Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, a few weeks ago I was
happy and honoured to spend some time at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie
de Montréal and to celebrate the official launch of their website,
The completion of this project is a source of great pride for all the
partners involved, including Industry Canada, which contributed $75,000 to help
create the Web site, through its Francommunautés virtuelles program.
The concept behind this project is another great example of the tremendous
opportunities afforded by new information and communication technology in the
health and social services fields.
Special events such as this show us how relevant and valuable a program such
as Francommunautés virtuelles can be. The main objective of this Industry Canada
program is to provide financial support for innovative and creative projects
that help Canada's francophone and Acadian communities take full advantage of
these new technologies.
By supporting innovative French programs, the Government of Canada aims to
close the digital divide between francophones and anglophones when it comes to
accessing high quality online content, applications and services in French. By
so doing, the government is also promoting the development of new
Thanks to the aidant.ca project, the University of Montreal's
institute of geriatrics will use its website to meet the information and support
needs of francophone caregivers, who will be able to contact people working in
the health care sector and access the resources they need to care for their
That same day, I had the great pleasure of seeing Frédéric Back, who is still
known to many as "The Man Who Planted Trees." This great animator was the
institute's official spokesperson. He is there every day to spend time with his
wife, who is still in rehabilitation. Like me, he hopes that the new web-based
service will be useful to anyone wondering where to find the help and support
they need to succeed at the difficult job of caregiving.
I discussed this with the minister in charge, and I believe that the program
will not only be renewed, but will also receive additional funding in the next
In closing, I would like to congratulate everyone who contributed to making
this project a reality.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I would like to take you
back in time; back 90 years, when this country was in the midst of one of the
greatest and far-reaching conflicts of all time. World War I traumatized and
changed the face of the world, particularly the Western world. It was
responsible for what is arguably the most traumatic event in Canadian history.
In 1917, Canada was at war. The Port of Halifax, in particular, was a nexus
of the Canadian war effort. This city of 50,000 people was the hub of the
Canadian war effort, and also a focal point for the British Navy. The life-blood
of the city was the harbour and the hundreds of convoys and ships travelling
back and forth to Europe. As a result, the people and industry of the town clung
to the shores of the harbour. Looking out over the water on December 6,
thousands of people witnessed two ships that had collided and caught fire. The
spectacle drew people out of schools, out of work and out of their homes to
watch the excitement. Two thousand people would never be able to tell their
stories, six thousand more would be injured, and many would suffer this legacy
for the rest of their lives.
Let me put this into perspective: One out of every 25 individuals in the city
of Halifax was killed. More than one in 10 was injured. I invite you to take
those numbers and apply them to your hometown. Just imagine the consequences.
This is what Haligonians suffered in December 1917.
Honourable senators, twice before I have stood in this chamber to ensure
these victims would be remembered. We owe this to them. We owe it to the
ordinary men and women who were victims of the disaster whose only crime was
being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We owe it to the children who never
had a chance to grow up and reach their potential. We owe it to the survivors
who forever had their lives changed in losing friends, family and community. On
a personal note, I owe it to my grandfather who died 90 years ago as a result of
the injuries he suffered in the Halifax explosion.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, in July I had the pleasure
of providing opening remarks for the fourth International Conference on
Indigenous Education: Asia/Pacific Regions, hosted by the Centre for
International Academic Exchange, First Nations University of Canada. Lily Chow,
one of the speakers at the conference, told me of the importance Barkerville,
B.C., has in Chinese-Canadian history.
Located in the Cariboo region of British Columbia, it is one of the largest
historic sites in western North America. Barkerville is rich in Chinese-Canadian
history and was established as a gold mining town in 1862 at the height of the
Cariboo Gold Rush. It is the only museum in B.C., if not all of Canada, that
retains the characteristics of an early gold mining town.
Barkerville has very good collections of artifacts and interpretive programs
that reflect the history of the gold rush period. It commemorates the lives of
thousands of people who came from all over the world to search for gold. One of
the largest migrations was from Guangdong province in southern China; many came
from Kaiping, the area of China that my father came from.
As an historic site and museum, Barkerville's resources are extraordinary.
There are 135 heritage structures dating from 1869 standing in the same places
they were built. There are two historic cemeteries, as well as large pieces of
mining equipment and landscape features such as hydraulic pits, ditches and mine
dumps. Barkerville has 187,000 objects, including over 20,000 photographs in its
Barkerville has the oldest and largest collection of Chinese buildings and
artifacts in North America, including the largest collection of pre-1900 written
documents that are specific to North American activities and the oldest Chee
Kung Tong building in Canada, which has been nominated for national designation.
Honourable senators, designated as a Provincial Heritage Site in 1958,
Barkerville is a national treasure that lives on for all Canadians.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, it is with great sadness that I pay tribute to a man who was one of
Canada's most eminent jurists and judges, the Right Honourable Antonio Lamer,
who died at his home in Ottawa on November 24.
A great defender of rights and freedoms, a leading figure in Canadian
justice, and a veritable incarnation of the wisdom of the Charter, Antonio Lamer
was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1980 and became the court's
sixteenth Chief Justice in 1990.
Appointed at a time when elected officials had the last word on Canadian
laws, Chief Justice Lamer was among the judges who participated in the legal
revolution brought about by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, helping our
system move from the supremacy of Parliament to the supremacy of the
Unrivalled in his ability to understand the need to strike a balance between
collective interests and individual rights and freedoms, Antonio Lamer not only
sanctioned the supremacy of the Constitution of Canada, but he also contributed
to rulings that made history. From Aboriginal rights to the independence of
judges, to the rights of the accused, not to mention the Reference re
Patriation of the Constitution and the Reference re Secession of Quebec,
the decisions signed by Antonio Lamer and other Supreme Court judges changed
Canadian law and Canadian society forever.
Always committed to human dignity, he emphasized the spirit that drove his
desire for justice during an interview. He said:
I often go to bed at night with a single obsession. I wonder whether,
somewhere in Canada, there is someone in prison who is innocent.
There is no better way to express what the true philosophy of law should be.
Justice Lamer was a credit to the legal profession throughout Canada. He will
be remembered for the real influence he has had on judicial reasoning and on our
society, as well as for his intelligence, passion and dedication to the defence
of freedom, rights and human dignity.
I would also like to take this opportunity to extend my sympathies to his
family for their great loss. I shared many happy times with Mr. Lamer,
particularly in Nuevo Vallarta, where I had the pleasure of playing tennis
against him, but I will not reveal the score.
Hon. Nancy Ruth: Honourable senators, I would like to reflect on the
life of Jane Rule, Member of the Order of Canada, Member of the Order of British
Columbia, professor at the University of British Columbia, and a cultural
nationalist and lesbian role model for hundreds of thousands of women. Jane died
last week on November 27. Jane brought the idea of women loving women into our
world in her writing. She exemplified lesbian love in her 46-year relationship
with her partner, Helen.
Sandra Martin said in The Globe and Mail last week:
She explored the conflict between desire and convention and the
constriction that fear can extol on all intimacy, joyfulness and freedom.
The article continued:
. . . she was part of two huge social and cultural revolutions: the
decriminalization of homosexuality and the international ascendancy of
When Jane came to Canada in 1956, we queers could be charged under the
Criminal Code and imprisoned for five years for living our love. Fifty years
ago, Canadian literature barely existed in schools, and rarely were there books
by women writers. In universities, CanLit was hardly a discipline, and support
for writers and poets was minimal.
Jane Rule's most famous book, Desert of the Heart, published by
Macmillan in 1964, was scanned for libel issues until the story was almost
killed. Thousands of closeted lesbians in North America wrote to Rule as if she
was the only person who might understand their lives. Her book contributed to
the affirmation of lesbian love and to Canadian literature. This book was
written before the second wave feminist movement began in Canada and, as
Margaret Atwood said:
Her novels were never tracts, however. What interested her was character,
in all its forms. The human-ness of human beings. The richness and
unpredictability of life.
Desert of the Heart was made into a movie in 1985. May I suggest that
honourable senators obtain a copy of Desert of the Heart from your local
DVD store this holiday season and understand how thousands of families celebrate
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, this past Friday I
had the privilege of meeting with representatives from the Canadian Cancer
Society, including the presidents of each of its three Maritime divisions: Mr.
Philip Smith, from my home province of Prince Edward Island; Mr. David Samson,
from Nova Scotia; and Dr. Eshwar Kumar, from New Brunswick. Accompanying them
was Mr. Rob Cunningham, from society headquarters in Ontario.
The mission of the Canadian Cancer Society is clear: To eradicate cancer and
to enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. It is a mission
that is vigorously pursued by 800 employees and more than 200,000 volunteers
across the country.
The Canadian Cancer Society has three main priority areas for advocacy this
year: First, access to cancer treatment drugs for all Canadians, regardless of
where they live or their ability to pay; second, the relationship between
environment and health and the public's right to know about cancer-causing
agents, product labelling and government's role; and, third, tobacco-related
issues, such as contraband, packaging and advertising.
Honourable senators, there is significant cause for concern. Nearly 160,000
Canadians will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year, and more than
72,000 will die. In Atlantic Canada, both the number of people diagnosed with
cancer and the mortality rates are higher than they are in other parts of the
country. In P.E.I. alone, the number of cancer cases has increased, while rates
have remained stable in Canada as a whole.
I know very few people who have not been touched by cancer in one way or
another — either as someone living with it, a family member, a loved one or a
friend. However, the good news is that progress is being made and that progress
will continue. I commend the Canadian Cancer Society, its staff and volunteers
for the difference they are making in continuing their mission to make cancer a
thing of the past.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, December 2 is the
International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. Throughout 2007, there have been
many commemorations of Britain's 1807 law that outlawed the transatlantic slave
trade. It was also on this date in 1949 that the United Nations General Assembly
adopted the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the
Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.
Slavery is a tragic fact that has existed throughout history. The abduction
and transport of slaves from Africa to the New World dates back to at least
1562. While the true number will never be known, probably more than 10 million
people would have been ripped from their homeland in Africa and enslaved in the
Americas. The first recorded name of a black slave in Canada was Mathieu de
Coste, a member of the expedition that founded Port Royal in 1605.
Slavery was to persist in Canada for over 200 years until a gradual change in
public opinion sparked a flicker of hope for those who had nothing. In 1787, the
United States passed the first anti-slavery law in North America. Some six years
later, in 1793 under then Lieutenant-Governor John Simcoe, a former slave owner
at Hemyock Castle in Upper Canada, this nation began its long legislative road
to the abolishment of slavery.
It was not until the British Parliament's Emancipation Act, which came into
effect August 1, 1834, that slavery technically came to an end in the
Unfortunately, that victory was not the end of the battle. Some 173 years
later, slavery is still with us. On December 2, the United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon drew an ugly picture of slavery as it exists
today. He stated:
Millions of our fellow human beings continue to live as contemporary
slaves, victims of abominable practices like human trafficking, forced
labour and sexual exploitation. . . .
Countless children are forced to become soldiers, work in sweatshops or
are sold by desperate families. Women are brutalized and traded like
commodities. Entire households and villages labour under debt bondage.
It is shameful that in 2007 people continue to live bereft of their basic
human rights and freedoms.
Honourable senators, we cannot turn away from their misery. I call upon all
of us in this chamber to raise our voices on their behalf and exercise our
political might to bring an end, a final and complete end, to slavery in all of
its forms. In so doing, let us at last win the battle for freedom.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to draw your
attention to the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Danzan Lundeejantsan,
M.P., Chairman of the State Great Hural of Mongolia. His Excellency is
accompanied by Mr. Chilhaajav Avdai, M.P., Chair of the Mongolia-Canada
Parliamentary Group; Mr. Yadamsuren Sanjmyatav, M.P. and Mr. Tuvden Ochirkhuu,
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
The Hon. the Speaker: Before proceeding to the next item, honourable
senators, I am pleased to introduce three Senate pages who will be working with
us this year.
Rebecca Liu was born in China and has lived in Edmonton, Alberta; Waterloo,
Ontario; and finally, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. Rebecca is a
certified lifeguard and was the provincial coordinator for the summer work
student exchange program. She is in her third year at the School of Management
at the University of Ottawa.
Jessica McLean is from a small town north of Sudbury. In her community, she
has been an anti-smoking activist, she has promoted the French language and she
has organized a number of fundraisers. She is in her third year in international
studies, with a minor in French, at the University of Ottawa.
Maureen Hasinoff was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. Before graduating
from high school, Maureen served for two years as a page in the Legislative
Assembly of Alberta. She is currently in her first year at the University of
Ottawa, studying towards a degree in political science and economics.
Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell, Joint Chair of the Standing Joint
Committee on the Library of Parliament, presented the following report:
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament has the honour
to present its
Your Committee recommends to the Senate that it be authorized to assist
the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Commons in
directing and controlling the Library of Parliament, and that it be
authorized to make recommendations to the Speaker of the Senate and the
Speaker of the House of Commons regarding the governance of the Library and
the proper expenditure of monies voted by Parliament for the purchase of
books, maps or other articles to be deposited therein.
Your Committee recommends:
(a) that its quorum be fixed at six members, provided that
each House is represented, and a member from the opposition and a member
from the government are present, whenever a vote, resolution or other
decision is taken; and
(b) that the Joint Chairs be authorized to hold meetings to
receive evidence and to have that evidence published when a quorum is
not present, provided that at least three members are present, including
a member from the opposition and a member from the government.
Your Committee further recommends to the Senate that it be empowered to
sit during sittings and adjournments of the Senate.
A copy of the relevant Minutes of Proceedings (Meeting No. 1) is
tabled in the House of Commons.
MARILYN TRENHOLME COUNSELL
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
On motion of Senator Trenholme Counsell, report placed on the Orders of the
Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been
received from the House of Commons with Bill C-298, An Act to add
perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and its salts to the Virtual Elimination List
under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
On motion of Senator Tardif, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second
reading two days hence.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the
Thirty-first conference of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian
Premiers held in Brudenell, Prince Edward Island, from June 25 to 26, 2007.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the
Council of State Governments, Southern Legislative Conference, Sixty-first
Annual Meeting held in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States, from July 14 to
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, on April 11, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services gave
former Parti Québécois minister Daniel Paillé the mandate to investigate the
previous government's polling and public opinion research practices. Mr. Paillé
was given $1 million and six months to complete his work.
It has now been more than a month since that deadline came and went. Can the
minister tell us why the report has not yet been submitted and made public?
Hon. Michael Fortier (Minister of Public Works and Government Services):
I thank the Honourable Leader of the Opposition for her question. As I said, Mr.
Paillé's report will soon be made public. May I remind you, as I indicated at
the time, that Mr. Paillé's budget was under $1 million, and you will be pleased
to learn, honourable senators, that he spent much less than that.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: That is probably the only good news. In
fact, I have learned that the Conservative government spent $31.6 million in
2006-07. That figure is unequalled by any previous government.
We wonder whether the government limited Mr. Paillé's mandate because of how
much money it had spent on polling. In light of this, since Mr. Paillé has money
left in his budget, will he be able to move on to the next phase and examine the
polling the government has done in the past two years?
Senator Fortier: Honourable senators will recall that Mr. Paillé's
mandate was both retrospective and prospective. When his report is released, I
am certain that the Honourable Leader of the Opposition will be pleasantly
surprised at the analyses he has done and the recommendations he makes.
The report tabled on Friday by Public Works and Government Services disclosed
what I found to be considerable expenses for polls. That is why the government
has announced a moratorium on all polls in every department, beginning today.
As you know, these polls are required by the departments and not by political
employees of ministers. In order to impose parameters on polling, the
government, effective today, will ask all its departments to refrain from using
public funds for polls until further notice.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: It is highly commendable that the government
wants to be reasonable in its spending on polls. However, once the Paillé report
is tabled, it will need to address the issue. I am sure that honourable senators
will be pleased to participate in a committee that could establish future
parameters for polls conducted by the government. I understand that the Privy
Council Office, Prime Minister Harper's department, alone has spent $1.3
million, which is four times more than was spent under the Liberal government of
I would like the minister to tell us whether the moratorium also applies to
the Privy Council.
Senator Fortier: Yes, it will apply to the entire public service until
parameters are established for polls commissioned and paid for by the public
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of
the Government in the Senate. It requires an answer on government policy, and I
did give notice, so I will understand if the leader takes it as notice.
My question has to do with the government's land management policy in
Gatineau Park. In 1988, the Treasury Board decided that all of the lands in
Gatineau Park would be added into what is called the National Interest Land
Mass, which means that those lands are deemed to be important for the
development of the capital region and for the use of future generations.
On July 13 last, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities,
Lawrence Cannon, allowed in an article in the Ottawa Citizen that some of
those lands should be sold off, which would be contrary to the 1950 Gréber Plan
and to all of the development plans that have existed in the past several
decades with respect to Gatineau Park. I note in passing that the Auditor
General's report noted that the NCC needed to manage the National Interest Land
Mass with more clarity.
Has that question been resolved or determined by the government? Is it the
position of the government that it may sell off some or any or all of the lands
in Gatineau Park?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I thank the honourable senator for the
question and for the courtesy of giving me advance notice and also sending me
the newspaper article to which he referred.
The government strongly believes in protecting our national treasures, and
that is why we invested an additional $15 million in the National Capital
Commission to ensure that priceless green space stays within the protected
mantle of the federal government.
With respect to the status of Gatineau Park, both the Minister of the
Environment, Minister Baird, and the minister responsible for the National
Capital Commission, Minister Cannon, have publicly committed to ensuring the
long-term protection of Gatineau Park.
As you know, in general terms, the government is committed to preserving our
environmental and natural green spaces. Recently, the Prime Minister and the
Minister of the Environment have made announcements regarding the preservation
and protection of many areas across the country. With regard to the federal
park, Minister Baird and Minister Cannon are both on the record as ensuring the
long-term protection and preservation of Gatineau Park.
Senator Banks: Honourable senators, I understand that governments of
all stripes for the past many decades have said that they are committed to
preserving green spaces in Gatineau Park. However, previous governments from
time to time have dealt with lands that were thought to be in Gatineau Park in
ways which were not consistent with what we would normally assume to be
Are there any circumstances in which the Government of Canada today would
sell or otherwise dispose of lands that are contained within what are now
understood to be the present boundaries of Gatineau Park?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, that is a very specific
question. I am not aware of any, but I am happy to take that question as notice.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, last week, the Commissioner of Official Languages harshly criticized
the government regarding its respect for the Official Languages Act.
Commissioner Graham Fraser said:
At present, the public service is taking a less rigorous, even
minimalistic, approach to the Official Languages Act.
Once again, this government is all talk and no action. The commissioner
estimates that the active offer of services in French has gone from 24 per cent
to 13 per cent in 37 target departments and agencies. At the Ottawa airport, the
active offer of services in French is zero per cent.
Can the Leader of the Government tell us what concrete actions the public
service will take to ensure that linguistic duality is respected?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I would be interested to know in what time frame this erosion
took place, but, as I have said on many occasions, the government is fully
committed to the principle of linguistic duality. We have proven this by taking
action on several fronts. Minister Bernier recently attended the Ministerial
Conference of the Francophonie, which Canada will now chair for two years. The
government committed to conducting public consultation on the future of minority
language policy as part of our strategy for the next phase of our action plan on
The Prime Minister was in Moncton, New Brunswick, yesterday and named former
New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord as a special adviser for these consultations
across the country. The former premier will report to Minister Verner by
mid-January. As I recently said, I believe in answer to a question from Senator
Tardif, the government signed a new agreement with the Yukon to support
French-language services, under which we will contribute $3.5 million.
Also, on October 20, Minister Verner announced funding to help the
francophone federation of British Columbia prepare and welcome the international
francophone community during the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games in
Vancouver. Of course, with regard to the appointment yesterday of former Premier
Lord, this appointment was fully supported and lauded by the Commissioner of
Official Languages, Mr. Fraser.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my supplementary question concerns the appointment of Bernard Lord as
Special Adviser for the Consultations on Linguistic Duality and Official
Languages. As André Pratte pointed out today in his La Presse editorial,
people are wondering why the government wanted to engage the services of Mr.
Lord when the Commissioner of Official Languages, Graham Fraser, has already
submitted numerous recommendations, one of which was the reinstatement of the
Court Challenges Program.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the Honourable Senator Tardif for her supplementary
question. I believe Mr. Fraser supports this — and I am happy that he does so.
Bernard Lord has a unique experience in dealing with this matter. Mr. Lord is a
good Acadian, although partly a Quebecer. As I have reported here before,
Minister Verner is embarking on a program to enhance our commitment to official
languages. The appointment of Bernard Lord in no way undermines the work of the
Commissioner of Official Languages. Mr. Fraser has a full plate with very
In Mr. Lord's case, he will travel around the country meeting with the
various stakeholders and people who perhaps would not normally be sought out for
their opinion. In my view, and I am sure the senator shares this view, anyone,
especially someone of the calibre of Mr. Lord, who can contribute to the
advancement of official languages and assist the minister, Minister Verner,
should be celebrated and not derided.
Senator Tardif: Will Canadians and parliamentarians have access to Mr.
Senator LeBreton: Actually, as I said in response to Senator Tardif's
first question, Mr. Lord will report to the minister by mid-January and I would
expect that, very shortly thereafter, the report would be made public.
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Honourable senators, I do not know by what
authority Mr. Lord was appointed as a special adviser. Can the Leader of the
Government table documents in the Senate confirming his appointment and the
terms and conditions governing the execution of his mandate?
Senator LeBreton: Mr. Lord was appointed as a special adviser to
Minister Verner and the government. His actual category is special adviser to
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Can the minister also provide the Senate
with information about how much Mr. Lord will be paid for his month of work?
Senator LeBreton: I will take the honourable senator's question as
Hon. Maria Chaput: My question is for the Leader of the Government in
the Senate, and it concerns the consultations that Mr. Lord will be undertaking.
These consultations will take place between now and mid-December, and Minister
Josée Verner stated that the consultations will shape the development of the
strategy to determine the next phase of the action plan. This suggests that the
government is looking for a new strategy to follow up on what has already been
One of the news releases also stated the following:
The discussions will focus on broader themes, such as demographic
changes, the economy, new technologies and the modernization of government.
Could these broader themes to be discussed during the consultations become
the basis for a new strategy? Will the government develop its community support
strategy on the basis of these themes? What will become of what was done during
the first phase of the plan? What will happen with education, early childhood
education, immigration, the legal system and French- language health services?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the senator for putting on the record some
of the comments in the press release. Minister Verner has taken this
responsibility seriously. Mr. Bernard Lord has been named as the special
adviser. The government intends for him to consult widely and to report back.
The government intends to strengthen, support and increase commitment to
official languages, bearing in mind that the demographics of the country have
Mr. Lord will be taking all of this into account. He will not be seeking
advice only to say we will not follow it. The intention is the opposite. Mr.
Lord is well equipped for this task. He was a premier and knows many people
across the country. In his work with Minister Verner, Mr. Lord will quickly put
together working groups of people who must be heard in order to formulate a new
and modern policy in regard to advancing, quite rightly, the official languages
and the linguistic duality of our country.
Senator Chaput: Honourable senators, if I understand correctly, once
the consultations are completed, the government will accept the recommendations
and priorities that communities have suggested to Mr. Lord. Is that correct?
Senator LeBreton: We would expect that former Premier Lord will take
this special adviser role seriously. We will not send him across the country to
speak and consult with people, then not follow his advice.
It only follows that when he submits his report, since we sought his advice,
that we would follow his advice.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This question concerns the
Department of National Defence.
Fifty years ago, my father, as a staff sergeant, had to take on two extra
jobs to be able to feed a family of three in the Canadian army. In 1997,
corporals and privates took on extra jobs because they could not feed their
families, either. We then entered a series of quality of life increases that
were brought in by the previous government.
One of the pillars of that program was the cost of living differential. As a
result, troops posted every two to four years across the country are permitted,
in high cost of living areas, to receive a supplement to be able to standardize
their income. That program is now being cancelled. What sort of cost-savings
exercise required the government to cancel such a significant funding program
for military families?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I will have to take part of the question as
notice. Within the last week or so, this government has announced pay increases
for the Armed Forces. I do not know precisely what Senator Dallaire is referring
to, but I will be happy to take his question as notice.
Senator Dallaire: Honourable senators, I acknowledge the pay
increases. The public service receives pay increases as well, and we thank the
government for that.
The government has been so supportive of the troops in the field. The problem
is the guy sitting on the lines in Kandahar receiving an email from his wife
saying he just lost 1,000 bucks a month in pay because we have chopped this
Is there an exercise of cost-cutting happening in the Department of Defence?
Is it possible that, at a time when the government has announced so many
increases, they are actually reducing their budget, or has there been a cut this
fiscal year for the Department of Defence?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I am at a loss. I am not aware
of any soldier sitting on the front lines in Kandahar receiving a letter saying
that we have cut his pay.
I have no idea what Senator Dallaire is referring to, so I will take the
question as notice. Officials will obviously have the honourable senator's
comments from the chamber, and the Department of National Defence can respond
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, this government denies that it
covered up evidence of Afghan authorities abusing and torturing prisoners
captured by Canadian soldiers, this despite new documents showing that the
government knew of the abuse last spring.
This is a government that pretends to see nothing, to hear nothing, to know
nothing. This is another cover-up from a government that pretends to be open and
Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us why this government
continues to cover up incidents, even when documentation will prove their
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I actually do not know to what Senator
Cordy is referring.
On the issue of Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan, an arrangement in May, as I
reported here before, improved upon arrangements made by the previous Martin
government in December 2005 regarding the transfer of detained Taliban prisoners
and insurgents. This arrangement makes explicit Afghanistan's obligations and
includes a provision that Canada and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights
Commission have full and unrestricted access to any prisoner Canada has
transferred. The arrangement has been working well.
When allegations are made, there is a process in place to deal with them.
During a recent visit, Canadian officials did see a Taliban prisoner in
conditions that concerned them — there was no cover-up — and this matter is
being investigated according to the arrangements we have with the Afghan
Senator Cordy: Honourable senators, according to documents, the
government knew about the allegations of abuse last spring. Senior ministers
were denying evidence of the abuse while at the same time officials were in
Afghanistan obtaining information about the mistreatment. When will this
government be up front with Canadians and let Canadians know what is going on?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I believe I have just answered
the question. The government has strengthened the sound arrangements made by the
There are many news stories of alleged abuses. When allegations are made,
there is a process in place to deal with them. In one case, the conditions were
such that they concerned officials, and this is being investigated in accordance
with the strengthened arrangements we have made with the Afghanistan government.
We take our international obligations very seriously. Clearly, there are
challenges in Afghanistan. Canadian Forces personnel, our diplomats and aid
workers, alongside their counterparts from other countries and the Afghan
citizens themselves, are working to address these issues.
The protocols that are in place are working. We would not want to leave the
impression that we are making accusations against our Canadian Forces — or
anyone there working on behalf of Canada — that they are in any way involved in
the torture of Afghan prisoners.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs,
Senator Fraser. I notified the chair last week that I would be putting this
question to her.
For a number of years, as a result of Supreme Court of Canada decisions,
actions that the federal government must take have been accumulating.
Does the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs plan to make a systematic review of these decisions and, if so, how is
the work going?
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I thank the senator for the
question. It is an extremely important question, because Supreme Court decisions
are the highest law of the land, except for the Constitution. However,
honourable senators are aware that our committee, the Standing Senate Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, can study only what the Senate orders it to
study. The Senate has not entrusted the committee with a mandate to conduct such
a study. God knows that such a study would be very valuable and falls perfectly
within the parameters of our usual studies, but for the time being we have no
mandate for a study.
However, honourable senators know that there is a huge number of bills,
especially government bills, that will have to be referred to our committee.
Bills, particularly government bills, always take precedence over studies.
That said, I believe that the question deserves a follow-up. Certainly, I
will consult the members of the committee for their opinion on this, and in the
meantime, I can ask the Library of Parliament to prepare a list of these Supreme
Court decisions and the actions that have been taken in response to these
Senator Nolin: With your permission, honourable senators, I would like
to draw your attention to the rather broad mandate of this committee. The
Rules of the Senate lists a series of responsibilities that include law
reform. I believe that the committee — you will discuss this among yourselves —
should maintain an ongoing list of decisions and actions to be taken by the
government and should report to the Senate more regularly.
I would like to draw honourable senators' attention to something that
happened yesterday at the Special Committee on Anti-terrorism. The Minister of
Justice agreed — and we must thank him — to move an amendment to a bill relating
to a decision that dates back to 2002.
Five years ago the Supreme Court invalidated part of a section of the
Criminal Code, and it was Senator Baker's speech at second reading that brought
this issue to the attention of the Department of Justice. Yesterday the Minister
of Justice said that he would amend the bill.
I think something is not working properly. I believe it is our job and that
of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to draw
this to the attention of senators — and the government, we hope — and to take
action when parts of a section are invalidated.
Senator Fraser: It is very important to do this type of thing in the
Senate. I will speak about it with the members of the committee.
I would like to say that I am very sorry that Senator Nolin is no longer a
member of our committee. It was a rewarding experience for everyone in committee
to share in his wisdom and common sense.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour of presenting a delayed answer to a question raised
by Senator Carney on November 22, 2007, regarding Fisheries and Oceans, Peggy's
(Response to question raised by Hon. Pat Carney on November 22, 2007)
During the weekend of November 3-4, 2007, tropical storm Noel struck
Atlantic Canada with hurricane force winds that peaked at 135 kilometres an
hour, heavy rains, and waves measuring as high as 10 meters. While damage
was not as widespread as Hurricane Juan of 2003, there was significant
damage, particularly in certain coastal regions. The Peggy's Cove Major
Shore Light, officially referenced as the Peggy's Point lighthouse, suffered
some damage during the storm.
A seaward side window of the lighthouse structure was smashed which
caused some water infiltration inside the building. The window has been
replaced. Departmental officials have assessed the interior of the
building and have noted no further damage.
A concrete walkway that contained the conduit carrying the
electrical power for the tower was destroyed by wave action. The storm
forces relocated the walkway about 20 feet off its base. There is
presently no electrical power to the building. Current preliminary
estimates to carry out repairs are in the $30-50K range.
The storm also caused considerable undermining to the face of the
parking lot with the asphalt collapsing in several areas. The parking
lot is not on DFO property.
Canadian Coast Guard staff has installed a temporary replacement
solarised light. Early feedback from local mariners is that it is
sufficient and they are pleased with the quick action.
The operational requirements as an aid to navigation are being met.
A more detailed "levels of service" consultation will take place
and any future modifications to Peggy's Point light will take place
based on that consultation.
During the summer months, Canada Post Corporation (CPC) operates a post
office in the lower portion of the lighthouse tower under license from
Fisheries and Oceans. The operation is typically in place from Victoria Day
to Thanksgiving weekend. The Post Office had been closed for the season
prior to the storm. Canada Post officials are aware of the damages to the
lighthouse and are currently assessing their future needs for this facility.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator LeBreton, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Stratton, for the second reading Bill
C-10, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in relation
to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts, and to provide for
the bijural expression of the provisions of that Act.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I rise to speak on behalf of
my caucus on Bill C-10. I actually find myself acting out of character because I
think I agree with this bill in principle.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Mitchell: I make that very clear — an established fact that I
do repent; I am acting in pure objectivity as I always do.
However, I do not want honourable senators to get too carried away because I
do have some concerns about this bill. I agree with the premise of the proposed
legislation that was established by the Leader of the Government in the Senate
when she said that this bill makes a contribution to greater fairness in the tax
system. As I analyzed the bill, I concluded that it does make a contribution to
greater fairness in the tax system. Where we might disagree is on the magnitude
of that contribution.
I understand the contribution is made because it limits, to some extent, the
degree to which Canadian taxpayers can utilize off-shore, non-residence trusts
or other foreign investment entities to avoid paying taxes in Canada that they
might otherwise pay. A great deal of progress had been made in that regard by
the previous government, but it strikes me that this bill adds to that to some
Having said that, there are some significant and substantive technical
concerns with this bill. I have been in discussion with Senator Goldstein, who
had confirmed my suspicion in that regard; and I have a letter from a partner
with the law firm Thorsteinssons from Toronto, which argues very clearly and
eloquently that there is a potential difficulty with the way in which this bill
has been written. I am referring to a letter from Paul Gibney of that firm.
In his letter, Mr. Gibney refers to an article by a partner of his in the
same firm, James Murdoch, in Taxation Law, dated February 2007, regarding
discretionary trusts and the FIE rules. I will just refer to that article. This
is an interesting example that needs to be considered and hopefully will be
given ample consideration by the committee.
Take the hypothetical case of little Emily, 3 years old, born and
resident in Canada. Her grandfather, a wealthy man in Hong Kong, has
established a discretionary trust for the benefit of his grandchildren. . .
. Emily is his only grandchild in Canada, there are 25 others in Hong Kong
and elsewhere. The trust was settled with, and has a "cost amount" of $100
million. . . . On the termination date, the trustees must distribute any
capital remaining at that time among the beneficiaries then alive in equal
shares per capita.
As the author indicates, that is a critical step.
As there is a possibility of a trust distribution in the future otherwise
than as a result of an exercise of discretion. . . . Emily appears to have a
specified interest in the trust. As there are no other Canadian-resident
beneficiaries, there will be no other taxpayers who can be identified in
prescribed form to reduce her designated cost.
She essentially would have to bear the burden of the entire tax cost and
she might well never receive anything out of this trust. Even if she did, it
is certainly very unlikely that she would receive any amount that would come
close to covering the tax bill in this trust.
That is one example of a technical issue. There are other examples that I
understand have been brought to the attention of members of the committee. I
encourage them to consider those issues in their deliberations, and I am sure
It is not that anybody would resist making the tax system fairer. In fact, in
this case, most of us could agree that reducing the ability of certain segments
of the population to avoid taxes in a way that is not accessible to others would
be seen to be an enhancement in the fairness of the tax system. However, it must
be done properly, and this is a complex area. Therefore, we should all be
thankful that we have a remarkable Senate committee that can give this matter
the sober second thought it deserves and hopefully enhance the process and to
ensure that it works properly.
Having said that, I generally disagree that this bill will have the magnitude
of impact that Senator LeBreton construed it as having on the overall
enhancement of the tax system in Canada. This is a very small bill. I believe
that the tax system in Canada could be restructured in many significant ways to
achieve much larger, more visionary things that could truly enhance the quality
of Canadians' lives more generally and address the major issues that are facing
For example, this bill, as limited as it is, does absolutely nothing to
offset the failure of the cut in GST to enhance productivity in our economy.
Productivity remains a serious issue in our economy, and the tax structure can
be modified. Altered tax policy can, in fact, be utilized to address
productivity, but this bill does not do that; and it certainly does not
compensate for the lost opportunity in restructuring the tax system for
productivity that we saw in the cuts to the GST.
Moreover, this proposed legislation does not in any way, shape or form assist
the poor in a way that a properly structured tax regime could. Poverty is a
significant issue in this country. While it looks as if, over the last several
years at least, general poverty has been reduced, child poverty has not.
Once again, we are looking at an $11-billion-a-year cut in GST revenues. Such
cuts will do nothing for productivity or for the poor. This bill does not
compensate for or address those kinds of issues, and that is disappointing.
This bill also does nothing to address what might be construed as a bias
against women in our tax system. There are several ways in which the fiscal
regime under this government is biased against women. This tax initiative, one
of a relatively limited number of tax initiatives by this government, does
absolutely nothing to address that important issue that languishes somewhere at
the bottom of this government's agenda.
This government is missing the opportunity, once again, to structure tax
policy in a way that could motivate individuals and businesses in Canada to do
something about climate change, to restructure the way they do their business,
the way they conduct their lives to contribute to the reduction in carbon output
and greenhouse gases. There is ample opportunity within the tax structure to
create incentives. Among the many others would be the idea of tax neutral
shifting of tax applications to discourage environmentally destructive
initiatives and to encourage investment in technology to boost income. We could
do that in a tax neutral way. We see none of that in this bill. In the absence
of anything else, this is about as much as they have, but it is nothing when it
comes to addressing significant issues.
We see nothing that addresses the issue of municipal finance — some
structured, dependable way of financing our municipalities. Many of us subscribe
to the Jane Jacobs theory that an economy is as strong as the economy of its
cities. Our cities have serious infrastructural and revenue problems. Nothing in
bills like this one or more generally in the government's tax structure policy
addresses that important issue.
I learned from a person who came to my office about the problem of students
not being able to write off all the interest on their student loans. They are
able to write off only 17 per cent of it, whereas an individual who invests in
his or her future by investing in a business can write off all the interest on
those loans. There is nothing in Bill C-10 that addresses that important issue.
So, yes, I support the principle of the bill, as one can do at second
reading, yet I see technical issues that need to be addressed, and I am certain
they will be in committee. It is my view that Bill C-10 captures the essential
element that I see as lacking in this government. The government is focused —
and at times it is okay — on minuscule tinkering at the margins. The government
is quintessentially "conservative" because it is limited in its focus on what
it can do as a partner with Canadians to build this country. If the government
wants to do tax policy properly, it should look at, among other things, tax
policy that addresses the significant issues facing Canadians today, such as
student financing, so our young people can get the education they need to become
the future of this country and its role in the world. The government needs to
address municipal finance so that the significant engines of our economy
function properly with the infrastructure necessary to support that economy.
This government needs to address child poverty because it is shameful for every
one of us who live in Canada that we still have such a level of child poverty.
We have not yet applied Canada's wealth and privilege in a way that can solve
such a corrosive problem in our society. The government's tax policy does not
address the environment in the way it should, and it needs to do that. I could
Honourable senators, Bill C-10 reflects what is wrong with this government —
its narrow focus and perspective. There is so much more the government could do
with tax policy, among other policies, to address the issues confronting
Canadians. These issues could be driven by a great vision to make this country
even better than it is today and with even greater leadership role in the world
than it had two or three years ago when this government took over.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Terry Stratton moved second reading of Bill C-2, An Act to amend
the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
He said: Honourable senators, I am proud to speak today, at second reading of
Bill C-2, which deals with the very important issue of violent crime.
Canadians are worried about how much crime, especially violent crime, there
is in their communities. They tell us that they want the federal government to
tackle violent crime so that citizens are protected from dangerous offenders who
threaten their safety.
Bill C-2 responds to serious issues that both affect public safety and
directly impact on Canadians' confidence in the criminal justice system. This,
in my view, is what we see reflected in the preamble to Bill C-2, which says, in
Whereas Canadians are entitled to live in a safe society;
Whereas the Parliament of Canada is committed to enacting comprehensive
laws to combat violent crime and to protect Canadians while respecting and
promoting the values reflected in, and the rights and freedoms guaranteed
by, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
The proposed tackling violent crime act reintroduces five criminal law reform
bills that died on the Order Paper with prorogation. As a package, Bill C-2
underscores the government's commitment to tackle crime in four key areas:
serious gun crimes, cracking down on drug and alcohol impaired driving;
protecting youth against sexual predators; and better protecting all Canadians
against dangerous and repeat violent offenders.
In respect of the first area, gun crimes, Bill C-2 tackles serious gun crime
by strengthening the bail regime and by providing tougher mandatory minimum
prison sentences. Bill C-2 changes the bail regime in the following way: An
accused charged with a serious offence involving a firearm, including, for
example, attempted murder and sexual assault with a weapon, would be required to
demonstrate that his or her release on bail would not pose a threat to public
safety or that it would not result in his or her failure to appear in court to
face the charge.
Bill C-2 also expands the factors that a bail court must take into
consideration in deciding whether detention of the accused pending trial is
justified in order to maintain confidence in the administration of justice.
Specifically, the court must consider if a firearm was used in the commission of
an offence and if the accused faces a mandatory minimum penalty of imprisonment
of three years or more for a firearm offence.
Bill C-2 tackles gun crime by legislating escalating mandatory minimum
sentences of five years on a first offence and seven years on a second or
subsequent offence for eight serious offences committed with a restricted or
prohibited firearm or in connection with organized crime, which includes gangs.
The eight offences are as follows: attempted murder, discharging a firearm with
intent, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping,
hostage taking, robbery and extortion.
As well, Bill C-2 puts in place increased mandatory minimum penalties of
three years on a first offence and five years on a second or subsequent offence
for offences that did not involve the actual use of firearms, such as firearm
trafficking or smuggling or the illegal possession of a restricted or prohibited
firearm with ammunition.
The second key area is impaired driving. Bill C-2 proposes long-overdue
reforms to address impaired driving, which unfortunately remains a serious
problem in Canada. The bill does so in three ways: First, it addresses drug
impaired driving by proposing the necessary legislative framework for the drug
recognition expert, or DRE program. These reforms would permit police to demand
roadside physical sobriety tests. Where those tests reveal impairment, but the
person is not impaired by alcohol, police could then demand that the person
perform other tests administered by a drug recognition expert and to provide a
sample of body fluids to be analyzed for the presence of a drug.
Second, Bill C-2 simplifies the investigation and prosecution of the offence
of impaired driving. It will restrict "evidence to the contrary" to
scientifically valid defences; in other words, absent evidence that the
instrument used to measure blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, malfunctioned or
was the subject of operator error, a court could not accept testimony by the
accused of low alcoholic consumption. For example, if the accused had only
consumed two beers, that that would have given the person a BAC reading below
Third, Bill C-2 proposes procedural and sentencing charges. These changes
include creating new offences of being "over 80" or refusing to provide a
breath sample where the person's operation of the vehicle has caused bodily harm
The third key area pertains to the age of protection. I am sure honourable
senators will agree with me that all violent crime is to be abhorred. There can
be no doubt that the spectre of the harm posed to our children and grandchildren
by sexual and other dangerous offenders causes a fear unlike any other. As
parents and grandparents, as spouses and as neighbours, I am sure we all share
the same concern and the same motivation to protect and safeguard those near and
dear to us. As parliamentarians, our duty to protect all Canadians against such
harm can be no less. This is what the balance of reforms in Bill C-2 address.
Bill C-2 proposes criminal law reforms that will finally say no to adult
sexual predators who seek to sexually exploit young, vulnerable persons. The
bill proposes to increase the age at which young persons can consent to engage
in sexual activity with another person aged 14 to 16 years. Once Bill C-2 comes
into force, there will no longer be any doubt. A crime of sexual assault will
have been committed whenever an adult five years or more older than a 14- or
15-year-old engages in sexual activity with that young person.
Importantly, Bill C-2 includes a close-in-age exemption to prevent the
criminalization of consensual sexual activity between teenagers; that is,
between the 14- or 15-year-old and a partner less than five years older.
This proposed legislation also provides two other exceptions for 14- and
15-year-olds who are married to a partner who is five years or more older or
with whom they are already living in a defined common law relationship when the
new age of protection comes into force.
The fourth key area relates to dangerous and high-risk offenders. Bill C-2
proposes reforms to address dangerous and repeat violent offenders. These
proposals are designed to address concerns with respect to the ability of
police, Crown prosecutors and the courts to sentence and manage the threat posed
to the general public by individuals of very high risk to re-offend sexually and
Under Bill C-2, where an offender is convicted of a third sufficiently
serious offence, the Crown must formally advise the court that they have
considered whether to bring a dangerous offender application. This
"declaration" requirement is intended to ensure more consistent use of the
dangerous offender sentence by Crown counsel in all jurisdictions, although it
is certainly not intended to be binding on either the Crown or the court. Bill
C-2 does not seek to arbitrarily fetter the discretion of the Crown or the
Where the Crown decides to bring such an application, an offender convicted
of a third "primary designated" offence will be presumed to be a dangerous
offender unless he can prove otherwise. This list of triggering offences is
deliberately narrow and proportionate, reflecting the 12 most serious and
dangerous offences that commonly trigger a dangerous offender destination.
Bill C-2 also proposes reforms to ensure that persons designated a dangerous
offender are appropriately sentenced. Under this bill, wherever the offender is
held to meet the dangerous offender criteria, he must be designated as a
dangerous offender and this designation is for life. Bill C-2 would then require
the court to impose an indeterminate sentence unless it is satisfied that the
offender can be managed under a less severe sentence. As a result, it will be
more difficult for offenders to escape the dangerous offender designation.
When a dangerous offender is given a lesser sentence, such as a long-term
supervision order, Bill C-2 would make it easier to deal with such an offender
who breaches a condition of that order before he commits another serious or
violent offence. Specifically, where such an offender is convicted of breaching
a condition of his long-term supervision order, for example, for breaching its
curfew, alcoholic prohibitions or treatment conditions, he could be brought back
for a new dangerous offender hearing. He will be given an indeterminate sentence
unless the court is satisfied that the offender can still be managed under a
Bill C-2 also proposes to double from one to two years the duration of the
Criminal Code's peace bonds or protective court orders against offenders who
have been previously convicted of a sexual offence against a young person, under
the higher age of protection of 16 years also proposed by Bill C-2, or of a
serious personal injury offence.
In addition, Bill C-2 would provide specific authority for the court to
include conditions in these peace bonds that the court considers desirable to
secure the good conduct of the defendant including, for example, regarding
curfews, electronic monitoring, and drug and alcohol prohibitions and treatment,
as well as any other condition that the court feels is necessary to ensure
Honourable senators, Bill C-2 proposes an extensive set of criminal law
reforms, the objective of which is to better protect Canadians in their homes
and their communities.
I believe that public safety is a priority issue for all, and thus urge all
honourable senators to support the passage of this bill.
Hon. John G. Bryden: Honourable senators, I do not wish to debate at
the moment, but I want to make a comment. I was late for the beginning of
Senator Stratton's speech, but I heard most of it. I will read it with interest
and with very careful analysis. The old-fashioned winters are back which is why
I am late.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, the Minister of Justice
and the Prime Minister spoke about no amendments to this bill. Will we study the
bill and will amendments be accepted or will we be able to introduce amendments
if we see fit?
Senator Stratton: The responsibility of this chamber is to examine the
bill in detail. Judgments will be made thereafter.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, a reference is made in the bill
to the exception for sexual relations of people more than five years older than
the 15- or 16-year-old. An exception is to be made if the teenager is married to
the older person. I realize that this subject is beyond the purview of this bill
and raises other issues, but I cannot let the matter go without asking if the
honourable senator believes it is appropriate for persons aged 14 to be married
in this country.
Senator Stratton: As Senator Nolin has pointed out, marriage is a
provincial jurisdiction. Regarding my personal beliefs about 14-year-olds
marrying, I am not going there.
Hon. Mira Spivak moved second reading of Bill S-221, An Act concerning
personal watercraft in navigable waters. —(Honourable Senator Spivak)
She said: Honourable senators are being asked for the sixth time to consider
this bill for second reading. This chamber has already granted its predecessor
bills third reading on four occasions: October 2003, May 2004, November 2005 and
June 2007. I am nothing if not the champion of lost causes.
From the outset, nothing of substance in this bill has changed, nor has
anything changed in the way personal watercraft are used. If anything, these
machines have only become more powerful and, in some circumstances, more
dangerous to other users of the waterway and to the environment.
I was very pleased to see the second report of our Standing Committee on
Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, which was presented last month
and which proposes a mechanism for the reinstatement of bills from the previous
session of the same Parliament.
Predecessor bills were introduced twice in the House of Commons, where they
received the support of members of three of the four parties. A predecessor bill
was not introduced last June, as the House was in recess when we at length gave
this bill third reading. As a result, the 60-day rule does not apply.
I sincerely hope that we will not see debate on our own proposed
reinstatement rule adjourned and delayed to the point that we do not have the
opportunity to vote on it. As one of many who, as Senator Keon observed, have
felt "some frustration" at having to reintroduce, re-debate and re-study a
bill time and again, I sincerely hope senators will support the rule change.
Senators Carney's heritage lighthouse protection bill is now in its seventh
incarnation. Senator Murray recently spoke to that bill, suggesting that to
stall it again would be an affront to Parliament. He proposed clause-by-clause
consideration in Committee of the Whole and an expedited third reading, or a pro
forma reference to committee, where no more than one sitting would be required.
On this bill, Bill S-221, I would prefer clause-by-clause consideration in
Committee of the Whole; however, of course, I would hope that any alternative
method would be speedy.
Another parallel exists between the heritage lighthouse protection bill and
the personal watercraft bill. The former creates a process through which public
opinion may be brought to bear on the government with regard to the designation
and protection of lighthouses.
Bill S-221 creates a mechanism through which community opinion may be brought
to bear on the government's designation of areas where personal watercraft may
be used. Local knowledge of local waters can determine where PWCs are safe to
use and where they pose too great a hazard to safety or to the environment.
Both are populist bills. Both recognize that communities have wisdom
deserving of the respect of official Ottawa.
I sincerely hope honourable senators also believe that it will be in the best
interests of this chamber to respect the considerable time and energy that many
speakers, witnesses and committee members have devoted to this bill and that
honourable senators will send Bill C-221 expeditiously to the other place.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Carney, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Nolin, for the second reading of Bill
S-215, An Act to protect heritage lighthouses.—(Honourable Senator Comeau)
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, although this bill
stands in Senator Comeau's name, he has agreed that I may speak at this time and
adjourn the debate in his name.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Provided I
have the 45 minutes.
Senator Callbeck: I shall be very brief.
The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Comeau is asking that he continue to be
recognized as the second speaker and have the 45 minutes, and is yielding to
Senator Callbeck with that understanding.
Is that agreeable, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Callbeck: Honourable senators, I want to speak briefly on Bill
S-215, Senator Carney's legislation regarding the protection of heritage
As we all know, this bill provides for the protection and preservation of
federally owned lighthouses by designating them as heritage lighthouses, and
ensures public consultation and public notice before changes are made to the
structures. Finally, the bill requires that all lighthouses designated as
heritage sites must be properly maintained.
I support sending Bill S-215 to committee for study as quickly as possible.
This legislation, in similar forms, has been introduced in the Senate more than
five times since 2002. However, each time its progress has been disrupted by
elections or prorogations, leaving the bill to die on the Order Paper and
needing to be reintroduced again and again.
Coming from a province like Prince Edward Island, surrounded by water, we
Islanders well understand the vital importance of our lighthouses. They have
served as beacons of safety to wayward sailors, leading them to their home
ports, not only in my province but in coastal areas across the country.
In my home province of Prince Edward Island, more than 50 lighthouses dot the
landscape. They are an integral part of Prince Edward Island's story. I should
like to point out that lighthouses are even playing an important role in the
economic development of our rural areas. These lighthouses serve as symbols of
maritime life; some have even been transformed into tourist destinations,
allowing Islanders to share their stories with people from away.
For example, the lighthouse in West Point, Prince Edward Island's tallest
lighthouse, offers an inn, restaurant and museum. Point Prim is the location of
Prince Edward Island's oldest lighthouse, where visitors can climb 80 feet to
the top of this unique round brick lighthouse.
The Cape Bear Lighthouse houses one of seven Marconi wireless stations. It is
believed to be the first Canadian land station to receive distress signals from
There is certainly a lot of history to be explored in our Island lighthouses.
Honourable senators, our lighthouses stand as proud testament to our history
as a country. They are part of our shared heritage and we should do what we can
to preserve that heritage. I hope that this bill can be referred for study by
committee as quickly as possible.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I take it that the Deputy
Leader of the Government will move the adjournment of the debate again. I hope
he listened, as I am sure he did, with respectful attention to Senator
Callbeck's speech — especially her point about the importance of lighthouses in
bringing wayward sailors home. I am sure the honourable senators knows some
wayward sailors in his own part of Nova Scotia and will agree that it is
something to be devoutly wished.
Because I offered the other day to help Senator Comeau with his speech and he
has declined so far, can the honourable senator give us a bit more specificity
about the date of his own intervention? I should say that Senator Carney's trade
is that of a writer and she, too, would be willing to contribute a few one-line
zingers for his consideration.
Senator Comeau: I wish to thank Senator Murray for his offer. I
listened carefully to Senator Callbeck's comments, especially about the value of
lighthouses to sailors. However, I would like to remind Senator Murray that this
bill has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting lighthouses that exists for
the protection of sailors. This bill is about heritage lighthouses. I think
Senator Murray knows that I have been around long enough to tell the difference
between a lighthouse that is there to protect wayward sailors and a lighthouse
that is there as part of heritage.
On the issue of heritage lighthouses, which is what this bill is all about,
we do have —
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I am afraid that, while
interesting, we are slipping beyond the normal procedures of debate. This is
Senator Callbeck's time. We are now at debate and we hear no debate. I take it
to be the intent of the house that the matter will stand adjourned in the name
of Senator Comeau. Is it agreed?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Dallaire, for the second reading of Bill
S-204, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day.—(Hon. Senator
Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, I ask for your indulgence.
I did not realize that we were so close to the end of the time allowed for this
item to remain be on the Order Paper and Notice Paper, and I would very much
like to participate in the debate. I wish to adjourn the debate in my name in
order to speak in the next few days.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Champagne is
seeking leave to adjourn the debate in her name for the time remaining. Is that
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill
S-206, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (clean drinking water). —(Honourable
Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, I realize that this is the
thirteenth day that this item has stood on the Order Paper. I wish to ask for
the indulgence of honourable senators and inform them that I am still working on
my text. Weather conditions — as Senator Bryden indicated earlier — and other
items have interfered with my planning. I should like to have this bill
adjourned in my name.
The Hon. the Speaker: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Cochrane
that this item be adjourned in her name for the rest of her time.
Hon. Serge Joyal moved second reading of Bill S-212, to amend the
Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act. —(Honourable Senator Joyal,
He said: Honourable senators, I wish to use the opportunity this afternoon to
speak in support of Bill S-212 in the context of the inquiry that appears on the
Order Paper on page 8, which calls the attention of the Senate to the
twenty-fifth anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In the First Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament, Honourable Senator Segal
drew our attention to the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Charter this year. He
made a number of suggestions in his speech. On the Order Paper at page 19, under
the heading of "Motions," at No. 62 you will find a motion introduced by our
colleague the Honourable Senator Andreychuk. It is most opportune that the
motion calls the attention of the Senate to refer to the Standing Committee on
Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament the issue of developing a
systematic process for the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms as it applies to the Senate of Canada.
It is opportune, honourable senators, because it might be unknown to some of
you that the Charter of Rights does not apply to the employees of the Senate. Up
to two years ago, following a recent decision of the Supreme Court in May 2005,
the other place challenged even the Canadian Human Rights Act being applicable
to the employees of the Parliament of Canada.
After so many years of implementation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms for all Canadians in all provinces and territories, and with all the
protection that the courts have been able to identify in support of and to the
benefit for Canadians, employees of Parliament should have the same kind of
protection as average Canadians.
How did this issue come to the knowledge of the court? Why do we find
ourselves in that situation today? I remind you, honourable senators, that this
stemmed from a case introduced in the other place by Mr. Vaid. Mr. Vaid was the
former driver of a previous Speaker in the other place, whose employment was
terminated. Mr. Vaid, a citizen of colour, claimed he was discriminated against.
He filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, which studied
his complaint, found that it was worthwhile and sent it to the Canadian Human
When the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal received the complaint, the lawyer
for the other place claimed that the Canadian Human Rights Act was not
applicable because the positions of the employees of Parliament are privileged.
What does that mean? It means that they are not protected by the same
legislation as average citizens. Again, the lawyers for the other place claimed
that it was no protection for any employees of Parliament.
How many employees of Parliament are there? Honourable senators, there are
I will give you the categories of those employees. In the Library of
Parliament, there are 400 employees. The Senate employs 605 people. The House of
Commons has 2,033 employees. The MPs themselves have 1,927 employees. The total
is 4,965 employees. That number does not include the contractual employees.
What was the allegation in the other place in relation to the employees of
Parliament? The other place claims that the Canadian Human Rights Act does not,
directly or indirectly, protect 5,000 employees. That was the position taken by
the lawyers of the other place.
Some senators on both sides of this chamber were very concerned with that
case because, as you know, a decision of the court binding on the status of the
other place has an immediate application in this place. We were concerned that
the court would deliberate on such a question without this chamber having the
opportunity to argue our principal position.
Our principal position was that in fact the Canadian Human Rights Act should
protect most of the employees of Parliament because the Canadian legislature,
through our day-to-day deliberations, has the responsibility to ensure that the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution are respected and
are above any suspicion. We must ensure that we are an exemplary chamber in
relation to the protection of the basic and fundamental human rights of all
employees of this Parliament.
Some senators thought we should go to the Supreme Court and plead our case
inasmuch as the other place went to the Supreme Court of Canada to plead its
Senator Jaffer and I sought the status of intervenor in the Supreme Court and
went there to plead our case. It seems to be a fair principle to allege that the
Canadian Human Rights Act is applicable to the employees of Parliament.
The Supreme Court decided that the Canadian Human Rights Act protects most of
the employees of Parliament. However, the Supreme Court stated that if employees
want to seek redress, they must go through the grievance procedure that is
contained in an act of Parliament called the Parliamentary Employment and Staff
Relations Act. The act addresses the labour status of the employees and staff of
Parliament and was adopted in 1985 by both Houses and, of course, it is a
statute of our Parliament.
In other words, if an employee such as Mr. Vaid, former driver of the
Speaker, alleges discrimination, he or she must go to the grievance procedure of
the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act. In its unanimous decision,
the Supreme Court — and it was a nine-bench decision, very compelling in terms
of its decision — went to great lengths to define the employees that are
What do we mean by that constitutional jargon? An employee who is privileged
is an employee who cannot go to court to seek the redress that an average
citizen would have of the benefit of the protection of the court. The Supreme
Court decided that there are some employees of Parliament who are privileged;
they are so closely associated with the deliberative and legislative function of
the chamber that if they have a grievance they cannot go to court to seek
The court identified the principle of how to define privileged positions in
the Senate chamber or in the House of Commons chamber. The court gives some
examples, one being the clerks. We have three clerks at the table. There are
many more clerks in the staff of the Senate. The court identified the clerks of
the Senate because they are closely associated with our deliberative and
legislative function on a day-to-day basis; but the security guards in the
corridors at the front and back of this chamber are not privileged because they
are not closely associated with the deliberative and legislative function of the
The same is true of your employees, secretaries and assistants. They are not
directly linked to the deliberative and legislative function of the Senate. In
other words, the court adopted a very restrictive definition of the
"privileged" position in the Senate. They did not want to include, as the
other place argued, the 5,000 employees of Parliament. For instance, in the
court's mind, the parliamentary restaurant employees are not directly associated
with the deliberative and legislative function of the Senate. They might be
essential to us because we need to eat three times a day to assume our
legislative and deliberative function, but they are not directly linked to the
deliberations per se.
You will understand that the court saw the problems but created another
problem, I would say almost bigger than the one that it tried to solve. What is
the problem? By stating that the employees of Parliament are protected by the
Canadian Human Rights Act, but by channelling the grievance of those employees
under the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, they immediately
open up the question of the process of protection for a grievance under that
act. In the Canadian Human Rights Act, a person who has a grievance — for
example, a public service employee alleging discrimination — has another
protection, well established by our own Parliament in 2003, in the Public
Service Labour Relations Act. When a member of the public service feels
discriminated against, he or she can file a grievance procedure under the Public
Service Labour Relations Act. This act, which is recent — 2003 — provides very
clearly that the Canadian Human Rights Commission can intervene in support of
the employee, take a formal stand in the grievance and even support compensation
and reinstallation of the employee with expenses and so on.
In other words, if you are an employee of the public service, you are well
protected, but if you are an employee of Parliament, you do not enjoy the same
protection as the employees of the public service.
In the first initiative that I discussed with Senator Andreychuk, we agreed
that we should look into amending the Parliamentary Employment and Staff
Relations Act to give to our employees the same protection as enjoyed by
employees of the public service. It seems to make sense that if the Human Rights
Commission can intervene to support an employee of the public service from
whatever department, the same commission should be open to intervene in support
of an employee of Parliament, whether a member of the security force or of any
of the other related services of Parliament.
That left the questions open, as raised in the motion of Senator Andreychuk,
that we have to take into account the other aspects of how to implement in this
chamber and the other chamber the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The
court has stated very clearly that it is not for the court to decide how that
will be done. In other words, if a member of the staff of the Senate who
occupies a privileged position feels that he or she is discriminated against,
that person cannot appeal to any court, cannot appeal to the Human Rights
Commission, and cannot appeal to the Parliamentary Employment and Staff
Relations Act. The person is left with absolutely no recourse, except to raise
the issue in the paper to make a case, or try to file a petition through letters
to honourable senators in the chamber to seek redress.
I welcomed Senator Andreychuk calling upon the Senate to refer to the
Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament the issue
of developing a systematic process for the application of the Charter of Rights
and Freedoms as it applies to the Senate of Canada in the first session of this
Parliament. We had discussions in the first session of this Parliament,
honourable senators, and at that time we agreed at second reading on the bill I
am proposing today. We agreed with Senator Andreychuk's motion and sent the bill
to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. We
hope that the committee will look into the matter and come back to us with a
recommendation on how to act in order to correct the vacuum that exists since
the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the Vaid case more than two years
ago. It is extraordinary that, after 25 years of the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms in Canada, we find ourselves more or less in a vacuum in relation to
the Charter and Canadian human rights. This is not the way we like to appear as
the Parliament of Canada and as an exemplary chamber.
Honourable senators, that is the substance of the bill I am introducing at
second reading today and my support of the motion brought forward by Senator
Andreychuk. Thank you, honourable senators.
On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Lapointe,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., for the second reading of
Bill S-213, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (lottery schemes).—(Honourable
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to advise that the
Honourable Senator Massicotte had made a written declaration of private interest
regarding Bill S-213, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (lottery schemes), which
is currently before the Senate. In accordance with rule 32.1, the declaration
shall be recorded in the Journals of the Senate.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the third report of the Standing
Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament (amendments to the
Rules of the Senate—questions of privilege and points of order), presented
in the Senate on November 20, 2007.—(Honourable Senator Keon)
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon moved the adoption of this report.
He said: Honourable senators, the third report of the Standing Committee on
Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament was first presented to the Senate
in the First Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament as the fourth report of the
Rules Committee. It had been debated but not come to a decision. The third
report recommends amendments to the Rules of the Senate with respect to
questions of privilege and points of order.
Honourable senators, you will recall that on October 26, 2006, the Speaker
delivered a ruling dealing with the process of raising questions of privilege in
the chamber and the level of detail required in the written and oral notices to
raise a question of privilege under rule 43. The Speaker ruled that notice of
questions of privilege should clearly identify the issues that will be raised as
a question of privilege. In delivering this ruling, the Speaker noted an
apparent inconsistency between rules 43 and 59(10) insofar as the two provisions
deal with the notice required for question of privilege.
The Speaker also noticed that, while some of the Rules of the Senate
and operating documents might be interpreted differently, a careful reading of
the Rules of the Senate provides that Senators' Statements are not part
of Routine of Business and, as such, points of order could be raised during
The Speaker invited your committee to look into these matters. The report of
the committee recommends three main changes to the Rules of the Senate.
First, in accordance with the ruling of the Speaker, the committee recommends
that it be made explicit in the Rules of the Senate that notices of
questions of privilege give senators an indication of the subject and the
general nature of the issue to be raised.
Second, the committee recommends that rule 59(10) be deleted. As the Speaker
explained in his ruling, this rule is linked to the pre-1991 provisions of the
Rules of the Senate. The committee suggests, however, that rule 59(10), the
purpose of which is to allow matters that occur during a sitting of the Senate
to be dealt with forthwith, be maintained, and recommends adding a new
subsection to rule 43 to provide for such cases.
Third, the committee recommends that the Rules of the Senate be
amended in order to prohibit points of order during Senators' Statements, as it
is already the case during Routine of Business and Question Period.
Rule 59(10) has a history pre-dating the 1991 changes to the rules. Prior to
1991, the Speaker had no defined role in determining prima facie if a question
of privilege had merit. These matters were left to the Senate itself to work
The Speaker's role, as defined in rule 43(12), is an innovation of the 1991
revision. Therefore, it is technically correct to argue that one interpretation
of the rules as they stand now might be that a question of privilege raised
under the conditions of 59(10), such as those raised in the heat of the moment
to deal with an alleged breach of privilege during a sitting of the Senate,
would not fall to the Speaker automatically for consideration of its prima facie
merits. Consideration of its prima facie merits would not automatically fall to
Given the 16 years of experience with rule 43 and the institutional
expectation that the Speaker would be asked to apply the test prescribed by the
rules to determine the merits of a question of privilege, it appears only proper
to clarify matters by including the provision of 59(10) within rule 43 with the
rest of the rules relating to privilege. This would also serve to clarify the
role of the Speaker.
The provisions for considering a question of privilege acknowledge the
importance placed on the protection of those privileges. Accordingly, we allow
for these initial discussions to take place so they can be brought to our
consideration promptly without having to wait for the usual notice period for
the substantive motions.
If it is determined that there appears to be a breach of privilege, then a
senator is permitted to move a motion immediately rather than putting their
motion on the Order Paper. The role of the Speaker in assisting the Senate in
that specific determination as to whether a breach of privilege appears to have
been committed has been a reasonable way to resolve the question. This seems to
be a sensible and orderly approach.
After careful consideration, the committee believes these changes are
appropriate and necessary, and hopes that honourable senators will concur with
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Will the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Keon: Yes.
Senator Cools: The honourable senator says that the initiative for
these rule changes seemed to have come from the Speaker. I have no recollection
of the Speaker leaving the chair to go to his seat to make a motion sending this
question to the committee.
Would the Chair of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights
of Parliament explain what process was used for the Speaker to refer this
question to the committee?
Senator Keon: Honourable senators, I do not recall whether or not the
Speaker made a motion. I know the Speaker referred this to the committee, or the
Senate referred it to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights
of Parliament upon the Speaker's recommendation. I do not know, nor do I recall.
I would have to review the documents. Once I have done so, I will inform
Senator Cools: I do not know how the honourable senator will provide
me with an answer.
My understanding of the process is that there is no method by which the
Speaker can refer any matter to a committee. The Speaker of the Senate is, as we
know, a different constitutional creature than the Speaker of the House of
Commons. The Speaker is free at any moment to leave the chair to participate in
debate and, as a full-fledged member of the Senate, he or she is free to make
motions and act as a full-fledged senator.
The process for the Speaker is no different from that of any other member. I
ask the honourable senator to keep that in mind.
I have another question.
Senator Keon: My interpretation, honourable senators, was that the
ruling of the Speaker was taken under advisement by the Senate, and the Senate
referred the matter to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the
Rights of Parliament. The ultimate authority lies with the Senate, not with the
Senator Cools: I observed that Mr. Charles Robert appeared before the
committee as a witness. Could the honourable senator please tell me in what
constitutional capacity Mr. Robert appeared if, as the honourable speaker says,
all of this is at the motion of the Speaker?
Senator Keon: I believe Mr. Robert was simply giving expert advice;
however, I do not fully understand the honourable senator's question. Is she
referring to when Mr. Robert advised the committee?
Senator Cools: No, I am speaking about his appearance before the
committee and making proposals on the record. In other words, was he appearing
as a representative of the Speaker?
Senator Keon: I believe he was appearing as an adviser to the
Senator Cools: Could the honourable senator tell me, then, what the
difference is? If Mr. Robert was appearing as an adviser to the committee, how
can you say that this entire matter has its origins in the Speaker's ruling?
There is a mysterious Speaker's ruling at play here: The Speaker makes a
statement, the subject matter suddenly appears within the committee and the
table officer appears as the only witness. I find all of this rather odd.
I do not think the honourable senator has understood or answered my question.
I am not sure if Mr. Robert is an adviser to a committee. I view him as a member
of our staff; as a table officer. If an adviser appears before a committee, he
should not then proceed to speak as though he represents the Speaker. That is
very odd. Perhaps we should review the matter.
Honourable senators, I am aware that the committee has its own initiative. I
am aware that the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament has a capacity, on its own initiative, to bring forth proposals. This
was clearly not the initiative of the committee, and the honourable senator has
said as much in his remarks. Could the honourable senator perhaps review the
Senator Keon: Honourable senators, I will review the matter. As
Senator Cools has stated, the rules state that the committee has the capacity to
bring forth a matter such as this on its own. I will retrace the steps of the
process and try to inform the honourable senators as best I can.
Senator Cools: This is a most interesting situation, honourable
senators. The Speaker cannot simply delegate anyone to appear before a committee
to explain himself or his rulings. I have a few problems with that. It is
crystal clear from reading the records that this proposal is not an initiative
of the committee, but rather that it arises out of the Speaker's ruling. As a
matter of fact, the testimony of Mr. Robert relied almost exclusively on the
Speaker's ruling. I find this an awfully odd constitutional phenomenon; one of
which I hope this committee will not make a practice.
There is a set of ethical considerations that govern the table officers, and
it is very difficult to debate those officers when they are not members of the
Senate. From what the honourable senator is saying, I do not think any thought
has been given to the situation. Perhaps the honourable senator could
investigate and clarify this matter.
I am sensitive to the fact that the honourable senator is a new member of
this committee. I also know his sterling record as a most honourable man. I am
prepared to allow the honourable senator the time to investigate this matter.
The honourable senator's presence in this place is one of the high points of
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Cools: That is what I think of this man, Dr. Keon.
Senator Keon: I thank Senator Cools for her comments. I will retrace
the process that occurred.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Comeau, calling
the attention of the Senate to the debilitating nature of arthritis and its
effect on all Canadians.—(Honourable Senator Keon)
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I am speaking today in response to Senator Comeau's inquiry of
November 27 on arthritis. I want to thank Senator Comeau for initiating this
inquiry on a very worrisome health problem.
I completely agree with Senator Comeau when he says that this illness
deserves the attention not just of all Canadians, but also of governments. We,
as senators and parliamentarians, have a role to play in raising awareness of
In particular, I would like to applaud the efforts of the Alliance for the
Canadian Arthritis Program in bolstering support for raising awareness among
Canadians concerning the prevention and treatment of this illness.
This alliance consists of more than 20 organizations representing patients,
health care providers, pharmaceutical industry researchers and health
Its members are joining forces to correct the inequity that prevails in
Canada when it comes to the prevention and treatment of arthritis, and to help
people living with arthritis improve their quality of life. Members of the
alliance are calling for action for the prevention and treatment of arthritis.
According to the alliance, without significant reform of the health care system,
the situation will continue to deteriorate.
The alliance has established arthritis prevention and treatment standards and
it is committed to working with governments on finalizing action plans. The goal
of the alliance members is to develop and implement a national arthritis
strategy. The alliance is calling on the federal and provincial ministers of
health to endorse its recommendations to establish national standards for the
prevention and treatment of arthritis.
The challenges facing all of us and the consequences of this illness for
Canada today are the following. At least 4 million Canadians suffer from
arthritis. It is the principal cause of deformity and long-term disability in
Canada, and it directly and indirectly costs several billion dollars in
healthcare costs, loss of productivity and disability benefits. Arthritis
affects people of all ages. Access to treatment, rehabilitation services and
surgery varies widely from province to province.
Wait times for orthopaedic surgeries have grown exponentially. Many areas of
arthritis research have not been explored because of a lack of resources. Only
1.3 per cent of research funds from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
are allocated to arthritis research. Since the cost of medication is very high,
many patients are swelling the waiting lists for orthopaedic surgery because
they cannot afford the medication that would make the surgery unnecessary. There
are not enough rheumatology specialists to meet the demand for urgent care.
There are only 250 of them in Canada.
A disproportionate number of off-reserve Aboriginal Canadians are two and a
half times more likely to have arthritis than other Canadians.
This lacklustre record should prompt us to promote awareness of the
pernicious effects of arthritis and to react more effectively to prevent this
I support the alliance's three priorities: every Canadian must be aware of
arthritis and should be urged to take preventive measures; all relevant health
professionals must be able to perform a standardized, age-appropriate screening
assessment; and every Canadian with arthritis must have timely and equal access
to appropriate medications.
All government partners must increase their participation in the prevention
and treatment of arthritis. We should all be concerned about arthritis. Soon,
the aging population will affect the way we do things. From an economic point of
view, our productivity is already being affected by high absenteeism because of
workers who have arthritis. AIDS, cancer and heart disease receive a huge
portion of private and public funding. Lack of awareness about arthritis means
that not enough funds are allocated to researching this disease.
In Canada, we are proud of our high standard of living. We value it very
highly. Everyone agrees that awareness and prevention work together to reduce
skyrocketing health care costs. Let us hope that concrete action will be taken
collectively to give people hope and make things better for the many Canadians
struggling with arthritis. Our entire country will benefit if we do.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moore, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Cowan:
That the following humble Address be presented to Her Excellency, The
Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada:
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY:
WHEREAS full representation in the Senate of Canada is a
constitutional guarantee to every province as part of the compromise
that made Confederation possible;
AND WHEREAS the stated position of the Prime Minister that he "does
not intend to appoint senators, unless necessary" represents a
unilateral denial of the rights of the provinces;
AND WHEREAS the Prime Minister's disregard of the Constitution of
Canada places the Governor General in the intolerable situation of not
being able to carry out her sworn duties under section s. 32 of the
Constitution Act, 1867, which states, "When a Vacancy happens in
the Senate by Resignation, Death, or otherwise, the Governor General
shall by Summons to a fit and qualified Person fill the Vacancy.";
AND WHEREAS upon the failure of the Prime Minister to tender advice
it is the duty of the Governor General to uphold the Constitution of
Canada and its laws and not be constrained by the willful omission of
the Prime Minister;
Therefore, we humbly pray that Your Excellency will exercise Her lawful
and constitutional duties and will summon qualified persons to the Senate of
Canada, thereby assuring that the people and regions of our country have
their full representation in a properly functioning Parliament, as that is
their undeniable right guaranteed in the Constitution of Canada.—(Honourable
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, in order that we are reminded
of what Senator Moore is trying to achieve, I wish to read part of the motion
Therefore, we humbly pray that Your Excellency will exercise Her lawful
and constitutional duties and will summon qualified persons to the Senate of
Canada, thereby assuring that the people and regions of our country have the
full representation in a properly functioning Parliament, as that is their
undeniable right guaranteed in the Constitution of Canada.
That paragraph was preceded by a number of statements that began with the
word "whereas," where the honourable senator claimed that the Prime Minister's
disregard of the Constitution of Canada places the Governor General in an
intolerable position because she cannot carry out her constitutional duties.
The honourable senator also said that the stated position of the Prime
Minister that he does not intend to appoint senators unless necessary represents
a unilateral denial of the rights of the provinces; and that, upon the failure
of the Prime Minister to tender advice, it is the duty of the Governor General
to uphold the Constitution of Canada.
Honourable senators, in contemplating this motion, I recalled the remarks of
former Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau, who once famously said of members of
When they are 50 yards from Parliament Hill, they are no longer
honourable members, they are just nobodies.
It occurred to me that, in the past, Liberals in the Senate have invoked time
allocation in this place — the equivalent of closure in the other place — as
they saw fit, 21 times from 1997-2005. Then, there was the famous attempt by the
Liberal senators to stall debate over the GST, a tax that their colleagues in
the other place now seem to consider sacrosanct but whose implementation Liberal
senators at the time tried to forestall, unsuccessfully I might add, by ringing
cow bells, blowing kazoos and twirling noisemakers. Senator Moore is worried
about protecting our institutions but the Liberals lost that right decades ago.
Senator Moore has called Prime Minister Harper's appointment of Senator Bert
Brown a glaring exception to the Prime Minister's policy not to fill Senate
vacancies, even though he knows that is not the case and his own motion confirms
it. The appointment of Senator Brown was not an exception to the Prime
Minister's policy regarding Senate appointments, but rather a confirmation of
his unwavering commitment to make this place more accountable by ensuring that
the bodies that fill it are elected and not appointed.
Senator Brown, honourable senators will recall, ran in three senatorial
elections and won two of them, including the last one in 2004. It is not the
Prime Minister's policy to leave Senate seats vacant. A quick glance at his
testimony when he appeared before the Special Senate Committee on Senate Reform
makes this plain. What the Prime Minister actually said in response to a
question from Senator Chaput was the following, and I will quote it so that
there is no misunderstanding. The Prime Minister said:
The government prefers not to appoint senators unless it has the
necessary reasons to do so. I mentioned one of these reasons in the case of
Senator Fortier. Frankly, we are concerned about the representation in the
Senate and about the number and age of our Senate caucus. It is necessary
for the government, even in the present system, to have a certain number of
senators to do the work of the government in the Senate. We have not reached
the point where it is necessary to appoint certain senators to meet this
objective. At this time, I prefer to have an election process where we can
consult the population rather than to appoint senators traditionally.
Senator Moore and his caucus colleagues do not seem to understand the policy
of the Prime Minister, so it bears repeating. The Prime Minister's policy is to
fill vacancies if and when necessary — "necessary" defined as the ability of
senators to carry on the work of the government in the Senate — but preferring
to wait until an advisory election process is put in place.
This motion is nothing more than a cleverly disguised effort to score points
while pulling the wool over the eyes of Canadians in order to obscure the real
issue: our government's commitment to making the Senate more accountable and the
Liberals' commitment to ensuring that we do not succeed in that.
Under the guise of seeking to defend the Constitution, that venerable
document in which the country's democratic nature is firmly rooted, this motion
seeks to reform the way senators are appointed, not as one might expect by
making the process more democratic but by making it less democratic. If this
motion were to succeed, it would surely establish a precedent for senators being
appointed to vacancies by the Governor General at the urging of the Senate. In
other words, the door would be open for unelected senators to ask the unelected
Governor General to appoint more unelected senators to the unelected and
This motion, while making reference to constitutional imperatives, undermines
those very imperatives in which it pretends to cloak itself. Moreover, it
invites the Governor General — a monarchical relic who has wisely and not
without considerable forethought been relegated to that of figurehead — and her
successors to usurp that which is the sole privilege of the democratically
elected Prime Minister who appointed her. The motion also seeks to make the
Senate complicit in that process.
Honourable senators, this motion is nothing less than an effort to put
democracy in reverse. Wrapped up as a sincere attempt to bolster our democratic
system, this motion is an elaborate masquerade that will undo and is an affront
In his testimony before the Special Committee on Senate Reform, the Prime
Minister stated that we have not reached the point in the Senate where the
business of the government cannot be carried out. Senator Moore disagrees.
Senator Morre says that the policy of the Prime Minister not to fill Senate
vacancies, which I remind honourable senators is not the policy of the Prime
Minister, denies the rights of the provinces. I would presume that there has
been a great hue and cry from the provinces about this denial of their rights,
that it has been documented and that at some future time Senator Moore will
table that documentation in this chamber. Perhaps the honourable senator will
table the policy of the Premier of Nova Scotia, Rodney MacDonald, who is on
record not only in support of term limits for senators, but also of elected and
not appointed senators.
No doubt Senator Moore's office has been inundated with letters from
constituents complaining that Senate vacancies in their region have not been
filled. Democracy is in peril. Senator Moore at some future date will table
these letters as well.
Honourable senators, in contending that the Senate is not working, Senator
Moore cited as evidence that the Senate adjourned on May 15 due to lack of
quorum, the first time that had happened, he told us dramatically, since 1914. I
contend that the failure to meet quorum was not an indication that the Senate is
not working, but rather an indication that the Liberal senators who comprise the
majority in this place are not working. Quorum, after all, consists of 15
senators. On May 15, the Liberals numbered 60-plus, which is more than enough
senators to meet quorum four times over. If the Liberals want the Senate to meet
its quorum, they can effortlessly ensure that it does.
What Senator Moore left out of his version of history is the sordid details
of that night. On May 15, the Liberals failed to heed both the 5-minute then the
15-minute bell to meet quorum, and instead used the time to rush their members
to an Energy Committee meeting where they passed Bill C-288 without any
Conservative members of the committee being present. The Conservative senators
were absent because they were heeding the bell.
The Liberals were not only responsible for lack of quorum, but they also took
advantage of quorum not being met. For Senator Moore to complain now is rich
I also argue that under no circumstances is adjournment of the Senate for
lack of quorum an indication that the Senate is not working, but rather that it
is working. Quorum is dictated by the Rules of the Senate and when the
Senate adheres to its rules, it is working. If, on the other hand, the Senate
had attempted to conduct business when quorum had not been met, that would be an
indication that it is not working, the rules of the Senate having been broken.
Honourable senators, there are 12 vacancies in the Senate out of 105. Former
Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau allowed the Senate to operate for three
years in the 1980s with vacancies in the double digits rising to a high of 21 in
1983. Under our constitutional government, through elections, the people of
Canada decide whether they agree with the Prime Minister's decision to leave or
fill vacancies. The people are given ample time to speak, and they did so in
1984. Mr. Trudeau's appointments to the Senate, through newly elected leader
John Turner, contributed greatly to Mr. Turner's short-lived government's demise
in the election of 1984. Judging by that experience, I advise my Prime Minister
not to make the same mistake.
Senator Stollery: What happened to the Progressive Conservative party?
Senator Tkachuk: We are now the government. They are right over there.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Therefore, honourable senators, I move, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Comeau:
That the motion be amended by deleting all words after "MAY IT PLEASE
YOUR EXCELLENCY:" and replacing them by the following:
We humbly pray that Your Excellency will continue to exercise Her
lawful and constitutional duties and summon qualified persons to the
Senate of Canada, upon the advice of the Prime Minister which has been
the practice since Confederation.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Do honourable senators
wish debate on the motion in amendment?
Hon. Tommy Banks: May I ask a question of Senator Tkachuk before we
debate the amendment? I do not know the proper order.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will Senator Tkachuk
accept a question?
Senator Tkachuk: Depending on the question, yes.
Senator Banks: Honourable senators, I actually understand that answer.
Leaving aside the terminological inexactitudes of the honourable senator's
speech, it is interesting to hear his views on what the Constitution ought to
be, and those are matters which need to be addressed in a constitutionally
Also leaving aside the way that the honourable senator would like to see the
Constitution, does he have any regard for the Constitution as it presently
Senator Tkachuk: Of course I do, but I also understand that a
constitution is not only what it says, but also what it practices. The
democratic right to appoint senators to this place has always been the
prerogative of the Prime Minister, and he advises the Governor General and the
Governor General appoints. That is his duty and that is her duty. The
Constitution does not say that the Prime Minister has to appoint so many
senators each year and it does not say that he has to appoint a senator
immediately after one resigns.
Senator Banks: Is it not correct to say that a prime minister makes
these appointments? The appointments, according to the Constitution, are made by
the Governor General, His or Her Excellency, and it does not say anything in the
Constitution about a prime minister.
Senator Oliver: Constitutional convention.
Senator Tkachuk: We can refer the matter to the Supreme Court, and I
think I will be right and the honourable senator will be wrong.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Would Senator Tkachuk take another question?
Senator Tkachuk: Yes.
Senator Fraser: My question also refers to his original remarks and,
notably, his use of the infamous quotation from Pierre Trudeau about MPs being
nobodies once they get off the Hill. I yield to no one in my admiration for Mr.
Trudeau, but as I am sure Senator Tkachuk would agree, no one is perfect, so I
will ask him a series of questions.
Would the honourable senator agree with me that, on that occasion, Mr.
Trudeau got it backwards and that, in fact, MPs are somebodies at home, but
that, at least in the eyes of many of the great and the powerful around here,
they do tend to be nobodies on the Hill, that is, to be seen as nobodies on the
Hill by some of the great and powerful? Would the honourable senator agree with
me that that tendency probably exists in most prime ministers and cabinet
Finally, would he agree with me that this concept appears to have reached its
ultimate flowering under the present Prime Minister?
Senator Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I cannot speak for Liberal prime
ministers, but I can speak for ours. Of course not.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The speaking time for
Senator Tkachuk has expired.
Is the honourable senator asking for more time?
Senator Tkachuk: No. I am done.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: I move the adjournment of the debate.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It is moved by the
Honourable Senator Oliver, seconded by the Honourable Senator Di Nino, that
further debate be adjourned until the next sitting of the Senate.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: All honourable
senators in favour of the motion to adjourn will signify by saying "yea."
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: All honourable
senators opposed to the motion to adjourn will signify by saying "nay."
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: In my opinion, the "yeas"
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley rose pursuant to notice of November 27, 2007:
That she will call the attention of the Senate to the Tenth Anniversary
of the signing of the Ottawa Treaty against the use of landmines.
She said: Honourable senators, in speaking to my inquiry today, I wish to
recognize the work of two former colleagues of ours who have made significant
contributions to the land mines issue. They are the Honourable Sheila Finestone,
a former ambassador of land mines; and the Honourable Ione Christensen, who
acted as co-chair of Senators Against Landmines.
December 3, 2007 marked the tenth anniversary of the signing in Ottawa of the
December Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and
Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and Their Destruction, better known as the Mine
Ban Treaty or the Ottawa Treaty.
The Mine Ban Treaty defines an anti-personnel mine as "a mine designed to be
exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person, and that will
incapacitate, injure or kill one or more persons." There are more than 350
different kinds of anti-personnel mines, manufactured by more than 50
countries. These weapons cost very little to produce and are easy to deploy and
therefore have become a favoured weapon, especially of poorer nations.
In October of 1996, 75 governments met in Ottawa to discuss the problems of
anti-personnel land mines. Then Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, in
wrapping up the conference, made a surprise announcement, challenging the world
to return to Ottawa in one year to sign a comprehensive treaty banning land
Through this announcement, Canada gave notice to the world that we believed
that international cooperation was possible on this issue and that it was
finally time to take action. This announcement kicked off what has become known
as the "Ottawa Process." Over the next 14 months, a series of gatherings and
consultations occurred, culminating in Oslo in September of 1997, where an
international agreement was reached to eliminate anti-personnel land mines.
On December 3, 1997, 122 countries signed the Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa. To
actually come into effect, the treaty had to be ratified by 40 nations, which
occurred in 1999. As of now, 156 states have signed the treaty and all but two
of these, Poland and the Marshall Islands, have ratified it. Thirty-nine states
have not yet signed the Ottawa Treaty, including China, India, Russia and the
International ratification of the treaty, however, is only the first step.
The long task of clearing the millions of land mines already placed in dozens of
The Canadian Landmine Foundation estimates that there are between 45 and 50
million land mines in the ground in over 70 countries. One of the most inhumane
weapons ever developed, land mines kill and cripple not only combatants, but
also thousands of innocent civilians, long after hostilities have ended.
Although all of these mines were originally placed to protect against
military forces, once the fighting has ended or moved on, it is the innocent
men, women and children who continue to fall victim to this weapon.
In 2006, 5,751 people from 58 countries were known to be killed or injured by
these relics. Three quarters of these were civilians and one third of these were
children. The hard fact is that somewhere in the world someone is killed or
mutilated by a land mine every 28 minutes. In some countries, 50 per cent of
victims are children. The true horror of land mines is how they are silent
killers, preying on innocent civilians, and again, especially children.
Sadly, those countries held hostage to land mines are amongst the poorest in
the world, lacking both the financial and technical resources needed to carry
out effective demining operations. Land mines render huge areas of arable land
unusable simply because it is not safe for anyone to wander into these areas.
Although it costs only about $3 to build and place each of these mines, it can
cost $300 to $1,000 to locate and destroy a single mine.
It is an enormously costly and time-consuming effort to clean up infected
areas. A deminer with a metal detector and a prod can clear 100 square metres a
day. With a mine detection dog, 1,000 square metres a day can be cleared.
Most countries that have used these weapons can barely afford civil
administration, let alone the costs to clean up past war zones. The result is
enormous social and economic suffering as poor, rural and post-conflict
societies can be overwhelmed by challenges of repairing infrastructure and
replacing lost agricultural production. Land mines disrupt trade and commerce,
produce food shortages and inflation, perpetuate poverty and are a major
obstacle to sustainable development.
Despite the challenges, in 2006, over 450 square kilometres of contaminated
land were cleared. In addition, 860 square kilometres were released through
other measures. The Canadian Landmine Foundation has raised almost $4 million to
clear almost 2 million square metres of mines in a dozen countries around the
world. The annual Night of a Thousand Dinners worldwide campaign has raised over
$4 million for projects in over 50 countries. Progress is being made, but it is
slow and costly.
Honourable senators, land mines were recognized as a weapon that causes more
civilian casualties in the long run than does the military. This was the impetus
that led to the Ottawa treaty. Attention is now being directed to cluster bombs.
These are weapons that open over a target area and disperse a large number of
sub-bombs. These sub-bombs are undirected and can often cover a square kilometre
or more. These weapons cause two problems for non-combatants. First, at the time
of use, the large area covered by these weapons puts nearby civilians at risk.
Second, although these munitions are designed to explode on impact, not all do.
This leaves a significant number of unexploded munitions after military action
has finished. Unexploded sub-bombs threaten civilians when they attempt to
return to an area at a later date.
Canada has never used cluster bombs, although two types were contained in our
arsenal of weapons. Canada has committed to the destruction of its cluster
bombs, although no date has been announced for the completion of this task.
In addition, Canada signed the Oslo Declaration in early 2007, which calls
for the creation of a new treaty by the end of 2008 outlawing cluster bombs
worldwide. This declaration now has the support of 80 nations.
Although Canada has been a world leader in the banning and destruction of
land mines, there is still much work to be done in clearing this problem
worldwide. More international efforts and funding are required for the clearance
of affected areas. Canada has committed to the elimination of our stockpile of
cluster bombs, but can Canada do more to lead the world in this effort, as we
did for the Ottawa treaty? I hope so.
Honourable senators, the Ottawa Treaty is considered a remarkable achievement
by international observers of disarmament issues for its rapid development and
adoption. In a span of 14 months, an extraordinary agreement was reached banning
a conventional weapon for the first time in history. As we mark this tenth
anniversary of the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty that was signed in Ottawa, we
can reflect with pride on the leadership shown by Canada through the Ottawa
process and on the efforts that our nation has made in reducing weapons of war
that have had an inordinate impact on civilians rather than their intended
military targets. However, we must resolve to continue the work that was begun
at that time and diligently pursue the eradication of this horrific weapon and
other similar weapons that indiscriminately kill and injure. More can be done,
and must be done, and I encourage all Canadians to continue their efforts.
On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, December 5, 2007, at 1:30 p.m.