be acceptable to tell employees that they will
be replaced if they take six weeks off to care for a dying parent is
unthinkable. In my world, in the world I think we all want to share, I would
like these same improbable reactions to apply to a Canadian Forces Reservist who
has volunteered to serve his or her country. Based on this chamber's response to
the first motion, I would like to think that all sides would concur for the
rapid passage of Bill S-202.
Canadian Forces Reservists are standing alongside regular force members. To
do this, they must request leaves of absence and rely on the goodwill and
understanding of employers to hold their positions during training and service
in overseas missions — for months, if necessary. Unfortunately, some employers,
including federal government employers, are less than enthusiastic about their
employees' requests for unpaid leaves. Unfortunately, some of these same members
are falling alongside regular forces when the casualty count comes in. Little
enthusiasm for job protection by some employers pales against the reality of the
situation for some reserve force members.
Bill S-202 will eliminate the need for goodwill at the federal level and will
amend the Canada Labour Code to provide job protection for reserve force members
who have been employed for six consecutive months and then request a leave of
absence to a maximum of 12 months. Bill S-202 will also amend the Public Service
Labour Relations Act and mandate job protection for reservists in every
department, Crown corporation or entity covered by this act.
Finally, Bill S-202 will amend the Department of Public Works and Government
Services Act to mandate that every contract for the supply of goods or services
to the federal government include the amendment to the Canada Labour Code
provision directly in the contract. In short, by this legislation, any company
or corporation wanting to do business with the federal government will be
required to provide the same job protection for reservists as is required by the
federal government itself. We cannot mandate requirements of job protection for
reservists at the federal level without making this protection a statutory
requirement for those wishing to do business with the Crown.
Some naysayers will argue that some applicants will be deprived of employment
opportunities because companies will cease hiring people who are of an age and
capacity to join our reserves. However, as with maternity or parental leave and
a host of other important labour standards, we have a long list of legislative
changes made in the interest of a humane and caring society. Yes, there is
always some resistance in the beginning, but as with previous legislative
changes, that legislation tends to effect a cultural shift. It will become
apparent that leaving people out of an employment option because those people
might be loyal enough to want to join the reserves will become socially and
economically unacceptable. National security and national defence are public
goods to be protected by all of us in this chamber.
Many industrialized nations have passed legislation to protect reservists.
The United States, Great Britain, France, Belgium, Spain and Australia have
all taken a principled stand on this issue. These countries provide reservists a
right to return to their civilian jobs after their military service without a
loss of benefits or a break in seniority, and they provide reservists with
protection against discrimination or retaliation in their workplace. The methods
and legislation they use to achieve this end can be studied at length in
committee, should this chamber see fit to move Bill S-202 forward.
The issue of job protection for reservists has been the subject of discussion
for many years. It was supported at length in the 1995 Special Commission on the
Restructuring of the Reserves and the 2005 Commission on the Restructuring of
the Reserves. With our commitments now overstretching our Armed Forces and the
need for even more reservists to enter active duty, it should be our mandate as
parliamentarians to provide incentives and do whatever is possible to support
those who wish to volunteer. This discussion has gone on for more than 20 years,
honourable senators. How many times must we reach the same conclusions? Members
of Canada's reserve forces, who serve this country bravely at home and abroad,
deserve meaningful job protection. This chamber has the capacity to advance this
The work done by the Canadian Forces Liaison Council in support of the
Department of National Defence in the absence of job protection legislation by
educating employers, promoting support of reservists and outlining the advantage
of hiring reservists is welcome and admirable. When necessary, the council also
attempts to mediate employment situations to allow for job security or unpaid
leave — all worthwhile efforts — and I am grateful that such an organization
exists, but in a civil and civilized Canadian society, we should not have to
"negotiate" and "educate" employers regarding the right thing to do where
their employees, who are willing to serve their country and their communities
and co-workers, are concerned. I would rather begin with the premise that we
have legislation in place establishing a clear obligation on the matter, and if
corporations and others want to engage on how to manage some of these issues,
whether there are tax or other considerations that must be put in place, that
would be a fair discussion. However, it is fundamental, certainly in those areas
governed by federal legislation, that we have a clear and precise statutory
I ask honourable senators to consider the merits of Bill S-202 and through
discussion and amendment in committee, if necessary, to enact this bill into law
and send it to the other place so that the Government of Canada can become a
leader by example.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Would the honourable senator accept a
Senator Segal: Certainly.
Senator Dallaire: I have three children, all in the reserves, one of
whom is off to Sierra Leone on call-out for six months. I am most interested in
this subject. I know the honourable senator is an honorary captain in the naval
reserve. As many reservists are students, their academic studies will be
affected by this bill, as well as those who are working. Has the honourable
senator had an opportunity to speak to the troops in this regard? If so, could
he offer us an indication as to the sentiments of the troops in regard to this
Senator Segal: I thank the honourable senator for the question.
In order that honourable senators are comfortable with regard to the issue of
conflict of interest, I am an unpaid honorary captain of the Canadian navy and
not associated particularly with the reserves. I would not qualify for the
primary reserves, based on physical fitness requirements alone. Thank goodness
our Armed Forces have minimal standards, and I respect those.
I have had a chance to meet with various heads of different reserve
organizations across the country on this issue. They all take the position that
when a young person has trained and is prepared to serve abroad and volunteers,
then the local commanding officer must make a recommendation as to whether the
soldier, airman or seaman is able to serve and should be allowed to serve. One
of the things they take into consideration is the economic circumstance of the
young woman or man who has so volunteered. While it is understandable that in
the private sector small companies and others may have difficulties with long
absences, it would be incomprehensible if a federal government department had a
Some local bank managers may say, "By all means, go forward and serve; God
bless you," and others will say, "I cannot have a vacant spot here. I do not
have a lot of staff. We will have to fill the position and when you come back,
who knows, there may or may not be work." That would affect the young person's
capacity to make that volunteering decision.
While we all respect the difficulties of small business, and we do not wish
them to be unduly pressured in the circumstance, and while we are not in the
circumstance of a national emergency, which is another option the government has
— God forbid if we ever get to that point — we can set an example as the federal
If the federal government offices were to have a policy in places such as
Kingston, Moncton or Windsor, this would also become a competitive factor for
other offices that compete for employees to adopt. Most to whom I have spoken
believe that this proposed legislation would aid them immensely in recruiting
and facilitating young people who wish to volunteer for service, and not only
with respect to a foreign theatre of war. For example, the navy has sent people
from the Maritimes to B.C. to assist with flood coordination activities that may
be necessary on Vancouver Island. These are young men and women who volunteered
from within their reserve units to be so dispatched.
They happened to be all right in terms of employment, but that is a
willy-nilly circumstance for which there is no guarantee. Bill S-202 is asking
that the federal government set an example by creating a policy that if the
reservist has been employed for six months, and he or she volunteers for
Afghanistan or any other long assignment, their job or a job equivalent to what
they are leaving will be protected until their return. The cost of that, in my
judgment, with respect to the federal government, would be almost
Senator Dallaire: The federal government has historically been one of
the worst employers in terms of protecting and supporting the reserves. I am an
honorary colonel also, but I have a medical reason for not necessarily serving
in a higher authority.
On motion of Senator Dallaire, debate adjourned.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein moved second reading of Bill S-210, An
Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings).—(Honourable Senator
He said: Honourable senators, once again I will reiterate what I have said in
the Senate in the past and I say to the new senator from Alberta: Things take a
long time here. We can repeat things until we get a measure of water through
this complicated dike called the Senate. It will be beneficial for the
honourable senator to learn about the difficulties of getting a good idea
approved by the Senate chamber.
Bill S-43 was placed on the Order Paper in October 2005. The bill died on the
Order Paper when the Thirty-eighth Parliament was dissolved on November 29,
2005. Bill S-206 died again after I had reintroduced it during First Session of
the Thirty-ninth Parliament on April 5, 2006. It has been on the Order Paper for
some years and it has now been introduced three times.
The last time I was able to get the bill to the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs there was support from both sides of this
chamber. Here we are, back at it again. For the purposes of the record, I will
reiterate some of the arguments.
Honourable senators will recall that this proposed legislation began as Bill
S-43, then Bill S-206, and is now Bill S-210. This simple amendment clarifies
the explicit gap in the language of section 83.01 of the Criminal Code. The
proposal is to amend that section, after subsection (1.1), by the following
For greater certainty, a suicide bombing comes within paragraphs (a)
and (b) of the definition "terrorist activity" in subsection (1).
This is a definitional clause to include suicide bombing explicitly in the
It will establish suicide bombing, per se, the very words, as a criminal
This bill, honourable senators, goes to the very nature and the purpose of
the criminal law. This will be a rather lengthy exposé about, in my view, the
purposes of the criminal law and the purposes of the role of senators, because
we are lawmakers.
Law and Canada, honourable senators, are inseparable. This bill goes to the
very purpose of criminal law, and Honourable Senator Brown, the purpose of this
chamber is to create laws. That is the heart of our business.
In 1908, the great English author Rudyard Kipling, on a visit to Canada,
wrote to his family his impressions of Canada and Canadians. Here is a quotation
from that letter:
The law in Canada exists and is administered, not as a surprise, a joke,
a favour or a bribe . . . but as an integral part of the national character
— no more to be forgotten or talked about than trousers.
Earlier, in 1861, John Anderson, a fugitive slave being discharged for murder
by the Court of the Common Pleas in Upper Canada, said — and I quote: "I have
never known that there was so much law in the world as I find in Canada."
The late Robertson Davies, in his 1954 masterpiece, Leaven of Malice,
wrote these words: "Never go to the law for simple vengeance, that is not what
the law is for. Redress, yes; vengeance, no."
In 1960, the Right Honourable Lester Bowles Pearson, a mentor of this senator
and some others in this chamber, spoke these words in the House of Commons
Incorruptible and respected Courts, enforcing laws made by free men in
Parliament assembled and dealing with specific matters and, with specific
sanctions to enforce their observance; these are the best guarantees of our
rights and liberties. This is the tried and tested British way, and is the
better course to follow than the mere pious affirmation of general
principles to which some political societies are addicted.
The paramount purpose of our working Parliament is no more and no less
than to make laws. That is what Parliament does. Parliament transforms
experience into principles, and these principles into explicit laws. We make
laws and we administer the execution of those laws, especially criminal
laws. Parliament has exclusive oversight of the criminal law power, and this
power is tied to the question of freedom, liberty and security, which are
the organizing principles at the heart of federal governance. Criminal laws
are Parliament's definition of our civilization's standards of conduct and
care. To fall below these standards of care by unwanted conduct is to invite
penalties, prompting state action and, more important, to provide a clear
warning against unwanted conduct. Ultimately, criminal law seeks to prevent
and ostracize egregious conduct and, hopefully, in the process, to transform
the attitude and intentions of those who practise such conduct. It is to
transform public opinion, public conduct and private conduct.
Ignorance of the law is no excuse. All citizens are presumed to know the law.
A fortiori, there is a clear and present obligation of Parliament to ensure that
the criminal laws are clear and lucid, especially because of its criminal
consequences. To deprive a person of his liberty because of precipitous or
unwanted conduct requires lucidity of the highest order. That is why common
jargon, phrases and parlance have been picked up specifically in our Criminal
Code, and other criminal law, for example, in England, like "kidnapping," "murder" and
"theft." We took common parlance and moved it explicitly into
the code so the public would not be confused.
The Criminal Code is bound up in the protection and security of people and
property. Two of the Tablets of the Covenant, Moses' Ten Commandments, are clear
and simple: "Thou shalt not kill," and "Thou shalt not steal." Words are as
important as the laws themselves. Laws rest on practice, moral principles and
clarity. Natural laws float above the normative laws. Natural laws encapsulate
moral principles. The normative laws draw upon natural laws and specify the
moral offences enforcement with particularity and precision, hence the high onus
of proof and the high presumption of innocence when offensive conduct results in
loss of liberty.
Therefore, at the core of the debate of this bill lies the core of our
culture, our civilization — the reverence for life and the sanctity of life
rather than the promotion of a cult of death. Put another way, criminal law
purpose is to unify normative principles and social standards. As the great
judge Oliver Wendell Holmes once put it, "no grand principle is worth a damn
unless it is applied to specific cases."
Let me turn to the specific question of suicide bombing.
Both suicides and bombing of innocents are condemned in the Old Testament,
the New Testament and, surprisingly, the Quran itself.
Let me quote from the website of the Iraq Foundation: "Suicide bombing is a
terrorist activity." Therefore, on their website, they support the predecessor
of this bill, Bill S-206. It is on their website. By the way, I did not know
about this website until it was brought to my attention.
The website goes on to say the following:
We, the undersigned, support and seek your support for Senate Bill S-206,
which amends Section 83.01 of the Criminal Code to ensure suicide bombing is
clearly within the definition of "terrorist activity".
It goes on to say the following:
Suicide bombing has become an all too frequent practice in many countries
throughout the world. Thousands of civilians are killed and maimed to
advance a cause based on falsely implanted expectations of glory and
martyrdom. We say no cause can justify suicide bombing.
So says the Iraq Foundation:
Bill S-206 aims beyond those who trap explosives to their bodies and look
where they can cause maximum pain, suffering, death and dismemberment. It
will help focus on those who promote terrorism by teaching, organizing and
financing the killers in the names of ill-conceived ideology, distorted
belief or abhorrent political conviction. This amendment will assist law
enforcement agencies to pursue the individuals promoting their heinous
Penal statutes must unambiguously state which actions are criminalized.
Rather than assuming that suicide bombing is currently covered by
implication in the Code, this amendment specifies suicide bombing as
prohibited terrorist activity.
Those words also came from the Iraq Foundation.
Arnold Toynbee, in his magnificent work, A Study of History, is
dedicated to a perceptive analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations. In his
book, he traces the characteristics that led to the disintegration of a
civilization. He examines what he calls the schism in the body social and the
collective experience. Then he examines the "outward and visible sign of inward
and spiritual rift" resulting from this internal inner schism.
Toynbee explores this underlying schism in society that is characteristic of
a disintegrating civilization. He looks deeper into what he calls "the schism
in the souls of members of a disintegrating society," the individual members of
sect societies. He notes that, in the disintegration phase of civilizations,
individuals are split between active and passive substitutes for action, neither
of which is creative. These choices of personal behaviour become "more rigid in
their limitation, more extreme in their divergence and more momentous in their
consequences." A society unravels, Toynbee notes, when an individual looks at
his failed or failing society, his disintegrating society, and becomes a "truant" and turns to so-called martyrdom. It is a way of stepping beyond the
current malaise of his fragmenting society, rather much like a soldier who no
longer seeks to minimize the risk to his life while inflicting damage on the
other. Instead of this course, the "truant" from society, as Toynbee says,
chooses to court death to take the offensive in the face of manifest moral
defeat, decay and drift.
Having failed to reform his own society and cultural environment, the suicide
now seeks to master his own self. This action of abandonment and truancy are
"simply products of the vice of cowardice." So the divided soul chooses
martyrdom "and in psychology more than half a suicide." The "truant" is, in
modern jargon, an "escapist." "A "truant's" motives are buried in
ignominious oblivion, a profound sense of drift." Toynbee then concludes that
"the pain is the punishment for the sin of idolatry worshiping the creature
rather than the Creator."
The problem of suicide bombing goes beyond martyrdom when the suicide
intentionally targets other innocent lives as a measure of success and thus
promotes the cult of death, overriding the reverence for life, including his
Roscoe Pound, a leading American teacher and writer on the philosophy of law,
in his magnum opus An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law, defined 12
organizing ideas of law from ancient times to the present, from Mosaic law to
Hammurabi Code to Greek, Roman law to Medieval law of the theologians, to the
origins of social then economic justice. The common thread, the organizing idea
of the rule of law throughout the ages, progressively incorporated principles
that allowed for the greater political freedom and security of the individual
aligned with reciprocal duties to refrain from aggressive violent conduct
towards others that would limit, in the extreme case of suicide bombings, to end
innocent human life. This is a brilliant analysis.
Reverence for life is a lynchpin of all religions and the keystone of the
rule of law. All our laws are wrapped around this central idea.
Honourable senators, I raise the question because suicide bombing cuts
contrary to the essence of our concept of civilization and our reverence for
There are two arguments against this amendment. First, the notion of
criminalization of suicide bombing is already implicit in the criminal law, by
other words; so have said some of the critics. I return to my original thesis.
The criminal law should and must incorporate accepted and clear-headed words
that emerge from common usage in order to enhance the clarity of the criminal
law in the public mind. The express operative precautionary words in the
amendment are for "greater clarity".
In the Ouimet report, the Report of the Canadian Committee on Corrections,
Towards Unity: Criminal Justice and Corrections 1969 said this:
No conduct should be defined as criminal unless it represents a serious
threat to society, and unless the act cannot be dealt with through other
social or legal means.
Thus it is accepted by the Law Commission of Canada that the criminal law
ought to be "pruned" to differentiate between what it calls "real crimes." "To
count as a real crime an act must be morally wrong . . . The real criminal law
should be confined to wrongful acts seriously threatening and infringing
fundamental social values."
Honourable senators, I am directing my comments to this particular bill, but
these comments and principles have wider significance because of the other
criminal justice measures that shortly will be before the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
The second argument against this bill, more vague and inexact, is that this
amendment would somehow dilute the application of international law as
illustrated in international resolutions or treaties. Allow me to address this
Pacta sunt servanda — that is Latin — meaning that agreements must be
honoured. This maxim from Roman law is presupposed to be the organizing
principle of international law. Unfortunately, in international law the
principle and the practice diverge. This principle has not been observed nor has
it been practised. What then is the relationship between treaty law and domestic
The aim is the same, but the practice of enforcement obviously is different.
International law has no direct enforcement mechanism other than the
International Court of Justice, with its limited mandate, funding and access.
The articles of the UN charter empower the Security Council to enforce its
I will not belabour a self-evident proposition other than to say that the UN
actions of enforcement have been episodic, inconsistent and highly politicized.
Politics rather than justice, equality and the rule of law have governed its
enforcement practices. Enforcement depends on a coalition of the willing. The
Security Council has politically polarized itself on issues of enforcement
contrary to the hopes of the architects of the UN charter, including our late
and revered former prime minister, Lester Bowles Pearson, probably the greatest
foreign minister we ever had, and the late and very honourable Louis St.
Observers such as the late Senator Moynihan, in his brilliant book On the
Law of Nations, argue that enforcement of the international rule of law by
one state unilaterally is ineffective, especially when politically renounced by
other states. This, of course, was not the intention of the fathers of the UN,
So we are in a no-man's land of good intentions when it comes to
international law. The best way to address this chasm of enforcement is to
establish and enforce domestic legislation — hence this amendment.
When Senator Eggleton first approached me on the subject, it was his view,
and that of an outstanding Canadian, the former Justice Bromstein, that we
should pass a resolution in this chamber. I concluded that that would not, in
any way, shape or form, enhance the situation in Canada. The only way to enhance
the situation in Canada would be by an amendment to our Criminal Code. I think
that Senator Eggleton and Mr. Justice Bromstein agreed with that, and hence this
Senator Moynihan argued that the canons of international law are thought to
be normal, necessary and satisfactory, so the international law and domestic law
converge in the same objectives: renunciation of aggressive violence against
innocent individuals with the political purpose to sow terror in democratic
states to retard the growth of freedom, liberty, stability and, above all, the
security of the individual and the reverence for life.
Death is the most serious crime that can be inflicted on a person and thus
carries the harshest penalties in criminal law — so says the Law Commission of
Canada; so says our Criminal Code. To leave an express void in our domestic
criminal law against acts of suicide bombers is neither salutary nor celebratory
for the peace, order and good government of Canada. Canada can lead the way
internationally in its express criminal law to suffocate and hopefully eradicate
suicide bombing as a weapon of choice for whatever purpose.
Honourable senators, I will not belabour the point any further, other than to
say that a resolution encapsulating calls for addressing in law suicide bombing
has been consistently passed at the OSCE. Senator Di Nino is the chairman of our
delegation and he will affirm that. At meeting after meeting, the 56 democratic
states of the world, the largest international human rights organization in the
world, have passed resolution after resolution condemning suicide bombing and
recommending that it be passed in domestic legislation.
This is not simply a whim of Senator Eggleton, Justice Bromstein or me. This
has great support of 56 other nations.
There they have difficulty because they say they want to propose this as a
"crime against humanity." I argued earlier that the idea is to make it much
more specific, congruent and coherent as it applies to our own domestic laws.
As I said, this amendment fully accords with Jewish, Christian and Muslim
teachings against the intentional homicide of innocent persons by persons
committing suicide by their tragic action.
Honourable senators may recall that on July 18, 2005, in response to suicide
bombing in London on July 7, more than 500 British Muslim religious leaders and
scholars offered condolences to the families and victims and issued a fatwa
which stated that the use of violence and the destruction of innocent lives are
vehemently prohibited. This fatwa was proclaimed by the British Muslim Forum
outside the British Houses of Parliament. The Secretary-General of that
organization, the BMF, Mr. Gul Mohammad, quoted from the Quran as follows:
Whoever kills a human being . . . then it is as though he has killed all
mankind; and whoever saves a human life it is as though he has saved all
He then quoted from the Quran, Surah al-Maidah paragraph 5, verse 32:
Islam's position is clear and unequivocal: murder of one soul is the
murder of the whole of humanity; he who shows no respect for human life is
an enemy of humanity.
Approximately 50 Muslim leaders and scholars from around the U.K. stood
together outside the Houses of Parliament to support Mr. Gul Mohammad as he
publicly read out that fatwa.
In a separate statement, the British Muslim Forum, with nearly 300 mosques in
the U.K. affiliated to it, noted that this fatwa would be read out in all
mosques across Britain on July 22, 2005, which it was. This public statement
also stated: "We pray for the defeat of extremism and terrorism in the world."
Then, 40 Islamic leaders and scholars, at a meeting of London's Islamic
Cultural Centre organized by the Muslim Council of Britain, issued yet another
declaration denouncing suicide bombings.
Honourable senators, since the time of Moses the intentional taking of human
life has been prohibited. Witness the story of Cain and Abel. This edict
encapsulated in the sixth of the Ten Commandments At Sinai, the two tablets of
the Covenant that Moses unveiled, the idea of freedom was limited or
circumscribed by the Ten Commandments. One tablet dealt with honour and respect,
and the other with human well-being. The Decalogue was found in the Old
Testament, Exodus 20:13, and in Deuteronomy 5:17. The original Hebrew text of
the Old Testament uses different words for "intentional" versus "unintentional" killing.
The King James Version, in modern translation, now uses this translation:
"Thou shalt not murder." This translation is more linguistically nuanced and
more closely represents the original meaning of the ancient Aramaic text. The
original root Hebrew word "tirtzach" in the sixth Commandment is "ratzach,"
which ordinarily refers to intentional killing without cause and accidental
The Talmud then went on to explain, in references to suicide, which stated:
"For the world was created for only one individual to indicate that he who
destroys one human life is considered as if he destroyed the whole world." In
effect, the Quran echoes the Talmud.
Hebrew law considered accidental killing as not punishable. The Old Testament
distinguished carefully between intentional murder without cause and accidental
killing. Thus, in the Old Testament, "cities of refuge" were designated so
that an unintentional killer could flee to escape retribution. Under the Old
Testament, breaking other sacred laws such as honouring the Sabbath is
permissible if breaking that law will save just one human life. To protect one's
own life against intentional murder by another, the law of self-defence is
Christian theology, including Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox and Eastern
Rites denominations, makes it equally clear, prohibiting intentional murder of
In Matthew 19:18 Jesus said: "Thou shalt do no murder." Killing in
self-defence is also not deemed murder within the confines of the New Testament.
As for suicides, Corinthians 6:19 to 20, prohibits taking of one's own life.
Those more familiar with the Christian coda might be more expansive on Christian
theology than I on the question of intentional taking of human life with mens
rea. However, I have tried my best, honourable senators, to refer you to the
The entire rationale of our Criminal Code is to be precise, to ensure that
crimes are proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Strict onus of proof remains with
the state. Clarity is essential when the Criminal Code and the powers of the
state are arraigned against any person.
The Criminal Code is a codification of our laws of conduct pertaining to our
civilized society and civilization. Is there any reason, honourable senators,
not to clarify the Criminal Code and make suicide bombings an express, explicit
criminal offence? On a careful reading of the Criminal Code and the
Anti-terrorism Act, there is no specific criminal offence of suicide bombing per
se and the Anti-terrorism Act will return to us again. Those who are on that
committee can examine that question.
A specific prohibition against suicide bombing would directly assist and
enhance the prosecution of those unsuccessful suicide bombings and those who
individually and collectively conspire to assist in suicide bombings. Peace,
order and good government lies at the base of Canada's system of the rule of
law. Suicide bombing is contrary to the very heart of our constitutional
Our criminal law, as it stands, does not expressly prohibit those who
intentionally choose to take their own lives as a means of taking as many lives
as possible. If suicide bombing is tantamount to homicide, the Criminal Code
should eliminate any doubt about it as a clear-cut, express criminal offence.
This surgical amendment will help to bring attempted suicide bombers, those
teaching this cult of death and those collaborating with them to justice. This
surgical amendment would discourage, as the Criminal Code should, the
encouragement of such conduct that we conclude is abhorrent to our entire
civilized society. While this is a modest amendment, it represents an important
clarification of the principles deeply embedded in our natural law and the
The Criminal Code evolved to give greater emphasis to victims, including
their families. This amendment would help remediate appropriate victims'
The nature of criminal law is to mediate between morality and reason. The
purpose of the criminal law is to draw precise lines between acceptable and
aberrant behaviour. In the process, criminal law forewarns, censures,
ostracizes, isolates and seeks to undermine and reduce, if not expunge, aberrant
behaviour from our civic society. The criminal law requires precision rather
than vagueness as the state arraigns its mighty powers against aberrant
behaviour of the individual.
Honourable senators, I believe I have made the case to remediate our Criminal
Code and the criminal law to prohibit expressly suicide bombings under the
I commend to honourable senators a book entitled Dying to Win: The
Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, by Robert Pape, a professor at the
University of Chicago. In it, he painstakingly analyzes and documents a
demographic profile of suicide bombers and the groups who conspire to assist and
aid them. He concludes that, for the most part, these individuals are neither
poor, nor desperate, nor uneducated religious fanatics. More often than not,
they are well-educated, middle-class, political activists.
Honourable senators, we spend most of our lives in politics. We have observed
desperate politics at home and desperate politics abroad. With this human
weapon, suicide bombers have taken political activism to a profound level beyond
the core of our civilized principles and beliefs.
Honourable senators, when I read his book I called Mr. Pape and I asked him
what was happening since he had published the book. He stated, "Suicide
terrorism continues to rise rapidly around the world."
In Iraq and Afghanistan, innocent lives, particularly Canadian lives have
been lost because of suicide bombers. If we are fighting against suicide bombers
abroad, surely at home we can make this an explicit criminal offence.
Should we not follow the lead of other countries of the OSCE who have
condemned suicide bombings as abhorrent to civilized society? Canadians Against
Suicide Bombing, led by former Mr. Justice Bromstein, has thousands upon
thousands of citizens who have signed its petition. Every outstanding Canadian
has been listed as a supporter of this bill. The former Mr. Justice Bromstein
has urged the United Nations and Parliament to take action to remediate against
this unnecessary uncertainty in our criminal law.
I want to commend the former Mr. Justice Bromstein, who has taken his
voluntary responsibilities when he retired as a judge to the highest level of
civic duty in our country. I believe we should all commend him for his
activities. The Canadians Against Suicide Bombing website has received over
50,000 hits, which indicates a deep interest in this issue from Canadians in
every corner of our land. The legal views I have reviewed include those of a
great professor of law, formerly the editor of the Canadian Bar Review,
Professor Jean-Gabriel Castel.
Honourable senators, I urge the speedy adoption of this amendment. This
amendment would send a clear message of abhorrence and condemnation to those who
would praise, plan or implement suicide bombing against innocent citizens here
Honourable senators, I will conclude with a quote from another mentor of
mine, my old distinguished dean and friend, the late Dean Cecil Augustus Wright
of the University of Toronto Law School. In a speech he made at the opening of
the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in 1962, he quoted Mr. Justice
Frankfurter of the U.S. Supreme Court. These words I have on my office wall here
and in Toronto. This quote has been an organizing principle of my political
Fragile as reason is, and limited as the law is as the expression of the
institutionalized medium of reason, that's all we have standing between us
and the tyranny of mere will and the cruelty of unbridled, undisciplined
Honourable senators, this amendment reaches into the pith and substance of
our Criminal Code. I urge you to return it as quickly as possible back to the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to be studied
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Would Senator Grafstein accept a question?
I was listening with great care to what Senator Grafstein was saying, and I
thank him for all the work he has put into his speech.
Some decades back, suicide used to be a crime in our jurisdiction. As a
matter of fact, I think the old name for it was a felo de se, a felony of
the self, a murder of the self. As time progressed, I suppose, it ceased to be a
crime, although all the supporting law around it still is, like assisted suicide
and that sort of thing. The real problem that the system ran into is that once a
suicide has been committed, a person having murdered themselves, that person is
dead; so it made prosecution somewhat difficult.
Though I seconded this bill last year because the honourable senator needed a
seconder. I am not well acquainted with the bill, but I listened with care
today. I am motivated to now go and read it. Maybe the honourable senator
answered this question in his discourse, but if there has been a suicide bombing
and the suicider is dead, as are many other people, how could the Crown
prosecute the suicide bomber?
Senator Grafstein: First, let us go back to the foundation of the
criminal law. The purpose of my remarks today was to talk about the criminal law
and the role of Parliament in passing those laws.
As a specific example, let us turn to Roscoe Pound, Mr. Felix Frankfurter and
others, or Moynihan, and look to the specifics. The purpose of the criminal law
is not to prosecute in the first instance, but to prevent egregious conduct. The
law must send a clear message to the public: "Do not do this or there will be
criminal consequences." Honourable senators, when someone stands up and says, "I am in favour of suicide bombing," that borders on a criminal offence
because they would be encouraging criminal conduct.
A successful suicide bomber cannot be prosecuted because he or she is a dead
person. However, one can certainly prosecute those who would aid and conspire
with him or her, those who taught and applaud the action. The purpose of the
criminal law is not to put people in prison. If that were the case, all of
Canada would be in a prison; we have all broken the criminal law.
Senator Prud'homme: The honourable senator has, perhaps.
Senator Grafstein: In some minor fashion, unbeknownst to us, or more
rarely, knowingly, who amongst us has not?
Some Hon. Senators: Shame!
Senator Grafstein: I will not limit the scope of this example to
honourable senators; every Canadian has done this. They have done this
unknowingly, or they have done it because they thought they could get away with
it. The purpose of the criminal law is to prevent misconduct and to say, "If
you do this, you will have the full power of the state brought against you." I
am not only speaking here of the act, but also the prevention of the act, the
counselling and applauding of the act. The intent is to stop the promotion of
Honourable senators now know, for instance, that the act of suicide bombing
proliferates everywhere. It is on the Web, on television and websites. The
number of websites promoting suicide bombing has accelerated across the board.
Suicide bombing is moving from egregious conduct to common acceptance. That is
what the criminal law is meant to prevent. The law is meant to act as a
prophylactic against egregious conduct before it occurs. If the act takes place,
obviously, the law to prosecute must be clear.
Senator Cools: My understanding of the criminal law is somewhat
different from that of the honourable senator. My understanding of the use and
purpose of the Criminal Code is somewhat different.
The honourable senator put a significant amount of valuable information on
the record, but he has put nothing on the record about the risk or dangers of
suicide bombers in Canada. We know about Afghanistan; that case is well made. We
know about the situations in other parts of the world. Does the honourable
senator have some information about the growing risk or the dangers within
Canada from suicide bombers?
Senator Grafstein: I do not have any specific information other than
information in the public domain. In the public domain there is information that
suicide bombing is taught in Canada. There is information in the public domain
that some people were preparing implements to carry out suicide bombing. There
is information, as there was more particularly in the U.K., that this is a
growing practice. The concern in the U.K., and more recently with the arrests in
Toronto, of which we still wait to hear the prosecutions, is that there is a
second generation of young people who have become believers in this particular
We ought to make the law explicit and clear-cut. Criminal law is not perfect.
We should not let the imperfect drive out the good. We try to do the best we
can, and the best we can do is to pinpoint this conduct explicitly. When this
piece of legislation passes, we will have the tools to address it immediately. I
do not believe we have appropriate tools now in the Criminal Code.
Senator Cools: Perhaps, when the bill arrives in committee we could
have some testimony on that subject.
Senator Grafstein: When this bill is referred to the committee, I see
no reason not to call on the appropriate authorities to look at this question in
Canada. I would hope that would be part of the public record.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I was a little surprised
to hear that all Canadians are criminals, more or less. I do not think that is
what the senator meant to say.
I listened to his speech with a great deal of interest. In order to examine
his bill more closely, if it were approved and became a Senate bill, would there
not be an opportunity at committee stage to invite appropriate witnesses to look
into the causes?
It has become an epidemic. I know that the honourable senator is very
concerned about these issues. I think it would be wise, and would balance out
the claims he wants us to accept, if we asked why we have suicide attempts in
today's society. It has become an unbelievable epidemic, a deadly illness. The
reasons for such actions could certainly be examined.
In order to get the full picture, would the honourable senator agree that, if
this bill makes it to committee stage, there should also be a study on why this
unfortunate series of events is taking place across the world?
Senator Grafstein: I have had before the Senate, and I referred to
this yesterday, an outstanding resolution dealing with anti-Semitism.
Senator Prud'homme: Yes, we know to what it is related.
Senator Grafstein: The resolution also refers to anti-Muslim
sentiment. I have urged the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights to look at
this question, and they have refused to deal with the subject, as has the
Senate. It strikes me that that would be a very appropriate place to deal with
some of the root causes to which the honourable senator referred.
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs is a master
of its own thinking. I do not need to impede their work. They will decide what
witnesses to call. I will be available to give evidence, as should any member if
he or she is proposing a private member's bill. It will be up to the committee,
the chair and the Steering Committee to decide which witnesses to call. I will
be prepared to respond to any testimony made available to that committee on any
On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire moved second reading of Bill C-293,
respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad.—(Honourable
He said: Honourable senators, I know I will not have enough time to finish my
speech this afternoon, but I would like to thank you for giving me the
opportunity to begin speaking to you today on Bill C-293, respecting the
provision of official development assistance abroad.
I consider this bill a first step towards evolutionary change in our
country's entire international development program. We must recognize the
crucial need not only to increase the volume, quality and quantity of
international development, but also to review, according to the Standing Senate
Committee on Foreign Affairs, the very structure of the agencies, in particular
CIDA, that manage the evolution of Canada's international development assistance
for those countries that need it.
This bill was initiated in May 2006, almost a year and a half ago, by my
colleague in the other place, the Honourable John McKay.
Briefly, the purpose of Bill C-293 is to give a clear focus on poverty
reduction to the Official Development Assistance, ODA, provided by Canada. It
will provide a focus and orientation that is currently lacking as ODA seems to
be in a shotgun mode attempting to respond to a variety of requirements that do
not necessarily ultimately meet the objective of assisting nations in their
Bill C-239 also details measures for accountability whereby the minister
responsible would be required to report to Parliament on the activities of, in
particular, the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA.
Finally, the bill states that the minister shall consult with governments,
non-governmental organizations and, not surprisingly, those who are most
affected by the poverty of the world — the poor.
Many of us agree that there is a need both for more and better aid to be
provided by Canada. That is an understatement when we look at the level that we
have committed over the years and still commit to meeting the objectives of 7
per cent GNP. We are currently at 4.1 per cent.
Bill C-293 addresses the "better aid" part of the equation; namely, how to
use the funds more effectively and how to focus those funds to provide the best
possible results, ultimately the results to those who need it most — the poor.
Bill C-293 defines ODA according to the definition of the Development
Assistance Committee, DAC, of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development, OECD but encompasses also unique Canadian features. As Bill C-293
states, ODA should be:
. . . administered with the principal objective of promoting the economic
development and welfare of developing countries, that is concessional in
character, that conveys a grant element of at least 25 per cent and that
meets the requirements set out in section 4;
— which I will come to —
(b) that is provided for the purpose of alleviating the effects of
a natural or artificial disaster or other emergency occurring outside
Section 4 of the bill specifies the three features that Canadian ODA should
meet. Canadian ODA should be provided to developing countries
. . . only if the competent minister is of the opinion that it
(a) contributes to poverty reduction;
(b) takes into account the perspectives of the poor; and
(c) is consistent with international human rights standards.
This opinion shall reflect that of the civil society organizations as well.
I strongly believe that this bill will provide CIDA, our current and
principal aid provider, with tools necessary for this department to provide
better aid — aid that is more efficient and more accountable to parliamentarians
and to the public.
It will not be the be-all and end-all. It is a first step in the realignment
of international development by this country, great nation that we are, to
respond with our capabilities and responsibilities toward those nations in need.
We are a leading middle power in the world, and as such we have a responsibility
to provide assistance. ODA is one of those principal instruments. Poverty is the
most virulent instrument creating international conflict and disparity in the
A word on committees and consultations: In total, this bill has already spent
almost 20 hours in committee, first in the House of Commons Standing Committee
on Foreign Affairs and International Development and then in the Standing Senate
Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Before our summer break, the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and
International Trade heard nine witnesses on Bill C-293, in addition to comments
from Mr. MacKay and me. As sponsors of the bill, we provided information to
guide the committee's deliberations.
In his testimony, Mr. Mark Lowcock, Director-General, Policy and
International with the Department for International Development (DFID), which is
CIDA's counterpart in Great Britain, told us that in Great Britain, a similar
bill had been extremely beneficial to the department since the policy was
implemented in 2002.
Mark Lowcock told us:
Our experience has been that the 2002 act has been beneficial in a number
of ways. First, it provides clarity of purpose. This was commented on in the
latest Development Assistance Committee peer review in the U.K. Mission
fuzziness can be a problem for public sector bureaucracies and the act helps
us with that.
Second, the act is beneficial as a motivator for the staff of the
department and our external partners. People want to get up in the morning
and come to work to contribute unambiguously to the reduction of poverty in
Third, it ensures that we avoid the problems we encountered when we used
the aid program to pursue multiple objectives.
That is certainly what is happening.
In addition to the expert advice received by DFID, I have been in
consultation with several experts regarding Bill C-293 over the summer.
Representatives from the UN's Millennium Project have told me that they support
the bill's core concept of putting poverty reduction at the centre of CIDA's
mission. As you may know, the UN Millennium Project, led by the famous economist
Jeffrey Sachs, is mandated to map out an action plan for achieving the
millennium development goals of which poverty reduction is one.
For his part, the Prime Minister promised this past summer that Canada would
join the global movement to achieve the millennium development goals put in
place by the Right Honourable Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United
Kingdom. The first of these millennium development goals, which Canada has
promised to achieve by 2015, is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. More
specifically, wealthy nations are promising to reduce by half the proportion of
people living on less than a dollar a day.
The former Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Honourable Peter MacKay, made
this announcement in early August:
Canada will continue to work with its partners — other governments, the
private sector and non-governmental organizations — toward meeting these
internationally agreed objectives.
That was quoted from the Ottawa Citizen, August 1, 2007.
This commitment was made by the government on behalf of Canada. However, no
action has been taken since then to ensure that Canada achieves the millennium
development goals. The Speech from the Throne is not very useful in shedding a
positive light on this matter.
If the government truly wanted to achieve these goals, it would implement the
recommendations of the experts from the Millenium Project of the United Nations
Development Program, who say that Bill C-293 is a step in the right direction,
and they would support this bill.
The Senate adjourned until Thursday, October 25, 2007, at 1:30 p.m.