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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 144, Issue 38

Tuesday, March 4, 2008
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker



THE SENATE

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.

Prayers.

Afghanistan—Fallen Soldier

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before we proceed, I would ask senators to rise and observe one minute of silence in memory of Trooper Michael Yuki Hayakaze, whose tragic death occurred on Sunday, March 2 while serving his country in Afghanistan.

Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.


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SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Water Conservation

Hon. Joan Cook: Honourable senators, I grew up in the coastal community of English Harbour West in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador — a place surrounded by water. The livelihood of many coastal families, like mine, relies on water as a way of life. We know that water is essential to the survival of all living things. Regardless of where we live, our daily lives revolve around water, for without it we would perish. With the constant threat and the uncertainty of climate change, our growing global population and our never-ending desire to industrialize, our access to clean water is being threatened worldwide.

I would like to share two projects that are making positive changes and improving global access to clean water. I have been a member of the Girl Guides of Canada for a lifetime. This organization exists in 144 countries and has over 10 million members worldwide. Every year, to celebrate our founders Lord and Lady Baden-Powell's birthdays, Girl Guides challenges its members to learn about a pertinent topic that concerns us all. This year's theme is water and will focus on the aspects of water use and sanitation that affect the health of girls and young women in all parts of the world. This reminds us that we are part of a global community of girls and women, and that we have a responsibility to help our sisters in other parts of the world.

Honourable senators, the second project that I wish to share with you is World Water Day, which is celebrated each year on March 22. This year's theme will highlight the increasing challenges of coping with water scarcity worldwide and the need for the increased integration of resources at both the international and local levels.

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated March 22 as World Water Day. In 2005, the UN began the International Decade for Action on Water in order to give a higher profile to implementing water-related programs. The UN hopes that this decade will boost the chances of achieving international water-related goals to help the 1.1 billion people without adequate access to water and the 2.4 billion without adequate sanitation.

To put our situation in Canada into perspective, on average, every Canadian uses over 300 litres of water each day, which is equivalent to approximately three full bathtubs. In comparison, the people of Africa each use about three litres of water per day, which is about one full bucket.

As a wealthy, developed nation we need to be aware of our wasteful personal water use, not to mention the industrial water waste created by our society. We can make small changes in our homes, such as checking our taps and toilets for leaks, taking shorter showers and collecting rainwater to water plants. Together we can be part of the solution.

Honourable senators, Canada's landmass contains about 7 per cent of the world's fresh water. Managing our vast water resource is a complex issue that all levels of government need to address responsibly in order to protect it for future generations. I urge all honourable senators and all my fellow Canadians to take responsibility for conserving our water.

Cardiovascular and Diabetes Risk Assessment

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I am sure that you are well aware that regular health assessments play an important role in disease prevention. Today the Canadian Medical Association is hosting a complementary Cardiovascular and Diabetes Risk Assessment booth. I know that due to busy schedules, many senators sometimes overlook their health. Knowledge is the key to prevention and maintaining health. One's future health is largely determined by taking such preventive action and getting regular health assessments. The cardiovascular and diabetes risk assessment booth will be open all day in room 601 of the Parliamentary restaurant. The examination is quick and results are available in 10 minutes. I encourage all honourable senators to take advantage of this facility.

On maintaining one's health, Father Sebastian Kneipp said:

Those who do not find some time every day for health, must sacrifice a lot of time one day for illness.

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Prince Edward Island

Summerside—Eptek Art and Culture Centre—Thirtieth Anniversary

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, today I would like to pay tribute to a distinctive and highly successful cultural institution in Prince Edward Island. Recently, the Eptek Art and Culture Centre in Summerside, which is operated by the Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation, celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. The number and variety of people who came out to celebrate that milestone anniversary is a reflection of the ways in which the Eptek Centre has enriched the lives of so many people over the past 30 years.

Eptek Centre was established in 1978 as one of 23 national exhibition centres located in smaller communities across Canada. The centres provided access to people in those communities with gallery spaces that could accommodate national and even international touring exhibitions. In that way, people were provided the opportunity to experience first-hand the richness and range of nationally and internationally produced exhibitions, including those related to history, science and technology and fine arts and crafts.

Eptek Centre attracted as many as 20,000 visitors a year to its location on the Summerside waterfront. These included local residents, school children, visitors and others who shared a passion for the rich cultural traditions and heritage of this country. Appropriately, the name "Eptek" is from a Mi'kmaq term meaning "warm spot." That certainly describes the welcoming atmosphere of the Eptek Centre and the proud place it holds in the community.

Although the national exhibitions centre program was discontinued in the early 1990s, Eptek Centre continues to enjoy a wide range of locally produced exhibitions, which reflect the rich heritage and traditions of Prince Edward Island. The centre hosts local and travelling exhibitions on themes of history, art, craft, culture and science.

As evidence of the strong support from the local community, a group called Friends of Eptek has been very active in providing volunteers, sponsoring a weekly lunchtime film series, hosting a book club, exhibiting collections and other activities which reflect the interests and talents of the people of the Summerside area and from across the province.

Honourable senators, cultural institutions such as Eptek Centre play an important role in many small communities across this country. They are able to introduce Canadians to one another through their shared history and culture. They provide an important showcase for communities, which can see themselves reflected in programs and exhibits. Above all, they instill in people a sense of pride and place, and an opportunity to learn more about the many ways in which their history and culture is expressed.

These are national treasures, and I am sure all senators would agree they must be recognized and celebrated.

Agriculture and Forestry Committee

Study on Rural Poverty—Visit to North

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, upon returning from the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry's trip to Canada's North, I had a chance to reflect on what we heard — and on what the Conservative senators, who boycotted the trip, missed.

Over the last 16 months, the committee has studied rural poverty and rural decline. We heard from many experts and stakeholders in Ottawa, but we also traveled to each province to hear from citizens and groups working and living in rural Canada.

At first glance, it might seem odd that such a committee would be going to the North because there is little agriculture and forestry in our most rural territories. However, there are large pockets of poverty in the rural north and therefore, the committee felt it necessary to include it in our travels and not exclude it like the Conservatives.

Honourable senators, during our trip, we heard from 53 witnesses about the enormous need for more low-income housing, more policing in small northern communities, the lack of drug and alcohol treatment facilities and services, the need for more access to education, the lack of investment in business development and the need for more job creation and training. The list goes on and on.

I find it very strange that the Conservatives say to Canadians that the North is a priority to Canada's growing-old government, yet when they have an opportunity to listen and learn directly from northerners what their needs are, they decline. Not only do they decline the opportunity to go, they criticize the Liberal senators for wanting to visit these locations and do their jobs.

The irony of this story is that there were no protests or boycotts, but participation and support from the Conservative senators on the other six trips across Canada. So why should the North expect anything less? The people in the North are Canadians as much as you and I.

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Honourable senators, here is a snapshot of what the Conservatives missed: David Wilman, Executive Director of an outreach centre in Iqaluit, asked what to do about such situations as when a young man, seeking counselling but is unable to get it because there is a five-week waiting list, then kills himself three days later. The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition told us how hard they are struggling to set up the first food bank in Whitehorse to feed low income families. Spencer Heslep, a young man who was once a gang member, now runs The Side Door Youth Centre in Yellowknife. He said that young people are idle and have no goals because of the lack of programs to engage them. This leads to drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy and gang involvement.

Conservatives missed the desperate call for more affordable housing, especially for homeless women. We heard of mobbing, the systematic harassment by members of a community towards abused women. It occurs when they have no one to turn to because everyone in a community is related in some way.

Honourable senators, northerners have a vibrant culture. They want to continue to live, work and raise their families there. The people we spoke with are willing to work extremely hard to fix and create communities that are fair and just for all their citizens. However, they need help.

The Conservative senators missed an opportunity to connect with northerners. They missed the opportunity to hear directly what their needs are in order for them to go forward and be the defenders of our northern lands and northern sovereignty. That is a tragedy. Let us hope the constituents of the three territories of northern Canada remember that on election day.

The Late Sir Edmund Hillary

Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to one of the greatest adventurers of our time, a man who will be forever in the history books as the first to climb the un-climbable mountain, Mount Everest. He was also the first to reach the South Pole overland, using motor vehicles.

The man is Sir Edmund Hillary, who passed away at the age of 88 on January 11 in his home country of New Zealand. It would take me a long time to tell you about his many lifetime achievements. Therefore, I will share only a handful.

Ed, as he preferred to be called, was a very humble man who considered himself to be an ordinary beekeeper. It was not until many years after the death of his climbing partner, Tenzing Norgay, that he admitted that he was first to reach the summit of Everest.

That tremendous feat, on May 29, 1953, would change the rest of his life. When news of his achievement reached the world, there was tremendous celebration. One of the first acts of Queen Elizabeth II, following her coronation only four days after the summit achievement, was to knight Edmund Hillary. Later, she would honour him as a member of the Order of the Garter, marking him as the only non-political person outside of Britain to receive such distinction.

During the late 1980s he was named New Zealand's High Commissioner to India and Bangladesh, as well as the ambassador to Nepal. The country of Nepal, homeland of his climbing partner, was close to his heart. Sir Edmund Hillary, as well as being New Zealand's ambassador there, also spent many years trying to improve the lives of its people. He founded the Himalayan Trust, an organization which helps to build hospitals and schools in the region. Today, there are organizations around the world that continue the good work that he started over 40 years ago.

The Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation of Canada was founded by W. F. "Zeke" O'Connor, a close personal friend of Sir Edmund Hillary's and a winner of the 1952 Grey Cup with the Toronto Argonauts. Having first met him on a fishing trip in 1972, Zeke was captivated by Sir Edmund's passion for the people of Nepal, and went on to visit that country 33 times himself. I first met Sir Edmund at the Sports Hall of Fame Golf Tournament in 1980.

Upon the death of Sir Edmund Hillary, the Prime Minister of New Zealand said that his passing was a profound loss to New Zealand. Indeed, his passing was a loss to the whole world. It is a certainty that he will be fondly remembered by his family and many admirers around the world.


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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Museums Act

Bill to Amend—Report of Committee

Hon. Jim Munson, Acting Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, presented the following report:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights has the honour to present its

SIXTH REPORT

Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Museums Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Tuesday, February 26, 2008, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

JIM MUNSON
Acting Chair

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

On motion of Senator Di Nino, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.

Study on Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Report of Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee Tabled

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources entitled The Canadian Environmental Protection Act (1999, c. 33) Rx: Strengthen and Apply Diligently.

On motion of Senator Banks, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Report of Committee

Hon. David P. Smith, Chair of the Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism, presented the following report:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism has the honour to present its

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions), has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, November 14, 2007, examined the said Bill and now reports the same with the following amendments:

1. Clause 1:

(a) Page 2: Replace lines 15 to 19 with the following:

"information that relates to the offence referred to in subparagraph (i), or that may reveal the whereabouts of an individual who the peace officer suspects may commit the offence referred to";

(b) Page 6: Replace lines 28 to 30 with the following:

"(C) the detention is necessary to main-".

2. Clause 3, page 8: Replace line 40 with the following:

"83.28, 83.29 and 83.3 and their operation shall".

Respectfully submitted,

DAVID P. SMITH
Chair

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

Senator Smith: I move that the report be placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration two days hence.

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: We could ask for leave and consider it at the next sitting.

Senator Smith: Honourable senators, I ask for leave to consider the report one day hence.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Smith is the chair of a special committee. When a special committee tables or presents a report, it requires two days notice, unless leave is granted for one day. I put the question to the house: Is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

On motion of Senator Smith, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.

[Translation]

The Estimates, 2007-08

Report of National Finance Committee on Supplementary Estimates (B) Presented

Hon. Joseph A. Day, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, presented the following report:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has the honour to present its

SEVENTH REPORT

Your Committee, to which were referred the Supplementary Estimates (B), 2007-08, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Thursday, February 14, 2008, examined the said Estimates and herewith presents its report.

Respectfully submitted,

JOSEPH A. DAY
Chair

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 628.)

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?

On motion of Senator Day, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.

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[English]

Anti-terrorism

Notice of Motion to Authorize Special Committee to Study Certificate Process of Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and to Request Papers and Evidence of Previous Parliaments

Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I shall move:

That the Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism be authorized to examine and report on the provisions governing the security certificate process set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27, as recently modified by An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (certificate and special advocate) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, S.C. 2008, c. 3, as well as to conduct a review of the operation of that process in the context of Canada's anti-terrorism framework;

That the papers and evidence received and taken, and the work accomplished by:

(a) the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-terrorism Act during the Thirty-eighth Parliament and the First Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament; and

(b) the Special Senate Committee on Bill C-36 during the First Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament;

be referred to the committee for the purposes of this study; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than December 31, 2008.


QUESTION PERIOD

The Senate

Comments by Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, the night before last on the Radio-Canada television show "Tout le monde en parle," Senator Fortier was heard to say the following:

[Translation]

It is a bit depressing, because I honestly got there with a very open mind, but I found too many of the men and women who are there, who think they are there, who think they are there because they know something, but actually, they are all there, myself included, not because they know something, but because they know someone. Everyone there was appointed because they did something for a political party, myself included, by the way.

Those people are well paid for working three days a week. . . What I am questioning is the contribution of the men and women there. In the beginning, it was supposed to be a chamber filled with truly independent thinkers, wise people, and that is what it was in the beginning, but unfortunately, over the years, it has lost sight of its primary purpose.

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[English]

Those statements are insulting and offensive.

Senator Keon was not named because he did anything for the party; he was named because of his pre-eminence in his field. Senator Mahovlich was not named because he did anything for the party; he was named because of his pre-eminence in his field of endeavour. Senator Dallaire was not named because he did anything for the party; he was named because of his sterling and outstanding reputation in the military. Senator Lapointe was not named because he did anything for the party; he was named because of an outstanding reputation. Senator Dyck did nothing for the party and indeed was probably not even a member of the party; she was named because of her extraordinary contribution in her field. Senator Segal was named not by the Conservatives but by a Liberal, and it goes without saying that he did nothing for the Liberal Party, and continues, might I add, to do nothing for the party. Senator Kinsella was not named because he did anything for the party; he was named because of his pre-eminence in the field of human rights and because of his academic credentials.

Honourable senators, I could go on and speak about most people in this chamber. The outstanding Canadians serving here are not serving because they are party hacks; they are serving because they want to serve their country.

That brings me to the second false assertion made by Senator Fortier, and that is the assertion that people around here work three days a week. Maybe that is true of him, but that is not true of most of us. Senator Fortier may have forgotten that certain committees meet on Mondays. He may have forgotten that special committees meet on Friday. I have met in committee on Saturday and Sunday. Indeed, when the senator was speaking on Sunday night I was working in my office. Many of us work one hell of a lot and we are not paid what we were paid in the private sector. We are here because we want to do something useful for our country.

Honourable senators, I am deeply offended. I consider those remarks arrogant, immoral and improper, aside from the fact that they are absolutely untrue of most members of this chamber. I want the senator to either prove his remarks are not false or apologize.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Goldstein: Regrettably, knowing that apologies are not part of the neo-con vocabulary, I expect neither from him, but I think the Canadian public should know that the declared candidate in my senatorial division of Vaudreuil-Soulanges does not tell the truth. I am sick and tired of the ongoing attacks of the neo-cons on the Senate and its useful work and he should stop.

My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate — because unfortunately I can only ask it of the Leader of the Government in the Senate — is twofold: First, can the leader confirm or deny that Senator Fortier said those things? Second, does the leader agree with Senator Fortier and his appalling remarks, and if the leader does not agree, will she ensure that Senator Fortier makes a public apology?

Senator Mercer: Hear, hear!

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): I thank Senator Goldstein for the question. I think it is pretty clear that Canadians all over the country and from all walks of life have an opinion on this place. Canadians are entitled to their opinions and this applies to Senator Fortier.

An Hon. Senator: Then why is he here?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Senator Fortier is here because he is a very valuable member of the government as Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

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Senator Fortier has made it very clear many times, in this place and publicly, that he is desirous of having an election as soon as possible so that he can run for a seat in the House of Commons as the member for Vaudreuil-Soulanges. Senator Fortier is here in his capacity as Minister of Public Works, and is available to answer questions on Public Works.

Senator Goldstein asked me if these were, in fact, Senator Fortier's words. They were. Senator Goldstein listed a number of senators on both sides who have outstanding credentials. He omitted himself, me and others, and I do not know where that leaves us. I certainly know how I received my appointment to the Senate.

I fully support Senator Fortier's right to have his own opinions on this place, and I would expect that the honourable senator thinks he should have that right as well.

Senator Goldstein: Honourable senators, the Leader of the Government in the Senate asserted three times in the course of her remarks that Senator Fortier was expressing an opinion. I am the last one to deny anyone the right to express an opinion. However, the fact is that he was not expressing opinions; he was stating purported facts, and those purported facts are false. I want him to have the courtesy to apologize.

Senator LeBreton: I do not know what facts the honourable senator is referring to.

Senator Rompkey: Three days a week!

Senator LeBreton: Senator Fortier referred to three days a week. The Senate does sit three days a week; that is not a secret. I assume that is what Senator Fortier was referring to.

Honourable senators, we wonder why the public sometimes has a poor view of this place. We have seen many instances in the past of behaviour in the Senate that did not do the reputation of the Senate any good. There are very important issues facing the country and there is very important legislation before the House of Commons and the Senate, and I think that senators questioning senators about views they expressed in public would be considered rather inward looking by the public.

Senator Goldstein: Contrary to what the Leader of the Government just asserted, the senator did not say that the Senate sits three days a week. He said that senators work three days a week. That is pretty different, and I hope and would like to assume that she understands that difference.

Senator Fortier added to the appalling remarks he made by saying sarcastically yesterday that there are no Nobel Prize winners in the Senate. That is true, but he would be the last to be nominated for a Nobel Prize given his attitude toward truth. I would like to hear him respond instead of hiding behind the skirts of the Leader of the Government.

Senator LeBreton: That is personal.

An Hon. Senator: What he said was personal.

Senator Mercer: Either apologize or resign!

Senator LeBreton: It is very interesting that Senator Goldstein says that Senator Fortier is hiding behind my skirts, this being International Women's Week.

Questions directed to this side of the house are answered by me as Leader of the Government in the Senate. Minister Fortier is the Minister of Public Works and is here to answer questions with regard to Public Works, as the senator knows. Senator Goldstein had no right to make that comment. He knows that a Speaker's ruling prevents Senator Fortier from responding to these questions. Far be it from the Minister of Public Works to hide behind my skirts. I suggest that Senator Goldstein read the rule book.

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[Translation]

Heritage

Effect of Bill C-10 on Tax Credits to Television and Film Productions

Hon. Francis Fox: Honourable senators, I am glad to hear the Leader of the Government in the Senate talk about freedom of expression and opinion, because my question concerns Bill C-10.

The minister is no doubt aware that people in the audiovisual industry across Canada have raised a storm of protest against Bill C-10. This bill would give the Conservative government the power to censor productions or influence their content by refusing to issue tax credits. Stakeholders such as David Cronenberg, Denise Robert, Roger Frappier, the Association des réalisateurs et réalisatrices du Québec, ACTRA, the Directors Guild, the Canadian Film and Television Production Association, the Writers' Union, PEN and editorial writers for several newspapers including The Globe and Mail, have understood that unless the bill is amended, such provisions would destabilize Canada's entire film industry by irreparably undermining financing for Canadian productions.

Can the minister tell us whether her government would be willing to introduce an amendment in the Senate to prevent this from happening?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for asking a question that is relevant and important to the Canadian public. As the honourable senator probably knows, this particular bill is before the Senate committee. It is a technical omnibus bill. It had its beginnings under the former Minister of Heritage, Sheila Copps, and has gone through a series of bill numbers since December 2002.

It has gone through proposals under Finance Minister Martin on December 1, 1994; and Finance Minister Martin again on February 27, 1995. On June 20, 1996, Bill C-36 was introduced. On May 13, 1999, a big story broke in the National Post about a film called Bubbles Galore.

This bill does include a public policy test. It is virtually identical to proposals released by the former government on December 20, 2002; November 14, 2003; February 27, 2004; and July 18, 2005.

Having said that, honourable senators, Minister Verner has stated that we are continuing a process initiated under the previous government, as I have just said. This is about ensuring that taxpayers' money is not used to finance material that is pornographic, excessively violent or denigrating to identifiable groups.

Honourable senators, I think this is where the Senate can be of great value. The bill is before the Senate committee. I understand that there are amendments being proposed before that committee. I would encourage the Senate to do its work, amend the bill, and we will send it back to the House of Commons.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

[Translation]

Senator Fox: Honourable senators, I thank the minister for her answer and for being so open-minded as to invite us to propose amendments, in contrast to what she told us about Bill C-2.

One honourable senator said that I was a minister at that time. I would like to clarify that I was not a minister between 1996 and 2005 and that these provisions existed in the regulations but were never used. These provisions were removed from the regulations and did not reappear officially until now. No one can say that this is a policy. In any event, this bill was approved by the government, by Mr. Flaherty, and, I assume, approved by cabinet and endorsed by the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, who is a member of cabinet.

This brings me to my question. Obviously, if the minister was interviewed on the program "Tout le monde en parle" this afternoon, he could answer the question, but our rules are such that he cannot answer my question.

Does the Minister of Public Works agree with the host of eminent francophone producers who, like their anglophone colleagues, are condemning the imposition of such a regime? This is, after all, a regime you are proposing, officially, in a bill that was discussed in cabinet.

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Minister Fortier is a member of cabinet. I would like to know if he agrees with all those who review this bill as the beginnings of a censorship regime. This censorship regime would be run by an anonymous committee of public servants tasked with propagating the government's point of view and ensuring that only politically correct films are produced. Does the minister from Montreal agree with this proposal, which he himself endorsed by his presence in cabinet?

If he cannot answer my question in the Senate, I would like him to answer it outside of this chamber. I would like to know if Mr. Fortier, who boasted about being the minister from Montreal during the show "Tout le monde en parle," indeed supports television production, not only in Montreal, but also in Toronto, Vancouver and across Canada.

[English]

Senator LeBreton: I would like to remind honourable senators that Bill C-10, which is now before the Senate was introduced in the House of Commons. It was a technical omnibus bill. The bill received the passage and support of all parties in the House of Commons and was then sent to the Senate.

Honourable senators, I think the campaign to which we are all now being subjected is the result of a story in The Globe and Mail, a paper that I call "the unofficial research office of the Liberal Party of Canada." This particular issue in no way interferes with the creation of vibrant Canadian content. The movies that we go to see at theatres and film festivals will continue to be eligible for tax credits under the guidelines of this bill. This bill guarantees that tax dollars are not used to finance child pornography or hate propaganda targeting specific groups.

If Liberal senators are offended by the fact, and think that we should not be protecting minority groups and targeting child pornographers — that is, if they think we should be giving them free rein — they have every right to address that in committee and move an amendment. We will then see what happens when the bill returns to the House of Commons.

The Senate

Comments by Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, I wish to direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and it is about the Order of Canada. While Senator Fortier thinks that we are nothing but a group of political hacks in this place, I notice that he is not a member of the Order of Canada. However, there are nine senators who are members of the Order of Canada — and those are positions that they earned before they came to this place. Furthermore, there are no members of Parliament who are members of the Order of Canada.

Honourable senators, I respectfully suggest — and, perhaps the Leader of the Government in the Senate will agree with me — that Senator Fortier should resign from this place and join the members of Parliament immediately instead of just talking about it.

Senator Mercer: Hear, hear!

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Actually, honourable senators, senators are members of Parliament. Members of Parliament are members of the House of Commons or members of the Senate.

With regard to the question, the Order of Canada is a prestigious award given to Canadians by the Governor General. As the honourable senator pointed out, the recipients are determined by an august group who review the applications. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada is but one member of the panel of eminent Canadians who decides the recipients of the Order of Canada.

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I agree with Senator Milne that some members of this chamber have the Order of Canada for their services in areas other than the Senate. They are to be commended. Frankly, I do not know what that has to do with the fact that Senator Fortier expressed a personal opinion, with which we have all been well familiar for almost two years. He is perfectly entitled to express his opinion, and in that he is like other Canadians.

If senators were to pay attention, Canadians have a lot to say. We as a government have been trying to reform Parliament. I was happy to see in The Globe and Mail today an article by Tom Kent, a former eminent person in the government of Lester Pearson, suggesting that the Senate must be reformed and commending what the present government is doing, although he does not think we are going far enough.

Hon. Joan Fraser: I have a short question, to which a short answer, "yes" or "no," will suffice.

To the Leader of the Government in the Senate, will she, as Senator Fortier's leader in this chamber, instruct him that the next time he plans to opine publicly on the virtues or otherwise of this place, he should first spend some time here so that he actually knows what in fact we do?

Senator Mercer: Hear, hear!

Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator is writing another Gazette editorial. In other words, one has no opinion unless one sits in this chamber.

It is a well-known fact and tradition in this place that we do not comment on the presence or absence here of any particular senator. However, if the honourable senator wants to get into the question of absences, I would suggest she talk to her colleagues in the other place, since yesterday only seven Liberal members showed up for a vote on a confidence motion that her party had made on the budget. If the honourable senator wants to talk about attendance, let us talk about attendance.

Hon. Tommy Banks: My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and is supplementary. My question does not have anything to do with whether or not Senator Fortier has the right to express any opinion that he chooses. However, once having expressed it — and it is now a matter of public record — does the leader agree with his opinions as expressed?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, we are not a bunch of trained seals on this side. Therefore, I agree with some of the things he said and I disagree with some of the things he said.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: My question is to the Honourable Leader of the Government in the Senate. She said that she agrees with some of the things and not with others. Does she agree that we work three days a week?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I actually agree that we sit three days a week, but I also agree that we work more than three days a week.

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I would like to intervene in this debate. I feel that the comments made by our honourable colleague were taxing and contrary to our rules, but he did not make those statements in this place. Had he done so, I think he would have been breaching our rules.

My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The honourable senator has before sworn two oaths — one oath he swore at Rideau Hall and one oath he swore here — to uphold the Constitution of Canada, which is the Parliament of Canada, of which the Senate is a constituent part, as the leader has just mentioned. Is the honourable leader now saying to me that the honourable senator has breached his oath as a Privy Councillor and breached his undertaking and his oath in this place to protect and maintain the Constitution, including the Senate?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I think a very important part of our Constitution is the right of an individual to freely speak his or her mind.

Senator Grafstein: I will conclude with this: When Senator Fortier was made a Privy Councillor, he forswore his ability to opine on matters generally. Is this a matter now of the cabinet agreeing with this honourable senator's statement? He is a Privy Councillor. Is there cabinet solidarity on this point?

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Senator LeBreton: I do not agree with the honourable senator. When we are sworn to the Privy Council, we swear to uphold the responsibilities that have been given to us as members of the cabinet and to keep secret the deliberations of the cabinet on various matters of national importance.

I gave my oath as a member of the Senate in 1993 and again when I was sworn into the Privy Council in 2006. Anyone who knows me well knows I would never agree to something wherein I could not speak my mind.

[Translation]

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, perhaps we can find a solution to this problem that would fully complement the impartiality of the Senate. Minister Fortier seems to be in agony because he must sit in the Senate in order to be a minister, but perhaps there is a solution that will please everyone. At present, there is an opening in Montreal, in the Westmount riding. He knows the riding well. Perhaps the solution would be to ask the Prime Minister to call a by-election immediately, to allow our colleague to finally fulfill his role as a member in that other House.

[English]

Senator LeBreton: I think the honourable senator has suggested this before, if memory serves me correctly.

The fact is that the good supporters in Vaudreuil-Soulanges nominated Senator Michael Fortier as the candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada about 18 months ago. Despite the honourable senator's wonderful efforts to ensure there are seats open for him, I think his commitment to Vaudreuil-Soulanges and the work he is doing there is preparing him very well to beat a sovereigntist and for his wish to come true that he be elected as a member of Parliament of the House of Commons for Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

[Translation]

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table three responses to oral questions raised by Senator Chaput on January 30, 2008, regarding bilingual services for the travelling public, by Senator Tardif on February 5, 2008, regarding consultations on linguistic duality and official languages, selection of witnesses, and by Senator Segal on February 12, 2008, regarding an explanation for the death of military observer Major Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener.

Treasury Board

Bilingual Services for Travelling Public

(Response to question raised by Hon. Maria Chaput on January 30, 2008)

Service to Canadians in both official languages where there is a significant demand is a fundamental Canadian value flowing from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter) and the Official Languages Act (the Act). The bilingual service obligations are defined by the Act and the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations (the Regulations). These legal instruments contain provisions that are specific to the travelling public.

The Regulations were amended in 2007 in response to a Federal Court order concerning the segment of the Trans-Canada Highway served by the Amherst detachment of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This amendment was done in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Charter and the Act.

The government is committed to respecting the public's rights to be served in their official language of choice in federal offices designated bilingual, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Act and the Official Languages (Communications with and Services to the Public) Regulations.

Official Languages

Consultations on Linguistic Duality and Official Languages—Selection of Witnesses

(Response to question raised by Hon. Claudette Tardif on February 5, 2008)

The consultations of the last few months enabled the Government of Canada to gather the views of stakeholders in the areas of official languages and linguistic duality, official-language minority communities and the general public concerning the government's strategy on official languages. They were conducted in the spirit of the Government's 2007 Speech from the Throne commitment and add to the work already done by other stakeholders, such as parliamentarians, the Commissioner of Official Languages and a variety of federal departments.

All individuals and organizations had the opportunity to express themselves and contribute to the process. Those that we were unable to include in the regional events due to lack of time or space, as was the case of Impératif français, were invited to participate in the consultations through the online process, be it by writing in their comments or submitting a memorandum.

The participant's list was established by the Department of Canadian Heritage based on certain stakeholder representation imperatives (e.g. communities, anglophones/ francophones, private sector, academics) in order to ensure that various points of view were heard during the process. For the wrap-up event, priority was also granted to those organisations that have a national impact or involvement. The representatives from the main francophone and anglophone minority communities (such as the Association des juristes d'expression française, the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne, and the Quebec Community Groups Network) were present at the wrap-up event.

Thanks to these consultations, the Government will be better able to elaborate a new strategy for the next phase of the Action Plan for Official Languages

(For list of participants, see Appendix A, p. 910.)

Foreign Affairs

Israel—Explanation for Death of Military Observer Major Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener

(Response to question raised by Hon. Hugh Segal on February 12, 2008)

Major Hess-von Kruedener's family has received or will receive compensation from Veteran Affairs Canada, the Canadian Forces and the United Nations.

To date, Major Hess-von Kruedener's family has received or is currently receiving the following:

  • Veterans Affairs Canada Death Benefit
     
  • Veterans Affairs Canada Disability Pension
     
  • Veterans Affairs Canada Educational Assistance
     
  • Canadian Forces Survivor Benefit
     
  • Canadian Forces Death Benefit
     
  • Canadian Forces Funeral Expenses
     
  • United Nations Military Death Compensation

Moreover, Mrs. Hess-von Kruedener will eventually receive the Veterans Affairs Canada Earning Loss Benefit and Retirement Benefit.

The Department of National Defence has no intention of seeking compensation from the Israeli Government.

[English]

Pages Exchange Program with House of Commons

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to introduce two pages before proceeding to orders of the day. These pages are from the other place.

Jennifer Ford of Winnipeg, Manitoba, is studying journalism at Carleton University's Faculty of Public Affairs.

Melissa Moore of Metcalfe, Ontario, is pursuing her studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa where she is majoring in international development and globalization.

Welcome to the Senate of Canada.


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[Translation]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Settlement of International Investment Disputes Bill

Third Reading

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin moved the third reading of Bill C-9, An Act to implement the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention).

He said: Honourable senators, everything there was to say about this bill was said at second reading. When we studied the bill, the committee heard the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Helena Guergis, explain why a successive government waited 45 years for this legislative measure to be finally introduced and adopted by Parliament. In my opinion, we should move as quickly as possible to pass this bill.

[English]

Hon. Yoine Goldstein: I agree with the Honourable Senator Nolin that Bill C-9 should be adopted as quickly as possible. However, we remain somewhat hampered by the fact that, as yet, not all provinces have adopted appropriate legislation so as to make the law effective within those provinces. It will be a matter of time and take some convincing on the part of this government and the next government. I agree that this bill should proceed to third reading now.

An Hon. Senator: Question!

[Translation]

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.

[English]

Canada Labour Code
Canada Student Financial Assistance Act
Canada Student Loans Act
Public Service Employment Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Segal, seconded by the Honourable Senator Johnson, for the second reading of Bill C-40, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code, the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, the Canada Student Loans Act and the Public Service Employment Act.

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today in support of Bill C-40. This bill puts in place amendments to various acts that will protect the jobs and certain benefits of those members of the Canadian Forces Reserves who take part in military operations at home and abroad. I commend the government for introducing these amendments. The reason I support this bill rests on a simple but fundamental principle: People who risk their lives in the service of their country should not have to risk their jobs. People who are fighting for the future of others should not need to be concerned that they are placing their own futures in jeopardy.

As Senator Segal has outlined, Bill C-40 amends the Canada Labour Code, the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act, the Canadian Student Loans Act and the Public Service Employment Act. In short, the amendments introduced in this bill provide for an entitlement to a leave of absence from employment for members of the reserves who are on active duty, and prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who are members of the reserve force. In addition, reservists are exempt from the payment of interest and are able to defer the payment of their student loans while they are on active duty. The bill also provides federal public service employees who are members of the reserves the right to return to their position, or an equivalent position, when they have completed their active service.

Bill C-40 will apply to employees and employers under the legislative authority of Parliament. That includes activities under federal jurisdiction, such as air and marine transportation; interprovincial and international rail, road and pipeline transportation; banking; broadcasting; telecommunications; and Crown corporations.

A number of provinces, including my home province of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have enacted various forms of legislation in areas under provincial jurisdiction. By passing this bill, Canada will be providing the same rights to reservists as those enjoyed in other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. In so doing, it will also help Canada's military forces to augment its ranks with reserve members. At the same time, it will eliminate concerns held by reservists called to active duty that they might not have a job to return to when their active duty is completed.

In many ways, this bill builds on Canada's long-standing tradition of helping veterans resume their place in society. Following World War I, World War II and the Korean War, special provisions were put in place to help them resume normal lives. At that time, veterans were provided with assistance to complete or further their education, purchase land or equipment, and receive other supports so that they could better return to civilian life. This was done in recognition that those who made the sacrifice to serve their country in time of war were entitled to certain benefits upon their return to civilian life. Bill C-40 is a further recognition that we must protect certain rights of those reservists who have served their country.

Reservists are an important part of Canada's military. As was so eloquently pointed out by Senator Dallaire in a previous debate, the reserve force represents an essential component of the Canadian Forces as an integral part of the total force model. The primary role of the reserve force is to augment, sustain and support the regular force.

More than 34,000 men and women are members of the primary reserve. These people regularly train on a part-time basis and occasionally serve full-time alongside regular force members. In addition, the supplementary reserve, made up of former members of the regular and reserve forces, has over 28,000 members. They do not carry out training or active duty but instead provide a pool of personnel that could be called out in an emergency, such as ice storms in Quebec and Ontario or forest fires in British Columbia.

The Canadian men and women who are members of the navy, army or air force reserves are Canadians from all walks of life. For example, they are students, nurses, accountants, teachers, public servants, clerks, trades people and many others. They are motivated by the desire to serve their country if called upon and to participate in missions along with regular force members to promote peace, human rights and justice around the world. They have also contributed at home in Canada in numerous ways. As we speak, many of them are serving today in a number of roles, including combat roles in Afghanistan.

Currently, there are over 9,500 reservists on full-time employment in the Canadian Forces. Since 2000, more than 4,600 reservists have participated in missions in places such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Rwanda, Haiti and Somalia. They have been trained to the same standards as regular force members and, during missions, take their place alongside regular force members. Members of the reserves have played and will continue to play a key role in those missions.

Without the participation of members of the reserve force, Canada would have had difficulty meeting some of its international commitments. In the early 1990s, for example, Canada had to call up additional reservists to fulfill its duties during the UN involvement in the former Yugoslavia. Therefore, any measure that can help to facilitate the participation of members of the reserve would be most helpful to Canada when it is stretched to meet its international commitments.

In becoming reservists and in volunteering to participate in active duty, the men and women who are part of the Canadian forces reserves have done so with few or no formal guarantees that they can return to their jobs when their mission is completed. That they have done so is a further tribute to the sacrifices they and their families have made. I am sure that all Canadians acknowledge and recognize their contributions and pay tribute to their willingness to risk their lives or expose themselves to threats to their health and long-term well-being.

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This bill will also prohibit employers from discriminating against or penalizing employees who are reservists. I would like to note that this bill will allow the government, if necessary, to clarify certain terms to prescribe those circumstances in which an employer may be exempted. However, I am confident that most employers recognize the need to support our military and will make the needed adjustments to accommodate and respond to the needs of the Canadian Forces reserves.

Honourable senators, reservists who are prepared to risk their lives should not have to risk their livelihoods. I urge all of you to give speedy approval to the passage of Bill C-40.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are senators ready for the question? It was moved by the Honourable Senator Segal, seconded by the Honourable Senator Johnson, that this bill be read a second time.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to and bill read the second time.

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: When shall this bill be read a third time?

Hon. Hugh Segal: I move that this bill be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence for further consideration.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

On motion of Senator Segal, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

Citizenship Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon moved second reading of Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act.

He said: I am pleased to rise and open debate on Bill C-37, An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act.

We have all heard the stories of individuals who, through some provision in Canadian citizenship legislation, ceased to be citizens or were at risk of losing their citizenship. We have heard from people whose status was affected by the 1947 act and by the 1977 act, or amendments to them, depending on their situation — stories of border babies and other children born outside Canada; stories of automatic and unknown loss of citizenship, to name just a few.

Honourable senators, these heartbreaking stories have captured everyone's attention. They are the so-called "lost Canadians," people who ceased being citizens of this great country because of outdated provisions in former legislation. Those of us who deal regularly with issues of citizenship and immigration know well the value that all Canadians, those born in Canada and those who have immigrated here, place on citizenship.

Honourable senators, also know that Royal Assent was given late last year to the government's foreign adoption bill. The goal of the government's proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act was to provide fairness to those Canadian families who adopt children from other countries. Now that the law has come into effect, parents no longer have to go through the process of applying for permanent residence for their child before he or she is eligible for Canadian citizenship.

With respect to Bill C-37, I, along with many key stakeholders, applaud the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for introducing these long overdue amendments to the act, which will restore citizenship to certain individuals who ceased to be citizens, while giving citizenship to others who have never had it but have a Canadian parent.

Honourable senators, discovering you are not Canadian goes beyond your emotional ties to your country. It affects your ability to travel, your legal and financial matters and some of your rights in Canada. People need stability, simplicity and consistency in their citizenship status, elements that were not always found in the present and former acts.

Our government has been working hard to ensure that citizenship is conferred by law fairly and rationally, and Bill C-37 is the result. Bill C-37 is not about taking away citizenship from anyone who now has it. It is about addressing many of the situations created by past legislation, protecting citizenship for the future and opening Canada's arms once again to our lost Canadians.

Honourable senators, this is what this bill will do: First and foremost, anyone who is now a Canadian remains a Canadian. This includes those who are now citizens, even if they were born in the second or subsequent generations. Second, anyone who became a citizen under the Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947, and subsequently lost his or her citizenship, will have it restored. Third, anyone born in Canada, other than a child of a foreign diplomat on or after January 1, 1947, and subsequently lost his or her citizenship, will have it restored. Fourth, anyone naturalized as a citizen of Canada on or after January 1, 1947, and subsequently lost his or her citizenship, will have it restored. Finally, honourable senators, anyone born abroad to a Canadian citizen on or after January 1, 1947, who is not already a citizen will be a Canadian citizen if he or she is first generation born abroad.

The only exceptions would be those adults who renounced their citizenship with the Canadian government, those whose citizenship was revoked by the government because it was obtained by fraud, or those who failed to take the necessary action required under the current act to retain their citizenship.

I will be candid and say that as much as this bill will accomplish for Canada and for Canadians, there may yet exist a small number of cases that fall outside its parameters. I am sure all of this will come to light during discussions at committee; but that is why subsection 5(4) of the Citizenship Act exists and will continue to exist, so that the minister can make a recommendation to the Governor-in-Council that a grant of citizenship be made where it is warranted.

Another important aspect of Bill C-37 is that it ensures that a person's citizenship status will not be removed due to his or her inaction or failure to qualify by a certain date or age. It will accomplish this by removing the present citizenship retention rules, including exemption from these rules for persons who are less than 28 years of age who are now subject to them.

This improvement to the legislation was noted by William Janzen, a director with the Mennonite Central Committee Canada, who on December 11, 2007, wrote a letter to the members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration praising Bill C-37 and urging all members to approve the legislation as soon as possible.

According to Mr. Janzen, this retention requirement, while reasonable, often makes retaining one's citizenship status a long, involved and costly process. Thankfully, Bill C-37 proposes to do away with this requirement.

In terms of numbers, we do not know how many people might acquire citizenship under this bill because we do not know how many people who were born or naturalized in Canada left Canada, or how many people were born outside Canada to a Canadian parent. We would simply have to deal with each person individually who might come forward requesting access to services as a Canadian citizen. We are confident that people who are interested in their Canadian citizenship will contact the appropriate people.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, having studied this issue, has unanimously agreed that citizenship should no longer continue to be passed to endless generations born abroad, and should stop after the first generation. The Citizenship Act currently states that children born to Canadian parents outside of Canada are Canadian citizens. If they are second generation born abroad, they lose their citizenship status on their twenty-eighth birthday if they do not take certain actions by that date.

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This applies to each generation born abroad as long as the parent was a citizen at the time of the child's birth. If the act is not amended, we will continue to have Canadian citizens without any knowledge of our country, its history and its values living abroad for endless generations.

The legacy of Canadian citizenship should not continue to be passed on through endless generations living abroad.

Honourable senators, in closing, I thank the witnesses who came before the House of Commons standing committee for telling their stories and for contributing to this historic moment. It took great courage and stamina to do what they did and they deserve our applause. I also thank the members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration for the time they devoted to studying this issue and for their unanimous recommendation. I am confident that the measures the minister has proposed will address the concerns or complications the current and former legislation may have created for the people of our country.

I remind honourable senators that countless lost Canadians are counting on us to pass Bill C-37. This legislation is long overdue. In fact, just recently, Don Chapman, leader of the Lost Canadian Organization, said:

. . . all the key players who are going to be affected by this legislation will agree it is time to pass the legislation right now, as is.

I hope honourable senators will feel the same way after this legislation has had appropriate discussion in our committee.

Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, Senator Keon is a distinguished member of the Order of Canada, so I am particularly pleased to respond to him today on Bill C-37, An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act.

The bill proposes to restore citizenship, as he has said, to many of those who lost it as a result of patchwork changes to the Citizenship Act over the past 60 years. As Senator Keon said, the people affected have come to be known as the "lost Canadians."

Three years ago, my colleague Senator Cook stood before you and said:

Honourable senators, we have an extraordinary opportunity to right a wrong and to give meaningful consideration to those individuals who have been disadvantaged by the operation of the 1947 Citizenship Act.

Senator Cook was referring to Bill S-2 which helped restore citizenship to one group of the "lost Canadians."

Today, we are trying to restore citizenship for other groups. Bill S-2 was started in the Senate by Senator Kinsella. It received unanimous consent in the other place, to great applause in this place. However, it was the Senate that first brought to light the injustices of the 1947 act, including Canada's failure to uphold article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. With Bill C-37, we have come full circle as many new categories of "lost Canadians" have recently been discovered.

The world has been watching us. In the September 2007 issue of the United Nations Refugees Magazine, Canada was highlighted as an offending country with regard to statelessness with the words: "A few slip-ups in the framing of citizenship law can have extraordinary repercussions." They were referring to our "lost Canadians." That is not all. The Economist published an article entitled "Lost in Kafkaland, When is a Canadian not a Canadian?"

It seems that inadvertently losing citizenship in Canada is not that difficult to do. One can be a "border baby," a Canadian born in a U.S. hospital; a war bride from World War II; or one of the war bride's children.

Some foreign-born "lost Canadians" did not realize that if they did not have a Canadian domicile on their twenty-fourth birthday, they could automatically lose citizenship. There are the Mennonites, such fine people who, for generations, travelled south and had children in places like Mexico. There are children whose fathers took out citizenship in other countries, people born out of wedlock or possibly born to a Canadian military family overseas.

It is estimated there could be as many as 250,000 people directly affected with loss of citizenship. Most are currently living in Canada and do not realize they may not be citizens. To his horror, our own Senator Dallaire discovered in the early 1970s, when he was a captain in the Canadian Army, that he had lost his status. He was born to a Dutch war bride and a Canadian soldier father.

Last year, Liberal MP Marlene Jennings' citizenship came into question. Her father had been an American. Last fall, one of our own World War II soldiers, Guy Valliare of Montreal, was told only after he had gone into the hospital that he had ceased to be a Canadian. Like Ms. Jennings, he was born in Canada to an American father.

Johan Teichroeb was denied his citizenship for an entirely different reason. In his own words:

I was born in Mexico in February of 1980. My parents moved to Manitoba when I was six months old.

They applied for citizenship for me, and I received it on November 6, 1980. I grew up in Canada. I went to school here. I joined the workforce when I was 16 years old and became a truck driver.

It was always my dream to become a truck driver. Then I heard I was in the category to renew my citizenship before I was 28, so I did that.

I sent in the application late in 2002. One year later, I received a letter stating that I had never been a Canadian and I could not retain my citizenship because my grandfather was born out of wedlock.

Let me repeat that: ". . . because my grandfather was born out of wedlock."

Vancouver-born Kathleen Fremont was asked to represent Canada as a swimmer in the 1936 Olympics. During World War II, she joined the Canadian Air Force. After the war, she and her husband moved to the United States. She did not realize that by taking out U.S. citizenship she would lose her Canadian status. However, that is what happened. Today, she wants to return to Vancouver to take care of her aging Canadian World War II-veteran brother but she is not considered a Canadian.

Another Canadian-born Air Force veteran is Bill Doobenen. He is now facing a deportation order. Like Ms. Fremont, he took out U.S. citizenship. Bill C-37 is his last chance to remain in the country he so proudly defended in our Armed Forces.

My own mother discovered in the 1960s, to her horror, that she was not a Canadian. She had been brought to Canada in 1911 as a baby by her British parents and always assumed she was Canadian. She carried a Canadian passport. She always assumed she was a Canadian until the government refused to renew her passport.

Every person I have mentioned is covered under Bill C-37, allowing a dignified return to the country they were either born in, grew up in, defended or, at one time, called their own.

The original law that defined who belonged in Canada was written in 1868 and was called the Canadian Nationals Act. The language taken from British law stated word for word:

. . . married women, minors, lunatics, and idiots, shall be classified under the same disability for their national status.

That archaic law was the basis for the 1947 Citizenship Act and was not corrected in the 1977 act.

Canada was not alone in using such antiquated language. Many other British colonies had also done the same. Today, however, Canada is more or less alone among the former British colonies in not welcoming back our lost citizens.

Ironically, last July 1, on Canada Day, Australia welcomed home their lost Australians. Trinidad did that almost eight years ago. India has corrected its respective legislation, as has South Africa and others. It is now time for Canada to do the same.

While Bill C-37 is a major advance, it does not completely solve the problem. The current Citizenship Act has become a barnacled creation, cobbled together with multiple patches and is badly in need of a complete rewrite.

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Bill C-37 fixes the legislation for a vast majority of the lost Canadians, but not all of them. There are still questions, as Senator Keon has said, of the second generation born abroad. Specifically, Bill C-37 does not cover those who have formally renounced their Canadian citizenship — people such as Conrad Black — or those born in Canada to a foreign diplomat or those who obtain citizenship by fraud.

Recently, there was a Federal Court of Appeal decision declaring that Canadian citizenship did not exist prior to January 1, 1947, so Bill C-37 does not apply to people who ceased to be Canadian prior to that date. The only remedy for the small numbers of people remaining in the non-covered positions will be a ministerial grant decided on a case-by-case basis.

Be advised that Bill C-37 will not make anyone stateless; it will not cause anyone to lose their citizenship, as Canada is a signatory to the United Nations' edict against statelessness. In fact, Bill C-37 helps to restore citizenship to many people who are currently stateless.

It must be noted that Bill C-37 is not the long-term answer. In that regard, only a new and complete Citizenship Act rewrite will suffice. The problem with a completely new Citizenship Act for the lost Canadians is that it will take too long for most of them. They are getting older, and many would not live to see their birthright restored.

The issue of future generations, who belongs and what is a Canadian, is for the next rewrite, which I urge should commence as soon as this bill becomes law. Until then, the solution is Bill C-37.

To summarize, no longer should women and children be considered as chattels of a man. We are too great a country to allow this approach to continue. It is now time to show fairness, compassion and regard for human rights in our citizenship laws.

Article 7 and 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Canada ratified, clearly state:

You have the right to a nationality (to belong to a country), and you have the right to an identity.

I urge honourable senators to adopt this bill in principle so that it will be promptly referred to committee for further study.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate? 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?

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.

Referred To Committee

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

On motion of Senator Keon, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

Parliament of Canada Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moore, seconded by the Honourable Senator Banks, for the second reading of Bill S-224, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (vacancies). —(Honourable Senator Comeau)

Hon. Bert Brown: Honourable senators, I rise to speak on Bill S-224, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act respecting Senate vacancies. It is a bill to force the Prime Minister to appoint senators based on the length of current vacancies.

The Library of Parliament has provided me with information on past vacancies in the Senate. They provided data for every province. I will not bore you with all the details but I will provide the highlights.

At one point, Alberta had a vacancy for six years and seven days; Saskatchewan had one for six years and 319 days; New Brunswick had a vacancy for six years and 26 days; Manitoba holds the record for a vacancy that went on for eight years and 144 days.

I know our Constitution mentions that the Governor General shall appoint senators. However, over the last 140 years, prime ministers have actually chosen who would be appointed. While the Prime Minister is not mentioned in the Constitution, this is a matter of precedent. I would suggest that vacancies in the Senate have taken on that same aspect; they have been filled at the whim of the Prime Minister of the day.

However, I would like to give honourable senators some points on the case that we are making for initiating Senate reform. Bill S-224 could serve some purpose along those lines. Support for Senate reform in the public polls has been at 79 per cent, going as high as 83 per cent over the last year or two. It has been as low as 63 per cent over the last three or four years. For the first time in history, Canada has a Prime Minister who is now publicly committed to the election of senators.

Real Senate reform, we believe, can benefit every province, large and small, as well as minority interests within the provinces. Reform of the Senate is an important enough issue of long-standing interest to Canadians to warrant the focus of the provincial legislatures as a single issue.

The call from the Western provinces for a Triple-E Senate was never meant as an attack on Central Canada or Atlantic Canada but as a desire for a real voice and a real vote in Canada's upper house. The Meech Lake Accord failed because it did not address the desires of provinces outside of Central Canada. The Charlottetown accord was rejected by the majority of Canadians and the majority of provinces because it tried to address too many issues under one blanket constitutional proposal.

The federation of the provinces is a worthwhile sounding board for the concerns of premiers. However, because it convenes only a few times a year, there is not engaging input ongoing into federal legislation. Only an elected Senate, in session in conjunction with the House of Commons, can be capable of continuous input into proposed federal legislation, backed up with a vote and, if necessary, a veto by a majority of provincially elected representatives.

A reformed Senate could have prevented past majority governments from taking Canada to the brink of financial disaster. Our nation needs a counterbalance for federal parties that pursue party interests by buying votes on the national credit card. Only a reformed Senate can prevent any future return to a single party putting its interests ahead of national concerns.

Senate reform does not require a constitutional amendment. Alberta has held three senatorial elections, and the winners of two of those decisions have been appointed without constitutional change. The requirements for a prime minister to appoint elected senators have always existed. They are, first, a prime minister who is committed to respecting provincial election results and, second, provinces that are willing to hold senatorial elections.

There are 12 existing vacancies in 8 provinces. Before 2008 ends, there will be 15 vacancies in 9 provinces. If a number of provincial legislatures grasp this historic opportunity, they can have elected representatives to protect and forward their interests in the upper house daily.

It is possible to have a majority of elected senators within less than eight years simply by filling naturally occurring retirement vacancies with provincially elected representatives. That time frame provides the provincial governments with eight years to discuss and agree upon the necessary conditions for a stand-alone constitutional amendment for a change in numerical representation in the Senate by province, whether those numbers are half of equality numbers to the larger provinces, three quarters of equality or full equality. The provinces will have to decide.

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The second condition would require an agreement on an override provision for the House of Commons to assuage the fears of those who oppose an elected Senate with veto powers.

The provinces and their leaders have a time-limited opportunity with a willing Prime Minister and a huge majority of Canadians who want to democratize their Senate for the 21st century.

Honourable senators, I have defended this chamber for 24 years. At the same time, I have worked for its reform. It is possible for this chamber to be democratic in the future and to vote independent of the leaders in that other place. I work for that day.

Honourable senators, I ask and I move that this bill be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: Question!

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

On motion of Senator Moore, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Tardif, for the second reading of Bill S-209, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children).—(Honourable Senator Comeau)

Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise to address Bill S-209, which has been brought before us once again by Senator Hervieux-Payette. First, I would like to commend the senator for bringing forth this issue, as I am sure we can agree that the prevention of violence against children is a goal we all share.

I think it would be fair to say that every party, both here and in the other place, would wholeheartedly agree that we must never condone violence against children and that we have a responsibility to protect our children from violence. Indeed, Canadians from all walks of life expect that we, as parliamentarians, will stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. In the case of Bill S-209, however, I am concerned that we would be giving ourselves a false sense of security and would be failing all Canadians — but, above all, our children.

In my view, this bill is a knee-jerk reaction to a deeper issue. Senator Hervieux-Payette is proposing that if we just repealed one clause of the Criminal Code, violence against children would end in this country. If this were possible, I would throw my support behind Bill S-209 and embrace it in a heartbeat. However, this concept is overly simplistic; it is merely an exercise in political spin designed to side-step the real issues with regard to violence against children.

While I am eager to support legislation that positively impacts children, I cannot in good faith support the bill before us. Frankly, I believe that our children deserve better than this sort of political tinkering.

I want for one moment to take a look at the judicial history associated with section 43 of the Criminal Code. We are all aware that section 43 has been before the Supreme Court on a number of occasions in recent history. I hope that we would all defer to the wisdom of our Supreme Court justices to be able to make the right call, so to speak. I am certain that they have considered the issue with appropriate and thorough care, and would never pass any decision without taking a long and sober look at the issue and the application of law in this country.

Honourable senators, I think the reason they decided to continue to uphold section 43 is they recognize the legal merits as well as the pragmatic effects of its application. For instance, the last time this issue was before the Supreme Court, which was back in 2004, they examined this very issue and once again decided to uphold section 43 of the Criminal Code. In reaching its conclusion, the court determined that section 43 did not violate a child's rights to security and equality. Further, the court determined that section 43 does not represent cruel and unusual punishment. They considered the actual wording of the clause and applied their decision based on the best interests of children and what is considered reasonable in Canadian society.

Moreover, section 43 applies not only to parents but also to educators and those standing in the place of a parent. Therefore, the court had to consider that these people not only provide our children with dependable and safe environments, but they also incur the responsibility of providing them with the guidance and the discipline required to promote a healthy and safe childhood as they grow and mature into young adults.

Honourable senators, section 43 does not give parents or other adults the right to abuse children. If it did, I am sure that the Supreme Court would have struck it down long ago, and rightfully so. However, the fact of the matter is that the court recognized that section 43 protects parents, and specific individuals acting as parents, from criminal charges being laid for carrying out the reasonable restraint of minors in their care.

This brings us to the heart of the matter. If section 43 is struck down, as Senator Hervieux-Payette would prefer, we will find ourselves in a situation where the provincial courts would be required to charge parents with assault if they decide to discipline their children. Any time a parent buckles a reluctant child in a car seat, or removes a child in the middle of a full-blown tantrum from a shopping mall, church, playground, or any other place, the end result could very well be a criminal charge. Imagine having a criminal charge as a result of protecting or disciplining your child.

Ultimately, by repealing section 43, we will be creating a vacuum within the Criminal Code. Reasonable actions that are now protected under section 43 will no longer have protective status in the law. This, of course, would make it incumbent on the legal system to consider any reasonable restraint enacted by parents or guardians to be tantamount to common assault. Again, parents acting reasonably would be in danger of prosecution.

The assault provisions of the Criminal Code are enshrined through jurisprudence and capture a wide range of actions. The question that begs to be asked is do we really want to start throwing well-meaning parents into prison for disciplining their children? Does this not seem like the height of both arrogance and absurdity?

Senator Segal: Spare the rod, spoil the child.

Senator Cochrane: Honourable senators, I would like you to consider what this bill would mean for our schoolteachers.

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The Canadian Teachers' Federation, the national voice of over 240,000 teachers across the country, has looked into this matter and, by the way, they were pleased with the Supreme Court ruling in favour of maintaining section 43 of the Criminal Code. The organization opposes the use of corporal punishment and maintains that section 43 allows teachers to intervene, when appropriate and without fear of criminal prosecution, in situations that are commonplace in today's classrooms.

Among the situations they cite as examples are: protecting students and teachers when a fight breaks out at school; restraining students if necessary; escorting uncooperative students to the principal's office; removing disruptive students who refuse to leave the classroom; and placing a young student on a bus who refuses to board the bus, particularly when on a field trip.

Honourable senators, if we pass this proposed legislation, which would mean that the protection afforded under section 43 would be gone, then in each of the situations I have just described, the teacher would automatically face assault charges.

Senator Comeau: Chaos.

Senator Cochrane: Honourable senators, as a former teacher I can tell you that students and teachers would be more vulnerable than ever. This matter concerns me greatly. I am sure Senator Cordy and other honourable senators who have taught in classrooms across the country can appreciate the seriousness of these concerns.

The implications of this proposed legislation could spiral down to the ridiculous, where an adult guardian could face criminal prosecution for buckling a child into a car seat. To dismiss these extreme examples as simple exaggerations fails to account for the accepted interpretation of the assault provisions of the Criminal Code. In repealing section 43, the provisions would operate in a vacuum. The assault provisions are well defined, and toying with them is ill-advised as it would reopen the assault provisions to further legal debate and frustrate genuine criminal proceedings.

Honourable senators, I urge you to practice common sense with regard to Bill S-209. Nobody wants to see any harm brought to our children. At the same time, nobody wants to see criminal proceedings being brought against well-meaning parents, either. Political expedience and manoeuvring should never be used to create a situation where we jeopardize the rule of law in favour of optics.

If we head down this road, then we head down a slippery slope of no return. I, for one, cannot do this. I ask all of you to heed this warning and oppose this bill. Bill S-209 will do nothing to improve the safety of our children. Instead, it will ensure that those entrusted with the safety of our children are efficiently and systematically prosecuted.

On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.

Canada Securities Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded by the Honourable Senator Stollery, for the second reading of Bill S-211, An Act to regulate securities and to provide for a single securities commission for Canada.—(Honourable Senator Meighen)

Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, I am pleased to continue second reading debate of Bill S-211, to regulate securities and to provide for a single securities commission for Canada. The bill, which appears to be largely modeled on the Ontario Securities Act, calls for the replacement of provincial securities regulators with a single federal regulator administering a new federal securities law.

Let me begin by saying that I appreciate very much Senator Grafstein's excellent initiative and his strong support for the notion that Canada's security regulation framework needs improvement, and quickly. This is important for Canada's capital markets, and his bill opens the field for debate on related issues and on alternative opportunities and approaches.

In his testimony before our Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce last December, David Dodge, former governor of the Bank of Canada, testified that it was difficult to determine the penalty that Canada is now paying for retaining the current multi-level securities regulator system. A good securities framework, he noted, would enable the markets to function efficiently and with sufficient flexibility to ensure that the system is not overburdened with regulation.

At the end of the day, honourable senators, no matter how it is structured, it is important that Canada's securities framework be tied together with a well-coordinated enforcement system.

In this context, I should note that the Minister of Finance also appeared before our committee. He spoke about the need to ensure the proper flow of capital within our country and the importance of providing Canadians with access to opportunities. He pointed out that the Government of Canada has been advocating mutual recognition of securities regulators, or free trade in securities within the G7, a notion which was favourably received and for which Canada will be drafting a proposal for discussion at the next meeting of the G7 finance ministers dealing with this particular subject.

Closer to home, our government has developed within Budget 2007 a plan for Canada called "Creating a Canadian Advantage in Global Capital Markets." It involves the creation of a common securities regulator, which is somewhat different from the proposal contained in Senator Grafstein's bill.

Honourable senators, although "common" and "single" are sometimes used interchangeably, a single regulator is generally understood to mean one regulator administering one securities act, with responsibility for the regulation of securities throughout the country. Indeed, in 2003, the Wise Persons Committee recommended the establishment of a single regulator under a federal statute. The Minister of Finance would oversee the operation of the securities commission, albeit with structures to provide for input by provinces and territories. While that recommendation undoubtedly has considerable merit, it may or may not be achievable.

The government's plan, however, has perhaps a greater chance of success in that it involves a common regulator, which implies the participation of willing governments in establishing a joint organization responsible for the regulation of securities in their respective jurisdictions. In 2006, the Crawford panel recommended just this model. A common regulator emphasizes and, indeed, requires cooperation among all levels of government, rather than the federal government simply going it alone.

This plan contains four critical building blocks. First, the government is seeking to enhance the regulatory efficiency by creating a common securities regulator that is more principles-based, proportionate and tailored to the unique makeup of Canada's capital markets — "proportionate," honourable senators, meaning multi-tiered, so as to take into consideration the different needs of different sized companies and jurisdictions.

Second, our plan seeks to strengthen market integrity by enhancing investor protection, pursuing the highest standards of governance and enforcing our laws more vigorously.

The third part of our plan is the creation of greater opportunities for business and investors by pursuing free trade in securities with the United States and other G7 countries.

Finally, the fourth building block is to improve investor information by promoting financial literacy, particularly for young Canadians.

In view of the proposal contained in Bill S-211 for a single regulator, I would like to focus the remainder of my remarks on the first building block of the government's capital markets plan, namely, the adoption of a common securities regulator.

Canada has made tremendous strides in recent years and now enjoys the strongest economic fundamentals in a generation. We have a highly educated workforce, and yet, honourable senators, investors are passing us by. Why is that? The fact is that Canada has a capital markets system that seems to be holding us back. For many of those on the outside looking in, our system appears to be cumbersome, fragmented, slow and repetitive. The proper tools of enforcement also seem to be weak, or even missing. Yet some provinces argue that the answer to our competitive disadvantage can be found in our present system, or even in an improved passport-style system of securities regulators. Indeed, there have been some recent initiatives to narrow regulatory differences and to harmonize and streamline securities laws. These are undoubtedly important steps on the road to achieving a more efficient and effective securities regulatory system but, unfortunately, they simply do not go far enough, nor do they go fast enough.

The fact of the matter is that our present passport system is clearly inadequate to allow Canada to compete successfully at the international level. For example, with the passport system, investors will still be dealing with 13 securities regulators, with 13 sets of laws, however harmonized, and with 13 sets of fees. This is just too cumbersome. The passport system does not have a national coordination of enforcement activities, nor does it address our need to improve policy making. It is still necessary to obtain agreement from 13 regulators to make changes to the rules — and we all know how difficult that is.

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Honourable senators, we can no longer afford to let opportunities pass us by. Emerging markets are becoming more competitive in the quickening race to attract capital. The bottom line is that businesses and investors have choices. They can choose one of a dozen markets to address: markets with few impediments; markets where transactions are conducted more efficiently; and, markets where the standards of enforcement are common and policy making is more responsive.

Put simply, if we want Canada to be a winner in the race to attract capital, we must make changes to our system now. A common securities regulator will make our markets more responsive by creating a decision-making body to coordinate the views of all jurisdictions promptly and fairly. In this regard, I refer honourable senators to the precedent of the Canada Pension Plan, although it differs in some respects.

Recent developments in global capital markets underscore the need for policy and regulatory capacity that can be applied quickly and effectively to address new and emerging issues. The advantages are significant. A common securities regulator would improve market efficiency and ensure the best use of money and resources by making the system more efficient to operate and by lowering costs. A common regulator would improve enforcement and better protect investors with a common set of sanctions and remedies and better enforcement across the country. It would serve as a single contact for law enforcement agencies, both at home and abroad, to share information and detect market fraud. A common regulator would better serve our common interests by having a structure that would allow all regions in the country to participate in market regulation in a more meaningful and constructive way. A common regulator would allow Canada to move towards a simpler, more principles-based regulation. Too many complex rules get in the way of both efficient financing and effective investor protection.

The bottom line is that a common regulator would allow Canada to speak with one voice on the international stage. The Minister of Finance made it clear that we must look beyond the present passport system and that we cannot continue to ignore what is happening outside our borders. He recently announced the creation of an expert panel charged with providing advice and recommendations on securities regulation in Canada. Chaired by the Honourable Tom Hockin, former Minister of State (Finance) and President of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada, the panel will provide independent advice and recommendations to federal, provincial and territorial ministers on the best way forward to improve securities regulation in Canada.

A final report and draft model securities act will be presented to Minister Flaherty by the end of 2008. Specifically, the panel will advise Minister Flaherty on the outcomes, principles and performance measures needed to pursue a Canadian advantage in global capital markets; how Canada could best promote and advance proportionate, more principles-based regulation; how this could facilitate and be reinforced by better enforcement; and how this regulatory approach could be implemented under a passport system or under a model common act with a common securities regulator. The final recommendation would be the transition path, including key steps and timelines, to effect proposed changes to the content, structure and enforcement of regulation.

The Government of Canada supports a common securities regulator, based on the willing participation of provinces and territories. It envisages a regulator with clear lines of accountability, providing a meaningful voice to all participating jurisdictions and market participations, not one dominated by any particular region.

A common securities regulator would rebalance the governance of the Canadian framework, be responsive to business and investors in all jurisdictions, and be better positioned to support Canada's domestic and international capital markets activity and the Canadian economy more broadly.

Honourable senators, I fully agree with Senator Grafstein that the time has come to deal with the growing problems encountered in our multi-level regulatory markets. However, as I indicated, the method that seems to offer the best chance of success for the immediate future is that of a common securities regulator, generally along the lines suggested by the Crawford panel in June 2006.

In closing, I wish to quote from some of the more relevant passages of that panel to honourable senators. The study states:

We envision a Canadian Securities Commission that preserves the best of provincial expertise and specialized knowledge, administers a single Canadian Securities Act, treats all issuers and investors with consistent fairness, respects jurisdictional constitutional rights and welcomes the world to participate in our economic opportunities.

Further, the panel said:

Our blueprint proposes that the provinces and territories develop a national framework that pools regulatory responsibilities and resources, respects the constitutional authority and oversight of each jurisdiction and ensures that no jurisdiction or government dominates the regulator's operations or policy agenda. Furthermore, we recommend inclusion of the federal government as a participant so as to augment the powers of the Canadian Securities Commission.

Finally, they say:

To achieve uniform regulation, it is proposed that all participating jurisdictions would adopt by reference legislation enacted by one province as the Canadian Securities Act.

Even if, as has been argued by Senator Grafstein, this matter of securities regulation technically falls within a constitutional power of the federal government, provinces have been deeply engaged in this area for a long time. To simply step forward and sweep all that aside does not seem like a method calculated to ensure harmony within a federation. If honourable senators will permit me one last quote from the Crawford panel:

It is well understood that a single securities regulator will only succeed if it is built on existing provincial strengths and if it safeguards against domination by one jurisdiction.

Senator Grafstein argues that adequate accountability can only be achieved through a single, federal regulator. Here, again, the Crawford panel answers by stating:

Our blueprint builds in checks and balances on two critical levels. One is political oversight of the Canadian Securities Commission by a Council of Ministers. The other is arm's length governance by competent fiduciaries on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Securities Commission. These checks and balances will prevent domination by any jurisdiction. Our model incorporates considerable transparency and lines of accountability to governments, the public and the investment community.

In conclusion, honourable senators, our government's plan for a common securities regulator will administer proportionate, principles-based or tiered regulation for the benefit of investors, businesses and the economy.

While I support the general intent of my colleague's bill, and certainly think it merits further discussion, I also believe we would benefit from expert testimony relating to it. Accordingly, I would hope that this item will be sent soon to committee for further study.

On motion of Senator Tardif, for Senator Hervieux-Payette, debate adjourned.

Constitution Act, 1867

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Tommy Banks moved second reading of Bill S-229, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Property qualifications of Senators).—(Honourable Senator Banks)

He said: Honourable senators, this is a simple bill that deals with a simple shortcoming. It deals with the fact that the Constitution presently requires that, before a person is eligible to be appointed to the Senate by Her Excellency, he or she must be in possession of $4,000 of real property.

This bill seeks to redress that shortfall, which I think everyone would agree is antediluvian. The bill, in the opinion of many, falls into the category of those constitutional amendments which might be made by Parliament acting alone, but I have decided in the process to use a safer, more courteous and more conservative approach. The provision made a lot of sense, I suspect, in 1867. Putting aside, however, the purposes for which it was put in place, the amount of real property that is required in this part of the constitution would be inappropriate today if it were intended as a roadblock or as a criterion for membership.

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Putting that matter aside as well, the question is: why was that provision there in the first place? It is obvious that the only possible reason for it was to protect the landed interests from the excesses of the rabble in the other place. That may well have been in order in 1867. However, I think there is no one here today who would argue that, in respect of the ownership of property, that provision is appropriate today, and who would not agree that that should not be a condition of membership in this place.

That, I think, is the only explicable purpose for this provision being there in the first place. I think we would all agree that it is inappropriate now. An apartment dweller or someone who rents a house and lives there would, by definition, be ineligible for appointment to this place by Her Excellency. We have all heard stories, and they are not just stories but anecdotal facts, of persons, having been presented with the possibility of being appointed to this place, having to go out and purchase somebody's garage or back lot or an acre of property someplace in the province in which they reside. This provision has no place today in the 21st century in the Senate.

It would be a simple thing to say that we should simply repeal that part of the Constitution and reword it. The bill before you, however, does not simply do that, or only do that. It does repeal that section of the act, per se, but it also takes into account that there is a difference in the province of Quebec. As I understand it, senators in other parts of Canada represent the entire province in which they reside and for which purpose they are appointed here. In Quebec, however, the 24 senators represent 24 specific senatorial divisions, which is a holdover from a previous time. That was put in place at the time of Confederation. It is necessary in Quebec alone that the property referred to in this provision must be owned by the prospective senator in the senatorial district that they will represent here. An examination would find that the Quebec senators who are here do not include among them many senators who actually "reside," in the normal sense of the word, in — although they own property therein — the senatorial division that they represent in this place. In conjunction with this bill, I commend your attention to Motion No. 88 on the Order Paper today, which takes into account that provision.

I referred earlier to those who believe this amendment can be made by Parliament alone. There are also those who believe that because of this provision and because it is in respect of Quebec in particular, it would be most prudent to obtain the agreement of the Province of Quebec for this change. If you will note the coming into force provisions of the bill before you, those provisions talk about coming into force at the later of the dates of Royal Assent or the issuance of a proclamation under the Great Seal of Canada acknowledging that Quebec has agreed to this provision.

I hope honourable senators will understand that this is in no way partisan and in no way political. It is simply prudent that, in this place, this provision should not be an impediment to membership. I hope all senators will pay due attention to this bill.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Would the honourable senator take a question? Quebec is the only province where one has to have property in a specific region. In the honourable senator's research of the initial reasons for this provision, was he able to determine that the very first senators from those specific regions were required to reside in that area and, if not, why would that not have been the case?

Senator Banks: I do not know. I cannot see into the minds of the Fathers of Confederation, but the requirement in the Constitution is that those senators own property in, but not necessarily reside in those senatorial divisions. I believe that is correct.

It is also worth noting that, so long as it is required that a Quebec senator own property, and I think the intent of that might have been to reside in a senatorial division, that is fine for the part of Quebec that is represented by those 24 senatorial divisions. However, that was Quebec as it existed at the time of Confederation. Quebec is now substantially larger than that. If you assume that the residency and property requirements indicate representation of a particular region, there are parts of Quebec that are unrepresented. I suggest that the effect of this motion and this bill, when they occur in confluence, would be to result in the fact that Quebec senators would represent Quebec.

On motion of Senator Tkachuk, debate adjourned.

Excise Tax Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Lorna Milne moved second reading of Bill S-230, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (zero-rating of supply of cut fresh fruit).—(Honourable Senator Milne)

She said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to present to you Bill S-230. It is designed to free all Canadians from the unnecessary and uneven application of the Goods and Services Tax on cut fruit. It is a very simple proposal. It is a one-page bill that, if passed, will save Canadians money and ensure the Government of Canada is consistent in its messaging so that it will no longer unnecessarily penalize Canadians for making healthy dietary choices.

In grocery stores across Canada, consumers have been noticing that fruit located in the canned goods section is not subject to the GST. In addition, mixed fruit, if it is sold in a container that is vacuum sealed, is not subject to the GST. However, if the identical fruit is cut fresh and then combined with a second fruit, often no more than just a garnish used for presentation, it is subject to the GST. Once two fruits are combined, regardless of their quantities, and not vacuum sealed, it is considered a salad in the eyes of the Excise Tax Act and subject to the GST.

All of this leads to consumers complaining to store management about the applicability of the goods and service tax when it comes to the cost of their fruit. It is my belief that this consumer confusion is unnecessary. It should not be up to grocers to attempt to explain to customers the minute details of our taxation system.

Another complaint regularly raised by concerned consumers regarding their fruit purchases involves the mixed messages that the Government of Canada is sending to them. On the one hand, fresh-cut fruit is subject to a tax collected by the Canadian Revenue Agency while, on the other hand, Health Canada is telling Canadians they should consume seven to ten servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Taxing these items causes inconsistencies between government messages. Is it more important for the Canadian Revenue Agency to collect those few cents on specific types of packages of fruit, or for Canadians to make healthy dietary choices?

Senator Segal: Do not start on the trans fat.

Senator Milne: There is no trans fat in fruit.

Must buying fresh fruit remain subject to a sin tax forever? I am sure that if we asked those grocers whose time is taken up by explaining the nuances of GST applicability, they would tell you that the even application of the goods and service tax on all cut fruit purchases would be a welcome relief.

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Honourable senators, the amendment outlined in this bill would ensure that the consumer is not paying taxes on what is a basic fresh fruit item at the same time as the canned or vacuum-sealed equivalent, often identical in appearance, is not taxed.

The Excise Tax Act governs the application of the GST. Schedule VI of the act is entitled Zero-Rated Supplies. Within the schedule, Part III establishes that "basic groceries" are zero-rated unless further listed in the category "other than." To address the cut fruit issue, this bill clarifies item (o.1) which presently puts cut fruit in the "other than" category and reads: "salads not canned or vacuum sealed..."

Based on current market information, this would result in an exemption for products that sell for approximately $30 million annually. As a result, this simple change would cost the federal government $1.5 million in foregone GST revenue, a mere pittance in budgetary terms.

In closing, I thank honourable senators for their patience this afternoon. I encourage you to learn more about this legislative initiative so you will arrive at the same conclusion that I did regarding the uneven and unfair application of the Goods and Services Tax on cut fruit. Addressing this issue in a thoughtful manner will eliminate consumer confusion and allow the Government of Canada to send a consistent message to Canadians — that they should not be unfairly taxed for healthy dietary choices.

I welcome any questions honourable senators may have and I look forward to hearing other contributions on this item.

On motion of Senator Cools, debate adjourned.

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Goldstein, seconded by the Honourable Senator Campbell, for the second reading of Bill C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111 and 171). —(Honourable Senator Comeau)

Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, I believe we have an understanding about this item.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the adjournment so that provides me with some minutes to say a few words.

The Honourable Senator Goldstein and I had a discussion on Bill C-280 this morning. The discussion centred on the possibility of proposing an amendment at committee stage. If this bill were to become law as it stands now, it would become law right away. That would give no leeway for the government to prepare the ground for the implementation of the bill. The bill will take effect immediately upon receiving Royal Assent.

My understanding was that Senator Goldstein was to determine whether the sponsors of the bill were receptive to an amendment that would provide the government with an implementation period of, for example, 180 days. If the sponsors were receptive to an amendment at committee, not to preclude what will happen at committee, and if the other side were to be receptive, that would be satisfactory to us.

I was waiting for Senator Goldstein to indicate whether this would be acceptable to his side and, if so, I would be more than pleased to send the bill to committee.

Senator Goldstein: Honourable senators, I believe the statement made by Senator Comeau reflects what can happen in this place with a modest amount of goodwill. Senator Comeau has demonstrated, as he always does, an abundance of that goodwill in agreeing that this bill can go forward to committee. I would agree that there be a period of 180 days, if that is the will of the government, to allow the structure to be developed for the implementation of the bill. Accordingly, I move the question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Goldstein that this bill be read the second time. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Motion agreed to and bill read second time.

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

Hon. Yoine Goldstein: I move that the bill be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

Hon. Lorna Milne: Human rights.

Senator Goldstein: By your leave, honourable senators, I understand that the bill ought to be referred to Human Rights. May I amend my motion to have it read that it be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights?

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Before we vote, honourable senators, I understood that we had decided to refer the bill to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

Senator Goldstein: I frankly thought so, too. I do not care where it goes.

Senator Comeau: Why do not we agree to send it to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology?

Senator Goldstein: Senator Eggleton, who chairs that committee, has complained in this chamber in the past, and privately to me, that his committee is swamped with legislation. That is not to say that the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights is any less swamped. However, the Human Rights Committee appears to be more willing to accept this bill. If Senator Comeau would agree, I propose that the bill be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights.

Senator Comeau: That is fine.

On motion of Senator Goldstein, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights.

(1630)

Financial Administration Act Bank of Canada Act

Bill to Amend—Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the sixth report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, (Bill S-201, An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act and the Bank of Canada Act (quarterly financial reports), with amendments), presented in the Senate on February 27, 2008.

Hon. Joseph A. Day moved adoption of the report.

He said: Honourable senators, I am obligated to report any amendments made to bills referred to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. The committee recommended amendments in its report and so, pursuant to rule 99 of the Rules of the Senate, I will explain briefly. Most importantly, the amendments were made with the approval of the sponsor of Bill S-201, Senator Segal.

Bill S-201 is the reincarnation of Bill S-217 from a previous session of Parliament. The committee held hearings on the bill and when it became apparent that some changes were required to the bill, they were made voluntarily by Senator Segal. In this session, the committee proceeded to consideration of Bill S-201 with more hearings and determined that it would be appropriate to make additional amendments.

Honourable senators will know that Bill S-201 deals with an initiative requiring quarterly reporting of government departments, agencies and the Bank of Canada. It is also intended to try to nudge, however gently, the federal government toward an accrual method of accounting. Those who serve on the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance will know how difficult it is for us to deal with estimates that are based on cash, while the budgeting is based on the accrual method, and to be able to compare the figures that we hear in respect of each.

Bill S-201 is supported by the members of the National Finance Committee and has been amended to reflect the realities of the public service. The bill urges quarterly financial reports and nudges the government toward a more uniform accounting in the form of the accrual method. The committee supports Bill S-201, as amended.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill, as amended, be read the third time?

On motion of Senator Segal, bill placed on Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.

Drinking Water Sources Bill

Report of Committee on Subject Matter—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (subject-matter of Bill S-208, An Act to require the Minister of the Environment to establish, in co-operation with the provinces, an agency with the power to identify and protect Canada's watersheds that will constitute sources of drinking water in the future), tabled in the Senate on Thursday, February 28, 2008.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I remind you that debate at second reading of Bill S-208 was suspended pending the report of the Energy Committee. The Senate asked the committee to report on two principal questions, both of which were raised by Senator Nolin in discussion here and in committee. The first question dealt with the constitutionality of the bill and its status with respect to convention in Parliament. The second was the duplicate nature or redundancy of the bill. Having studied those questions at some length, the committee has agreed unanimously in its report that those concerns are not sufficient to be considered an impediment to the continued consideration of the bill at second reading. That is the purpose and the thrust of the report.

Therefore, I move that Bill S-208 be placed on the Order Paper for continuation of debate at second reading.

[Translation]

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, as Senator Banks just explained, we had to determine whether this bill would prevent us from acting according to the law. We unanimously concluded that this bill does not prevent us from conducting an in-depth study of Bill S-208. That is what the report says.

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate, honourable senators?

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I suggest that this report stay on the Order Paper as it stands and that we continue debate of Bill S-208 at second reading using the report as a guideline or a reference and that we not adopt the report of the committee at this time.

Therefore, I move adjournment of the debate.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.

The Senate

Motion to Recognize Contributions of Black Canadians and February as Black History Month Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Oliver seconded by the Honourable Senator Di Nino:

That the Senate take note of the important contribution of black Canadians to the settlement, growth and development of Canada, the diversity of the black community in Canada and its importance to the history of this country, and recognize February as Black History Month.—(Honourable Senator Tkachuk)

Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise to speak to Senator Oliver's motion to have the Senate acknowledge February as Black History Month. It is only fitting that this motion was tabled by Senator Oliver. He is the only Afro-Canadian in our caucus and is the first Black man summoned to the Senate of Canada. He has had a long history of promoting the cause of peace, justice and equality for all Canadians. We on this side support this significant motion. We are also happy to see the enthusiasm in this chamber for the motion, and we hope that it will be adopted unanimously today.

Senator Oliver's motion reflects our desire to honour not only Black Canadians but also diversity and multiculturalism. The Senate's recognition of February as Black History Month extends our commitment to the Black community and affirms that they are part of Canada's heritage. This motion is our opportunity to acknowledge the important contributions of Black Canadians who, in spite of almost impossible odds, were first at what they pursued. Senator Oliver listed many such outstanding individuals in his remarks. During this debate, a number of honourable senators advanced names and accomplishments of other great Black Canadians and now, I will talk for a moment about the one who sits in our caucus.

Senator Oliver's accomplishments are well known. He is one of our multi-talented senators — a farmer, a lawyer, a businessman and a rather accomplished cook. Senator Oliver graduated from Acadia University in the 1960s with a first class honours degree in history. He was class valedictorian and entered Dalhousie Law School on a Sir James Dunn Scholarship. After graduating, he taught law at St. Mary's University, Dalhousie University and the Technical University of Nova Scotia. Senator Oliver holds honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Guelph, Acadia University and Dalhousie University — not bad for the son of a janitor with a grade 8 education who had five kids and earned $25 a week; not bad for a man whose grandfather was born into a family of former slaves in Virginia in 1874.

The accomplishments of Senator Oliver's forebears left big shoes for him to fill. His maternal grandfather became the Reverend Dr. White, the first Black man to graduate from Acadia University in 1903 and the only Black man to serve as an officer in the British army. He also devoted a good portion of his life to breaking down racial barriers and overcoming racial discrimination. Dr. White's offspring were equally accomplished. An aunt of Donnie's was Portia White, a world-renowned contralto of the 1940s and 1950s. She cracked classical music's colour barrier and was declared a person of national historical significance by the Government of Canada. Her brother, Senator Oliver's uncle, William White, was the first Black Canadian to run in a Canadian federal election. He was a composer and a social justice advocate. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970. Unfortunately, he ran for the NDP, which was the CCF at that time.

(1640)

Senator Oliver's mother was an accomplished musician, as is her son. There are many other seriously accomplished members in his family, a list too long to mention. Let us just say that Senator Oliver comes to his activism honestly and he has carried the torch with pride.

He is passionate about giving back to the Black community. He established a bursary for Black students to attend Dalhousie University, and has long been involved in community service in Halifax. In fact, in 1996, Senator Oliver won the Harry Jerome Award for Community Service; in 2004, he received the African Canadian Achievement Award; and two years later, he was awarded the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Award.

I hope I have not embarrassed Senator Oliver, but I thought everyone needed a little history lesson. There are many such stories out there that perhaps our children will learn.

Honourable senators, it is already March, and I would call on the Senate to unanimously support this motion.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question!

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Motion agreed to.

The Senate

Motion to Televise Proceedings—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Segal, seconded by the Honourable Senator Keon:

That whenever the Senate is sitting, the proceedings of the upper chamber, like those of the lower one, be televised, or otherwise audio-visually recorded, so that those proceedings can be carried live or replayed on CPAC, or any other television station, at times that are convenient for Canadians.—(Honourable Senator Andreychuk)

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I intend to speak on this motion. I have discussed it with Senator Segal. I would like to rewind the clock today as I intend to speak to it shortly.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I have an amendment motion to propose on this bill. I do not know what the correct order would be.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Andreychuk moved the adjournment.

Senator Comeau: Do it tomorrow.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate continued.

Voting Age

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino rose pursuant to notice of February 26, 2008:

That he will call the attention of the Senate to the voting age in Canada for federal elections and referendums.

He said: Senator Andreychuk told me I should stand, so I stood.

Honourable senators, a few weeks ago, Charbel Andary, a young man studying at the University of Windsor, emailed a number of senators regarding the voting age in federal elections and referendums.

"When I was 14," he writes, "I asked a simple question — why can't I vote?" He went on to say: "I was a member of a political party. I was working and paying taxes. I was well informed on the issues and the parties."

The proposition he advances of lowering the voting age in federal elections and referendums is one whose merit I have long believed should be further explored.

Currently under section 3 of the Canada Elections Act, only Canadian citizens 18 years of age or older are eligible to vote in federal elections. The same age restriction for referendums is found in section 3 of the Canada Elections Act, as adapted for the purposes of a referendum. Meanwhile, section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states:

Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.

Honourable senators, although a royal commission studied, among other things, issues relating to increasing voter participation for post-secondary students and recommended that the voting age be set at 18 years of age, the study was released in 1992, following its appointment in 1989. That was a generation ago.

There are a number of good reasons why our minds should be open to taking another look at this important issue. There is no constitutional obstacle to lowering the age below 18 years. Although Parliament may be within its authority to settle upon it as a cut-off, there are many reasons to support the reduction in the voting age.

Young people today are already provided with an array of duties, privileges and responsibilities recognized in law. People under the age of 18 years can obtain gainful employment and pay taxes. They are held accountable for committing criminal offences and, in certain circumstances when more serious crimes are involved, can be charged as adults.

With the age of consent currently at 14 years, soon to be 16 years with the passage of Bill C-2, young people can engage in consensual sexual relations, surely a very serious decision with potentially life-altering consequences, at least for some.

People under 18 years of age can also marry and have children. They can drive a vehicle. They can even serve in the military and be sent into harm's way in places such as Afghanistan.

These are decisions about responsibility that are among the most important any citizen can make, and yet they are not empowered to vote.

[Translation]

Why can they not be part of our country's democratic process? Many young people and others are asking themselves that question, and I think we owe it to them to take a close look at this issue.

Those who oppose the idea of giving people under the age of 18 the right to vote have suggested that they lack maturity, that they are not interested in politics, and that they are simply not equipped to be well-informed and make independent decisions. Similar arguments were put forward when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1970, and I do not agree with them.

These days, men and women under the age of 18 are active members of our society, and they deserve full recognition as such. Citizens with physical, psychiatric or mental disabilities are guaranteed the right to register to vote. Even prisoners have been given the right to vote, and that is, to this day, a very controversial topic.

Honourable senators, I think it is time to consider extending the right to vote to people under the age of 18.

[English]

Over the years, like most honourable senators, I have spoken with many schools and attended numerous events frequented by young Canadians. At these places and elsewhere, the young Canadians I encountered were worldly, knowledgeable and capable of forming rational, independent conclusions. They were more than ready to participate in the democratic process of our nation. Often I felt they were better prepared than many adults with whom I have had political discussions. To be sure, age is a fixed marker whose measure is universal. However, it is also a social construct defined, in part, by the times we live in.

(1650)

Much has changed in the world in the last 15 to 20 years. Huge advances in information technology have made it possible for young people to become informed about issues affecting their lives and the world around them in ways that were not possible in times past. Through the Internet, people are connecting with each other and are exposed to new ideas — big and small, both in their communities and around the globe — in an unprecedented fashion.

In fact, today's generation of youth is the most technologically savvy yet, able to access information from cyberspace that many older generations of Canadians are not able to do. I confess that I count myself in the latter group.

The issue of voter turnout featured prominently during the debates on Bill C-16 in the last session. The involvement of young people was of particular interest to some, myself included. I believe this is an issue that continues to deserve our attention if we are to bolster democratic participation and ensure its relevance to the daily lives of Canadians for generations to come.

We know that less than half of eligible voters in younger age groups vote in general elections. Among those under 25, the percentage of those who vote is particularly low. That is unfortunate and does not bode well for future elections, especially since total participation rates have failed to breach 70 per cent in any of the last several elections. Indeed, voter turnout in the last election was below 65 per cent.

Lowering the voting age would engage young people to become more involved in the political process and thereby hopefully promote habitual voting. That is something which could increase the rate of voter turnout and may help to counter the cynicism and apathy which is too often part of this process. The discussion would be about young people for young people, and hopefully become their issue. It would engage high schools to impart students with knowledge about this important civic duty through changes in the curriculum and other informational channels available to each particular school board.

[Translation]

Most 16-and 17-year-olds go to high school and, in Quebec, many are attending CEGEP; these are excellent environments for exposing students to the most important aspect of the democratic process.

Currently, the majority of students leaving high school, when they reach the age of 18, have little information about voting and the importance of voting, which means that many of them simply do not find the subject to be relevant. Voting is something that is done only after leaving high school.

[English]

Can Parliament and, in particular, the Senate, play a role in overcoming these challenges? Surely, through the collective wisdom of this deliberative body, we can generate ideas about engaging our young people. They are a generation of people who will be entrusted with our and our nation's care.

The right to vote was not always universal, at least not for those who were denied under discriminatory grounds: women, Aboriginal people and Canadians of African, Chinese, Japanese and South Asian ancestry were once disenfranchised. However, times have changed and for the better. Over the years, voting rights were rightfully extended to those previously excluded.

Honourable senators, I am well aware that most of the world sets the voting age at 18. However, I believe it is only a matter of time before that threshold will be reduced. Austria lowered its voting age to 16 in 2007. Six German states allow those who are 16 or older to vote in local elections. The United Kingdom will soon launch a Youth Citizenship Commission to study the issue. It continues to be debated in legislatures around the world. The question is: Should Canada lead or follow?

Honourable senators, I would like to thank Mr. Andary for rekindling my interest in this issue and I invite honourable senators to join in this inquiry and add your thoughts and wisdom. No institution is better equipped to take a sober second look at this important subject. Indeed, the Senate may well ignite the debate to help reinvigorate democratic participation in Canada's electoral process.

Honourable senators, upon conclusion of this debate, it is my intention to refer the matter to the appropriate committee for study.

On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.

The Senate

Constitution Act, 1867—Motion to Amend Real Property Provisions for Senators—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Tommy Banks, pursuant to notice of February 26, 2008, moved:

That,

WHEREAS, in the 2nd Session of the 39th Parliament, a bill has been introduced in the Senate to amend the Constitution of Canada by repealing the provision that requires that a person, in order to qualify for appointment to the Senate and to maintain their place in the Senate after being appointed, own land with a net worth of at least four thousand dollars within the province for which he or she is appointed;

AND WHEREAS a related provision of the Constitution makes reference, in respect of the province of Quebec, to the real property qualification that is proposed to be repealed;

AND WHEREAS, in respect of a Senator that represents Quebec, the real property qualification must be had in the electoral division for which the Senator is appointed or the Senator must be resident in that division;

AND WHEREAS the division of Quebec into 24 electoral divisions, corresponding to the 24 seats in the former Legislative Council of Quebec, reflects the historic boundaries of Lower Canada and no longer reflects the full territorial limits of the province of Quebec;

AND WHEREAS section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982 provides that an amendment to the Constitution of Canada may be made by proclamation issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada where so authorized by resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons and of the legislative assembly of each province to which the amendment applies;

NOW THEREFORE the Senate resolves that an amendment to the Constitution of Canada be authorized to be made by proclamation issued by Her Excellency the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada in accordance with the schedule hereto.

SCHEDULE

AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF CANADA

1. Section 22 of the Constitution Act, 1867 is amended by striking out the second paragraph of that section, beginning with the words "In the Case of Quebec" and ending with "the Consolidated Statutes of Canada.".

2. (1) Paragraph (5) of section 23 of the Act is replaced by the following:

(5) He shall be resident in the Province for which he is appointed.

(2) Paragraph (6) of section 23 of the Act is repealed.

Citation

3. This Amendment may be cited as the Constitution Amendment, [year of proclamation] (Quebec: electoral divisions and real property qualifications of Senators).

On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.

[Translation]

Anti-terrorism

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Provisions Governing the Security Certificate Process Set Out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act Withdrawn

On Motion No. 90 by Senator Nolin:

That the Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism be authorized to examine and report on the provisions governing the security certificate process set out in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, S.C. 2001, c. 27, as recently modified by An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (certificate and special advocate) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, S.C. 2008, c. 3, as well as conduct a review of the operation of that process in the context of Canada's anti-terrorism framework;

That the committee submit its final report no later than December 31, 2008.

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate, I wish to withdraw the motion standing in my name. [Later]

Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Honourable senators, earlier, when Senator Nolin asked to withdraw his motion, was unanimous consent necessary to withdraw this type of motion?

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Senator Nolin asked to withdraw the motion, but the Speaker pro tempore did not ask the question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, given that the motion appears on the Notice Paper, I have been advised that unanimous consent is not required.

Senator Nolin: I had not yet moved the motion. I had simply given notice, but as I was unsure, I thought it appropriate to ask for leave to withdraw the motion.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Permission is not required.

Motion withdrawn.

[English]

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Committee Authorized to Study the Rise of China, India and Russia in the Global Economy and the Implications for Canadian Policy

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino, pursuant to notice of February 28, 2008, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade be authorized to examine and report on the rise of China, India and Russia in the global economy and the implications for Canadian policy; and

That the committee present its final report no later than October 1, 2009, and retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until March 31, 2010.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Motion agreed to.

The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, March 5, 2008, at 1:30 p.m.

Appendix A

Official Languages

Consultations on Linguistic Duality and Official Languages—Selection of Witnesses

(Response to question raised by Hon. Claudette Tardif on February 5, 2008)

LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
IN THE CONSULTATIONS ON LINGUISTIC DUALITY AND OFFICIAL LANGUAGES
THAT AGREED TO BE IDENTIFIED ON A PUBLIC LIST

Accès-emploi
Suzanne Corneau

Accueil francophone
Natalie Roy

Agence nationale et internationale du Manitoba
Mariette Mulaire

Alliance des femmes de la francophonie canadienne
Agathe Gaulin

Alliance des producteurs francophones du Canada
Mark Chatel

Alliance des radios communautaires du Canada
Roger Ouellette

Alliance Jeunesse-Famille
Luketa M'Pindou

Alliance nationale de l'industrie musicale
Benoit Henry

Assemblée communautaire francophone
Denis Desgagné

Assemblée communautaire fransaskoise
Michel Dubé

Association canadienne d'éducation de langue française
Louis Allain

Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario
Manon Henrie-Cadieux

Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario
Mariette Carrier-Fraser

Association canadienne des professeurs d'immersion/Canadian Association of Immersion Teachers
Suzanne Fournier

Association canadienne des professeurs d'immersion/Canadian Association of Immersion Teachers
Marie Larivière

Association canadienne des professeurs d'immersion/et Pembina Trails School Division
Philippe LeDorze

Association canadienne-française de l'Alberta
Jean Johnson

Association canadienne-française de l'Alberta
Joël F. Lavoie

Association de l'industrie de la langue/Language Industry Association
Alain Chamsi

Association de l'industrie de la langue/Language Industry Association
Gonzalo Peralta

Association de la presse francophone
Sylviane Lanthier

Association des artistes professionnels du Nouveau-Brunswick
René Cormier

Association des auteures et auteurs de l'Ontario
Jean Malavoy

Association des francophones du Nunavut
Daniel Lamoureux

Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario
Sonia Ouellet

Association des universités et collèges du Canada/Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
Luc Rainville

Association des universités de la francophonie canadienne
Raymonde Gagné

Association francophone des municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick
Achille Maillet

Association francophone des municipalités du Nouveau-Brunswick
Lise Ouellette

Association franco-yukonnaise
Régis St-Pierre

Association multiculturelle francophone de l'Alberta
Félicien Mufuta-Batubu

British Columbia Association of Teachers of Modern Languages
Wendy Carr

Campus St-Jean
Marc Arnal

Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers/Association canadienne des professeurs de langues secondes
John Erskine

Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers/Association canadienne des professeurs de langues secondes
Valérie Pître

Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers/Association canadienne des professeurs de langues secondes
Maureen Smith

Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers/Association canadienne des professeurs de langues secondes
Nicole Thibault

Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers/Association canadienne des professeurs de langues secondes
Miles Turnbull

Canadian Parents for French
Anna Maddison

Canadian Parents for French (Alberta)
Shannon Nelson

Canadian Parents for French (Manitoba)
Catherine Davies

Canadian Parents for French (New-Brunswick)
Walter Lee

Canadian Parents for French (Nova Scotia)
Grenville Jones

Canadian Parents for French (Ontario)
Monika Ferenczy

Canadian Parents for French (Quebec)
Lawrence Depoe

Canadian Parents for French (Saskatchewan)
Karen Pozniak

Centre d'accueil et d'intégration des immigrants et immigrantes du Moncton métropolitain
Kabule Weva