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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 144, Issue 40

Thursday, March 6, 2008
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


THE SENATE

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Lieutenant-Commander (Ret'd) Terrance J. Christopher

Tributes on Retirement as Usher of the Black Rod

Hon. Joseph A. Day: The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod is the most senior protocol officer in the British parliamentary system, and as such the symbol of authority of Parliament. The origins of the position of the Usher of the Black Rod were instituted in 1350 when the Most Noble Order of the Garter was created as part of the King of England's bodyguard to ensure the authority of the monarch. Originally, the Usher of the Black Rod was able to arrest people using the authority of the mace, or the rod, which has been retained due to its symbolic role.

Historians tell us that when His Majesty King Henry VIII moved his palace from Westminster to Whitehall around the year 1530, he "left the doors in the High Court of Parliament in the care and custody of an usher," the Usher of the Black Rod, so the authority was originally awarded directly by the sovereign.

However, as the powers of the British Crown and Parliament evolved constitutionally, the usher no longer had to perform royal duties so that the Black Rod became the symbol for the authority of Upper House debate. Today, as we see each sitting day, the Black Rod walks before the Speaker of the Senate of Canada as he or she enters or leaves the chamber.

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The Usher of the Black Rod also serves in a diplomatic capacity: greeting foreign and Commonwealth dignitaries, hosting parliamentary development and exchange programs and even acting as the protocol attendant to the sovereign and members of the royal family while visiting Canada.

Since 2002, Lieutenant-Commander Terrance Christopher, a fellow Maritimer, has served honourable senators with distinction as the fourteenth Usher of the Black Rod. Prior to coming to this position, he had already distinguished himself in service to his country.

Lieutenant-Commander Christopher was the first Nova Scotian to have been honoured by the monarch with the Royal Victorian Order. This order, along with the Order of the Garter and the Most Ancient and Noble Order of the Thistle, has the distinction of being awarded on the personal distinction of the sovereign.

I have had the pleasure of working with Lieutenant-Commander Christopher on a number of different occasions. Particularly, I note his work with students who have visited on exchange programs and with individuals from Canadian defence colleges. I have always been impressed with the way Lieutenant-Commander Christopher has promoted the Senate as part of the Parliament of Canada.

I think that his great respect for the institution and the historical role of the Senate within the Parliament of Canada will be one of his legacies. For that, sir, we sincerely thank you.

Therefore it is with great pride that I say to you, as a friend and as a fellow countryman:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Ready, aye, ready: We stand with you.

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I, too, rise to pay tribute to our very dear Usher of the Black Rod, Lieutenant-Commander Terrance Christopher. He has served as the Usher of the Black Rod for the past five years and leaves us today.

I wish to thank him for his excellent service and for his devotion to Her Majesty the Queen, the Governor General, the Senate and to the people of Canada.

A former sailor with a deep and thorough knowledge of the military, Terrance Christopher has brought solemnity, serenity, brilliance and beauty to this office. He has discharged his duties with grace and distinction. His love of the Armed Forces, both of serving personnel and veterans, his love of public service and his dedication to the constitutional institutions of Canada have made him a memorable Usher of the Black Rod.

I say goodbye to him today; I bid him farewell. In so doing, I express my personal gratitude for his efforts here. I wish him the very best in the future. I also wish to express my appreciation to his wife, Geraldine, and to his family, his children and grandchildren.

The Usher of the Black Rod, Lieutenant-Commander Terrance Christopher, leaves this place in possession of the respect, admiration and affection of many of us senators. God bless him and God bless his family.

Unbeknownst to many senators, the Usher of the Black Rod is the personal officer of Her Majesty in this place. Due to the growth of bureaucracy and the reorganization to adapt to modernism the role of the User of the Black Rod is no longer widely understood. However, the Usher of the Black Rod is the person commanded by Her Majesty to be in charge of the health, safety and security of the members of this place.

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I thank you, dear sailor, for holding your Black Rod and for keeping that keen military eye on each and every one of us in respect of our health and security. I must tell you, I have felt very well protected by you.

[Later]

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I would like to address a few words to Lieutenant-Commander Terrance Christopher, Usher of the Black Rod, a fellow officer and colleague, a gentleman who has served his country in uniform, in one fashion or another, from the senior service to the senior institution of our system of governance in this country.

Bravo Zulu for your service over the years.

Honourable senators, I am surprised to see Black Rod in such good shape after his party last night, an obvious demonstration of his resilience in his early retirement, which we are sorry to see happen.

One element of particular interest, if I may, is the ability that Lieutenant-Commander Christopher has brought to this chamber of maintaining decorum in what could, at times, become quite a vulgar brawl, and in so doing establishing at least the milieu and the atmosphere of decorum that is required.

Honourable senators, I applaud his sense of discipline in connection with those who are working in support around us, the youth who are learning the experience of this chamber and the people therein, and his particular attention to their learning experience and exchanges with them so that one day they will be far more able to explain the essentiality of an institution such as ours, and feel the system of governance in democracy.

I have noticed an increase in the standard of dress. Leading by example, Black Rod has maintained the standard of dress that is part of what this institution should be, and that our colleagues should maintain. He has maintained decorum and dress, and of course discipline. For example, he ensures that when senators are coming and going we follow a more appropriate process, and not simply walk in and out or simply letting the Speaker come in and out, but continually attempting to bring and maintain that decorum here.

I also applaud Mr. Christopher for his initiative. I particularly remember July 1 a couple of years ago when the chamber was opened for new Canadians. He took it upon himself to influence the authorities to open this building to those newly sworn Canadians and make them welcome on that particular day. There was a party with cake and so on.

My father told me when I joined the service, that one of the first things I had to be prepared for was never to expect people to say "thank you." Today, I wish to say thank you to Lieutenant-Commander Terrance Christopher for his service and for his service here.

Again, Bravo Zulu.

Labour Shortages

Participation of Women in the Workforce

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, March 8 is International Women's Day, and I draw to your attention the fact that the training and hiring of more women could alleviate critical labour shortages in the skilled trades and technologies, the physical and engineering sciences and in the faculties of Canadian universities.

Honourable senators, as you are aware, Canada has a critical shortage of skilled workers. It has been estimated that in the next two decades, 40 per cent of new jobs will be in the skilled trades and technologies. Women comprised only 3 per cent of the construction and 7 per cent of trades-related workforce in 2001. Similarly, only 11 per cent of engineers were women, and only 30 per cent of university faculty members were women. Clearly, an increased participation of women in these areas could alleviate current labour shortages and mitigate looming shortages caused by the retirement of the baby boom generation.

The Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology, CCWESTT, has developed partnerships to increase the training and employment of women in the trades and technologies. Currently, CCWESTT has focused on developing tools to strengthen the recruitment and retention of women by employers in four sectors: oil and gas, construction and trades, post-secondary institutions and information technology. These are the fields in which there is both a severe shortage of skilled workers and a marked under-utilization of women.

Honourable senators, for several years now, female students have outnumbered male students at the undergraduate level in Canadian universities, but men still greatly outnumber women in engineering, computer science and physics. Women do not, however, outnumber men at the faculty level in Canadian universities. In 2001, women comprised only 30 per cent of all full-time faculty, only 10 per cent of the engineering faculty and only 13 per cent of the mathematical and physical sciences faculty. It is expected that the retirement of faculty members who are part of the baby boom generation will create faculty shortages in the near future. Clearly, increasing the participation of women at the doctoral level of study, and ensuring that they remain on their professorial career path, especially in the engineering and physical sciences, will help fill the anticipated gaps in faculty numbers.

In its future plans, CCWESTT intends to establish a Canadian centre for women in science, engineering, trades and technologies. The centre would collect best practices before the recruitment, retention and promotion of women in these fields. CCWESTT, through its WinSETT project, addresses two critical national labour issues: first, the shortage of skilled labour in the trades and technologies; and second, the anticipated shortages of skilled researchers and university professors.

[Translation]

International Women's Day

Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, on March 8 we will mark International Women's Day. This is an opportunity to celebrate the progress that has been made toward equality, thanks to the efforts of a number of courageous and determined Canadian women. We owe them a great deal.

A quick look at where are now shows that we are moving in the right direction. Canadian women are breaking down barriers one by one. They are confidently making contributions in areas that were previously all but closed to them. For instance, the Canadian Forces give us a perfect reason to celebrate.

Despite its reputation for being a man's world, our army has gradually been adapting to women. At all ranks, women are using their talents and skills to serve and protect us. I want to say how much I admire them.

There are many other examples of advances in equality that I could mention, just as there are many situations that are cause for concern. Growing poverty among women who are single parents is a serious issue. Canadian women are still experiencing violence.

All sectors of society must work together to change attitudes and behaviours. We must also work together to close the wage gap between men and women and correct the under-representation of women in politics.

The theme of International Women's Day this year is "Strong Women, Strong World."

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This theme highlights the essential role women here and elsewhere play in the development of their communities. I would like to emphasize the formidable role military wives play in supporting their husbands. I want to reiterate my respect and admiration for these devoted — and very discreet — heroines.

Mélanie Lessard is another strong and persevering woman I am always pleased to mention. Mélanie is originally from Saint-Jean-de-Matha. She is a swimmer and a Défi Sportif champion. Mélanie has Marfan syndrome, which affects the connective tissue, but Mélanie never gives up. She won the gold medal in 2007.

I encourage you, honourable senators, to show your solidarity with the millions of women throughout the world who struggle daily to improve their condition and their society.

In that vein, I would like to support the Canadian volunteer program, Uniterra. Through its campaign, "8 of March, 8 Women, 8 Objectives," Uniterra is highlighting the voluntary involvement of eight women from the north and the south who are contributing, in their own way, to the collective effort to reduce world poverty. Allow yourself to be inspired by the story of these eight women by visiting the Uniterra Web site.

I wish you a fulfilling International Women's Day and I invite you to attend the activities taking place from coast to coast.

[English]

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I want to pay tribute to the Usher of the Black Rod and to thank him for providing access to all Canadians on the Hill.

International Women's Day will be celebrated this Saturday, March 8, and I wish to reflect on its significance. This is a day to celebrate a global message of progress, hope and empowerment of women. It is also a day when we assess the rights of women, both in Canada and internationally. International Women's Day serves as a time of reflection, as well as a reminder that women are still working hard to achieve equality. Honourable senators, often women's rights are interpreted in terms of religion and culture. Today, I will share with you just three examples.

In Saudi Arabia, there is a ban on women driving. This is a highly sensitive and divisive issue and there is much debate over the rationale for this law. Some say it is because of religion and some say it is because of culture. What is certain is that women cannot drive there. A Saudi cleric said he does not see women driving cars in his country because of the consequences that would spring from it, such as the spread of corruption, women uncovering their hair and faces, mingling between the sexes, men being alone with women and the destruction of the family and society as a whole.

In Nigeria, women accused of adultery have been threatened with death by stoning. This is explained as an interpretation of religion.

In our own country, we mourned the death last December of a Canadian girl, Aqsa Parvez, a well-liked Muslim girl who, her friends stated, was having difficulty with some rituals that her family practiced. Her death has been called, by many, an honour killing. Once again, this heinous act occurred in the name of religion or culture.

Honourable senators, we all have a duty to challenge the denial of women's rights in the name of religion or culture. We must ask the question: Where in religious scripture is it stated that women's rights are to be denied? I suggest that even if we are shown scripture, we should still challenge the denial of women's rights. We must state clearly that in Canada we are working hard to achieve equality between men and women, and that we will not waver on the rights of women. All Canadian women have the same rights.

Honourable senators, when Aqsa Parvez was killed in Toronto, all Canadian women's rights were violated. We can never stand by and let the rights of Canadians be altered or eroded. We in this chamber must be ever vigilant to protect the rights of all women until women achieve equality. International Women's Day will continue to be a day when we need to prepare a report card of our progress, until we achieve equality for all Canadian women.


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ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

National Security and Defence

Budget—Study on National Security Policy—Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Joseph A. Day, for Senator Kenny, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, presented the following report:

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence has the honour to present its

FOURTH REPORT

Your Committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, November 20, 2007, to examine and report on the national security policy for Canada, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that Committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

JOSEPH A. DAY
For Colin Kenny, Chair of the Committee

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix A, p. 652.)

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.

The Estimates, 2008-09

first Interim Report of National Finance Committee on Main Estimates Presented

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

Thursday, March 6, 2008

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

EIGHTH REPORT

Your Committee, to which was referred the 2008-2009 Estimates, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Thursday, February 28, 2008, examined the said Estimates and herewith presents its first interim report.

Respectfully submitted,

JOSEPH A. DAY
Chair

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix B, p. 672.)

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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Income Tax Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-253, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of RESP contributions).

Bill read first time.

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

On motion of Senator Cowan, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.


QUESTION PERIOD

Prime Minister

Alleged Offer of Financial Compensation to Influence Vote of Former Member for Surrey North

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Can the leader confirm that no representative of the Conservative Party at any time offered Chuck Cadman financial benefit in exchange for his vote? I ask this question with the understanding that "financial benefit" means anything except help with the possible election campaign.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, I thought I was clear in my response yesterday. The Prime Minister has been very clear and the late Chuck Cadman was very clear.

When, on three occasions, Mr. Cadman spoke in the media, he was clear that discussions with officials of the Conservative Party involved their desire to have him rejoin the party and run under the Conservative Party banner in the impending election, if the government of the day was defeated.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: If I understand correctly, honourable senators, the minister is confirming that this money was to help in a possible election campaign and was not about a $1-million insurance policy for the benefit of Mr. Cadman's family.

We would like to have a clear answer from you on this question: Will the minister confirm that this financial benefit was only for an election campaign?

Senator LeBreton: First, honourable senators, that is exactly what Mr. Cadman said. To be clear, they were trying to get Chuck Cadman to rejoin the party and run for the Conservatives in the impending election, which would have happened right away had the government of the day been defeated. Therefore, the discussions were about Mr. Cadman rejoining the party.

All discussions were in connection with the normal expenses that a Conservative candidate would incur while seeking the nomination. These expenses include working in the campaign and having the resources of the party in terms of election campaign material.

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Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, this sounds a little odd when we know that this person would never have been able to run a campaign, considering what we know about the state of his health.

I thank the Leader of the Government for giving an answer that has not been made by the Prime Minister to clarify this question despite multiple requests in the other place. I hope that the Prime Minister will confirm what the Leader of the Government in the Senate has said to us today.

Senator LeBreton: I point out to the honourable senator that in May 2005, Chuck Cadman was, no doubt, ill, but I do not think anyone described him at that time as "dying." As a matter of fact, I have before me a July 15, 2005 Canadian Press story that appeared at the time of Chuck Cadman's funeral. The story stated, "Mr. Cadman was planning on running again, according to Brian Cantwell, his constituency association president."

This clearly states that Mr. Cadman was planning to run again. In May 2005 it was very clear that we were anxious to have him rejoin the party.

It is time to put some simple facts on the record. The Liberals asserted that there was a meeting with Mr. Cadman on May 17; that date has been retracted by the author of the book. The Liberals asserted that Dona Cadman was accusing the Prime Minister of inappropriate conduct; she has said this is untrue. The Liberals claim Mr. Cadman was not going to run again because of his illness; that was disproved, as I just said, by this story at the time.

The opposition must back away from these ridiculous allegations. It is perhaps time that they looked at this story, took the word of Mr. Cadman, which was stated publicly, and stop this inappropriate smear, because there are absolutely no facts to justify the actions that they are asserting.

It is easy enough in the House of Commons and in this place to make outrageous allegations. The Prime Minister has already provided the opportunity to withdraw these remarks. Thus far, the Liberals have not done so. They have made very serious allegations that they would be wise to reconsider for their lack of appropriateness.

I believe the record is clear. Mr. Cadman did have a meeting on the day of the vote, May 19; two days after Belinda Stronach crossed the floor and accepted a cabinet position. That is the very time when Tim Murphy and Ujjal Dosanjh were running around trying to invite members of our party across that "nice, comfy, furry welcome mat" into the Liberal Party. These are the things that were going on at the time. However, it is clear that our officials had a meeting with Mr. Cadman on the day of the vote to discuss rejoining the party. Those are the facts of the matter. All of the allegations and smears will not take away from the fact that the actions of Mr. Dion are desperate and despicable. I call him "desperate and despicable Dion."

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, it is interesting that as their argument, case, explanations and spin become weaker, we find more and more holes, weaker and weaker arguments, weaker and weaker "support."

How could it be that Mr. Cadman's constituency president said that he was planning to run in the next election when Mr. Cadman was no longer a member of a party and clearly would not have a constituency president? How does the honourable senator square that in the round hole?

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Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I was quoting something that this gentleman said. Chuck Cadman did keep in close contact with members of our party. He voted with our party on a number of issues prior to the budget vote. I can only quote what the gentleman said. He made it clear that Chuck Cadman told him that he was intending to run again, and I am quoting something that is on the record. I will not try to parse the senator's thoughts.

Senator Mitchell: I can only quote what the Prime Minister says, so let me just deal with quotes here. We do know that, after the election, Mr. Cadman would lose hundreds of thousands of dollars of insurance benefits because he would die out of office. It is absolutely clear that it is in that context that the Prime Minister was referring to compensating Mr. Cadman for that loss, when he said on the now famous tape that ". . . it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election. . ." — not in an election.

Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate please tell us how it is that she could possibly construe these words as meaning "election compensation," when, in fact, it was clear that he was speaking in the context of compensating this man for death benefits he would lose by dying out of office?

Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator is putting words on the tape that were never there. I will not answer a question when there is absolutely no basis whatsoever for the claim.

As Mr. Cadman said on the night of the vote, two days after the vote and several weeks later in an interview in his own riding, the only financial considerations discussed were in connection with him rejoining the party and running in the election that would have been precipitated by the defeat of the government.

Senator Mitchell: If the minister believes that, she probably believes Mr. Mulroney did not take any money, either.

The Prime Minister's and this leader's continued explanation of the cabinet scandal defies logic and beggars belief.

Could the minister confirm once more, because it is so hard to understand that anyone could believe this, particularly someone leading the government in the Senate: Why would anyone believe the Prime Minister when he says — and, honourable senators, get this clearly — that he offered election compensation to a dying man who was not going to run in any election anywhere, let alone in his own riding, because there was already someone nominated by the Conservative Party in that riding? If that is true, would it not make Finlay, Flanagan and Harper the "Three Stooges of election finance?"

Senator LeBreton: First, the Liberals were also pursuing him and they obviously at the time knew he was ill, but we are not little gods here; we cannot presume when people will live or die. The premise of the honourable senator's question is ridiculous.

Of course, people can be off on their facts. The honourable senator thought the Liberals would win the election in Alberta.

Senator Fortier: Recount!

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

If the Conservatives believe that no financial inducement of any kind was ever made to Chuck Cadman, then they must believe that Ms. Cadman is lying.

Is the Prime Minister prepared to sign the nomination papers of a candidate that he believes lies?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, beating up on Dona Cadman a couple of days before International Women's Day — I must say, the honourable senator has a way of stretching things. She is like her colleagues in the other place.

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In this book, Dona Cadman recounted an incident she believes took place with regard to her late husband. She did not know with whom her husband met, but it was something that she reported to a man who was writing a book on Mr. Cadman's life.

No one is challenging Ms. Cadman's belief; that is not the issue. The issue is who was at the meeting that she believes took place How do we know who was there? Mr. Cadman could have had a meeting with Liberals who at the time, were running around offering comfortable, furry welcome mats. There are tape-recorded discussions saying Senate seats and cabinet positions were offered. How do we know?

All we know is that Ms. Cadman said this to the author. We do not know with whom Mr. Cadman met, when the meeting occurred, or what was discussed. We know the meeting did not take place on May 17, because that has been withdrawn from the book.

The fact is this is a very simple matter. There was a meeting on May 19, two days after Belinda Stronach was enticed across the floor to join the Liberals. Ms. Stronach received a nice cabinet position for her efforts. It is on the public record that the Liberals were trying to entice other members of the Conservative Party to join their party. On May 19, the day of the vote, two people, as they have said — and as the Prime Minister said — went to meet Mr. Cadman because there were rumours flying that he was going to support the Conservative opposition. They discussed his rejoining the Conservative Party and providing assistance in connection with an election that would have obviously happened had the government of the day been defeated. This is a simple matter confirmed by the people at the meeting, Mr. Flanagan, Mr. Finley and Mr. Cadman himself. There is nothing more to say.

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, the leader cannot have it both ways. Either Ms. Cadman believes that her husband was offered a bribe of $1 million or she does not believe it. I believe Dona Cadman and this is exactly what she told the reporter. Now, the Conservatives are denying that any such thing took place. Someone must be lying. Who is it? Is it Dona Cadman or is it the Conservative Party? I do not believe that Dona Cadman is lying.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Ms. Cadman believes this — obviously she said this to the author of the book — but she did not know who it was with. It could have been Tim Murphy and Ujjal Dosanjh, who were running around like chickens with their heads cut off making all kinds of offers. How do we know? We do not know.

The fact is there was no meeting on May 17. The fact is three people were at the meeting on May 19 and Mr. Flanagan, Mr. Finley and Mr. Cadman have all said the same thing. Mr. Cadman said it three times. It is on the public record, and so, who knows to whom Dona Cadman was referring. She obviously believes what she has said. No one is questioning Dona Cadman's belief in her statement, but we cannot be sure of whom her husband met.

If you look at the public record for that day, you will see it was the Liberals running around trying to get people to join their party.

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Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, at the outset when the Leader of the Government was responding to my leader, I thought maybe I had discerned an answer. However, the longer she goes on, the harder it is to understand exactly what she is trying to say, which may be her object. I do not know. She is very skilled at it, nonetheless.

I will come back to something Senator Mitchell was trying to ascertain.

What did Mr. Harper mean when he talked about financial considerations that Mr. Cadman might lose due to an election, if it were not life insurance? Mr. Harper said that. It was quoted by Senator Mitchell, who read the quote carefully.

Surely if one speaks of election expenses, a politician would say "election expenses" and not "financial considerations due to an election" that he might lose. Therefore, what exactly did he mean?

Senator LeBreton: He actually said —

Senator Mercer: It was a bribe.

Senator LeBreton: I would be careful in throwing around words like "bribe."

Senator Tkachuk: You have no evidence.

Senator LeBreton: The fact is, we were trying to get Chuck Cadman to rejoin the party, and he would have incurred some expenses in terms of seeking the Conservative nomination.

The Prime Minister has had some very serious charges levelled at him by the Liberal Party of Canada. He will be taking action against the Liberal Party of Canada. He has given the Liberal Party of Canada a chance to respond.

The Liberal Party has put these very damaging allegations up on their website. The fact is that they are false, they are defamatory and you will rue the day that you made such remarks, especially regarding a Prime Minister who works hard, is as straight as an arrow and is absolutely a source of pride to all of us in this party because he is such. No one in this country believes he would bribe anyone.

Foreign Affairs

United States Democratic Party Leadership Race—Leak of Diplomatic Memorandum

Hon. James S. Cowan (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition): I hate to change the channel. However, it now appears that this government is not content with trying to control everything that goes on within Canada but is looking to influence the outcome of an election in the United States by leaking information designed to damage the campaigns of both Democratic candidates for the presidency.

Yesterday, in response to a question in the other place, the Prime Minister said that the Clerk of the Privy Council is working with the Department of Foreign Affairs to conduct "an internal security investigation" to find out who was behind the leak, and that the government will take "any action that is necessary."

Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate confirm that this investigation will not be limited to the leak of the diplomatic memo but will also cover comments attributed to a member of the Prime Minister's own staff to Canadian television news reporters?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, first, with regard to the Prime Minister's chief of staff, please do not believe everything you read in The Globe and Mail.

Of course, we are aware of this situation. It is clear that it is a very serious matter. The Prime Minister and the government are very concerned about it. As the Prime Minister has said, the issue here is obviously a document that made its way into the American media, and that is why the Prime Minister has asked the Clerk of the Privy Council and various officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs to look into this matter and to see how it transpired.

Obviously, it is not the desire of the government, the Prime Minister or any one of us to be involved in the U.S. election. The Prime Minister and this government look forward very much to working with the new President, whether it be President Obama, President McCain or President Clinton. We have very close relations with the United States, and it is in the interests of us all to maintain them.

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Senator Cowan: Honourable senators, I will re-read part of my question, in case the leader did not understand. I think her answer was a no. I asked a specific question. I am sorry that the leader finds this funny, but it is not funny, and Canadians find it a very serious matter.

Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate confirm that this investigation, which the Prime Minister promised yesterday, will not be limited to the leak of the diplomatic memo, which she just referred to, but will also cover comments attributed to a member of the Prime Minister's own staff to Canadian television news reporters? My simple question is: Is this investigation to be limited to the leak of the memo, yes or no?

Senator LeBreton: The first part of my answer is that the chief of staff to the Prime Minister made no such comments.

Senator Cowan: That is not the question I asked.

Senator LeBreton: He made no such comments, so therefore I cannot answer the question. Why would we investigate something that never happened?

Senator Cowan: Just so I am clear, the leader is telling this house that this investigation will not look at all of the suggestions that have been made in the press about the leak of information? I am not talking about the memorandum. I understand that that will be investigated, but is that the sole purpose of the investigation? Is that what the honourable senator is telling me? Is that the answer? I assume it is.

An Hon. Senator: Shameful!

Senator Cowan: Will the leader suggest to the Prime Minister that he could save everyone a lot of time, trouble and expense by picking up the phone and speaking with his chief of staff, Mr. Brodie?

Senator LeBreton: Again, I believe that Mr. Brodie did not make any such comment. There is no proof that he made such a comment. If we ended up following up on news stories and speculation of what one person or another might have said, we might as well hire a complete investigative force and investigate every newspaper story we see, because Mr. Brodie made no such comment.

The Prime Minister and the government are concerned about the apparent damage that this leak has done to the campaign of Senator Obama, and that is why the Clerk of the Privy Council and officials at Foreign Affairs are looking into the matter.

Senator Cowan: Perhaps the Honourable Leader of the Government in the Senate could explain why she thinks the reporters at CTV are lying.

Senator LeBreton: I do not know the name of the reporters from CTV. If we had a chance to ask them, I doubt very much whether any of them would say that Mr. Brodie is lying.

Justice

Case of Omar Khadr

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, as mentioned earlier, we need to be quite attentive to not making false or defamatory comments. I would say to the Honourable Leader of the Government that the gentleman sitting to her left was on the television program "Tout le monde en parle" last Sunday, and I must say that he came dangerously close to doing exactly that in his expressions, to the extent that I purchased a copy of the book Protecting Canadian Democracy by Serge Joyal, and signed it myself. I offered it to him so that he could acquire a bit of knowledge of the Senate. If he chooses to not sit here normally and not participate in the committees, then perhaps by reading this book he will be in a better position to speak knowledgeably about the Senate in front of the whole of the province of Quebec in the other language. I think that is the most irresponsible position he could have taken at that point.

My question goes more specifically to the Leader of the Government. I read that, on August 9, 2007, while responding to a call on the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, President Bush said the following:

I did say it should be a goal of the nation to shut down Guantanamo. I also made it clear that part of the delay was the reluctance of some nations to take back some of the people being held there. In other words, in order to make it work, we've got to have a place for these people to go. . . .

The U.S. Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, has also suggested that he would like to see the Guantanamo Bay detention facility closed.

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Why are we not helping our allies in sorting out the problems of child soldiers or detention of people who have conducted operations against their forces by bringing back Khadr? Let us take care of a problem that is really ours.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, I thank the senator for the question. I am sure Senator Joyal appreciates the promotion of his book.

With regard to Guantanamo Bay, my answer has not changed. It is the same as it was when the honourable senator asked these questions the other day. Mr. Khadr is facing serious charges. Our officials have been in regular contact with him and will continue to do so. There is no reason to believe that he is being ill-treated. According to every source we have, he is not being ill-treated.

As I said the other day, I understand the honourable senator's interest in the Khadr family because Prime Minister Chrétien made a special appeal to the Prime Minister of Pakistan to spring Mr. Khadr out of their custody, and we know what happened after that event.

Senator Dallaire: I suggest we be careful here. It has taken everything to continue to support your efforts in Afghanistan. Do not start undercutting those who are actually trying to work for you, and in particular support of the troops in the field. We are talking about a child soldier.

Delayed Answer to Oral Question

Hon. David Tkachuk (Acting Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answer to the oral question asked by the Honourable Senator Banks on February 26, 2008, concerning fixed dates for federal elections.

Prime Minister

Conformity to Canada Elections Act—Fixed Election Dates

(Response to question raised by Hon. Tommy Banks on February 26, 2008)

Bill C-16 (An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2007, c. 10) was assented to on May 3, 2007, to provide for fixed dates for federal elections:

56.1 (1) Nothing in this section affects the powers of the Governor General, including the power to dissolve Parliament at the Governor General's discretion.

(2) Subject to subsection (1), each general election must be held on the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following polling day for the last general election, with the first general election after this section comes into force being held on Monday, October 19, 2009.

Sub-section 56.1(1) expressly stipulates that the powers and prerogatives of the Governor General, and by extension the conventions surrounding their exercise, are unaffected. This follows the model in provincial jurisdictions (e.g. Ontario and British Columbia) so as to create a statutory expectation of elections on a fixed and predictable cycle, while preserving the conventions of responsible government and the constitutionality of the legislation, which cannot affect the office of the Governor General without a unanimous constitutional amendment under paragraph 41(a) of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Then Minister for Democratic Reform, the Honourable Robert Nicholson, explained the constitutional context of the bill during his appearance before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on December 6, 2006:

Bill C-16, which contemplates that elections be held every four years, contravenes no constitutional requirement or expectation of a longer term. It expressly preserves the Governor General's powers. The bill makes it clear that nothing in it affects those powers, including the power to dissolve Parliament at the Governor General's discretion.

The Governor General's powers remain those that are held under the Constitution: to dissolve Parliament at any time within the five-year constitutional limit. However, by providing that elections are to be held every four years in October, the bill establishes a statutory expectation that the relevant political and administrative officers will govern themselves accordingly to accomplish this end — working within the rules and conventions of parliamentary and responsible government.

The aim of the bill is to ensure, to the extent possible within the framework of our constitutional system, that the date on which an election will be held may be known in advance, thereby increasing fairness, transparency, predictability, efficiency and forward planning.

. . .

By providing that, subject to the discretion of the Governor General, elections will be held at four-year intervals within that maximum period, the bill will give rise to a reasonable expectation of regular and certain election dates. That will not only respect the Constitution, but will enhance the quality of our parliamentary democracy. We are committed to making this modest but important change to improve Canadian democratic institutions and practices.

As emphasized throughout the parliamentary debates, the discretion of the Governor General to dissolve Parliament is unaffected by the legislation, particularly in the case where the government had lost the confidence of the House of Commons. As stated by Minister Nicholson on second reading of the bill in the House of Commons on September 18, 2006:

Legislation providing for fixed date elections has to be structured to meet certain constitutional realities of responsible government. They include the requirement that the government have the confidence of the House of Commons and we respect the Queen and the Governor General's constitutional power to dissolve Parliament. The bill before us was drafted carefully to ensure that these constitutional requirements continue to be respected.

Other extraordinary circumstances, beyond loss of confidence in the government in the House of Commons, in which dissolution may be justified were explored during committee study of the bill. For instance, the Standing Senate Committee discussed the possibility of dissolution where a central feature of the government's platform was at an impasse in the Senate. On December 6, 2006, Minister Nicholson noted as follows in response to a question from Senator Stratton:

Senator Stratton: If a government was two years into its mandate and something like the GST issue or the free trade agreement came up, where there was an impasse, would the Prime Minister not go to the Governor General and say that due to the perceived problem the House should be dissolved and an election called? Would that not be the appropriate route to take?

Mr. Nicholson: That is a possibility, of course. If the Senate were refusing to abide by the will of the elected House, that would be a constitutional crisis and perhaps cause for a meeting between the Governor General and the Prime Minister.

On February 8, 2007, constitutional expert Peter Hogg, Scholar in Residence, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP, supported this view:

Peter Hogg: We have to acknowledge, as the committee has noticed in its previous meetings, an issue might arise — free trade was one comparable example and the GST was another, although it was solved in a different way. One can imagine a situation where a policy that was very important to the government of the day was being blocked by the Senate, and the government took the view that the only way out of the impasse was to put the issue to the people.

Constitutional expert, Patrick Monahan, Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School, also supported this view on February 8, 2007:

Legally, there is nothing to prevent the Prime Minister from advising the Governor General to dissolve Parliament. However, proposed subsections 56.1(1) and (2) create a presumption that the election will be in the fourth year on the third Monday of October. It would be incumbent on a Prime Minister in this scenario to argue that there was some extraordinary or unusual set of circumstances that required there to be a mandate for the government to deal with a matter of pressing national interest or perhaps the defeat of an important piece of legislation in the Senate.

In other words, the practical effect of this is to say that the previous situation is no longer acceptable. It will no longer be acceptable for the Prime Minister, virtually at any time but effectively two or three years after a previous election, to simply say, "We will now have an election because I think I can win." The presumption is that the election will be held in the fourth year.

However, nothing would legally prevent the Prime Minister, if he claimed that this was a matter of some extraordinary set of circumstances that required an election, from seeking a dissolution by advising the Governor General to dissolve the House, and the Governor General would act on the advice of the Prime Minister, in accordance with the principles of responsible government. That is because the rule of having the election is subject to the power of the Governor General to dissolve the House earlier.

In summary, the fixed dates for federal elections legislation enhances fairness, transparency and predictability in the electoral cycle by avoiding snap elections being called for partisan advantage. However, it preserves and respects the constitutional requirements and conventions of the Canadian tradition of responsible government.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it has been brought to my attention that the order of reference that led to the sixth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources tabled on March 4, 2008, had been a government motion adopted on December 12, 2007. Consideration of the report should therefore have been placed under Government Business, Reports of Committees. I will therefore ask the table to call the report as the second item under Reports of Committees in Government Business.

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. David Tkachuk (Acting Deputy Leader of the Government) moved third reading of Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions), as amended.

Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.

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Financial Administration Act
Bank of Canada Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Hugh Segal moved third reading of Bill S-201, An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act and the Bank of Canada Act (quarterly financial reports), as amended.—(Honourable Senator Segal)

He said: Honourable senators, I want to take a second to express my profound thanks to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, chaired so ably by Senator Day. I want to thank the committee for the work it performed in a non-partisan way to improve on the bill that I originally proposed. I would also like to deal with an issue that I understand was raised yesterday later in the day — the so-called "deemed" question.

By imposing upon government, as this statute would, quarterly financial reporting, that would mean that parliamentarians would get an update on how departments were spending, line by line, in a fashion that would allow us to ask questions and engage on a more timely basis than the year and a half or so after the expenditures have transpired. The amended version is much better than the one I proposed. It was amended with the cooperation of both sides across the aisle at the committee and I commend it to colleagues' consideration.

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, as amended, read third time and passed.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to interrupt to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of some very distinguished visitors. It is an honour to have with us Dr. Sergey Stepashin, Chairman of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation and former Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.

Dr. Stepashin is accompanied by His Excellency, Dr. Georgiy Mamedov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Canada. The delegation also consists of other officials of the Accounts Chamber and of the Russian Embassy in Canada.

We know that these distinguished visitors are having very important meetings with the Auditor General of Canada, an officer of our Parliament. To all, on behalf of all of my colleagues, senators and the Senate of Canada, I extend a very warm welcome to each of you.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, Your Honour will indicate whether this is a point of order, but at 3:30 this afternoon this very influential delegation will be meeting parliamentarians downstairs in room 160 for the free exchange of views. This exchange will include the reason why this delegation is here and comments on the results of the recent Russian elections. It is a free and open discussion.

I do not know if this is a point of order, but I would like to draw this information to the attention of honourable senators. The delegation will be downstairs at 3:30 p.m.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, in deciding on this point of order, I take the opportunity to place on the record of this honourable house the fact that our colleague, Senator Prud'homme, is a very distinguished honouree of our friends of the Russian Federation. In November, in the Senate foyer, we had a great celebration when the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation bestowed a very special honour on our colleague.

The point of order has been made; the invitation is extended and the matter is now settled.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Study on Impact and Effects of Social Determinants of Health

First Interim Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the seventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, entitled: Population Health Policy: International Perspectives, tabled in the Senate on February 26, 2008. —(Honourable Senator Keon)

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon moved the adoption of the report.

He said: Honourable senators, I am very pleased to speak to the seventh report of the Subcommittee on Population Health of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

As you know, the subcommittee has been mandated to examine and report on the impact of multiple factors and conditions that contribute to the health of Canadians, known collectively as the determinants of health. A central element of our study is to identify the actions that must be taken by the federal government to improve the overall health and reduce health disparities.

We must admit that we find ourselves in a very embarrassing position in the international community. The Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index places us twenty-third out of thirty in overall health; and dead last, thirty out of thirty, as best value for money spent on health. This situation has serious repercussions on our economy and in terms of lost productivity where we stand sixteenth among developed nations.

You will all agree with me that improving health status while reducing health disparities is a complex and multi-faceted public policy change. You will also agree that health disparities are often unnecessary and avoidable, thus unjust and unfair, and that well-crafted public policies are needed to reduce them.

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I strongly believe that the federal government can play a leadership role, given its responsibilities in many areas that affect health, such as the environment, economic policy, health research, taxation, employment, et cetera. We are clearly not getting the job done with our huge expenditures of $140 billion per year on the health care system, so we must look elsewhere for answers.

The seventh report, entitled Population Health Policy: International Perspectives presents an analysis of government policies to address population health and reduce health disparities in Australia, England, Finland, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. These countries were selected after consultation with experts in the field. The report describes and compares how population health in these countries has been developed, implemented and monitored.

We learned many lessons from this comparative review. For example, there have been substantial lags between the initial documentation of health disparities, the formulation of policies to reduce them, and progress toward their reduction. Experts in the field argue that it is time to move from describing the problem to implementing effective, systematic strategies and interventions to reduce health disparities.

We also noted that there is no single right way to address health determinants and reduce health disparities. Each country's approach to population health depends on its political, economic, administrative and social structures, all of which affect both the kinds and the scope of actions that can be taken.

We identified three different government approaches to tackling health disparities. The first is a comprehensive or whole-of-government approach as adopted in England. This addresses both the upstream determinants of health — for example, income, education and employment — and those downstream, such as nutrition, exercise and smoking, while also targeting specific population groups defined by age, gender, income level and ethnicity. Interestingly, a high-level cabinet committee oversees the implementation of the U.K. population health policy, and ministerial funding formulas determine the allocation of resources among the various programs that focus on reducing health disparities.

In the second approach, population health policy emanates from the health department as in Finland, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden, where there are also separate policies on poverty, social inclusion and social justice, all of which relate directly to underlying causes of poor health.

In the third government approach, various interventions are implemented independently to improve population health and reduce health disparities. There is no overarching action plan. In this case, as in Australia, population health strategies addressing disparities in health for a specific area — such as smoking and nutrition — or a specific group in society, such as Aboriginals and low-income families, are implemented in many departments but with little or no coordination.

Another lesson the subcommittee learned relates to the importance of establishing health goals and targets. This facilitates the monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs and helps generate evidence on the effectiveness of different approaches to reduce health disparities. Health impact assessment also appears to be a very useful tool, as it ensures that health considerations are built into government-wide policies. In Sweden and New Zealand, public health legislation has been employed to embed health impact assessment as an integral component of government processes.

In addition, the international comparative review revealed that intersectoral action is a crucial condition for successful population health policy. Intersectoral action requires a common purpose and shared values and interests. It rests on strong political support and it builds on horizontal linking across departments as well as vertical linking across governments.

In conclusion, Canada can do better in setting health goals and targets and in monitoring and reporting health disparities and outcomes in a more concerted way. We also need to use health impact analysis in a more systematic way, just as Sweden and New Zealand do, to ensure that health considerations are built into government-wide policy-making.

I believe the federal government can learn a lot from England and act as a leader in addressing health disparities through a whole-of-government approach, given its responsibility for many sectors that influence health, such as income support, environment, agriculture, housing, taxation, et cetera. It can also design strategies that will enhance the health of Canadians in collaboration with the provinces and territories as well as through intersectoral action with industry, NGOs and communities.

Reducing health disparities and improving the health of all Canadians is a major challenge but something we absolutely must do. This is a terrible economic burden to our country at the present time.

Why the persistent relatively poor health status and serious health disparities in Canada? Despite all our resources, numerous programs and initiatives, we remain about fifteenth in the world in population health status, according to the World Health Organization. As I mentioned before, the recent release of the Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index placed Canada twenty-third out of 30 in total index score and thirtieth out of 30 in best value for money spent on health.

These sobering numbers tell us we are doing something terribly wrong regarding health and health care delivery. At first glance, this would appear to be a lack of concentration and investment on population health and a paradoxical over-investment in a very inefficient health care delivery system. The other major reason would appear to be the lack of adequate community resources that could integrate and evaluate the health resources with the other dozen or so major determinants of health. We hope that our study can assist government and NGOs to come together and solve this disturbing situation, because inequities produce a barrier to prosperity.

On motion of Senator Cowan, debate adjourned.

Second Interim Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, entitled: Maternal Health and Early Childhood Development in Cuba, tabled in the Senate on February 26, 2008.—(Honourable Senator Keon)

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon moved the adoption of the eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

He said: Honourable senators, let me now address the eighth report of the subcommittee on Cuba's maternal health and early childhood development programs. You will probably recall that the subcommittee accepted the invitation of the Cuban Ambassador to Canada, His Excellency Ernesto A. Sentí, to conduct a fact-finding mission to obtain information about the structure, management, cost and impact of their programs for maternal health and early childhood education. I would like to acknowledge with gratitude the tremendous cooperation and assistance offered by everyone in the Cuban government, from the President through cabinet, and through all of the officials down to the community level, who made our visit interesting and informative.

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Honourable senators, I have been very impressed at how this poor country has health determinants the same as ours. A key player in their approach to maternal health and early childhood development is what Cubans call the "polyclinic." The role of the polyclinic is more extensive than that of a typical Canadian medical clinic. These local establishments ensure the integration of science, knowledge transfer, parent education and community mobilization, in addition to providing primary health care.

Polyclinics are multidisciplinary. They focus on prevention, regularly undertaking universal screening initiatives and strongly encouraging immunization. They also serve as a site for both medical training and education. In addition, polyclinics work closely with teachers in early childhood development and education, preschool and elementary schools. They also include daycare. Regular meetings are held to discuss the overall mental and physical health of the children in the community. Moreover, they serve as a source of data collection, scientific research and a conduit for scientific advances. For example, staff regularly participates in population-wide prevalence studies designed by scientists working in different ministries. The intimate connection between the staff at the polyclinics and the population they serve creates a health system where, at the street level, every aspect of the human condition is addressed, from maternal health care to teaching seniors to act as counsellors for their grandchildren.

When a woman becomes pregnant, a number of specialized services are drawn upon such as medical genetic services, the "partogram," and maternal homes, as needed. The genetic risk assessment services are available at every polyclinic. If a woman is identified as at risk, a partogram is done or a plan is developed to facilitate navigation of the system. Those at risk due to problems such as hypertension, anaemia, poor nutrition, or being under or overweight may be referred to a maternal home, where they are either followed as outpatients or admitted to the centre, depending on the severity of their condition.

The indicators presented to the subcommittee by the Cuban Ministry of Public Health showed steady improvement in child and maternal health outcomes from 1970 to 2006. Indeed, their outcomes are as good as ours, and we spend about eight times as much money on our system.

Cuba also provides three non-compulsory preschool education programs. The Circulos infantiles are child care centres for children between six months and five years whose mothers are working. The Educa a Tu Hijo, or "educate your child," program, provides non-institutional preschool education for children who do not attend child care centres. The program is based on household education from zero to two years of age, or is delivered through informal groups in parks or other nearby sites for children aged two to four. A preschool preparatory grade for five-year-olds is open for all children whether or not their mothers work. Together, these programs reach almost all children under six years of age.

Children with special educational needs receive individualized attention through the local polyclinic and, with the support of the Ministry of Education, are seen by the Educa a Tu Hijo program specialists. A diagnosis unit for potential developmental disabilities exists in each municipality, with a multidisciplinary team that assesses the child and advises the family.

Honourable senators, international data by UNESCO in 1998 — which I visited and reviewed the data for three hours — comparing 11 Latin American countries showed that Cuban third and fourth graders attained the highest level of achievement in mathematics and language skills. An update of that study in 2007, soon to be published, again ranked Cuban children well ahead of their Latin American counterparts.

The subcommittee was struck by the comment of one presenter who said that Cubans "live like the poor but die like the rich." This is truly the Cuban paradox — a developing country, indeed, a very poor country with developed-country health indicators. Cuba is world renowned for its consistently strong indices of good health, despite its poor economic status. These achievements are particularly remarkable in light of the stringent trade and service embargoes that apply to Cuba.

The pragmatism of the Cuban approach to health and education, with its emphasis on making best use of limited resources to achieve a clearly identified goal, is admirable. Particularly noteworthy was the enormous personal commitment, dedication and pride in their work demonstrated by the health care providers and educators. They project a sense of job satisfaction and of themselves as part of a team contributing to an overall goal. The subcommittee believes that the close relationship between the service provider, the child and the family enables those providers to understand the child's background and thereby provide the support that is needed.

Early diagnosis, research, assessment and ongoing monitoring are key elements of Cuban programs. Early detection of high-risk pregnancies, biannual medical checkups and early recognition of childhood developmental problems enable intervention at an early stage and avoid more costly remedies.

Cuba places great importance on science, as evidenced by their development of comprehensive databases and insistence on systemic program evaluation. Wherever possible, government policy is informed by rigorous scientific data. Moreover, the quality of much of the scientific research done there is world class and it is one area in which they are outstanding. I visited their scientific research centres and they are truly impressive.

In conclusion, honourable senators, I believe that Canada can do a better job of getting our primary health system right. By embracing a broader, more expansive view, such as the Cuban polyclinics, we can make a difference in terms of gains in population health, particularly for marginalized and disadvantaged population groups.

Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, this is an important and remarkable piece of work that was accomplished in a short time by our esteemed senator. A couple of questions came to mind as I listened to the report.

I believe the honourable senator said that the cost in Canada is eight times that of the cost in Cuba and that we may not be doing as well — that is another subject. How much of this increased cost in Canada is due to the salaries that are paid to our workers? How much are staff in these polyclinics paid? I know there are child care workers, maternal health care workers and follow-up, and so on, but I would like to have an understanding of how much this difference in salary affects the figures. Could the honourable senator also provide the educational requirements for the people who work in the various sections of the polyclinics?

Senator Keon: Honourable senators, we visited polyclinics in the rural communities and in the cities and in the special education facilities and the daycare facilities, and so on. I asked the question about rates of pay and all of the workers make about $4,000 a year: doctors, teachers and social workers. That is about it. That includes the cardiac surgeon with whom I spoke.

The answer to the second question is that Cuba is light years ahead in their medical educational system. When Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, most of the doctors left because they were reasonably affluent. They just got out of the country.

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What he did was clever. He created two main medical schools built on the global model — the kind we have in Canada, Europe and America — and he built an additional 19 medical, nursing and technical schools in the polyclinics. Nineteen of the ninety-one polyclinics graduate doctors, nurses and technicians. This enables them to train people who know what they have to deal with on the ground, whether it be in the mountains or in the middle of Havana. When they come out of that facility, they are quite ready to work with the populations. Of course, the populations are rostered. They have broken it down into 91 polyclinics. All 11 million Cubans are registered in one or other of those polyclinics.

They actively pursue the population and get out ahead of disease. The preventive health programs are tremendous.

Senator Trenholme Counsell: The honourable senator mentioned doctors, nurses, social workers and so on. In Canada, these people are very well trained as well. One of my biggest concerns, which will come as no surprise to anyone here as I talk about it so often, is the general lack of training and preparation of those who care for our children. The ratio is maybe one person with community college or even university training and the rest with very little education. It is improving across the land, but progress is very slow.

Are the people in Cuba who actually care for the children in these child care centres, which are part of the whole system, better trained — and if so, in what way — than the people who look after our children? Of course, I recognize that some of the people in our centres are very well trained.

Senator Keon: Honourable senators, there is no question that we have some well-trained people, and probably at the top level we have better expertise than the Cubans have in every discipline, but they have pretty much a universal standard. The people who look after and educate children are all professionally trained. The daycare centres are not daycare centres; they are educational centres.

Senator Munson was very helpful on the trip.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Keon's time has expired. Do honourable senators agree that he should continue?

An Hon. Senator: He may finish the answer.

The Hon. the Speaker: That was not the question that was put to the house.

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Five minutes.

The Hon. the Speaker: I know several senators would like to ask questions. Is his time extended for five minutes?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Keon: There were some old people there. Senator Munson asked, "Who are all these old people in the polyclinic?" The answer was: "They are grandparents and they are doing a bachelor's degree in child psychology so that they can care for the grandchildren when the mothers and fathers are working."

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I would like to thank the honourable senator for his very interesting report. I look forward to reading the full report in detail. I would like to congratulate him and his committee on their initiative in going to Cuba. In light of the obvious value of that visit, perhaps other committees in this chamber might consider a similar type of visit.

My question relates specifically to medical care. The honourable senator indicated that their outcomes, their standards of medical attention, are roughly equivalent to those of Canada. He spoke about people with some degree of medical training, but not medical doctors, in relation to seniors and pregnant women, and early intervention if necessary.

The honourable senator has been undoubtedly following the Canadian Medical Association's campaign that we must train more medical doctors here in Canada. Having in mind that 50 per cent of the newly licensed doctors are trained outside of Canada at the present time, did the honourable senator draw any conclusions from his observations in Cuba as to the medical services being offered, not by fully trained medical doctors but by the nurse practitioners or whatever the equivalent is there?

Senator Keon: There is no question that they use large numbers of people with lesser training, but they use them very effectively. I want to make it clear that I think the polyclinic model is a genius, but when you go above the polyclinic to the hospital care, tertiary and quaternary care, they do not have the resources or the personnel that we have. You would not go there for their brain surgery, let me put it that way.

In answer to the Canadian Medical Association, I am totally supportive of what they are trying to do. They are trying to get family physicians out from the periphery so that people can have a family doctor. However, we have a terrible structural defect in our health care system in that we do not have community clinics that integrate health care, education, social services, sport and poverty control; to integrate health care and social services at one spot so that people know where to go and get it early and prevent this horrendous epidemic of disease that we have in Canada that is costing us a fortune.

Hon. George J. Furey: Honourable senators, in a follow-up to Senator Day's question, with Senator Keon's vast medical experience, what was his impression of the level of medical training in Cuba? I assume he interacted with medically trained people there and I wonder what his impression was of the level of training compared to what we have in Canada.

Senator Keon: The two central medical schools turn out medical graduates comparable to ours. The 19 medical schools in the polyclinics turn out an individual with less training but who can do the job in the polyclinic, because they are integrated into the central facilities.

On motion of Senator Cowan, debate adjourned.

[Translation]

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Fourth Report of Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration (Senate Estimates 2008-2009), presented in the Senate on February 28, 2008.—(Honourable Senator Furey)

Hon. George J. Furey: Honourable senators, as chair of your committee, I am pleased to present the Senate Main Estimates for the fiscal year 2008-2009. The budget totals $90,232,000.

[English]

This budget, honourable senators, represents a realistic funding level to enable the Senate to carry out its constitutional role and to administer the affairs of the Senate for the coming year.

(1510)

The budget provides an additional $994,500 for statutory expenses. Senators will know that statutory expenses are comprised of amounts which Parliament provides on an ongoing basis as authorized by the Parliament of Canada Act and the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act. These include expenses such as pension contributions and contributions to employee benefit plans.

This budget also provides an additional amount of $2,207,500 to cover mainly for inflationary pressures. This 2.5 per cent increase includes annual salary adjustments and other personnel costs for administrative staff and inflationary increases to the operational and capital budgets. It also includes the Senate's share of additional funding requested by the Joint Interparliamentary Council.

Senators will have found further details in the executive summary, which you all received with the committee report. You will also find in the committee report a motion to lapse any budgetary surplus in the funding envelope for senators' research and office expenses resulting from Senate vacancies. To be perfectly clear on this point, all surpluses from this allocation will be returned to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

In closing, I wish to take this opportunity to thank the administration and senators' staff for their work in complex and challenging times. The Senate is a vital part of our parliamentary system, promoting better policies and investigating a wide range of social, economic and cultural issues. By their work and support, our people help us provide a real forum for issues of importance to Canadians.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, to allow us to continue our work and effectively fulfil our constitutional obligations, I recommend that this report be adopted.

On motion of Senator Di Nino, debate adjourned.

[English]

The Senate

Motion to Urge Governor-in-Council to Prepare Referendum on Whether the Senate Should be Abolished—Debate Continued

On the Order:

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

WHEREAS the Canadian public has never been consulted on the structure of its government (Crown, Senate and House of Commons)

AND WHEREAS there has never been a clear and precise expression by the Canadian public on the legitimacy of the Upper House since the constitutional agreement establishing its existence

AND WHEREAS a clear and concise opinion might be obtained by putting the question directly to the electors by means of a referendum

THAT the Senate urge the Governor in Council to obtain by means of a referendum, pursuant to section 3 of the Referendum Act, the opinion of the electors of Canada on whether the Senate should be abolished; and

THAT a message be sent to the House of Commons requesting that House to unite with the Senate for the above purpose.—(Honourable Senator Tardif)

Hon. James S. Cowan (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, several colleagues on our side of the house wish to speak on this matter, and I notice we are at day 13, so perhaps we could rewind the clock.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there is a specific rule to obviate rewinding the clock, so perhaps the honourable senator is intending to participate in the debate, and what he has said so far constitutes his contribution to the debate and then someone else can move the adjournment of the debate for the balance of his time.

On motion of Senator Cowan, debate adjourned.

Adjournment

Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:

Hon. David Tkachuk (Acting Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move that when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Tuesday, March 11, 2008, at 2 p.m.

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

Motion agreed to.

The Senate adjourned to Tuesday, March 11, 2008, at 2 p.m.