Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I rise today to call your
attention to the importance of February as Black History Month. Part of the aim
of Black History Month is to underline the harmful results of racial prejudice
and to cultivate Black self-esteem following centuries of socio-economic
oppression. It is also an opportunity to further recognize significant
contributions to society made by people of African heritage.
The month-long celebration was an expression of Negro History Week,
established in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, director of what was known then as the
Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Woodson selected the week
in February that embraced the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham
Each year, we take this opportunity to reflect on the significant
achievements of Black Canadians — people who have made a difference in our
society and have fought for equality in Canada. It is a time to reflect on Black
Canadians who have championed discrimination, such as Lincoln MacCauley
Alexander, the first Black Member of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons
in 1968. Later, in Ontario, Mr. Alexander became the first Black Lieutenant
Governor in Canada. That was truly a landmark appointment.
It is also a time to remember Black Canadians in the field of arts and
culture who have made a positive difference in our country. I think, for
instance, of recently-passed brilliant jazz pianist, Oscar Peterson, who made
such an impact with his musical talent and proudly represented Black Canadians
on the world stage.
This year, Black History Month is of particular importance because it marks
the one hundred and seventy fifth anniversary of the Act for the Abolition of
Slavery in the British Empire. On August 28, 1833, the act received Royal Assent
and the following year became law throughout all of the British colonies,
This law was passed on British soil, but Canada played a pioneering role in
this movement. In 1793, Governor John Graves Simcoe passed the Anti-Slavery Act.
This law freed slaves over the age of 25 and made it illegal to bring slaves
into Upper Canada.
However, since Canada started as a leader, I believe that we must continue in
this role and work harder towards bringing equality for Black Canadians. While
Canadians have accomplished so much in terms of their contribution to Canada and
equality, there is still much work to be done.
Recently, as a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, I was
troubled to learn from the President of the Public Service Commission that the
hiring of visible minorities in the public service has not increased. It has
dropped, going from 9.8 per cent to an embarrassing 8.6 per cent of federal
Visible minorities remain the only one of the four target groups in the
public service who are under-represented. They make up to 10.4 per cent of the
labour force. This is disappointing news for visible minorities, particularly
I still have faith that this can change. While we still waver in reaching
these employment equity goals, improvements have been made. The fact that we
recognize our failures brings hope that changes can be made. Education about
racism and Black history is the first stepping stone in making a difference.
That is why Black History Month is so important. In conclusion, honourable
senators, I hope that you will all take time this month to remember the
contributions of Black Canadians, present and past, but most importantly that
you try to come to grips with the many painful issues that Black Canadians still
continue to face and endure.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I am very pleased to speak today about the one hundredth anniversary
of the University of Alberta and its Campus Saint-Jean.
The year 1908 is historic because it marks the creation of one of the great
institutions that would ensure the survival of the French fact in Western
Canada. Founded by the Oblate fathers in 1908, Campus Saint-Jean is celebrating
100 years of history.
There has been much change over the years: it went from a "juniorate" to a
classical college to a university college to a faculty and is now Campus
Saint-Jean. Throughout these changes, Campus Saint-Jean has always been able to
adapt and has played an important role in French education and training for
francophones and francophiles. Through its work, Campus Saint-Jean has largely
contributed to the development of our country's and our society's values. It has
also touched the lives of the thousands of people who have studied, taught and
I must say that I am very proud to have been part of the development of this
noble institution, which is known worldwide for its excellence in teaching and
research, as well as for the great work it does for the French fact in Western
The Saint-Jean campus of the University of Alberta has a proud and rich
history. Founded in 1908 in Pincher Creek, and relocated to Edmonton in 1910,
Saint-Jean became the institution of choice for the education of thousands of
young men and women over the years. Saint-Jean's destiny became intertwined with
that of the University of Alberta in the 1970s, when the University of Alberta,
with the help of the federal government, purchased the Collège Saint-Jean from
the Oblate Fathers. It is significant that both institutions were founded in
1908 by visionaries whose dreams became reality, and that in this centennial
year, we celebrate the history and contributions of both of these institutions
to the building of our communities.
Today, the University of Alberta is one of the largest and most renowned
universities in Canada and one of the most respected institutions of higher
learning in the world.
Honourable senators, the University of Alberta will mark its centenary with a
series of events and celebrations. The highlight event of the centenary
celebrations — other than the university's annual homecoming event in September
2008 — will be a Prime Minister's Conversation Series. Throughout 2008, each of
Canada's six living former Prime Ministers will give a lecture based on the
theme, "Advancing Canada: Changing the World."
Honourable senators, it is hard to believe that only 100 years ago, the
province of Alberta built its first university in Edmonton. It is even harder to
believe that the province is only 103 years old. The province, the university
and the people of Alberta have come a long way since then. Yet, it is my belief,
honourable senators, that much of Alberta's current success is a consequence of
that original foresight. The province's early leaders believed in the value of
higher education, and the educational systems they that built and supported have
given evidence to that belief.
I would like to sincerely congratulate both Campus Saint-Jean and the
University of Alberta.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, every February the
Canadian Council of the Blind celebrates White Cane Week, a full week of events
to raise awareness of the challenges facing the more than 600,000 blind and
visually impaired Canadians in this country.
This year, White Cane Week emphasizes two important themes: "The white cane
is a symbol of ability, not disability" and "Changing what it means to be
Across Canada, from February 3 to 11, chapters and clubs of the Canadian
Council of the Blind are holding curling fun-spiels and bowling tournaments.
Information booths and sessions are being offered at community events. In my
home province of Prince Edward Island, both the Queensland and Prince County
chapters are holding bowling tournaments. Members will set up public awareness
displays in malls, as well as visit Island schools to speak to students.
The council's work is not limited to one week per year. With more than 65
clubs across Canada, the CCB offers a wide range of programs to its members: a
bursary program for post-secondary students, public awareness campaigns and
skill training. As well, members of the council act as advocates.
The new TechCane program seeks to provide computers to as many members as
Recently, there have been steps taken to address some of the challenges
facing blind and visually impaired Canadians. First, 2008 will mark the launch
of the Accessible Channel, a specialty TV channel which uses described
programming, quite literally describing the action taking place on the screen.
Also, public transit systems in some of Canada's cities are beginning to
verbally announce stops along the route so that all passengers can be kept aware
of their trip's progress. In addition, the Initiative for Equitable Library
Access, carried out by Library and Archives Canada, will help support access to
library collections by Canadians with print disabilities.
Today I ask honourable senators to join with me in recognizing the importance
of White Cane Week, and in congratulating the members of the Canadian Council of
the Blind for their continued enthusiasm, hard work and dedication.
Hon. Pana Merchant: Honourable senators, Hellenes in Canada and the
Greek community the world over were saddened last week at the passing of His
Beatitude Archbishop Christodoulos, the beloved leader of the Greek Orthodox
Church of Athens and all of Greece.
Archbishop Christodoulos was committed to guarding the faith and keeping the
traditions of orthodoxy alive and vibrant. In addition to being a popular figure
in Greece, His Holiness had been a tremendous spiritual leader of the Greece
Orthodox Church, an energetic servant of God who, since his 1998 election as
head of the church, was credited with reinvigorating the church.
The Orthodox Church in Greece represents 97 per cent of the country's
Born Christos Paraskevaidis, in 1939, Archbishop Christodoulos was one of two
sons; his father a wholesale food importer, his mother a devoutly religious
woman. He was ordained at the age of 22; obtained degrees in law and theology
from the University of Athens; served as secretary to the church's governing
Holy Synod; was elected Metropolitan Bishop of a diocese based in Volos, Greece;
and elected Archbishop of Athens and all of Greece on April 28, 1998.
Archbishop Christodoulos was remarkable in forging new horizons and is noted
for his efforts in improving ties and creating a dialogue with the Church of
Rome, culminating in the historic visits of the late Pope John Paul II to Greece
in 2001, and in turn, his own journey to the Vatican in 2006.
His Beatitude Archbishop Christodoulos was a dedicated, faithful servant of
God. May his memory be eternal.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, this past fall, over 300
students from the faculties of arts, commerce, science and graduate studies and
research crossed the stage and received degrees from Saint Mary's University in
Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Saint Mary's is one of Canada's oldest and leading institutions of higher
learning. As a proud Santamarian myself and the father of a current student at
Saint Mary's, it was great to see that one of our own honourable colleagues was
recognized for his outstanding service to public life.
Senator Wilfred P. Moore, Q.C. was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
This would be his second degree from Saint Mary's, as he received his first in
1964 with a Bachelor of Commerce.
Senator — now doctor — Moore is no stranger to education, politics and public
life. From 1974 to 1980, he was a Halifax alderman and served as deputy mayor.
He served as chairman of the Social Assistance Appeal Board for Halifax and
Dartmouth and was the founding director and chairman of the Halifax Metro
Centre. He served 10 years as a member of the board of directors of Saint Mary's
University. He is a former member of the Royal Canadian Air Force Reserves. He
has served as Chairman of the Bluenose II Preservation Trust — a group of
volunteers who restored, maintained and operated the historic schooner Bluenose
II for ten years. He did all of that, honourable senators, whilst serving in
this place since his appointment to the Senate in 1996.
On a personal note, I had the pleasure of serving with Senator Moore in his
capacity as treasurer, vice-president of policy, president and then past
president of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, while I was the Executive
Director. As well, he found time to run two very successful leadership campaigns
with the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien.
During the convocation ceremony, Dr. Moore spoke of his pride in St. Mary's
and of its stature in the world of education. He said:
St. Mary's graduates, the world is now all yours. No matter where you go
in the world, always remain involved with your alma mater. This is the best
place in the world to obtain an education; it's the place where you have met
your lifelong friends; it's the place that gives you credibility and passion
Honourable senators, I could not agree more. I hope you will join me in
congratulating Dr. Moore on his well-deserved achievement.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Global
Partnership Program's annual report entitled A Tangible Canadian Contribution
to Reducing the Threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Special Senate Committee on Anti-Terrorism be authorized to sit
at any time from Monday, February 11, 2008 to Friday, February 15, 2008,
even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that the application of rule
95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been
received from the House of Commons with Bill C-41, An Act respecting payments to
a trust established to provide provinces and territories with funding for
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
On motion of Senator Comeau, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding
rule 57(1)(f), bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading later
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 23(6), I have
the honour to table in the Senate, in both official languages, the report of the
Canadian parliamentary delegation to the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association
regarding the Thirtieth European Parliament meeting held in Brussels, Belgium,
from November 20 to 22, 2007.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the
next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, pursuant to Rule 95(3)(a), the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry be authorized to sit between Monday, February 18,
2008 and Thursday, February 21, 2008, inclusive, even though the Senate may
then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.
Hon. Mac Harb: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next
sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Senate take note of the proposed sale of the Canadarm, RADARSAT
satellite business to American arms-maker Alliant Techsystems for $1.325
That the Senate note that this nationally significant technology was
funded by Canadian taxpayers through grants and other technology subsidies
for civilian and commercial purposes;
That the Senate note that this sale threatens to put Canada in breach of
the 1997 international landmines treaty it was instrumental in writing;
That the Senate acknowledge that although Industry Canada will do a
mandatory review of the trade issues relating to the sale there are many
vital social, political, moral and technological issues that need to be
That the Senate of Canada urge the Government of Canada to block the
proposed sale of the nationally significant Canadarm, RADARSAT satellite
business to American arms-maker Alliant Techsystems; and
That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House
with the above.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of
the Government in the Senate, and it relates to matters of accountability and
transparency in government, a subject with which I hope some members opposite
have a grazing familiarity.
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate please inform us as to
whether there are any consequences and if so, what they are of ministers of the
Crown who violate Treasury Board regulations as they pertain to the awarding of
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for his question. I presume that
he is asking the specific question about the Minister of Finance, although he
did not indicate such.
The Minister of Finance addressed this matter openly and honestly yesterday.
He acknowledged in the other place that certain administrative guidelines were
not followed and that steps have now been taken to correct the situation. He
assured members of the House of Commons that the work provided to him by the
individual in question was good work, fully worthy of the contract. The Minister
of Finance actually did something that has not been done very often in the past,
where ministers acknowledge that there was an administrative oversight, and he
took actions to deal with the situation.
Senator Banks: As the honourable leader said, I did not raise the
question of the Minister of Finance, but now that she has raised it, my question
had to do with whether there are at present any sanctions or any consequences of
a minister of the Crown doing, for example, what the Minister of Finance has
done. Notwithstanding that he has corrected the situation, I am wondering if
there are any consequences in that respect.
Senator LeBreton: As the honourable senator knows, there is a code to
which all cabinet ministers must adhere. I am very proud to be part of a cabinet
that is very respectful of both the taxpayers' dollars and the law. We have been
in government for two years now and during that time, we have not had any
examples of cabinet ministers abusing or misusing taxpayers' dollars.
Senator Banks: In this particular case, the honourable senator is
correct in that the minister said in the comments that value-for-money was
received. That was not the question, but I guess there is no longer a
consequence — any more than there ever was — for ministers who breach those
The contract to which the minister refers, and for which good value was
received, was in the order of $122,000 for what we understand is two months
work. That works out to about $60,000 a month for a writer. That is more than
three times what the average Canadian worker could earn in a year.
Can the Leader of the Government explain how the Minister of Finance was able
to ignore what I have to presume would have been the warnings and exceptions
that would have been pointed out to him by his deputies, by his assistant
deputies and, one assumes, by others in the department regarding the danger and
the impropriety of awarding a $122,000 untendered contract?
Senator LeBreton: As the honourable senator can appreciate, contract
work like this is dealt with administratively. I cannot specifically answer the
question about whether people in the Department of Finance brought this matter
directly to the Minister of Finance, but I will take that question as notice.
Senator Banks: I hope that the honourable senator will do that, and I
hope that we can also find out whether officials in the department either warned
or pointed out to the minister that the awarding of such a contract without a
tender is not and never has been in accordance with Treasury Board guidelines.
Honourable senators, $122,000 is a lot of money. It represents about $22 a
word, which may explain why there are so many "ifs, "ands" and "buts" in
the speech. I look forward to receiving the answer.
Senator LeBreton: I was prepared to agree with the honourable senator.
I will check with the officials at the Department of Finance. The honourable
senator said that $122,000 is a lot of money; so is $40 million — and we still
do not know where it went.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my question is for the Minister of Public Works and Government
Services. When Leo Housakos tried to exert his influence and lobby the
department, your Chief of Staff acted appropriately. He decided to ignore the
demands of this Conservative Party fundraiser, who was lobbying illegally. As a
good Chief of Staff, I suppose that Mr. Loiselle told you about the questionable
activities of Mr. Housakos.
When the time came to appoint Mr. Housakos to the board of Via Rail, knowing
the normal procedure for making such appointments, did the minister inform his
cabinet colleagues of his reservations regarding Mr. Housakos?
Hon. Michael Fortier (Minister of Public Works and Government Services):
Honourable senators, I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for her
question. Mr. Housakos and Mr. Loiselle both said that there were no discussions
on that file and that Mr. Loiselle did not want to discuss it. Thus, there was
no illegal lobbying activity, since there was never any discussion of the matter
As for the appointment process, there were other factors surrounding those
appointments and confidential discussions were held among Cabinet members.
Honourable senators will understand that the first part of my reply is an
indication of how I would have responded to the second part, if I were at
liberty to do so.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: In fact, we know that Mr. Housakos tried,
unsuccessfully, to influence the minister's Chief of Staff, who realized very
quickly what was going on and refused to discuss the file, informing Mr.
Housakos that that was lobbying.
I wanted to know whether or not the Minister of Public Works was consulted
and, after this attempt by Mr. Housakos, if the minister had reservations with
regard to his appointment to the VIA Rail Board of Directors. Mr. Housakos did
attempt to influence the minister's staff and broke the rules made public by the
government and laws such as the Accountability Act.
Senator Fortier: Honourable senators, according to the statements by
Mr. Housakos and Mr. Loiselle, the former sought to raise the matter. To say
that he tried to influence Mr. Loiselle indicates to me that my understanding of
the facts and the honourable senator's interpretation of these facts differ. He
wanted to discuss it and the discussion did not take place. There cannot have
been an attempt to influence anyone because the matter was not discussed. My
answer is the same as that to her first question.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): We are
playing somewhat with words, but I will delve a little deeper. When Bill C-2 was
adopted, there was a great deal of pressure on your government to accelerate the
process. With regard to the appointment process put in place by the
Accountability Act, Bill C-2, can the minister explain what qualifications
related to transportation Mr. Housakos possesses to be appointed to the VIA Rail
Board of Directors?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, with regard to the appointments process, I
believe the appointments secretary in the Prime Minister's Office deals with
appointment vacancies. There are many. We are faced with quite a number of
vacancies at the moment. There is a process to seek out people to serve on the
various agencies and boards.
In the election campaign and in the Federal Accountability Act, we promised
an appointments oversight body, which, unfortunately, did not come to fruition
because of the activities of the opposition in the other place.
However, the government made a commitment to appoint qualified people to
serve on the various agencies, boards and commissions. There have been many
highly qualified individuals appointed from all political stripes. I think the
appointment of this individual would have followed a process through the
departments that were affected. In this case, it would have been in consultation
with the Minister of Transport.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, my question is for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate.
When allegations about payments from Karlheinz Schreiber to former Prime
Minister Brian Mulroney surfaced again last November, a directive from current
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was issued that all contact with Canada's
growing-old government and Mr. Mulroney be cut off.
Last week we learned that Robin Sears registered to lobby the PMO, the PCO
and other offices on behalf of Mr. Mulroney. Will the leader tell us whether or
not she spoke to Mr. Sears before he registered or even after he registered as
Mr. Mulroney's lobbyist, as she is not allowed to speak to her good friend,
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): The answer, honourable senators, is that I have spoken to no
Senator Mercer: Can the minister tell us if she is aware of Mr. Sears
speaking to any officials of this government on behalf of Mr. Mulroney?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I read in the newspaper that
Mr. Sears had registered as a lobbyist. All people who register themselves,
which is legal, list their potential contacts. The fact that they list their
potential contacts does not, in fact, mean that they actually ever contact them.
To my knowledge, no one that I am aware of has been contacted or in fact has
met with Mr. Sears.
Senator Mercer: Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate give
us her assurance that she will remind her staff and other members of the
government of Mr. Harper's directive, and that meeting with Mr. Sears would be
going through the back door to do what the Prime Minister has ordered them not
to do through the front door, namely, talk to Mr. Mulroney? With respect to
talking to Mr. Sears, who is publicly acknowledged as being Mr. Mulroney's
spokesperson, Mr. Harper's directive to all of his officials should be followed.
Senator LeBreton: We have excellent people who serve the government by
working in the ministers' offices. They are all highly ethical and hardworking
people, and they do not need any reminders, especially from Liberals.
Hon. Elaine McCoy: My question is to the Chair of the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Parliament has been sitting now for one week since it started back. In the
space of those four days in the other place, four backbenchers have addressed
the progress of their flagship government legislation known as Bill C-2, which
is a bill to amend the Criminal Code. In each and every case, the comments
and/or questions to the Minister of Justice either insinuated or flatly stated
that the Senate was dragging its feet on passing this legislation.
A quick look at the record assured me that we only received that bill from
the other place on November 29, 2007. Within two weeks it had passed first
reading, it had passed second reading and the bill was then referred to our
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on December 12. On
December 14, of course, both Houses of Parliament adjourned for the Christmas
break, and, as I stated earlier, we only came back last week.
My question to the chair of our standing committee is: Where on the
committee's agenda does that bill sit?
Hon. Joan Fraser: I thank the honourable senator for her question. We
shall begin the study of Bill C-2 tomorrow evening at our regularly scheduled
meeting, and we shall hear at that time from the minister, Mr. Nicholson. Like
the honourable senator, I have heard the comments from various backbenchers in
the other place. Many of them sound to me like planted questions.
Senator Comeau: Just like this one.
Senator Fraser: However, I can assure the honourable senator that the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs takes all of its
responsibilities seriously. We have been occupied with the study of various
pieces of government legislation, the most recent of which was reported to this
chamber last Thursday afternoon, and, as I said, at our next meeting we begin
the study of Bill C-2.
Hon. David Tkachuk: As the chairman knows, the passage of the bill in
the other place was a vote of confidence in the government, and the bill is now
before her committee. We on this side believe that Canadians need that
legislation, and want it. Could the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs advise the chamber as to the committee's work
plan for this bill? Can she provide some indication as to when we can expect the
bill to be reported to this chamber?
Senator Fox: Before the election.
Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, as Senator Tkachuk is probably
aware, this is complicated legislation. It puts together what were originally
five separate bills, none of which was ever considered by a Senate committee, so
we have serious work to do.
The committee hearings in the House of Commons were very lengthy and
stretched out over a considerable period of time. Including all the various
incarnations of this bill, the Justice Committee in the other place held more
than 40 hearings on this bill, which suggests that it is indeed very complicated
All senators are proud of the work done by Senate committees. This committee
intends to proceed very diligently, but to do what Senate committees are
supposed to do, that is, study the bill properly.
Senator Tkachuk: We on this side know that the bill is complicated and
that it needs further study. I am sure that we on this side are willing to work
long hours to make that happen. I am sure that members on this side would be
more than interested in extending the sitting times of the committee in order
that this bill can be passed.
From what the honourable senator is saying, I think she will still be talking
about it in April. Would members on the honourable senator's committee be
willing to sit late at night in order to hear the witnesses as quickly as
Senator Fraser: Honourable senators, as I expect the honourable
senator is aware, the whips have agreed to extended hours. The current plan of
the steering committee is to extend the hours of the regular Wednesday evening
sitting. However, on Thursday mornings, as honourable senators know, we bump up
against the sittings of the Senate.
Senator McCoy: Honourable senators, I assume, because ministers have
busy schedules, that the minister knew last week that he was scheduled to appear
before the Legal Affairs Committee tomorrow. That begs the question of why he
did not bring to the attention of the other place the fact that the allegations
were mischaracterizations, to put it politely. I believe that parliamentarians
have a duty to uphold the honour and reputation of our institutions.
Will Senator Fraser raise this matter with the Minister of Justice and bring
to his attention this scurrilous mischaracterization of the Senate's workload?
Senator Fraser: What an excellent idea. I cannot guarantee that this
question will be put by a member of the committee, but I do think it is an
excellent idea, and I suspect other members of the committee may agree.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): My question
is for the Leader of the Government.
The Prime Minister appointed Bernard Lord to consult with organizations
representing official language minority communities. These consultations are now
finished. I am concerned that the consultations were by invitation only, thus
making several organizations feel aggrieved, particularly Impératif français,
the Association des juristes d'expression française among many others.
Since the organizations were arbitrarily chosen, were the findings not
already predetermined? Would the government not have chosen organizations to
corroborate its own findings and objectives?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. Bernard Lord is
a very credible individual, and he has traveled across the country on these
consultations. I am not aware that he has rejected any group that wanted to make
a presentation. I believe the opposite is true. However, I will ascertain
whether the particular groups that Senator Tardif mentioned asked for a meeting
and, if they did, why they were not granted one.
Senator Tardif: I thank the Leader of the Government for her response.
Could she also find out what criteria were used to select organizations and,
when she sees Mr. Lord, ask him which criteria he used to select the
organizations that did appear?
Senator LeBreton: I would be happy to find out that information for
the Honourable Senator Tardif.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, Canada Post estimates that it
loses between $60 million and $80 million a year to private mail delivery
companies; that is, re-mail companies. Since it is much cheaper to deliver mail
to Canada's cities in comparison to the rest of the country, these private
companies compete with Canada Post to deliver mail to Canada's urban centres.
Meanwhile, they actually use Canada Post to process their deliveries to rural
Canadians where the cost of delivering mail is much more expensive. By poaching
revenues from Canada Post, these private companies continue to hinder Canada
Post's ability to provide universal postal service in Canada at a reasonable
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate explain to honourable senators
if the introduction to Bill C-14 in the other place is the first step toward the
deregulation of mail delivery in Canada?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, the fact is members of our government, and
particularly members of our caucus, a huge number of whom represent rural
constituencies, are very concerned about the whole issue of mail delivery in the
rural areas. We dealt with the issue of the placement of roadside mailboxes in
I would not agree with Senator Milne that that is the intent of the bill.
However, I will certainly bring her concerns to my cabinet colleague who is in
charge of Canada Post.
Senator Milne: Honourable senators, I thank the Leader of the
Government in the Senate for her answer, but I would like to take her through
the introductory speech in the other place that addresses this bill.
On November 20, Mr. Brian Jean, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of
Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, stated, in relation to Bill C-14:
. . . its net effect on Canada Post is not expected to be any different.
I assume he meant different from the present situation. He stated later:
Canada Post does not know for sure how much business it has been losing
to remailers operating illegally in Canada.
Finally he concluded, in contradiction to himself:
Should this legislation get enacted, Canada Post estimates losing another
$45 million to $50 million a year . . . .
This on top of the $60 million to $80 million I already mentioned.
Honourable senators, while those in favour of this proposed legislation say
that allowing these firms to compete with Canada Post will reduce the cost of
their goods or services to consumers, that will only be the case in urban
Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate indicate to honourable
senators whether Canada Post has estimated how much Bill C-14 will increase
costs to rural Canadians to send their mail in the form of letters?
Would she undertake to ask the minister responsible for Canada Post if an
analysis has been completed and report to this chamber?
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator has obviously picked out
portions of Mr. Brian Jean's speech in the House of Commons that have been taken
out of context. I would have to read the whole speech to confirm whether the
contradictions the honourable senator claims are, in fact, there.
I will take the meat of her question as notice because this is a complicated
issue, as Canada Post always has been and probably always will be.
Senator Milne: I have a copy of the speech right here.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I have a question
for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
In the last few months, we have witnessed the largest meltdown in charter
bank equity and further losses due to derivatives or other similar financial
instruments of questionable value.
Rumours abound in the marketplace that even more losses are in store for our
chartered banks. Is the Government of Canada concerned about this unprecedented
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, of course the government is always
concerned about marketplace challenges, particularly the challenges that concern
our banks. It is no secret that the government is watching the situation in the
United States very closely, particularly the sub-prime issue.
As I have said before, Senator Grafstein asks very complicated financial
questions. Obviously, no one is happy with a situation where Canadian businesses
or Canadian citizens might find themselves in undesirable situations. I will
take the honourable senator's question as notice.
Senator Grafstein: The deal hammered out, apparently under the
auspices of the Department of Finance, which includes all the chartered banks,
failed to get the support of at least one major chartered bank. Is the
Government of Canada concerned about this state of affairs?
Senator LeBreton: Senator Grafstein, I will have to take the question
as notice. As I mentioned a moment ago, the government is watching the situation
around the world, particularly in the United States, with great interest and
With the strong leadership of the Minister of Finance, the Prime Minister and
the cabinet, we realize we must be vigilant on all economic matters. However, we
feel Canada is in a good position to deal with the situation at the present time
because the fundamentals of our economy are very strong indeed.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table responses to oral questions raised by the
Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette on November 21, 2007, concerning Industry
Canada — foreign investment by the Canadian government; by the Honourable
Senator Segal on December 5, 2007, concerning foreign affairs — military
cooperation between the United States and Russia; by the Honourable Senator
Rivest on December 11, 2007, concerning public safety — possible review of the
parole process; and by the Honourable Senator Tardif on December 12, 2007,
concerning Industry Canada — copyright.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette on November
There are no existing reliable data on this question. Statistics Canada
data on Canadian direct investment abroad are not broken down by sector or
by owner (private versus public). Reliable information on direct investment
abroad by Canadian crown corporations is not readily available.
That being said, over the last two decades, the federal government has
privatized many of its large crown corporations with sizeable international
operations (e.g., Petro-Canada, Canadian National Railway, Air Canada). As
such, the outward direct investment flows of remaining Canadian crown
corporations are likely modest.
Privatization of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) has been a major trend in
most developed countries over the last few decades. However, in many
emerging countries (e.g., China, Russia), SOEs play a much more prominent
role in the economy.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) by emerging countries is growing rapidly.
FDI by emerging countries has increased on average by more than 20 per cent
over the last two years. The share of FDI from emerging countries in global
FDI outflows more than doubled since 2003 (from 7.5 per cent to 16.7 per
cent in 2006). As many of these emerging countries invest abroad primarily
through large SOEs, global outflows by large SOEs are expected to continue
to grow at a sustained strong pace in the coming years.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Hugh Segal on December 5, 2007)
During a visit to Washington in December 2007, the Chief of the Russian
General Staff, General Yury Baluyevsky, signed an annual bilateral training
plan with his US counterpart, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
Navy Admiral Michael Mullen.
The annual US-Russia training plan has been an ongoing feature of the
bilateral relationship for a number of years, and is the vehicle by which
joint US-Russia military initiatives and exercises are scheduled and
approved for the upcoming year.
As this is a bilateral military agreement, the US is under no obligation
to release the contents of the training plan to other governments.
Bilateral military cooperation between the US and Russia will have no
effect on Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.
Canada's sovereignty over the lands and waters of the Canadian Arctic is
longstanding, well established and based on historic title.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest on December 11,
As noted by the Honourable Senator's question, the National Parole Board
(NPB) is an independent administrative tribunal that operates at arm's
length to the Government of Canada.
This independence of the NPB helps to ensure the impartiality,
objectivity and integrity of the parole decision-making process.
The NPB's role, as prescribed in law, is to assess cases and to help
ensure the safety of the community through the safe reintegration of
offenders. The law under which the NPB operates today is known as the
Corrections and Conditional Release Act, which has been in force since
An Independent Review Panel recently completed a comprehensive review of
the Correctional Service of Canada. The Panel, in a report released December
13, 2007, entitled "A Roadmap to Strengthening Public Safety", puts
forward a plan for the future, comprising 109 recommendations. The
government has the Panel's recommendations under review. In its report the
Panel endorsed the federal parole decision-making process, concluding that "conditional releases with the highest success rates are those that rely on
the judgements of professionals and are based on proper risk assessments
that focus on public safety".
(Response to question raised by Hon. Claudette Tardif on December 12, 2007)
The Notice Paper provides a mechanism for the Government to advise of its
intentions to come forward with legislation. However, appearance of
anticipated bills on the Notice Paper, while a necessary preliminary, does
not commit the Government to a particular time frame.
The Government wants to introduce a copyright bill at the earliest
opportunity. However, it will do so when the time is right. Details of the
bill will become available at that time.
That said, modern copyright legislation in Canada recognizes the
importance of protecting works while also seeking to advance important
public policy objectives — economic, social, cultural — by striking an
appropriate balance between the interests of creators and users.
In addressing copyright, including issues related to the Internet and new
technologies, the Government is seeking to ensure a balanced approach which
continues to reflect current technological and legal realities and is
supportive of innovation and research.
In this respect, rest assured that there have been extensive discussions
with stakeholders representing virtually all points of view, whether at the
ministerial or bureaucratic levels.
Stakeholders will have a further opportunity to have their views known to
the committee that will be tasked with studying the bill.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before proceeding to Orders
of the Day, I would like to introduce two pages with us from the House of
Commons. Kyle Ahluwalia is from Toronto, Ontario, and is enrolled in the Faculty
of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa. Kyle is majoring in
international studies and modern languages.
Alex Smyth is from Moncton, New Brunswick, and is pursuing his studies at the
University of Ottawa's School of Management.
Hon. Janis G. Johnson moved second reading of Bill C-8, An Act to
amend the Canada Transportation Act (railway transportation).
She said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-8. This
is the third and final government bill amending the Canada Transportation Act,
often referred to as the CTA. Bill C-8 is not a lengthy bill but is extremely
important to shippers. Some of my honourable colleagues are probably aware that
shippers strongly support the bill and are anxious that it be passed as soon as
possible without change.
I will explain why the bill is so important to shippers in a minute, but
first I want to provide a bit of background and context.
The CTA is the framework for the economic regulation of railways and air
carriers in Canada. Among other things, it establishes the Canada Transportation
Agency and provides it with necessary powers, as regulator, to administer the
We have already dealt with two previous bills amending the CTA: The
International Bridges and Tunnels Act was passed in February 2007 and Bill C-11
was passed in June 2007. The latter bill amended provisions related to the
agency, air carriers, passenger railways, railway noise and vibrations and
transportation mergers and acquisitions.
Consultations on amendments to the CTA stem back to the statutory review of
the act that occurred in 2000-01. Previous bills died on the Order Paper in 2003
and 2005. This has been in the mix for some time. Honourable senators can see
that shippers have been waiting anxiously for regulatory improvements and they
are anxious for the legislation to finally be passed.
Over the last few decades, honourable senators, the legislative framework for
railways has moved toward less regulation as the transportation system became
more mature and there was increasing inter-modal and intra-modal competition.
Nevertheless, it has always been recognized that the economic conduct of
railways needs to be regulated, given the market power they possess and their
fundamental importance to the history, geography and economic competitiveness of
Some shippers have access to competitive alternatives — be it a second
railway, trucking or marine transportation. These shippers usually have good
relations with railways, given that they can exercise bargaining power. There
are many others, however, who do not have effective alternatives and are captive
to one railway. I refer in particular to shippers of bulk commodities. It is
these shippers, honourable senators, who have service or rate issues with
railways and who require legislative remedies to protect them from the potential
abuse of market power by the railways.
The policy challenge has always been to find the right balance that
facilitates railway investment and encourages commercial solutions to disputes
between the shippers and the railways, while at the same time protecting
shippers from potentially excessive railway market power.
The policy framework has generally worked well, especially from a railway
perspective. Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway are enjoying
financial success and are able to compete effectively in the North American
railway market. They generate sufficient revenues to maintain and improve their
infrastructure and equipment without any government assistance. This is a
positive result. Clearly, Canada needs healthy railways to help our producers,
manufacturers, exporters and importers compete in domestic, continental and
overseas markets. Nonetheless, honourable senators, the government has heard
increasing complaints about railway service and rates in recent years. The time
has come to rebalance the regulatory framework towards the shippers. A good
legislative framework can improve shipper leverage and commercial negotiations
with the railways and lead to better service and rates.
While Bill C-8 is clearly intended to help shippers, it will also provide
regulatory stability to the railways by ending the debate on changes to the
shipper protection provisions that has been going on for over seven years. I
want to note that in testimony before the Standing Committee on Transport,
Infrastructure and Communities, the president of the Railway Association of
Canada stated that Bill C-8 will not cause the railways to cancel any investment
Bill C-8 is a surprisingly short bill, given its importance to shippers and
the length of time the shipper protection provisions have been debated. However,
it does reflect months of close consultation between Transport Canada officials,
the shipper community and the railways and reflects a very strong consensus
among shipper groups on the proposed amendments.
I want to say a few words about three clauses in Bill C-8 that are of most
importance to shippers. First, clause 1 of the bill repeals section 27(2) and
(3) of the CTA, commonly referred to as the "substantial commercial harm"
provision. Under this provision, the agency must be satisfied that a shipper
would suffer substantial commercial harm before granting a regulatory remedy.
For your information, this provision does not apply to final-offer arbitration,
which I will discuss.
In its 2001 report, the Canada Transportation Act Review Panel recommended
that the substantial commercial harm test be repealed on the grounds that it
focused on the impact of the shipper rather than on the performance of the
railway. There is a question of need, in addition to this issue of fairness. A
decision to seek a regulatory remedy is not made lightly. Applying for one of
the Canadian Transportation Agency remedies can be quite expensive in terms of
legal and consulting fees and, moreover, can have an adverse effect on a
shipper's relationship with a railway. Therefore, the government believes that
there is no reason to retain this test.
There is already a requirement in the CTA that the rates set by the agency
for rail services must be "commercially fair and reasonable to all parties."
This requirement is being retained, and will also apply to the next provision
that I want to discuss.
Clause 3 of Bill C-8 introduces a new provision to address shipper complaints
about railway "charges" excluding freight rates. Charges include such things
as demurrage and fees for cleaning or storing cars. The intended remedy for
freight rates is final offer arbitration.
Honourable senators, railway charges have become an issue over the last few
years. The railways have increased the number of such charges in order to
encourage efficient behaviour by shippers and to maximize the utilization of
railway assets. While this is understandable, many shippers complain about the
lack of consultation on charges and conditions, and express concern that the
level of the charges or the types of conditions attached to them are unfair.
Under the new provision, a shipper or group of shippers would be able to
complain to the agency about charges or associated conditions that the shipper
or group of shippers felt were unreasonable. This is critical. The agency would
then have the authority to investigate the complaint and, if warranted, order
the railway to change the charge or condition. The bill includes a number of
factors to guide the agency in its deliberations. The revised charge or
conditions would apply to all shippers, not just those who had filed the
complaint. This is an expeditious and low cost way to deal with the issue of
railway charges, and it has strong shipper support.
Finally, clause 7 of Bill C-8 expands the final offer arbitration provisions
to groups of shippers. Final offer arbitration, or FOA, is baseball-style
arbitration under which the shipper and the railway each table their best offer.
The arbitrator selects one or the other, without change. The process encourages
both sides to be reasonable in their demands and helps to encourage negotiated
FOA is particularly popular with shippers, although it can be quite
expensive. I want to emphasize that extending FOA to groups of shippers is the
provision of this bill that is likely to be the most popular with shippers. It
will give them more power in their negotiations with the railways and will
reduce the costs of a formal FOA application.
Group FOA will be subject to three key conditions: First, the agency must be
satisfied that the group has attempted to mediate its dispute with the railway
before the FOA application can proceed; second, the FOA application from the
group must deal with a matter that is common to all of them; finally, the group
must submit a joint offer that applies to all of the applicants. This is a
Before I close, I want to make two additional points. The first relates to
commercial dispute resolution mechanisms. During consultations on potential
changes to the shipper protection provisions in 2006, the Minister of Transport,
Infrastructure and Communities challenged Canadian National Railway and Canadian
Pacific Railway to develop a commercial solution to address shipper issues. The
intention was that the commercial solution and improved regulatory provisions
would complement one another.
The railways then came up with a commercial dispute resolution process that
they discussed with the shippers. Although good progress was made, discussions
eventually broke down. It is hoped that the shippers and the railways will
re-engage in these discussions once Bill C-8 is passed. We are very confident
that this will happen. An effective commercial process is preferable to
regulated remedies because it is quicker, less expensive and less
confrontational. The passage of this bill will strengthen the shippers' position
in negotiating an effective commercial dispute resolution process with the
The second point relates to a review of railway service. When the former Bill
C-58 was tabled last May, the government announced it would commence a review of
railway service within 30 days of the passage of this bill. Shippers strongly
support the proposed review. I support it, as well.
Honourable senators, I strongly encourage the speedy passage of Bill C-8. Not
only will this give shippers access to improved shipper protection provisions,
it will also trigger a review of railway service. It is hoped that it will also
encourage shippers and railways to resume discussions on a commercial dispute
resolution process. These are all very positive and critical initiatives, and
will provide significant benefits to shippers across Canada, contributing to a
more efficient and globally competitive rail industry that advances Canada's
position in global commerce.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Will the honourable senator accept a question?
Senator Johnson: Yes.
Senator Milne: Senator Johnson, you may not be aware that the Director
of the Canadian Wheat Board also strongly supports this bill. Will this change
our government's opinion of the Canadian Wheat Board?
Senator Johnson: Of course not, honourable senator.
Hon. Terry Stratton moved second reading of Bill C-41, An Act
respecting payments to a trust established to provide provinces and territories
with funding for community development.
He said: Honourable senators, in recent years Canadians have enjoyed one of
the strongest periods of economic growth in our history. The national
unemployment rate stands at its lowest level in over 30 years. We are the only
G7 nation that is reducing its debt levels. We are moving towards the lowest
business tax regime in the major industrialized economies. In short, the overall
fundamentals of our economy are very strong. As a nation, we are well positioned
for long-term growth and prosperity.
However, some communities are vulnerable. Throughout Canada, it is not
uncommon for a particular town to be heavily reliant upon one employer or one
economic sector. Also, as an open trading economy, the problem faced by other
nations can often create economic challenges here at home. The effect of the
American housing slump on the lumber industry is but one example. These
challenges are felt particularly by those one-company or one-sector towns as
exchange rates fluctuate and as markets decline. For this reason, the government
announced last month that it would establish the Community Development Trust to
help vulnerable communities adjust to these circumstances. It is aimed at
single-industry towns facing major downturns and regions hit by layoffs across a
range of employers.
Within mutually agreed-upon parameters, funding would be administered by the
provinces and territories because they are best placed to identify the unique
difficulties facing these communities across Canada.
The potential areas of investment could include: Job training funds and
skills development to meet identified local or regional gaps; measures to assist
workers in unique circumstances facing adjustment challenges; funding to develop
community transition plans in support of economic development and
diversification; infrastructure initiatives that support the diversification of
local economies; and other economic development and diversification initiatives
aimed at helping communities manage transition and adjustments, such as public
utilities projects, industrial park development, science and technology
development, access to broadband technology, downtown revitalization, and
communication and transportation services.
Community development trusts will be financed through a one-time allocation
of $1 billion from this year's surplus. Honourable senators, this funding is to
supplement existing and proposed investments by provincial and territorial
governments to support community enhancement and development. Projects funded
through this trust will have to respect our international obligations under both
the World Trade Organization and NAFTA.
Honourable senators, Bill C-41 provides the legislative framework for the
Community Development Trust. It will authorize the Minister of Finance to make
direct payments, in an aggregate amount not exceeding $1 billion, to a trust
established to provide the provinces and territories with funding to support
provincial and territorial initiatives that assist the adjustment of vulnerable
communities to international, economic uncertainty. Once the legislation is
authorized by Parliament and agreements are signed with the provinces, the money
can begin to flow.
Honourable senators, this is a major, new national initiative to support
provincial and territorial efforts to build a stronger, more prosperous future
for communities and workers who have been hurt by the current economic
The trust builds upon several initiatives undertaken by our government. These
initiatives include the forest industry support package announced in Budget
2006. In that budget, the government met its commitment to help combat the
mountain pine beetle infestation, strengthen the long-term competitiveness of
the forestry sector and support adjustment by providing $400 million over a
two-year period. The initiatives include the acceleration of capital cost
allowances for manufacturing found in Budget 2007. They include the additional,
broad-based, business tax cuts from the fall economic statement.
The general corporate tax rate, which was 22.12 per cent last year, will fall
to 15 per cent in 2012. The small business tax rate was reduced to 11 per cent
this year, one year earlier than previously planned.
Our government's initiatives include the substantial increases we have made
and federal support for skills training, infrastructure, and science and
research funding, often through transfers to the provinces.
This morning, the opposition members of the other place agreed to provide
this bill with fairly quick passage, and we are hoping for similar cooperation
in this chamber.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: I wonder if Senator Stratton would take a
Honourable senators, have we seen the bill yet? I have some basic questions.
I have not —
Hon. Anne C. Cools: There has to be a copy of the bill before us. We
are moving second reading.
Senator Day: I understand. Have we seen it? Has it been distributed?
Senator Cools: That is not in order. Why is there a bill forced to
second reading that is not before us, not distributed to us? I was under the
impression that the motion for second reading was moved. How can there be a
motion to read a bill for the second time if the bill is not even before us?
Perhaps the government could answer the question.
Senator Day: My question is with respect to the fact that this is
called a trust. I am concerned about governance. Is there a structure in the
bill for the creation of trustees?
Senator Stratton: I will read to you that there is no definitive
outline of it. Clause 1 reads:
1.(1) The Minister of Finance may make direct payments, in an aggregate
amount not to exceed one billion dollars, to a trust established to provide
provinces and territories with funding to support provincial and territorial
initiatives to assist the adjustment of vulnerable communities to
international economic volatility.
(2) The amount that may be provided to the province or territory under
this section is to be determined in correspondence with the terms of the
trust indenture establishing the trust.
The terms and conditions of the trust, while not described in the bill, would
be expanded when the committee sits and meets to study this bill.
Senator Day: Is the honourable senator of the view that there would be
one trust indenture for the $1 billion, or would there be a separate trust
document for each province and therefore separate negotiations for each province
Senator Stratton: That question can be answered at committee. It will
be through regulation. It allocates $10 million to each province and $3 million
to each territory, and is thereafter apportioned on a per capita basis. This
trust is to be paid out over three years. That is the limit of the definition
that we have to date.
I expect it will be explained when we get into committee. This bill has to
happen quickly in order to be effective, particularly for the provinces that are
Senator Day: I understand that. I am asking some of these questions as
chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance of which you are the
I am trying to get an understanding of what is in the bill so I can determine
how we can move quickly in terms of witnesses.
Senator Stratton: I expect that the plan is to send this bill to
committee this afternoon for hearings tomorrow night, as we discussed this
morning in the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. It was indicated
that we wanted to be prepared to hear witnesses on this bill as soon as we were
able. Hopefully, that is the intention of this chamber.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Senator Stratton, in your speech on this bill, which
we can now see is quite short, you mentioned that it was contingent upon the
conclusion of agreements with the provinces.
Will those agreements be identical with every province or will there be
differences in regards to the agreements between the Government of Canada and
the individual provinces?
Senator Stratton: As you are aware, there are different problems in
different provinces. New Brunswick has a large problem in the forestry sector.
Ontario has a large problem in the manufacturing sector, as does Quebec. It will
vary from province to province.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Senator Stratton, I understand the money is going to
be divided equally among the provinces with a lesser amount for each territory.
Why would they not divide it based on population?
Senator Stratton: Senator Milne, perhaps you did not hear my response.
I said $10 million for each province and $3 million for each territory.
Thereafter, the money was to be allocated on a per capita basis.
Senator Cools: Would the senator take a question?
Senator Stratton: Yes.
Senator Cools: My understanding is that the bill to which you are
speaking is Bill C-41 and that the honourable senator is asking the Senate to
agree to second reading. Am I correct?
Senator Stratton: I would think after debate that would be the
intention, as you may or may not realize.
Senator Cools: I am quite prepared to listen to you, Senator Stratton.
Senator Stratton: This bill was passed through the House this morning
in an hour or so and is in our chamber because it is critical that this bill be
passed in order to get the money to the provinces as quickly as possible. That
is the intent, and it is the request from the government that the same
consideration be given to this bill, with the exception that this chamber always
refers bills to committee for study, despite the urgency.
The intention is that the bill would be referred to the Standing Senate
Committee on National Finance this afternoon. We would have witnesses at the
committee tomorrow evening at 6:15 p.m. and report the bill back Thursday
Senator Cools: My question to Senator Stratton was why was he
proceeding in the way that he is. If a bill is critical and there is an urgency
to it, my experience is that senators, for the most part, will be quite
cooperative. Cooperation was indicated because earlier this day, the honourable
senator, or someone acting on behalf of the government, asked for leave of the
Senate to move ahead with second reading later this day, and leave was given.
Perhaps the honourable senator could clarify my understanding for me. When
the proceeding for second reading is moving ahead, a bill must be before
colleagues so that they will have the bill before them as the debate is
I observe that a copy of the bill has just been placed before me. Some would
say there is no need to raise the question, but it would seem to me that the
proper and the better way to proceed would have been to wait until later in the
day when the bill was actually distributed and before senators.
Could the honourable senator explain to us why he felt the need to proceed
before the bill was distributed to members of the Senate?
Senator Stratton: I do not disagree with the honourable senator.
I simply suggest that because of the urgency of this bill, that was not taken
into consideration because I do not think we had received the bill. It had been
passed by the House, but getting the bill printed and distributed may have
caused the delay — I do not know this, I am only surmising — such that you did
not get the bill until it was received.
Senator Cools: It seems to me that there is no urgency that allows for
the omission of proceeding in an orderly way. As a matter of record, we cannot
vote or debate something that is not before us. I am prepared to concede that
there is some urgency; I am not questioning that.
Honourable senators gave leave to move ahead later this day. The
understanding was when the matter would be in order and when the bill would be
properly before us. The honourable senator chose to go ahead, yet I do not think
anybody in the Senate had a copy of the bill. That, to me, is a mark of enormous
Perhaps the solution was not to have given leave. Maybe that is how matters
such as this should be dealt with in the future, or whenever leave is asked like
that — to clarify immediately at the outset that the bill will be before us.
All I was trying to ascertain is why the honourable senator could not have
waited half an hour or 20 minutes before moving ahead. That would seem to be a
better way. Perhaps the Senate does not mean very much to some honourable
colleagues. I have vivid recollections of the honourable senator's own statement
about blowing the place up.
All I would say to the honourable senator is that it would be a good idea to
proceed in an orderly way. I submit he would find that when he proceeds in
accordance with the rules, he would tend to get maximum support.
Senator Stratton: I did not hear the honourable senator's last
Senator Cools: I said it is usually an accepted principle that when
one proceeds in accordance with the rules, one would find that conformity with
the rules tends to invite support and cooperation.
It is a shame, honourable senators. I could have chosen to proceed as a point
of order, but that would tend to delay the bill more. I take a very dim view of
these sorts of offhanded remarks, these kinds of dismissals of senators who try
to raise concerns about what is proper and just.
The urgency is not affected by the fact that we must proceed properly.
Perhaps the thing to do in the future is just to refuse leave and perhaps that
would solve that problem.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I think we all understand that
there are people in some communities in Canada who are suffering, particularly
those who rely on the forestry industry and manufacturing, which has already
We all understand that there is a sense of urgency about this particular
bill. When I read through it quickly, in the last two lines it talks about the
time and the manner in which the Minister of Finance considers it appropriate
that the funds will be distributed.
Has there been any discussion as to how rapidly this funding will go to the
province and territories? If this is an urgent bill, I would find it very
frustrating to have a sense of urgency both in the House of Commons and in the
Senate and then to discover that in six months' time, none of the provinces or
territories has received at least some of the funding — and perhaps the $10
million that the honourable senators said would be received by all provinces and
Senator Stratton: It is my understanding that both Saskatchewan and
New Brunswick have already applied. Once an agreement has been signed, the money
Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, in light of the
procedure used for the consideration of this bill, you will understand that I do
not have a prepared speech. Still, I will try to describe the situation.
First, I must say that I am not impressed by our colleagues from the other
place. This is in no way intended as a partisan comment. In a matter of 15
minutes or so, a bill to provide $1 billion was introduced at first reading,
received second reading, was referred to Committee of the Whole and, finally,
was passed at third reading stage. I am not impressed with any of the parties,
and even less with the government.
The honourable senators will recall that, in late 2005, the minority Liberal
government put forward a $1.5-billion economic development assistance program
for communities. This program was abolished when the minority Conservative
government took office. As a result, our communities experiencing economic
hardship stopped receiving assistance from the federal government.
The honourable senators probably recall also that, in this chamber, we
strongly criticized the softwood lumber agreement signed in April 2006 between
the Prime Minister and the Americans, which allowed the U.S. forest industry to
retain an amount of $1 billion. That was April 2006.
If we look at the cuts made in that $1.5 billion program in February 2006, we
see that, two months later, in April 2006, another $1 billion was taken away
from the Canadian forestry sector and given to the competing American industry.
Our forestry sector was left with $2.5 billion to help its development.
Now, in February 2008, almost two years later, the current government is
saying that it will help the forestry sector by providing $1 billion. What does
it want to achieve? What is the logic behind this? The $1 billion is really too
little and too late, because the damage to our small communities and to our
forestry sector has already been done. Over 135,000 jobs related to the forestry
industry were lost in our rural communities, particularly in Northern Quebec,
Northern Ontario, in the whole northern region, and in part of Southern New
When rumours began to circulate to the effect that there "might be" some
minor problems affecting the automobile industry, it did not take the government
two years to react. Despite the fact that these were mere rumours, that industry
received $765 million. However, when it is the basic industry, at least in my
province, that is affected, it has to wait two years. Moreover, the Americans
took precedence over the Canadians in this issue, as we saw in April 2006.
When Western Canada was dealing with the issue of bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, or BSE, no one in this chamber was opposed to providing
assistance to that particular industry. I find it strange that, when we talk
about an issue that affects primarily New Brunswick, northern Quebec and
northern Ontario, we have to wait two years. When a program is about to be
implemented, we are told that it will not be based on the number of jobs lost
but, rather, on a per capita basis.
Therefore, even if Alberta and British Columbia are telling Canada and the
world that they are looking for workers, they still qualify more easily for
assistance than the provinces that really need help, given the program that is
An Hon. Senator: This is absurd!
Senator Ringuette: Exactly, honourable senators, it is absurd. When
the West has problems, the government comes up with an aid program right away,
but when problems surface in Northern Ontario, Northern Quebec or New Brunswick,
the money is to be paid out per capita. That is just as unacceptable as the fact
that this has taken two whole years.
First, it is unacceptable for all of the provinces to benefit from a per
capita share of the subsidies even though they do not all have the same
problems. It is unacceptable that premiers cannot see the impact of this
program. Yes, I am a Liberal senator, but if my Liberal premier accepted $10
million per year for three years and Alberta got $150 million, I would protest
vociferously. I would certainly not agree with him. This has nothing to do with
politics; this is about social justice. The fact is that the federal
Conservative government failed to see — was unable to see — the short-, medium-and long-term repercussions on forestry industry workers when it signed the free
trade agreement with the Americans.
This is too little, too late.
What upsets me even more is seeing the members in the other place spending
their time criticizing the Senate and honourable senators, but passing such a
bill in only 15 minutes, a bill that widens the gap between the haves and the
While some may say that $1 billon is better than nothing, $1 billon properly
distributed would be even better. I hope that when the Standing Senate Committee
on National Finance has studied the bill, it will produce a full report with
comments, and perhaps amendments or specifications, ensuring that we, as
senators, will have fulfilled our responsibility to the Canadian public.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, when I met with the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate this
morning, we agreed that we could move to second reading of Bill C-41 if the
members of the Liberal caucus were in agreement. I assumed automatically that
the government would have dealt with all of the issues and mechanics of the bill
properly and that all senators would have a copy of the bill before them. I
apologize for assuming that would occur. Given that this matter has moved so
rapidly, I want to assure everyone that the mechanics of all bills are dealt
with properly in this chamber.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): I cannot
disagree with the comments of the honourable senator.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Motion agreed to, on division, and bill read second time.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the seventh report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Bill C-11, An Act to give
effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential
amendment to another Act, with an amendment and observations), presented in the
Senate on January 31, 2008.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, before moving the adoption of
the report, pursuant to rule 99, I rise as Chair of the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to explain to the Senate the
reasoning that led the committee to make one amendment to Bill C-11 and to
Bill C-11, as I am sure we are all aware, is a bill to give effect to the
Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement. As we know, because bills about giving
effect to agreements with Aboriginal peoples have been before us in the past and
will, I expect, be before us in the future, it is not our practice to reopen
agreements. Your committee has not proposed to reopen this agreement.
We heard quite extensive testimony from those who negotiated the agreement
and from those who will be affected by it. One of the things that became clear
is that this is an immensely complicated agreement. All such agreements are
complicated; this one even more than most because it involves the Inuit of
Northern Quebec, of Nunavik, of Northern Labrador, of Nunavut, the Cree, and the
governments of all these territories. As a result, the agreement is sufficiently
complex that it passes understanding for all but a very few people who actually
negotiated it. It is an immensely complex document.
This agreement was many years in negotiation. One respects the product of
that work. However, your committee supported an amendment brought by Senator
Watt, who, as you know, has had significant concerns about this agreement, which
in no way detracts at all from the agreement or from its implementation. It does
not detract or delay, but it does call for, or at least permit, depending on the
parties, a fairly rigorous study to be done within 10 years. The amendment
brings in two new clauses, namely, clauses 12.1 and 12.2. Clause 12.1 states:
12.1(1) Within ten years after this Act receives royal assent, a review
of the implementation of this Act and the Agreement may be undertaken by
Makivik Corporation is the official body that represents the Inuit of Quebec.
The Makivik Corporation may undertake a review under this clause and may report
to the minister. If it chooses to do so, then the minister must submit that
report to Parliament within 15 sitting days.
Clause 12.2 states:
12.2(1) Within ten years after this Act receives royal assent, a
comprehensive review of the implementation of this Act and the Agreement
shall be undertaken by the Minister designated by the Governor in Council
for the purposes of this Act.
(2) The Minister shall cause a report on the review to be laid before
each House of Parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that House is
sitting after the report is completed.
Honourable senators, it is only fair to point out that the agreement does
include provisions for implementation, plans and reviews, and whatnot, in fairly
elaborate form. What is particularly interesting, however, about these
amendments is the requirement that Parliament receive the reports.
Other reports, reviews and studies that may be done would be made public, but
honourable senators know what often happens when things are made public in the
vast avalanche of material that comes our way or is foisted upon the public
every day. It gives an extra level of authority and importance to require that
these reports be made to Parliament.
I would have been happy to have the mandatory review undertaken by the
Auditor General of Canada, but the committee voted that it be undertaken by the
minister designated by the Governor-in-Council. That is a worthwhile effort, in
In addition, the committee appended short observations to its report on this
bill, which essentially note how extremely complex these negotiations are and
how important it is for all Canadians, not only those directly affected, that
the negotiations and agreements be successfully completed. Once done, they are
constitutionally protected. Your committee urges the federal government to
redouble its efforts to ensure that all prospective beneficiaries of the
agreements are kept fully informed, at all stages of the negotiation process, of
both the specific contents of the agreement under consideration and of the
procedures and consequences of the ratification process through which they
express their democratic choice.
We thought it was worthwhile appending these observations because we did hear
testimony, from two mayors of municipalities in the territory affected in
Northern Quebec, to the effect that they had not felt fully informed through the
negotiating process and that they believed that many of their constituents did
not fully understand what was involved in the agreement. Of course, those were
the people who were being asked to vote and to accept the agreement.
We all know that in a democratic process there will always be people who do
not quite understand the full complexity and consequences of the matter upon
which they are voting. We accept their votes anyway. However, that does not mean
that every effort should not be made to ensure that those who will be affected
by such important and complex agreements as this understand what is involved.
Nothing will ever be perfect. Understanding will never be perfect, but it is our
duty to try to ensure it is as complete as possible.
Honourable senators, those were the purposes of the amendment and of our
observations. I note that the amendment was proposed by Senator Watt. It was
based in part upon the fact that the implementation of some other agreements was
not necessarily exactly as expected when the agreements were signed. The
amendment was adopted on division. The general content of the observations was
agreed to by all members of the committee, although I think perhaps not every
member saw every last word of the final observations. The committee was in
agreement with what the observations should say, and I believe they faithfully
reflect that agreement.
With those remarks, honourable senators, I commend this report for your
approval and adoption.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I have a question for the chair.
I will be very brief, because I do not want to delay this bill at all.
In the reflection that the honourable senator and her colleagues in the
committee undertook, could the chair share with us the extent to which there was
concern expressed regarding the delay in funds which are desperately needed in
that part of Canada that sending her report and the amended bill back to the
House will, by definition, produce? Was there any concern about that or was the
feeling at that time that, over the broad sweep of history, it was not all that
significant to the potential recipients?
Senator Fraser: Of course there is concern about delay when people are
expecting to receive funding. That was one of the sources of tension, as is so
often the case, when your committee was deliberating. As I have said, this was a
negotiation that lasted many years.
Your committee would not wish to delay anything that should proceed any
longer than was necessary for us to be sure that what was being done was, while
not perfect, the best achievable, given all the available circumstances.
However, I would observe that this is a very simple amendment. I am sure that
third reading can occur in this chamber not on a rushed basis but with good
dispatch. I see no reason why, in the House of Commons, the amendment could not
be accepted rapidly. As I say, the amendment changes nothing in the agreement,
in the implementation of the agreement or in the substance of the bill.
Senator Segal: Do I take it that the chair and her colleagues, after
careful and thoughtful consideration, were comfortable that the actual
provisions of the agreement would not have covered off the constructive
amendment that her committee has chosen to offer?
Senator Fraser: As I say, my own reading is that the key difference
between what is already in the agreement and what is in the amendment is the
statutory requirement for the reports to be made to Parliament. I think that is
important and worth doing.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, my question has two parts, the
first being an assurance. If I understand this bill correctly, in effect, it
ratifies an agreement, and that agreement is one which provides that the persons
who are most affected by it agree to the extinguishment of their rights except
to the extent that rights are set out in the agreement. In other words, those
people undertake in the future not to proceed in respect of obtaining or acting
upon constitutional rights other than those constitutional rights which are
recited in the agreement.
If that is correct, I would seek Senator Fraser's assurance that the
committee has determined, as I was unable to, that there is no disparity between
the constitutional rights that obtain today with respect to those people, on the
one hand, and the rights which are recited in the agreement, to which they will
be restricted when this agreement becomes law.
Senator Fraser: This is not only in connection with this agreement but
with all land claims agreements, perhaps the single most agonizing aspect of
I should point out before I continue responding to Senator Banks' question
that this agreement does not cover the whole of Nunavik; it covers the islands
that run along the top of the peninsula, which are not, in fact, inhabited.
Separate negotiations will address the matter of self-government on the
mainland, where the people actually live, but the islands in question are used,
and have been used for thousands of years, by the Inuit and to some extent by
the Cree for hunting and fishing, et cetera.
It is true that this agreement contains a non-assertion clause. That means
that the people who sign it agree that they will not, in future, assert
constitutional rights other than those won and specified in this agreement. This
is one clause in the general family of clauses known as "certainty clauses."
All the land claims agreements have such a clause, and I have read them all.
May I have leave to speak for another two or three minutes?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Fraser: I must tell honourable senators that, as a member of a
minority myself, I found it a wrenching and tragic experience to read all those
clauses and to realize that in every single case, the Aboriginal people who were
to benefit from the agreements had, in exchange, agreed not to assert other
The argument in favour of such clauses is that the constitutional protection
in the Charter of Rights for Aboriginal rights, as distinct from many other
rights, is open-ended. It does not say what they are; it just protects any and
all Aboriginal rights. As we know, court cases have been brought which have
sometimes led to the confirmation of rights that perhaps the drafters of the
Charter had not really thought about.
The argument is that in exchange for the certainty provided for the
Aboriginal peoples by the agreement, there must also be some certainty for the
other parties to the agreement that there will not suddenly be a claim, a few
years down the line, when perhaps a developer has been working on a new mine,
for example. Many things can be done on the basis of certainty of understanding
as long as there is faith that there will not be a change in the rules of the
game further down the road.
This is a terrible dilemma to have to face, to say we will take the bird in
the hand even if it is a sparrow, and the two in the bush might have been
peacocks. However, it is a decision that many Aboriginal people, over the years
of these negotiations, have made. It is a decision that was ratified
overwhelmingly, in a vote, by the people affected by this agreement. Agonizing
though it is, most of the members of your committee decided that we had to
respect that electoral verdict by the people whose rights were in question.
Hon. Jean Lapointe moved third reading of Bill S-213, An Act to amend
the Criminal Code (lottery schemes).—(Honourable Senator Lapointe)
He said: Honourable senators, Bill S-213 has been passed by two different
Senate committees on three occasions, and the Senate has passed it and sent it
to the House of Commons twice.
A great deal of work has already been done in the House of Commons. The bill
was at the committee stage during the last Parliament, before prorogation.
Honourable senators, I will not list the many reasons why we should pass this
bill, because I have already done so on many occasions at meetings of the Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and in this chamber.
It is vital that we pass Bill S-213 now to allow our elected representatives
to pick up where they left off in the House of Commons whithout wasting any
time, to save human lives, prevent incredible suffering and at the same time
save the provinces money, because three separate studies showed that the social
costs of lottery schemes were two to five times higher than the revenues they
brought in to the provinces.
Honourable senators, I therefore ask that the vote take place now.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.
Senator Lapointe: Honourable senators, after four and a half years of
hard work, assisted by Pascal Charron, Francine Charron and a few other people,
after all the energy and passion I have put into this bill, I want to thank my
colleagues in all parties for not obstructing passage this time.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Stollery, for the second reading of Bill
S-212, An Act to amend the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations
Act.—(Honourable Senator Andreychuk)
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak
to Bill S-212, a bill introduced by Senator Joyal on parliamentary employment
and staff relations. This same bill was introduced at a previous session, and I
spoke to that bill during that session. However, I want to reiterate the remarks
that I made and my support for the objectives that Senator Joyal has outlined in
Bill S-212. I will, however, indicate that I think the process we will follow
will determine whether legislation is needed or policy implementation. I think
more careful study in the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights
of Parliament is warranted.
I will first speak to the issue of human rights in general. While we in this
chamber often pay tribute to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, universal human
rights and specific human rights legislation that has been developed over the
years in Canada, we have not looked systematically at the application of these
rights in the Senate of Canada. Parliamentarians are unique. While human rights
legislation applies to the precinct of Parliament, nonetheless, due to
parliamentary privilege, the method by which Parliament complies with human
rights legislation has been within the discretion of the parliamentary
legislatures, either the House of Commons or the Senate of Canada.
In our particular case within the Senate, we have employees who are caught
within the definition of parliamentary privilege; we have those employees who
are not within that definition, and we further have all sorts of employees,
contractual or full-time, who work for individual senators. It is time, as I
said previously and will reiterate, that we look at our human rights obligations
to ensure that our employees have the same rights as do other Canadians, subject
only to a careful study of parliamentary privilege. We should be mindful that we
should not curtail employees' rights except when we believe that parliamentary
privilege necessitates it.
I would remind honourable senators that motion No. 62, which I introduced in
the Senate, could be referred to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and
the Rights of Parliament, and I will ask to do so later today. It deals with 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. Senator Joyal's bill,
Bill S-212, covers one of the gaps with employees. I believe that the motion,
which could be referred to the Rules Committee, together with Senator Joyal's
bill and a full overview of employee rights and responsibilities, would be
desirable to ensure that senators are mindful of, and are complying with, human
rights legislation in Canada. We would then be on more solid ground when we
request governments and others to comply with such rights.
Turning now to Bill S-212, our colleague Senator Joyal has pointed out a gap
in the way that the employees in the Senate, the House of Commons and the
Parliament of Canada are protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act. It is
this gap that he hopes to close with Bill S-212.
When Senator Joyal spoke to the bill, he referred, I believe on his first
occasion and perhaps even on his second occasion, to the decision of the Vaid
case. The court had been asked, in effect, whether or not employees of
Parliament were protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act.
I would like to quote the findings of the court. It stated:
The Canadian Human Rights Act applies to all employees of the federal
government, including those working for Parliament. However, the fact that
[Vaid] claims a violation of his human rights does not automatically
steer the case to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Rather, in this
case, V's complaints of discrimination and harassment contrary to the
provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act arose in the context of his
claim of constructive dismissal and therefore fall within the grievance
procedure established under PESRA [or the Parliamentary Employment and Staff
The PESRA created a specific regime governing the labour relations of
parliamentary employees. Its system of redress, which covers complaints
about violations of statutory standards such as those found in the Canadian
Human Rights Act, runs parallel to the enforcement machinery provided under
the Canadian Human Rights Act. While not all potential claims to relief
under the Canadian Human Rights Act would be barred by s.2 of the PESRA,
there is clearly a measure of duplication in the two statutory regimes, and
the purpose of s.2 of PESRA is to avoid such duplication.
Since Parliament has determined that workplace grievances of employees
covered by the PESRA are to be dealt with under the PESRA, and as PESRA
includes grievances related to violations of standards established by the
Canadian Human Rights Act, V is obliged to seek relief under the PESRA.
There is nothing in V's complaints to lift his grievance out of its specific
The Supreme Court of Canada found that the Human Rights Act does apply to
parliamentary employees, but with parliamentary privilege, it is up to
Parliament to decide how to address the implementation of human rights for
What Parliament has decided to this point is that parliamentary employees
covered by PESRA who have grievances must seek redress under the existing PESRA.
That seems straightforward, but the situation is a little more complicated
than it first appears. As Senator Joyal rightly pointed out, PESRA does not
offer quite the same protection under its grievance procedure as provided under
the Canadian human rights tribunals for others.
Senator Joyal emphasized that, under PESRA
. . . the Canadian Human Rights Commission has no standing, no right to
intervene and no possibility to support the claims or grievances of the
As the Supreme Court also pointed out, PESRA operates parallel to the Human
Rights Act, and section 2 of PESRA ensures that there is no duplicity between
the two. The relevant part of section 2 states the following:
Except as provided in this Act, nothing in any other Act of Parliament
that provides for matters similar to those provided for under this Act and
nothing done there under, whether before or after the coming into force of
this section, shall apply to or in respect of or have any force or effect in
relation to the institutions and persons described in this section.
Furthermore, the Public Service Labour Relations Act, which governs public
service employees, includes a means to protect them should they have a human
rights grievance. Under this act, the Canadian Human Rights Commission is called
to appear and to take a stand in support of the employees who seek redress or
who have a grievance to file.
There is no such requirement under PESRA. That is a problem and one that our
honourable colleague has chosen to rectify legislatively through Bill S-212,
which will bring about three key changes to our existing laws.
First, it will amend the parliamentary act to provide for notice to be given
to the Canadian Human Rights Commission when a grievance referred to
adjudication raises an issue involving the interpretation of the application of
the Canadian Human Rights Act. Clearly, this will create a link between PESRA
and the Human Rights Act.
Second, it will set out the powers of an adjudicator named under the
Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act to interpret and apply the
Canadian Human Rights Act.
Third, it will repeal subsection 4.1 of the Parliamentary Employment and
Staff Relations Act that gives privileges, immunities and powers referred to in
the non-derogation clause, section 4 of the Parliament of Canada Act.
Honourable senators, this bill will deal specifically with the gaps that
currently exist. In particular, it will ensure that employees who are covered by
PESRA will have the full protection of the human rights, eliminating any
discrepancies that currently exist.
Senator Joyal has chosen the legislative route in Bill S-212. I believe it
warrants a study, and the gap for employees is certainly one that needs to be
addressed. However, I would like to explore fully whether a legislative answer
is necessary for PESRA, while I believe it probably is for the Canadian Human
Rights Act. Therefore, it is necessary to look at the act, the regulations and
all other policies.
The Senate would therefore provide assurances for employees without
unnecessarily yielding rights and privileges of parliamentarians.
For example, the Vaid decision makes it clear that it is not necessary
to repeal section 4.1 of PESRA to make a link to the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Again, the Supreme Court stated clearly:
The Canadian Human Rights Act applies to all employees of the federal
government, including those working for Parliament.
Of particular concern to me is curtailing privileges, immunities and powers
referred to in the non-derogation clause, which may lead to a number of
We should also note that the House of Commons' Board of Internal Economy is
looking at this issue or has perhaps by now reported. I have not had the latest
We should be mindful of the workers and the employees within all of our
respective offices so that we have a cogent way of addressing this problem.
As we take this issue on, we should consider another related issue, namely,
privileged employees. Our clerks in this chamber, as well as the Black Rod, have
no protection whatsoever. They are not covered under PESRA or under the Public
Service Relations Act. They are within the ambit of our parliamentary
privileges. Should they have a grievance from a legal standpoint, they may be
amongst the least protected individuals in this country, and I believe that
Senator Joyal and other members have already expressed concerns on all these
We want to look at this bill systematically and at the broader issues in the
Therefore, I thank Senator Joyal for his continuance and persistence in
following this issue and for ensuring that we in the Senate deal with this
problem of lack of full compliance with the Canadian Human Rights Act. I believe
that the bill should be studied with the previous order within a broader
assessment of compliance with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other human
Therefore, I reintroduced the previous order, which is later on the Order
Paper, and I intend to speak much more briefly at that point as I have done so
more broadly in this case.
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. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about
arthritis, a very important subject and one that affects over 4 million
Canadians over the age of 15. That would be equivalent to affecting every man,
woman and child in four cities the size of Ottawa.
Arthritis causes its sufferers to live each day with gnawing, sometimes sharp
and often very debilitating pain. They face real limitations that affect the
decisions they make about the way they live their lives.
Some of them cannot even pry the lid off a jar of pills to relieve the pain,
as the child-proof lid cannot be managed by someone whose hands do not work
Contrary to a common stereotype, arthritis is not exclusively a disease of
the elderly. According to the 2000 Canadian Community Health Survey, nearly
three out of every five people with arthritis were younger than 65. Of course,
age does play a role in the development and progression of the disease, and the
report also found that the prevalence of arthritis increases with age.
At the end of November, when Senator Comeau spoke on this inquiry, he gave a
concise picture of the ailment. As he explained, arthritis falls into two main
categories. The first is osteoarthritis, the degenerative form that accounts for
at least three quarters of all arthritis in adults. The second is rheumatoid
arthritis, the most common inflammatory form, which can be extremely
Senator Comeau also pointed out that arthritis, in all its forms, is the
leading cause of deformity and long-term disability — a telling statistic. In
the 30 years after the onset of RA, disability among sufferers can range up to
90 per cent.
Senator Tardif also spoke at length about this, as did Senator Callbeck, and
I will not today repeat their very detailed comments on the burden of the
The cost of this disability is borne not only by the sufferer and those close
to him or her; we all end up carrying some of the burden. According to the
Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the average economic cost of arthritis
disability is about $11,150 per person per year, coming from lost productivity,
changing jobs, cutting work hours, or simply not going to work at all.
Everyone pays when someone suffers. The work is either taken up by a
healthier worker or left undone. The result is the same: lost productivity with
a higher cost for all. I remind honourable senators again that, although Canada
stands about fifteenth in overall health status in the world, even worse, it
stands fifteenth in productivity, and productivity and health are inseparable.
Perhaps honourable senators may not be aware that arthritis leads to more
than debilitating pain, as difficult and costly as that may be. Arthritis can
also result in death. In 2003, a study by the Public Health Agency of Canada
In 1998, arthritis or related conditions were reported as the underlying
cause in 2.4 deaths per 100,000 in Canada, making arthritis a more common
underlying cause of death than melanoma, asthma or HIV/AIDS, especially
Arthritis is hitting our health care system hard. Over 90 per cent of those
who undergo hip or knee replacement surgery have arthritis. The waiting lists
are long, as we all know, and are straining the health care system at the seams.
Furthermore, arthritis accounts for over one quarter of the total cost of
musculoskeletal disease. This includes nearly one third of hospital care
expenditures from musculoskeletal disease and 40 per cent of drug expenditures.
Honourable senators, how do we respond when faced with such a pervasive
debilitating and costly disease? We must ensure that we develop a solid
understanding of this disease — which we do not have today, I must say — and the
means to prevent and to treat it. This means that we must encourage and support
research on arthritis as it is the only way that we will be able to respond
appropriately to the needs of Canadians.
Honourable senators are no doubt aware that a great deal of research is
already taking place in the field. Through the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research, our government invested over $17 million in 2006-07 across the nation
in research on arthritis. In spite of this commendable work, knowledge gaps
remain, and we really fundamentally do not understand this disease.
I point honourable senators to research questions that arose from the 2005
Summit on Standards for Arthritis Prevention and Care by the Alliance for the
Canadian Arthritis Program or ACAP. These questions covered areas such as
arthritis awareness at the government, patient and public level; medical and
health professional education; the impact of physical activity on arthritis;
injury prevention; and modules of care, including access to medications and
There are also population health issues around arthritis that need to be
better understood. For example, the Public Health Agency of Canada, in the 2003
study I referred to earlier, found that approximately one in five Aboriginal
people suffer from arthritis. If this population group shared the same age
structure as non-Aboriginal Canadians, that number would jump to 27 per cent, a
great deal higher than the 16 per cent figure for the general population.
Another example arises from the statistic that two thirds of those with
arthritis are women. Why does arthritis attack women and First Nations people
with such vigour? Are there other population groups that are singled out for
some reason? Only studying these issues will lead us to the answers.
An additional concern that has been raised by the Alliance for the Canadian
Arthritis Program is the difference in access to treatment and medications
across our nation. The publication from the summit in 2005 states:
Where you live can be more important in determining treatment than how
sick you are. Provincial, territorial and private drug plans vary
considerably in their coverage of prescription medications for arthritis, in
particular those medications that are the most costly to patients. There are
also regional variations in availability of chronic illness self-management
strategies, rehabilitation services and surgery.
The ACAP has developed 12 general standards for the prevention and care of
arthritis, identifying three as a priority. First, every Canadian must be aware
of arthritis; second, all relevant health professionals must be able to perform
a valid standardized, age-appropriate musculoskeletal screening assessment;
third, every Canadian with arthritis must have timely and equal access to
These may be useful strategies to help improve the lives of those with
arthritis. To respond effectively and to ensure that resources are put to the
best use, we must better understand the disease and explore strategies to deal
with it. This is the only way that we will develop as-yet-unknown treatments and
preventative measures. However, to respond scientifically to the prevention,
management and care of this disease we need much more knowledge; knowledge that
will only come through collaborative research from our scientists in Canada and
the international scientific community.
We must all strengthen our resolve to support research into this disease
until it is eliminated as some other terrible diseases have been in the past,
such as smallpox and polio.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver rose pursuant to notice of January 29, 2008:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the progress that has
been made on the implementation of the Federal Accountability Act,
highlighting the status of key measures of the Act and underscoring the
importance of this Act to improving responsibility and accountability in our
He said: Honourable senators, throughout my adult life I have had a strong
interest in the role that ethics plays in politics and government. I was very
proud of our government when it tabled the Federal Accountability Act as its
very first bill following the January 2006 election. I was honoured to sponsor
the bill when it came to the Senate and to chair the Standing Senate Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs as it provided one of the most thorough
reviews ever of a government bill.
Now, a year after the passage of the FAA, I am launching an inquiry into the
implementation of the Federal Accountability Act. My intention is to show the
progress made in implementing the various provisions of the act, that we all
understand the status of this bill and why it will have such a powerful impact.
Canadians expect their government to run as effectively and economically as
possible. They expect their government to provide full and honest value for
their tax dollars. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of
Canada's public service for their ongoing dedication to ensuring that we enjoy a
government that is one of the best in the world.
I do not think I am overstating the importance of administration when I say
that how a government achieves its results is just as important as the results
themselves. In our Westminster parliamentary system, Parliament is the key
institution of public accountability of government. It is Parliament that
confers authority on the government, which must then answer to Parliament for
the way it uses this authority. This accountability, so fundamental to our
representative democratic system, has been strengthened through the Federal
Honourable senators, I am not alone in this assessment. For example,
Professor C.E.S. Franks, perhaps the most respected and knowledgeable academic
on the subject of Parliament in Canada, told the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs the following: "I consider the proposed act to
be a tremendous step forward in responsibility and accountability in the
Government of Canada."
Professor Franks was one of the many who came before the committee between
June 2006, when it received the bill, and late October, when it reported. During
that time, we met 30 times, heard 151 witnesses and sat for over 104 hours.
In December 2006, the Federal Accountability Act was passed by Parliament and
proclaimed into law. A year later, on December 11, 2007, members of the Senate's
National Finance Committee were given a very thorough and valuable briefing on
the progress of implementing the FAA to date. I would invite all honourable
senators to read the transcript of those hearings.
Honourable senators, measures in the Federal Accountability Act fall into 14
specific themes or categories, with most now in force. First and foremost, the
Federal Accountability Act reformed the financing of political parties.
Honourable senators will recall that Bill C-2 banned donations from unions,
corporations and organizations; reduced the former $5,000 limit for donations
from individuals to $1,100; made it illegal to give or willingly receive a cash
donation of more than $20; provided the Commissioner of Elections with more time
to prosecute offences; banned parties from transferring funds to candidates
directly from a trust fund; prohibited the use of trusts for political purposes;
and required the disclosure of all trusts.
Those measures became law at the beginning of 2007, shortly after the bill
received Royal Assent.
Bill C-2 banned secret donations to political candidates. This measure came
fully into force last July 7.
The Federal Accountability Act strengthened the Office of the Ethics
Commissioner. The new Conflict of Interest Act came into force on July 9, 2007,
with Mary Dawson appointed to the position of Conflict of Interest and Ethics
Commissioner. This enshrined into law the provisions of the Conflict of Interest
and Post-Employment Code for Public Office Holders into a new Conflict of
Further, these provisions ensure that no prime minister can overrule the
commissioner on whether he, she, or a minister or some other public
office-holder has violated the act.
Also prohibited are blind management agreements, or so-called "venetian
blind trusts." Public office-holders must either sell assets in an arm's length
transaction or place them in a fully blind trust.
As honourable senators are aware, the bill as amended provided for a separate
Ethics Officer for the Senate.
The fourth theme of the Federal Accountability Act is truth in budgeting
through the creation of a Parliamentary Budget Officer. He or she will provide
parliamentarians and parliamentary committees with objective analysis regarding
the estimates, the nation's finances, the cost of new policy initiatives, and
trends in the national economy. This new office will expand the parliamentary
library's ability to provide analysis and advice to parliamentarians on fiscal
and expenditure issues and thus strengthen our capacity to hold government to
The FAA requires departments and agencies to provide the officer with
existing data necessary to fulfill his or her mandate. I am sure I am not alone
in recalling how we repeatedly asked officials about expenditures related to the
Canadian Firearms Program and how we repeatedly received assurances that
everything was fine when clearly everything was not fine. If the Parliamentary
Budget Officer had existed a decade ago, we would have been in a better position
to challenge the government of the day and to possibly prevent this waste of
Honourable senators, in preparing for these few remarks today I met with a
number of senior people, including the Parliamentary Librarian, Mr. Bill Young,
and others to gain personal insight into the status of a number of these new
offices created by the Federal Accountability Act.
In my view, one of the most important innovations in this act for
parliamentarians is the establishment of the Parliamentary Budget Officer. I
would like to say just a few more things about that particular provision
because, to me, it is one of the most important.
On December 12, 2006, the Parliament of Canada Act was amended to create the
position of a Parliamentary Budget Officer. The officer's mandate, under section
79.2 of the act, is to provide advice to Parliament about the state of the
nation's finances, government estimates and trends in the national economy.
Upon the request of committees or members, this new officer had to undertake
research of the nation's finances in the economy and the government's
expenditure or the cost of any proposal that falls within the jurisdiction of
Honourable senators, this is a huge mandate. This is new, unique empowerment
for parliamentarians. This type of mandate can revolutionize the way that
parliamentarians can hold the government to account. It is not just a committee,
but a member can actually request that the budget officer undertake research
into the nation's finances and economy or the costs of any proposals that fall
within the jurisdiction of Parliament. Imagine, then, had this been available
for the firearms estimates.
Several congressional systems in recent years have established their own
budget officers modelled on the Congressional Budget Office in the United
States. These officers are servants of Congress, which has the authority to
initiate in its own right revenue and expenditure proposals. These officers also
provide an independent perspective on the fiscal plans of the executive branch.
The establishment of a Canadian Parliamentary Budget Officer is unprecedented
in the Westminster style of government, where the executive is part of the
legislature and holds office only with the support of the legislature. Only the
executive can initiate tax or spending proposals in the Westminster model of
Now, how does this actually work? The officer is appointed by the federal
cabinet. Resources to support the individual to carry out the mandate of the
legislation are to be provided by the Library of Parliament. A small staff unit
of four or five experts in economics modelling and fiscal forecasting will be
created to provide regular reports to Parliament on the state of the economy and
the nation's finances. To avoid potential conflict between the officer and the
government of the day, the work of the officer will focus on analyzing and
explaining to members of Parliament the underlying assumptions and data that
provide the basis of the government's annual budget. This will be brand new. It
has never been done before. This approach will hopefully increase the
understanding of members with respect to the recommended budget position of the
The remaining mandates assigned to the officer have two common
characteristics. First, something happens only on the request of a member or the
committee and, second, all of these functions have to be performed as in the
past by the research branch of the Library of Parliament.
A second small staff unit of four or five persons will be established to
provide expertise on the presentation of government's expenditure programs. This
unit will coordinate with the research branch, which will continue to be the
primary contact in relation to the review of expenditure estimates and the
costing of proposals suggested by the committee or members.
The library will provide objective and politically neutral information and
analysis to parliamentarians.
By locating this new parliamentary officer within the Library of Parliament
and providing the resources of the library to the individual to execute the
mandate in the legislation, the officer would maintain the tradition of
objectivity and non-partisan analysis that would be available to all members of
Honourable senators, in conclusion, the executive search for this person was
initiated last August. Potential candidates were identified, and recommendations
have been made to government for the appointment. The person may be appointed
for a renewable term of up to five years but will hold that position during
Honourable senators, I think the appointment is imminent, and when it is made
it will be, in my view, the thing that will help move Canada to the front of the
pack when it comes to empowering parliamentarians to do their job.
Theme five concerns making qualified government appointments. Parliament now
has more say in the appointment of agents of Parliament. Measures that change
the process for appointing returning officers under the Canada Elections Act are
now the law. The government can no longer simply appoint persons whose only
qualification is their political loyalty. Ministerial staff have lost their
priority for appointments to public service positions. Amendments to create the
Public Appointments Commission are in force.
The Prime Minister tried to bring the Public Appointments Commission into
effect even prior to the passage of the Federal Accountability Act by naming one
of Canada's most respected business people, Mr. Gwyn Morgan, to chair it for
only $1 a year. Unfortunately, when hearings were held in the other place to
confirm this appointment, the opposition parties were less interested in the
reform of the appointments process than they were in smearing the fine
reputation of Mr. Morgan.
As those following this story will recall, Mr. Morgan's nomination was
rejected by the opposition majority in the Standing Committee on Government
Operations and Estimates of the other place in May 2006. As a result, the three
members of the commission — all eminent Canadians — including former Liberal
cabinet minister, Roy MacLaren, tendered their resignations.
However, the secretariat created to support the work of the commission has
continued to do so, offering valuable assistance to the government. As well, in
honouring its commitment to appoint only qualified persons to head Crown
corporations and the government's many boards and commissions over the past two
years, there have been more than 80 open-selection processes.
At a minimum, our government advertises these positions in the Canada
Gazette and on the Governor-in-Council websites.
Theme six concerns cleaning up polling and advertising. Most items under this
heading have been implemented already.
Statutory and policy changes have been made to require written reports as
part of public opinion contracts.
Senator Comeau: Tell us more!
Senator Oliver: Public opinion research contract regulations came into
effect on June 7, 2007, to prescribe the form and content of contracts and
reports. It is now a matter of law that reports be provided to the library and
to Archives Canada.
Departments and agencies have been directed to conduct risk-based audits of
their advertising and public opinion research and processes. In addition, as
committed to under the action plan, an independent adviser was appointed by the
Minister of Public Works and Government Services to conduct a review of all
public opinion research.
Theme seven concerns protection for whistle-blowers through the Public
Servants Disclosure Protection Act. Measures to protect public servants who
report wrongdoings to the federal government and penalize those who wilfully
impede investigations are now in force. As well, appointments have been made to
both the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner and the Public
Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal.
The eighth theme concerns expanding the scope of the Access to Information
Act. Agents of Parliament, five foundations created under federal statute, seven
additional parent Crown corporations — including VIA Rail and Canada Post — and
wholly-owned subsidiary Crown corporations are now subject to the Access to
Taxpayers can now find out how these organizations are spending their money.
As well, the government has given federal institutions a duty to assist those
making access to information requests.
The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to advise that Senator Oliver's time
Senator Oliver: Could I have an additional five minutes, honourable
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Senator Oliver: The ninth theme concerns new powers for the Auditor
General who can now examine the recipients of grants and contributions. That is
to say, to follow the money.
The statutory provisions set out in Bill C-2 are now in place. As we speak,
the government is drafting regulations to support the Auditor General's new
authority to inquire into the use of funds under federal funding agreements.
Tenth, the Federal Accountability Act includes measures to strengthen
auditing and accountability within departments. In particular, the provisions of
the FAA which establish deputy ministers and equivalent senior officials as
accounting officers are in force. This sets out in law their accountability for
certain matters before parliamentary committees and enhances the penalty for
fraud under the act.
I am very pleased that this long-debated change has finally been adopted in
As honourable senators know, the Lambert Commission on financial management
and accountability recommended adopting this model in the 1970s, as did Mr.
Justice John Gomery in his inquiry into the sponsorship program. That is another
one of Justice Gomery's recommendations made into law.
In 2005, this was also the subject of hearings by the Senate National Finance
Committee. I want to clarify that the position of accounting officer in no way
detracts from the responsibility of the minister. Our parliamentary system is
based on ministerial responsibility.
The United Kingdom — home of our Westminster parliamentary tradition — has
used an accountability officer model for over 100 years. If such a system can
work successfully in the U.K., surely it can work here as well.
The FAA outlines several areas, all related to department administration, for
which accounting officers are accountable before parliamentary committees.
Also now in force are Bill C-2's changes to the laws concerning the
government's structures of Crown corporations. Further, there is now a
requirement that each department must review at least once every five years the
relevance and effectiveness of its grants and contribution programs.
The eleventh theme concerns the creation of the Director of Public
Prosecutions. This provision took place upon Royal Assent in December 2006. At
that time, Mr. Brian Saunders became the acting Director of Public Prosecutions.
The search is under way for someone to hold the position on a more permanent
The twelfth theme is ratification of the United Nations Convention against
Corruption. This was done on October 2, 2007.
Theme thirteen is clearing up procurement of government contracts. Much has
already been completed. The government has incorporated an overarching statement
of principle with respect to procurement in the Financial Administration Act. As
well, it adopted a new code of conduct for procurement this past September 19,
2007. Work is continuing on those items not yet implemented.
Senator Comeau: And we have only been in power for two years!
Senator Oliver: For example, while regulations are not yet in force to
create the position of Procurement Ombudsman, work continues on their
development. The government has appointed Shahid Minto, a well-respected public
servant, as Procurement Ombudsman Designate. Mr. Minto is helping to set up this
office and to develop the necessary regulations, procedures and processes that
will allow the Procurement Ombudsman to carry out the roles of that office.
Finally, honourable senators, I turn to the subject of the Lobbyists
Registration Act. In early January, Treasury Board president, Vic Toews,
announced the pre-publication necessary for the coming into force of the act. As
well, the government will soon launch a public selection process to find a fully
qualified person to appoint to the position of Commissioner of Lobbying. This
appointment will follow the approval of both Houses of Parliament and will be
made once the regulations are in place and the legislation is fully brought
In preparing for this speech, I also consulted with senior members of the
government to obtain more current information. I know that lobbying is an
important part of the FAA, and I was able to determine that the consultation
period for the regulation and lobbying act ended yesterday, February 4. The
regulations will now shortly return to cabinet for final approval and
Honourable senators, on November 9, 2006, during my third reading speech on
the FAA —
The Hon. the Speaker: It is my duty to inform the honourable senator
that his time has expired.
Senator Comeau: Great speech.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I would like to be able to
ask some questions of the honourable senator, but he touched on so many
different matters. There are many items with which I disagree.
Therefore, I would like to have an opportunity to review the honourable
senator's speech and then bring back another point of view on some of these
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk, pursuant to notice of November 20, 2007,
That the Senate 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.
She said: Honourable senators, I spoke earlier today about the issue of the
application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other human rights
legislation as it pertains to the parliamentary precinct and how that relates to
I believe the motion before the Senate was put before this chamber earlier
and referred to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of
Parliament. However, due to the intervening interruption, I had to reintroduce
it, and it is now before this chamber.
It has been 25 years since we introduced the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,
and it would be remiss if we did not assess the practices and procedures in the
Senate with the view to maximizing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for all
those who have dealings with the Senate and to all employees.
I commend both the Senate and individuals in this place for the varying
practices, procedures and policies that we have put in place. However, I do not
believe that it is systematic, nor have we assured ourselves that we are using
the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to its fullest potential. Therefore, I
believe that there must be a new reassessment according to today's needs,
understandings and court decisions. Only by doing so will we be able to the
assure the citizens of Canada of our complete support of the Charter of Rights
and Freedoms and that we have taken all necessary steps to comply with it.
It is rather difficult to speak of what others' responsibilities are and how
the Charter is one of the great accomplishments of Canada if we have not taken
the time to fully implement it and to assure ourselves that it is implemented to
its fullest degree in this chamber.
We had the Supreme Court of Canada's Vaid decision of May 20, 2005,
outlining the issue of parliamentary privilege in Canada and its consequent
effect on the application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it applies to
the House of Commons.
Honourable senators, I will not go into detail on the decision or case except
to point out that the Supreme Court stated:
Legislative bodies created by the Constitution Act 1867 do not constitute
enclaves shielded from the ordinary law of the land.
In the majority view, an allegation of discrimination contrary to the
Charter or the Canadian Human Rights Act was not immunized by parliamentary
privilege because such discriminatory conduct, if proven, would actually
diminish the integrity and dignity of the House, without improving its
ability to fulfill its constitutional mandate.
They further stated:
Parliamentary privilege in the Canadian context is the sum of the
privileges, immunities and powers enjoyed by the Senate, the House of
Commons and provincial legislative assemblies, and by each member
individually, without which they could not discharge their functions.
However, in another part of their judgment they stated:
However, if the existence of the scope of a privilege has not been
authoritatively established, the court will be required to test the claim
against the doctrine of necessity — the foundation of all parliamentary
privilege. In such a case, in order to sustain a claim of privilege, the
assembly or member seeking this immunity must show that the sphere of
activity for which privilege is claimed is so closely and directly connected
with the fulfilment by the assembly or its members of their functions as a
legislative and deliberative body, including the assembly's work in holding
the government to account, that outside interference would undermine the
level of autonomy required to enable the assembly and its members to do
their legislative work with dignity and efficiency. Once a claim to
privilege is made out, the court will not inquire into the merits of its
exercise in any particular instance.
The court held that the wide-ranging privilege asserted by the appellants has
not been authoritatively established in the courts of Canada or United Kingdom
and is not supported as a matter of principle by the necessity test. The court
commented on the British Joint Committee Report that stated:
The dividing line between privileged and non privileged activities of
each House is not easy to define. Perhaps the nearest approach to a
definition is that the areas in which the court ought not to intervene
extend beyond proceedings in parliament but the privileged areas must be so
closely and directly connected with proceedings in parliament that
intervention by the court would be inconsistent with parliament's
sovereignty as a legislative and deliberative assembly.
The Supreme Court also stated:
The proper focus, in my view, is not the grounds on which a particular
privilege is exercised, but the prior question of the existence and scope of
the privilege asserted by the parliament in the first place.
They further underscore that:
It is a wise principle that the courts and Parliament strive to respect
each other's role in the conduct of public affairs.
I believe that in order to do this in the Senate, it requires we first assess
the outcome of the Vaid case, the practices in the Senate and that we
assure ourselves that we have maximized the rights while maintaining the proper
balance with parliamentary privilege in today's context. To do so in a
systematic way could be an adequate defence to any incursions in the future into
Senate activities. It would also give a measure of comfort and understanding to
those who come in contact with the Senate, either by dealings or by employment,
that we respect and enforce the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Honourable senators, I have moved this motion. Due to its importance and the
balance between our parliamentary privileges and our need to enforce the Charter
of Rights and Freedoms, I believe the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures
and the Rights of Parliament would be the appropriate place to look at this
issue in-depth to examine the alternatives that might be possible or evaluate
the changes that might be recommended.
It has been 25 years since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has come into
effect, and I believe we would be remiss if we did not assess the practices and
procedures for all those reasons I have previously stated.
I commend the Senate on the knowledge that we have of our various practices
and procedures. However, I also think this type of study and undertaking by the
Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament would put
us in line with today's needs, understandings and reassurances that the public
desires and, I believe, warrants in this chamber. This motion is a companion
piece to Senator Joyal's previous bill, and together we could canvass all of the
issues that are pertinent.
I should point out that we have experts sitting at the table with us here in
our chamber who have done work both within Canada and elsewhere and have
published on this issue. We should avail ourselves of their expertise and it
would be timely to do so through the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and
the Rights of Parliament.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I have observed that in all
of the initiatives on this subject matter, very few individuals approach what I
consider to be the heart of the matter; that is, the relationship between the
high court of Parliament and all other courts, which are inferior. I know that
lawyers wax poetically and elegantly when they cite the Supreme Court of Canada.
However, we should understand clearly that relative to the high court of
Parliament, the Supreme Court of Canada is an important, but an inferior court.
I have been trying to resist the temptation to speak on this question. I have
succumbed; I intend to speak to it.
The real issue is the relationship between the two courts. The other
important issue is who enforces what laws in which places. Could the honourable
senator respond to that? I was listening attentively, hoping that that subject
matter would be canvassed because I noticed that everybody avoids it
assiduously. The fact is that the Supreme Court of Canada cannot enforce
anything in this place.
Senator Andreychuk: I should say to the Honourable Senator Cools that
that is precisely the reason I think that this matter should go to the Standing
Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. I have not
identified all of the problems or the issues; it would take too long to do so. I
highlighted the one that was of particular concern to me. However, I say again
that we should study this whole subject systematically, and I hope that the
committee would do just that. They would identify the issues that could be
I pointed out that we have experts at the table who could help us frame these
issues to be discussed. Senators would be encouraged to place all the issues on
the table where we can come to some conclusions and perhaps put some of these
questions in modern context for the enlightenment of all of us.
I do not presume to be an expert in all of these areas. I know that Senator
Cools has studied many of these issues and I would hope that she would
contribute to the Rules Committee study.
Senator Cools: Thank you. The prerequisite to being a parliamentary
authority is to be a member of Parliament, by the way. As grand as Sir Erskine
May was, his books remain reference books. They are not authorities. The real
authorities are always the precedents and the members speaking in their
respective Houses of Parliament. May merely recorded them. I clarify that point
for the sake of enhancing the debate.
This suggested study will be a fair amount of work because, for the most
part, you will find that whenever the "courts" — inferior courts — enter into
a case involving parliamentary privilege, often they create more problems than
they have solved.
The proper relationship between the two courts has always been that one
should never trench on the ground of the other. The particular case in point
about which the honourable senator has spoken so eloquently was Vaid.
There is much that needs to be analyzed in Vaid, to be helpful to this
Parliament, to this house, or to any assembly in the country.
Therefore, I am hoping that, as the debate goes forward, we will take a
serious, analytical look at the heart of the matter. It is easy to forget that
the Supreme Court is a creature of Parliament. For example, the Supreme Court of
Canada cannot claim to be antecedent to the BNA Act, as are the superior courts
of Ontario. The fact of the matter is that an understanding of this situation
will also take a profound understanding and study of the courts themselves, and
the relationship of the courts to the public in respect of these issues.
I want to thank the honourable senator for her unstinting efforts in bringing
forward this issue over the past couple of years.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino, pursuant to notice of January 31, 2008, moved:
That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by
the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade
during its study of Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision of official
development assistance abroad, in the First Session of the Thirty-ninth
Parliament, be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs
and International Trade for the purposes of its study, during the current
session, of Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision of official
development assistance abroad.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino, pursuant to notice of January 31, 2008, moved:
That the seventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign
Affairs and International Trade entitled Overcoming 40 Years Of Failure:
A New Road Map For Sub-Saharan Africa, tabled in the Senate on February
15, 2007, during the First Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament, be placed
on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the
On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, February 6, 2008, at 1:30 p.m.