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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 39th Parliament,
Volume 144, Issue 52

Thursday, April 17, 2008
The Honourable Rose-Marie Losier-Cool, Speaker pro tempore



THE SENATE

Thursday, April 17, 2008

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

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

World Malaria Day

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, April 25 is World Malaria Day. It has been said that malaria is a genocide of apathy that knows no boundaries. This illness will take the life of one in five African children before their fifth birthday. Millions of people are dying and hundreds of millions are falling ill, all from a preventable disease spread by a mosquito bite during the night.

Although World Malaria Day has not been formally acknowledged at the federal level, Canadian municipalities and provinces across our nation have taken a leadership role. There have been many stories from across Canada of towns, cities and communities formally acknowledging this day and raising awareness as well as funds to provide insecticide-treated bed nets for African villages. With their actions they have proven this is not a disease of apathy — Canadians care.

There are stories from the West Coast in B.C. Examples that come immediately to mind are the efforts of Nanaimo Mayor Gary Korpan, as well as Mayors Jack Mar and Frank Leonard of the Districts of Saanich. They have all proclaimed April 25 World Malaria Day.

On the East Coast I am particularly moved by the efforts of Mayor Lee in Charlottetown who sent his World Malaria Day proclamation to every community in the province and encouraged them to take up the challenge of netting a village.

Globally, world leaders like the Right Honourable Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, have launched campaigns such as the Call to Action on the Millennium Development Goals, bringing together governments, NGOs, businesses, faith groups and civil societies from across the world to get the Millennium Development Goals back on track.

Honourable senators, World Malaria Day is an opportunity for malaria-free countries like Canada to learn about the devastating consequences of the disease and for new donors to join a global partnership against malaria. It is an occasion for research and academic institutions to flag their scientific advances to both experts and the general public. It is a chance for countries in affected regions to learn from each other's experiences and to back each other's efforts. It is an opportunity for international partners, companies and foundations to showcase their results and reflect together on how to scale up what has been proven to work.

In Canada, World Malaria Day should be a day of reflection. We should ask ourselves what else we should or could be doing as a country to combat this killer, one of the largest contributing factors to African poverty. Given Canadian citizens' impressive success with bed net programs and the desperate need of millions of poor people for protection from the ravages of malaria, we need to ask ourselves what more we can do. For every $6 that is spent on a net, four African lives are saved, and this is a wise investment of Canadian aid dollars. We need to do more to fight this disease.

Honourable senators, this is a preventable disease and it is in the hands of all of us to make a difference.

[Translation]

National Defence

Recognition of Canadian Forces Contribution in Applying Fisheries Regulations in North Atlantic Coastal Waters

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, on April 6, at a special ceremony aboard HMCS St. John's, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Loyola Hearn, recognized the Canadian Forces for their contributions towards effective fisheries enforcement in the North Atlantic. He was accompanied by the Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian navy and air force have a long history of working together to conduct Canada's offshore surveillance program.

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A good example of this cooperation is HMCS Fredericton, which was directly involved in two NAFO citations for serious infringements issued to the Spanish vessels Esperenza Menduina and Festeiro in 2006.

At the April 6 ceremony, Minister Hearn said:

The Government of Canada is committed to fighting illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in the North Atlantic. The cooperation and commitment shown by the crews and commanding officers of Canadian Forces vessels is much appreciated by our Canadian NAFO inspectors who work closely with them while on patrol.

Minister MacKay added:

I'm proud of the work the Canadian Forces have done to help fight illegal fishing activities. The dedication and professionalism shown by our men and women in uniform in this regard has been exemplary and should be commended.

Honourable senators, patrolling our oceans and conducting aerial surveillance to monitor the activity of fishing vessels beyond Canada's 200-mile limit sends a clear message that overfishing on the high seas will not be tolerated in Canada. To increase our NAFO patrol capacity, the Canadian Forces commits sea days and aerial surveillance hours to our east coast operations, primarily within the NAFO Regulatory Area.

Over the last three years there has been a steady decline in serious NAFO citations, which is due to the successful collaboration of the Canadian Forces and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to protect Canada's sovereignty and fight overfishing.

[English]

World Malaria Day

Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, I can hardly add to the eloquence with which Senator Jaffer addressed the issue of malaria. I merely want to deal with a somewhat different facet of it.

As honourable senators know, malaria is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It is one of humanity's worst diseases and one of the most preventable. Each year it kills more than a million people, the majority of them children. Malaria can slow a country's economic development by as much as 30 per cent each year, stunt development of human potential and place a huge strain on health service delivery and resources.

World Malaria Day was established and approved at the sixtieth World Health Assembly in 2007. The World Health Organization has also endorsed World Malaria Day. It replaces Africa Malaria Day, which has been commemorated on April 25 each year since 2001, and will be celebrated annually on the same day. It is a day to provide education and understanding of malaria as a global health crisis that is both preventable and curable, and to engage the global community in becoming part of the solution.

While we applaud the efforts of our Canadian government to date on child survival issues, we believe, with respect, that more can and must be done to save lives from malaria. Canadians remain largely unaware that somewhere in Africa a mother loses her baby to malaria every 30 seconds. Every 30 seconds a child dies.

Established in 2004 and endorsed by the Canadian Nurses Association, Buy-A-Net Malaria Prevention Group is Canada's first volunteer, citizen-driven, registered charitable organization that seeks to prevent deaths from malaria in Africa, one country at a time. Founded by Canadian registered nurse Debra Lefebvre, the campaign provides advocacy and awareness about malaria and raises funds needed for the purchase and procurement of long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets and anti-malaria medicine. In partnership with community-based groups, the nets are distributed to one village at a time, free of charge. Each net distributed saves four lives. The country of Uganda was chosen as the organization's first country.

Based in Kingston, Ontario, Buy-A-Net organized the first Canadian event in support of World Malaria Day last April. Once again, World Malaria Day will be recognized in Kingston, Ontario, on April 25, 2008, with a reception at Memorial Hall in Kingston City Hall.

I respectfully urge our government, in a non-partisan way, to continue with its visible leadership in international issues and to recognize publicly World Malaria Day this April 25, 2008.

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Law Day

Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I would like to draw to the attention of all senators present that today is Law Day across Canada. On Law Day, April 17, the anniversary of the Charter, the Canadian Bar Association, along with members of the legal community across this country, organize events and activities to celebrate the rights and freedoms Canadians enjoy.

As Canadians, we are indeed privileged. We live in a country that respects the rule of law, whereby the law applies to everyone and everyone is equal under the law, but many around the world are not as fortunate as we are in Canada. Last year in Pakistan, the government suspended its Constitution, shut down its Supreme Court and declared emergency rule. The Canadian Bar Association supported the Canadian government's condemnation of the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan and called for the immediate return of the rule of law.

Here in Canada, we value the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession. We hold these convictions without fear of recrimination, detention or torture. The people of Canada enjoy a justice system that upholds these important principles that are as important to democracy as free elections themselves.

On this Law Day, hundreds of lawyers, judges, students and citizens across Canada participate in activities including courthouse tours, mock trials, career panels, contests and charity events. The theme is "Access to Justice," reflecting the right of every Canadian to have equal access to information about the laws and the legal institutions of Canada, a core legacy from the Magna Carta and our principle of equality before the law.

I offer my encouragement and support to the Canadian Bar Association and its President, Bernard Amyot. Please join me in extending best wishes to all involved for a successful Law Day 2008.

[Translation]

The Honourable Marcel Prud'homme, P.C.

Congratulations on Receiving Honorary Doctoral Degree from the University of Algiers (Benyoucef Benkhedda)

Hon. Francis Fox: Honourable senators, I would like to draw your attention to an exceptional honour that will be bestowed on our friend, colleague and dean of the Senate, the Honourable Marcel Prud'homme, on April 20.

The board of the University of Algiers (Benyoucef Benkhedda) has decided to bestow an honorary doctorate on Senator Marcel Prud'homme. The ceremony will take place in Algiers on April 20, 2008, and will be attended by key figures from the political, diplomatic, parliamentary and academic spheres, as well as students. The University of Algiers decided to honour our colleague for his exceptional career in the Parliament of Canada, of which he is the dean.

He was elected to the House of Commons and re-elected eight times — some of our fellow senators are no doubt envious — and has been a member of the Senate since 1993. According to the embassy's press release, in addition to the richness and the longevity of his presence in Parliament, Senator Prud'homme has represented Canada in various inter-parliamentary and international meetings, where he has defended Canadian values of tolerance, dialogue and humanism.

This distinction will consecrate his commitment in favour of cooperation and parliamentary diplomacy, as well as his work of rapprochement and dialogue among peoples, and his defense human rights.

It also pays tribute to his role for over four decades in strengthening the Algerian-Canadian friendship and Arab-Canadian friendship in general. Congratulations to our colleague, Senator Marcel Prud'homme, for an exceptional and well-deserved honour. No doubt this is only his first doctorate.

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Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I would like to join honourable Senator Fox in drawing your attention to this honour bestowed upon our colleague, Senator Marcel Prud'homme, not just as dean of Canada's Parliament, but as an alumnus of the University of Ottawa.

It is in my capacity as his fellow alumnus that I wish to take part in recognizing this honour. Algerians know Canadians well, particularly because of our great engineering works. Many Canadian companies have been working for decades to improve Algerian infrastructure.

Sunday's ceremony will not be about engineering; it will be about talent, a talent for bringing people together. Marcel, we congratulate you on receiving this honour, and we are certain that you will use the talent, skill and style we know you possess to improve Canadian-Algerian relations. In the spirit of friendship, we thank you.

[English]

National Defence

Retirement of Chief of the Defence Staff

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to the recent announcement in regard to the retirement of the Chief of the Defence Staff. General Hillier is the latest in a long stream of generals who has evolved from a professional army that began with Sir Arthur Currie at Vimy. General Currie stood up to British and French colleagues and established the Canadian army. In so doing, he also established the Canadian general officer corps. He went on to become Principal and Vice Chancellor of McGill University.

Other officers of note include Crerar; Simonds; McNaughton, who was our ambassador to the UN; and Manson, who was a captain of industry. We have also had General Baril, who was a military adviser to the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

General Hillier has raised the level of debate between the general officer corps and the political leadership of the nation at a time of crisis. This is a great sign that our country and its military have moved on to another phase of maturation. General Hillier has contributed greatly to our status as an independent nation state.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Sixth Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Terry Stratton, Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration has the honour to present its

SIXTH REPORT

Your Committee recommends that the following funds be released for fiscal year 2008-2009.

Energy, Environment and Natural Resources (Legislation)

Professional and Other Services    $ 12,000
Transportation and Communications    $ 500
All Other Expenditures    $ 2,500
Total    $ 15,000

National Finance (Legislation)

Professional and Other Services    $ 36,000
Transportation and Communications    $ 21,360
All Other Expenditures    $ 5,000
Total    $ 62,360

(includes funds for participation at conferences)

Social Affairs, Science and Technology (Legislation)

Professional and Other Services    $ 4,000
Transportation and Communications    $ 0
All Other Expenditures    $ 0
Total    $ 4,000

Respectfully submitted,

TERRY STRATTON
Deputy Chair

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

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

Human Rights

Budget—Study on Issues Related to National and International Human Rights Obligations—Report of Committee Presented

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

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

NINTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Wednesday, November 21, 2007, to examine and monitor issues relating to human rights and, inter alia, to review the machinery of government dealing with Canada's international and national human rights obligations 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,

A. RAYNELL ANDREYCHUK
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix A, p. 896.)

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

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

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Budget and Authorization to Travel—Study on Cases of Alleged Discrimination in Hiring and Promotion Practices and Employment Equity for Minority Groups in Federal Public Service—Report of Committee Presented

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

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

TENTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Wednesday, November 21, 2007, to examine cases of alleged discrimination in the hiring and promotion practices of the Federal Public Service and to study the extent to which targets to achieve employment equity for minority groups are being met, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009 and that it be empowered to adjourn from place to place within Canada and to travel inside Canada, for the purpose of such study.

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,

A. RAYNELL ANDREYCHUK
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix B, p. 904.)

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

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

Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on Issues Related to Mandate—Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Tommy Banks, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources has the honour to present its

EIGHTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Thursday, November 15, 2007, to examine and report on emerging issues related to its mandate, respectfully requests that it be empowered to engage the services of such counsel and technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary for the purpose of its study and to adjourn from place to place within Canada for the purpose of its study 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,

TOMMY BANKS
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix C, p. 918.)

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

Senator Banks: Honourable senators, I wish this report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day. First, however, I want to take a moment to explain why.

Honourable senators, this committee along with another committee is undertaking a visit to the Arctic regions. This will take place during the first week of June. To say that travel and accommodation arrangements in the Arctic are extraordinarily difficult by comparison with many other parts of the world is an understatement. It is an understatement with respect to the certainty of making the travel and accommodation arrangements, and with respect to witnesses that the Senate committee wishes to hear from, many of whom have to travel hundreds of kilometres to appear before the committees.

Honourable senators, given that we are not here next week, that hiatus will cast a great impediment on our capacity to make those arrangements and therefore, with leave of the Senate, I wish this report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

On motion of Senator Banks, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(g), report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.

[Translation]

Official Languages

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on Official Languages Act—Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Maria Chaput, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages has the honour to present its

THIRD REPORT

Your Committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 to study and to report from time to time on the application of the Official Languages Act and of the regulations and directives made under it, within those institutions subject to the Act, respectfully requests for the purpose of this study that it be empowered to engage the services of such counsel, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary and to adjourn from place to place within Canada for the purpose of its study 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,

MARIA CHAPUT
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix D, p. 928.)

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

On motion of Senator Chaput, notwithstanding rule 58(1)(g), report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Budget and Authorization to Travel—Study on Rise of China, India and Russia in the Global Economy and the Implications for Canadian Policy—Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade has the honour to present its

SIXTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, March 4, 2008, to examine and report on the rise of China, India and Russia in the global economy and the implications for Canadian policy, respectfully requests that it be empowered to travel outside Canada for the purpose of its study.

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,

CONSIGLIO DI NINO
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix E, p. 938.)

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

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

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[English]

National Philanthropy Day Bill

Report of Committee

Hon. Art Eggleton, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

TWELFTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-204, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, February 13, 2008, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted

ART EGGLETON
Chair

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

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

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Budget and Authorization to Travel—Study on Impact and Effects of Social Determinants of Health—Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon, Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

THIRTEENTH REPORT

Your Committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, November 20, 2007, to examine and report on the impact of the multiple factors and conditions that contribute to the health of Canada's population, respectfully requests that it be empowered to adjourn from place to place within Canada and to travel inside Canada for the purpose of its study.

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,

WILBERT J. KEON
Deputy Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix F, p. 948.)

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

On motion of Senator Keon, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(g), report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.

Budget and Authorization to Travel—Study on Current Social Issues of Large Cities—Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Art Eggleton, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

FOURTEENTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, November 20, 2007, to examine and report on current social issues pertaining to Canada's largest cities, respectfully requests that it be empowered to adjourn from place to place within Canada and to travel inside Canada for the purpose of its study.

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,

ART EGGLETON
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix G, p. 964.)

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

On motion of Senator Eggleton, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(g), report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.

Budget—Study on State of Early Learning and Child Care—Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Art Eggleton, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

FIFTEENTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, November 20, 2007, to examine the state of early learning and child care in Canada respectfully requests the approval of funds for the fiscal year 2008-2009.

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

ART EGGLETON
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix H, p. 980.)

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

On motion of Senator Eggleton, 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. Joan Fraser (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition), Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the honour to present its

TENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-210, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings), has, in obedience to the order of reference of Thursday, February 28, 2008, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

JOAN FRASER
Chair

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

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

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Fisheries and Oceans

Budget—Study on Issues Relating to New and Evolving Policy Framework for Managing Fisheries and Oceans—Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Bill Rompkey, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, presented the following report:

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans has the honour to present its

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on November 21, 2007, to examine and report on issues relating to the federal government's current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans, 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,

WILLIAM ROMPKEY
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix I, p. 986.)

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

On motion of Senator Rompkey, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(g), report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration later this day.

[Translation]

The Senate

Notice of Motion Urging Government to Negotiate with the United States for the Immediate Repatriation of Omar Khadr

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Senate call on the Government of Canada to negotiate with the Government of the United States of America the immediate repatriation to Canada of Canadian citizen and former child soldier Omar Khadr from the Guantánamo Bay detention facility;

That the Senate urge the Government of Canada to undertake all necessary measures to promote his rehabilitation, in accordance with this country's international obligations on child rights in armed conflicts, namely the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House with the above.


[English]

QUESTION PERIOD

Elections Canada

Conservative Party Campaign Expenses

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

The Prime Minister claims that the Conservative Party of Canada has cooperated fully with Elections Canada. Yesterday, however, government supporters went so far as to say that the raid of their party headquarters was evidence of a conspiracy by Elections Canada.

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Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate please tell honourable senators how far this conspiracy theory goes?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. She may refer to yesterday's Hansard when I indicated that we had initiated this legal suit in response to Elections Canada, to which Senator Campbell replied: "We initiated the investigation; you initiated the lawsuit." That was an interesting statement by Senator Campbell. I must have it checked out.

The fact is, I answered all these questions yesterday. This is a legal matter between the Conservative Party and Elections Canada. We initiated a court action. It is before the courts, where it should be. We are confident in the outcome.

If given an opportunity this morning to question the Chief Electoral Officer, I would have asked him whether he was aware that leaking information about a search warrant and the execution of a search warrant is a criminal offence. Additionally, I would have asked what he is doing about it.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: Before accusing the Chief Electoral Officer, I would think twice. Here, the honourable senator can say it. However, I do not think she would do so outside this chamber.

Elections Canada is mandated by Parliament to ensure elections are carried out in a fair and transparent manner. They act not as a biased organization toward the honourable senator's party but in the interest of all Canadians.

Does the honourable senator claim that Elections Canada is not fair in this system? I am proud of our institution and I am proud of Elections Canada.

Senator LeBreton: I did not make any accusation against the Chief Electoral Officer. I said only that if I had a chance to ask him a question this morning when he appeared before the Senate committee, I would have asked him if he was aware that leaking to the media that a search warrant was issued or executed is a criminal offence. As an officer of Parliament, I hope that the Chief Electoral Officer, in service to all of us, would investigate this matter.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: What are the roles of everyone involved? We have a judicial system that awarded a search warrant. Out of legal necessity, they would have had some kind of evidence, which we have not seen.

Is the leader also saying there is a conspiracy from the judge? Who is conspiring with whom?

Senator LeBreton: I was clear yesterday. This matter is between the Conservative Party and Elections Canada. It is clear we filed our election returns, unlike the millions of dollars handed around in brown envelopes by the Liberals that were never reported and that no one at Elections Canada has ever investigated.

This matter is between the Conservative Party and Elections Canada. It is before the courts, where it should be. We are confident that we followed all the election laws. We reported our election returns openly and honestly. As a result of our reporting the election returns, Elections Canada challenged our. We then responded. The matter is before the courts, where it should be. We are confident it will be resolved there.

Hon. James S. Cowan: My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Is it not a fact that the search warrant was executed as part of the investigation by the Commissioner of Canada Elections into allegations that the party of the Leader of the Government in the Senate exceeded national campaign spending limits by more than $1 million in the last election? Is it not a fact that the search warrant had nothing to do with the lawsuit between the party and Elections Canada, separate organizations, in which at least 67 Conservative candidates are looking for taxpayer-funded rebates on expenses that were not local riding expenses but were, in reality, national campaign expenses?

Senator LeBreton: We do not know that. The warrant was sealed. Therefore we have no indication of its contents.

I put on the record yesterday and it is well known that we are in dispute with Elections Canada. The matter is before the courts.

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We are confident of the case. As I answered yesterday when I was asked questions by other senators, the honourable senator seems to know more than we do.

Senator Cowan: Why does the Conservative Party of Canada not make public the contents of the search warrant that was served upon them by the RCMP, so everyone will know why their headquarters were raided?

Senator LeBreton: I am not a lawyer. The warrant was sealed, so who knows?

Senator Cowan: Did the Conservative Party not receive a copy of the warrant when it was served on them?

Senator Nolin: No, it was sealed.

Senator Cowan: I would like an answer from the leader; yes or no?

Senator LeBreton: The only information I have is that the warrant was sealed. The only way we will ever find out what was in the warrant is if we petition the courts to find out what was in it.

Senator Cowan: I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to take that question as notice. I think she will find that what is sealed is the information filed with the judge to obtain the warrant. I do not think the warrant itself is sealed.

Senator LeBreton: I will not take it as notice. This question is totally inappropriate. It has nothing to do with my responsibilities or our responsibilities. This matter is before the courts.

Senator Mercer: The honourable senator is close to the nerves.

Senator LeBreton: I do not believe I have the right, nor do any of us, to commit to this Parliament that we would divulge any information in a search warrant.

Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate suggest that this matter, which relates to the Conservative Party and its manner of raising funds and conducting elections, is immune to scrutiny while the Liberal manner of raising money is not immune to scrutiny?

Senator LeBreton: I receive some strange questions, but that one is right up there at the top. I say no such thing. Our party filed its election returns based on the law and our belief that we followed the law. Elections Canada has challenged that belief.

We have challenged them in the court of law. We have lawyers representing the party. The matter is before the courts. We filed our returns and we initiated the action. That is the status of this particular matter.

My only other comments yesterday, which remain the same today, related to the example of monies expended by the Liberal Party that were not reported, and that situation ended up as a serious legal matter. Monies were not reported; they were handed around as cash in envelopes. No one has ever figured out where the money went. As far as I know, Elections Canada never investigated the impropriety of those payments.

Confidence in Chief Electoral Officer

Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. If the government no longer has confidence in the Chief Electoral Officer, why does it not present a motion to have him deposed by Parliament, instead of sniping from the bushes of parliamentary privileges? This is no way to treat a servant of Parliament.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Unless I was sleepwalking and did not know what I was saying, I do not believe I ever said we had no confidence in the Chief Electoral Officer. This person is an officer of Parliament.

In answer to the question, I stated the case with regard to our public dealings with the Chief Electoral Officer. I ask the honourable senator to rescind that allegation, because at no time have I ever said that the government or anyone on this side has lost faith in any officer of Parliament.

Senator Corbin: I think the record will show that I am not accusing the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I was talking about the Government of Canada.

Senator LeBreton: I speak for the Government of Canada, and it is the same thing.

Conservative Party Campaign Expenses

Hon. Jane Cordy: This supplementary question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This afternoon, she talked about "the fact is." The fact is that it is never a good day when the RCMP raids her party headquarters with a search warrant. The fact is that the Conservative Party is under investigation by the RCMP.

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!

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Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, this is the problem that arises when people use the tabloid newspapers and the television for their research.

The RCMP did not initiate a search warrant of our party headquarters. It was explained yesterday in a quote by the Commissioner of the RCMP, which I read in the newspaper yesterday, that there is a long-standing agreement with the RCMP to assist investigations by Elections Canada. I believe there have been many instances of people being investigated by Elections Canada and the RCMP has assisted in executing Elections Canada warrants.

Senator Cordy: It is nice that it is so cordial and that everyone has agreed that the RCMP would obtain documents from Conservative headquarters using a search warrant. Has the RCMP obtained records from Conservative official agents for the ridings involved in the in-and-out scandal?

Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator is again asking me a question that is impossible to answer. The issue is between the Conservative Party of Canada and Elections Canada. These events were precipitated by our party filing legal election returns. Elections Canada challenged the returns. We in turn challenged Elections Canada's interpretation of the law. It is as simple as that.

This matter is before the courts. We are very confident in our case and in our interpretation of the election law. Those are the simple facts of the case. There is nothing more to be said.

Foreign Affairs

Funding to Combat Malaria

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Canadian government recently announced a funding contribution of $105 million for the initiative to save lives to be allocated to treat malaria. The leader answered my previous question in this regard by saying that this amount would be spent on malaria health services depending on the burden of malaria in a country.

When we see that one in five African children die before their fifth birthday — one African child dies every 30 seconds — we know that malaria presents a large burden to families. This government states that currently these factors are being analyzed in cooperation with UNICEF and the respective ministries of health of each country.

When will the government know when this assessment will be done? What is the government doing to monitor these funds?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question. As I responded before, this is a tragic set of circumstances, and the death toll from malaria is overwhelming. The honourable senator has asked a specific question about when the government might be able to provide the information. I am quite certain that the government will have the information fairly soon, so I will take the question as notice.

Canadian International Development Agency—World Health Organization Request for Funding to Provide Bed Nets

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, the World Health Organization has requested a further $100 million from CIDA to purchase and distribute life-saving bed nets and malaria medicines to give to poor African countries. Will CIDA be providing these supplies?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, I will be happy to obtain information on the bed net program and the role of CIDA for the honourable senator.

Elections Canada

Conservative Party Campaign Expenses

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and is supplementary to the question of the Honourable Senator Cordy because I want to ensure that I understood the response correctly.

Is the honourable leader saying that the visit by the RCMP to the offices of the Conservative Party is directly related to the lawsuit filed by the Conservative Party in respect of the elections officers and the party's returns? I do not understand the connection.

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Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, the visit to party headquarters was conducted on the basis of a warrant relating to Elections Canada. To be perfectly honest, we have been involved in this dispute with Elections Canada, so that would be the only obvious conclusion. However, as I said earlier, we have not seen the search warrants.

Much as I would like to try to enlighten the honourable senator, other people seem to know more about this situation than we do. There is nothing more I can say.

Senator Banks: I have the impression that the suit against Elections Canada would be regarded as a civil matter. Ordinarily, the RCMP is not involved in anything having to do with civil matters. I cannot make the connection between the RCMP operating on the basis of a search warrant, on the one hand, and the Conservative Party's suit against Elections Canada, on the other. The two aspects seem to be disconnected, since one deals with civil law and the other must, perforce, deal with criminal law.

Senator LeBreton: No, the honourable senator is quite wrong. This is a civil suit between the Conservative Party of Canada and Elections Canada. As the Commissioner of the RCMP explained, the RCMP has a long-standing agreement with Elections Canada to assist Elections Canada with the issuing of warrants.

I believe there have been members of Parliament, individually, who, at different times, have been served by Elections Canada. It is my understanding that the RCMP has a longstanding memorandum of understanding that they will assist in the execution of these warrants.

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I do want to continue the discussion of the crime wave that is affecting this government. It is very interesting because the issue goes not only to the filing of election returns but also to the lack of understanding of the role of Elections Canada and the role of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, which are two different entities. I understand that the Commissioner of Canada Elections had the warrant exercised by the RCMP.

Agriculture and Agri-Food

Canadian Wheat Board—Minister's Request for Private Information

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I wish to turn to another issue of the members of the government flouting the law. On October 22, 2007, the Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, wrote a letter to my good friends at the Canadian Wheat Board. In that letter he asked for the names, addresses and commercial details of individuals doing business with the Canadian Wheat Board. What the government wanted was the private information of individuals.

The President of the Wheat Board — and I praise him for this — told Minister Ritz that such disclosure would be contrary to the Privacy Act.

An Hon. Senator: Take a deep breath!

Senator Mercer: I am taking a deep breath, because this could be long. Stick around, honourable senator, you may enjoy this.

Listen to the gall of this government. Minister Ritz turned around on January 25, 2008 and wrote another letter to the President of the Wheat Board.

An Hon. Senator: Read it!

Senator Mercer: I can get a copy for the honourable senator, if he wishes.

The minister again demanded the same information. Not only do members of the party opposite break election laws, they also break privacy laws. When will they stop this attack on the Wheat Board and when will the Conservative government and the Conservative Party stop breaking the laws of this country?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): As a matter of fact, when the honourable senator began his question, I looked to see whether Dr. Keon was present because I thought that at any moment he may have to rush to the back row.

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!

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The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Order. The Leader of the Government in the Senate may answer the question.

Senator LeBreton: Thank you.

The honourable senator previously asked me a question about the Canadian Wheat Board and seemed to indicate that more members of the Canadian Wheat Board were appointed by the government, and that was not the case. I checked that after I left the Senate chamber.

I will take as notice the question about the letter to which Senator Mercer referred, and seek the assistance of my qualified colleague, the Minister of Agriculture, to provide an answer.

Elections Canada

Difference Between Commissioner of Canada Elections and Chief Electoral Officer

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, while the Leader of the Government in the Senate is checking with experts, there must be at least one expert on election law deep in the bowels of the Conservative Party with which she can consult. If not, I can give her the names of several well-qualified Liberals who will explain to her and her colleagues the difference between Elections Canada, the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner of Canada Elections. If the leader learns the difference, she will be surprised at the different powers and responsibilities of those bodies.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): I thank Senator Mercer for the lecture. I am well aware of the roles of the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

I have a question for Senator Mercer. He was the executive director of the Liberal Party during the time of the sponsorship scandal, was he not? Did he contact Elections Canada and apprise them of his great knowledge of the law?

Conservative Party Campaign Expenses

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, the Leader of the Government has said that the "visit" of the RCMP was as a result of the Conservative Party reporting their returns. It is the law that all candidates who run for election in Canada must report their returns to Elections Canada. That is not something they did over and above what every other candidate in the country did.

However, it has been determined, as a result of the Conservative government reporting their returns, that there is a possibility they may have done something wrong.

The leader said this matter is between the Conservative Party and Elections Canada. I believe that the Canadian public also has a right to understand what is happening. They have a right to full disclosure by this Conservative government.

Will the Leader of the Government undertake to tell us what the RCMP was investigating or discussing during their visit to Conservative headquarters?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, what part of "no" does Senator Cordy have trouble understanding? This matter is not a criminal investigation, as the RCMP has said. We filed our election returns like everyone else does. It is the law to do so. We filed them based on our interpretation of the law. We believe we are on the right side of the law. Elections Canada challenged that belief. We challenged Elections Canada and the matter was referred to the courts.

We are confident in our case, but until the courts decide, it is incumbent upon all of us to let the court process work. It is not the responsibility of Senator Cordy to assume that we or anyone else is guilty.

[Translation]

Delayed Answer to Oral Question

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table a delayed answer to an oral question raised by Senator Chaput on April 1, 2008, concerning the appointment of bilingual federal judges.

Justice

Appointment of Bilingual Federal Judges

(Response to question raised by Hon. Maria Chaput on April 1, 2008)

The Federal Government and the Minister of Justice are aware of the concerns that have been raised with respect to linguistic capacity within the superior courts.

The Minister of Justice has stated on several occasions that the Government is committed to ensuring that our courts operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. This includes maintaining the courts' capacity to conduct trials in both official languages where legally required.

Last summer, the Minister of Justice was happy to report at the Canadian Bar Association Annual Meeting and in a letter to the Commissioner for Official Languages that his government has filled more than 100 vacancies, and that approximately one-third of these appointments were women and more than one-third were bilingual men and women, who at the time of their appointment were capable of hearing a trial in either of Canada's official languages. These efforts continue.

Bilingual capacity is already a criterion that the judicial advisory committees consider in assessing the application of a candidate to the bench. While linguistic ability is an important factor when a specific need is identified, merit remains the central and overriding consideration.

The Minister has indicated in the past that the Chief Justices of the superior courts are best placed to identify the needs of their courts, including a need for increased linguistic capacity. Accordingly, the Minister of Justice consults the appropriate Chief Justice before making a judicial appointment. Their views on the specific needs of their courts, be it linguistic capacity or other expertise, are given serious consideration when consultations with respect to vacancies are undertaken.

The Minister of Justice encourages minority language communities and professional law associations to continue to encourage qualified bilingual candidates to apply for judicial appointment.


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[English]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Judges Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino moved second reading of Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Judges Act.

He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Judges Act. This bill will amend paragraph 24(3)(b) of the Judges Act to permit the appointment of 20 additional judges to the provincial superior trial courts across Canada. This section authorizes a "pool" of judicial appointments to the provincial and territorial superior trial courts. It provides the government with the flexibility to respond to the demonstrated need for new judges in the relevant court of any jurisdiction in Canada.

I am pleased to present Bill C-31, which has an overarching objective to improve access to justice in Canada. As we are all acutely aware, this is an issue of increasing concern to Canadians. There is no doubt, honourable senators, that our country boasts one of the best justice systems in the world. Our courts are respected around the globe for their impartiality, independence and highly qualified judiciary. However, rising litigation costs, increasingly complex legal issues, mounting caseloads and growing delays are together diminishing the accessibility of our judicial system.

By way of example, we have witnessed a marked strain on our family justice system in the area of child protection. Case volumes have grown at an incredible rate, and efforts to meet strict statutory deadlines for these matters have led to serious backlogs in all other family law matters. Even with priority being given to child protection cases, the courts are often unable to meet the mandated time frames. Every time a case is delayed, whether it involves child protection, custody and access or support issues, there is a detrimental impact on the children and families involved. It is critical that these matters be resolved expeditiously to assist these families in establishing physical, emotional and financial certainty and security.

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Four jurisdictions, namely, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, have submitted requests in the last five years for additional judges for the family branches of their provincial superior trial courts. The quantitative and qualitative data included in these submissions clearly illustrate the pressures experienced in these courts and the urgent need for new judges. More recent information demonstrates that these problems remain unabated, with an ongoing increase in the number of cases filed, continuing delays of many months' duration, and, despite best efforts, frequent inability to meet the legislated time frames for child protection cases.

Two other jurisdictions, namely, Quebec and Nunavut, also have outstanding requests for additional judicial resources to address rising case volumes and backlogs in their general trial courts. In Quebec, these issues are most prominent in the civil and family law areas. Nunavut's situation is equally compelling, although somewhat different in nature.

I will take a moment to describe some of the unique challenges experienced in that jurisdiction. When the Nunavut Territory was created in 1999, it established the Nunavut Court of Justice, which hears all matters that, in other jurisdictions, are shared by two levels of court, the provincial and territorial superior and inferior courts. The Nunavut court is Canada's first and only single-level trial court. It is based in Iqaluit but travels throughout the territory. In terms of demographics and geography, Nunavut is a land of extremes. A population of just under 30,000 people is dispersed across a land mass of 2 million square kilometres. It is beautiful, for those of us who have been there. Nunavut's climate and limited infrastructure are also relevant considerations. Gaining access to justice in these circumstances is a particular challenge, as we can all imagine.

The Nunavut Court of Justice currently comprises three resident judges and is further supported by a number of deputy judges who travel from the South to help manage the court's workload, usually for one-week periods. While the assistance of these deputy judges is invaluable, there are limits to the help they can provide, particularly where trials of longer duration occur, or linguistic or cultural barriers arise. Only the addition of a new resident judge can address the needs of the court in a more effective manner.

Honourable senators, the government proposes to allocate 14 of the 20 new judges among the jurisdictions that have outstanding requests for additional judicial resources. The other six appointments will address the needs of the specific claims tribunal, as I will explain in a moment. As I have described, the detailed information submitted by the requesting jurisdictions clearly substantiates the need for these judges to respond to existing pressures within the courts.

The precise distribution of these judges will be decided finally by the Minister of Justice following further discussions with the chief justices of the affected courts and the provincial and territorial governments. I understand that the minister hopes to make these appointments as soon as possible following the passage of Bill C-31 to provide the earliest practicable relief to these courts. I am sure, honourable senators, that we all support the minister in this worthy goal.

The new appointments provided under Bill C-31 will also serve another extremely important objective, namely, the establishment of the new specific claims tribunal. As the honourable senators are no doubt aware, this new tribunal will be created pursuant to Bill C-30, the specific claims tribunal act, which was introduced on November 27, 2007, and is currently being considered in the other place.

The history leading to the creation of this tribunal is a long one. Since 1973, the Government of Canada has had a policy and process in place to resolve specific claims through negotiations rather than through the courts. However, Canada and First Nations agree that the current process to resolve these claims needs to be improved.

For a variety of reasons, the number of claims in the federal system has doubled over the last 15 years, and there is a backlog of claims awaiting attention or action. These problems were most recently explored and documented in the final report of the special study on the federal specific claims process by the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, entitled, Negotiation or Confrontation: It's Canada's Choice. We should be proud of that report, by the way. Kudos to our committee.

The creation of an independent tribunal was one of the main recommendations of this report.

Although negotiations remain the first choice, First Nations can seek a binding decision from the tribunal in three circumstances: first, when a claim has been rejected by Canada, including a case where Canada fails to meet the three-year time limit for assessing claims; second, at any stage in the negotiation process, if all parties agree; and third, after three years of unsuccessful negotiations.

Bill C-30 provides that the tribunal members be appointed from among the superior court judiciary. Six of the new appointments proposed under Bill C-31 are intended to ensure that the provincial superior courts have the capacity to take on this new workload. It is expected that the six judges will be allocated among the three jurisdictions having the greatest number and most complex array of specific claims, namely, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. A roster of up to 18 judges will be created to serve as members of the tribunal on a part-time basis.

Honourable senators, it is clear that the creation of the specific claims tribunal represents a significant step forward in ensuring the independent, effective and timely resolution of specific claims. Furthermore, the passage of Bill C-30 and Bill C-31 will constitute a critical achievement in the overarching objective of improving access to justice for our Aboriginal communities and Canadian families. I have no doubt of your support for this important initiative.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are there questions, honourable senators?

Hon. Serge Joyal: I commend the honourable senator for his introduction of Bill C-31. The honourable senator mentioned in his presentation that Bill C-31 is in response to the request, as I understand, from provincial attorneys general or ministers of justice for an additional number of judges. Senator Di Nino mentioned some provinces. Did the provinces write clearly to the federal minister of justice to request those appointments, or was it done through the annual conference between the Attorney General of Canada and the provincial ministers of justice?

Senator Di Nino: My understanding is that negotiations and dialogue take place all the time on these issues. We have known about the vacancies for a while. The need for additional judges has been growing, as the honourable senator knows.

When I spoke, I mentioned the issue of specific correspondence that was detailed in the requests. I do not know the answer, but I think it is a combination of the two.

Senator Joyal: Maybe at the committee stage we will be in a position to obtain more precise information, and I understand that situation, of course. The honourable senator might not have that information today on hand; I respect that and I do not want to embarrass him with that at all.

The other element is in relation to what we call "specialized tribunals." When the honourable senator mentioned the six judges that would be appointed specifically to address the land claims settlements, he said they would have a specific task to address.

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We all recognize that need and we applaud the idea of having a court that would expedite those claims, because the claims have been long-standing in our history. The honourable senator mentioned that the process started in the mid-1970s; 1973, if I remember correctly.

Does that mean that the consultative committee that will be charged with the selection of those judges will be under specific instructions regarding the candidate that they will recommend to the minister? Has that part of the selection process been addressed?

Senator Di Nino: It has not, to my knowledge. This issue is about the fact that this bill came about subsequent to the recommendation by the Senate Aboriginal committee. I think we should give kudos to our committee, which I understand was the main impetus for the creation of the tribunal.

Those of us who have been here for a number of years have heard, on a continuous and constant basis, the comments by members of this chamber, and by many others who support Aboriginal communities, that there has been a lot of frustration in the communities. Over the years, there does not appear to have been an effective way of dealing with the specific claims of the Aboriginal communities.

The six additional judges are meant to address what I call an injustice that has been perpetrated — although I do not think, intentionally — on our Aboriginal communities in their claims.

In answer to the honourable senator's question, we will have the opportunity to speak to those responsible for this bill and obtain the details from them.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: I read Bill C-31, in all its brevity, and I see the summary of the bill states that the enactment increases the number of judicial salaries that may be paid under the Judges Act from 30 to 50. There are 20 additional judges' salaries of approximately $250,000 a year. We are talking about $5 million for additional salaries. Is that the honourable senator's understanding as well?

Senator Di Nino: I agree with Senator Day's interpretation, yes.

Senator Day: I apologize, but I was confused when the honourable senator spoke about Bill C-30, which has not come here yet. I agree with the honourable senator that that bill is an important initiative, and I look forward to Bill C-30 arriving in the Senate sometime in the future.

In relation to Bill C-31, the additional 20 appointments are to the superior courts in the provinces, other than appeal courts. The appointments could be for family law or for anything that occurs at the superior court level in each province. Is that correct?

Senator Di Nino: I think this bill and the accompanying bill, Bill C-30, which is still in the other place, respond to the needs that have been identified over the years throughout the country. Given that caseloads and waiting times have grown, justice is probably not being served properly. That opinion on my part is not an expert one.

However, it seems to me that the intent of Bill C-31 is to address the issue of need to provide proper justice to Canadians in those areas where the provinces have identified the need, including in family courts — I spoke extensively on that situation — as well as the other six judges for the tribunal to deal with the specific claims of the Aboriginal communities.

Senator Day: I was trying to make that point. Senator Di Nino referred to the family court. As I understand it, then, we are voting for 20 new judicial positions, and the honourable senator will be able to tell us, in the future, where they will be allocated in the provinces. Out of those 20 positions, 6 will be specifically for land claims, and the other 14 will be divided among the various provinces, family courts or otherwise.

The 18 judges that the honourable senator refers to for this specific claims tribunal are not part of that package at all; those judges will come under a different bill. Is that correct?

Senator Di Nino: In effect, a roster is created within the whole system. I do not know how many judges there will be. I should have asked that question myself. Let us assume it is a number of judges, 18 of whom will be considered as a roster to deal with these matters. The six appointments are added to that total number, to the pool that is available from which the 18 will come.

One interesting feature of this bill is that it looks like a simple bill — it is changing a number — yet it is a complex bill that addresses a serious issue. Looking at the bill itself, one would not see it as an important piece of legislation.

I thank honourable senators for their questions. It is useful to have this dialogue.

Senator Day: My final point is more of a comment. The honourable senator is absolutely right; the bill appears to be simple in terms of the words that appear here. That is always a danger, when we are asked to approve $5 million in administrative costs, plus another $5 million to support this $5 million worth of salaries. I think it is important for us to understand what we are asked to approve.

Those of us in the National Finance Committee always have a special interest in that side of things, as the honourable senator knows. I appreciate that the bill is at second reading, that we are only approving it in principle, and that some of these details will come out in committee and at third reading.

Senator Di Nino: I thank Senator Day and Senator Joyal for their questions. I agree that we should do more research on this bill. On the surface, it appears to be a simple bill, but it will impact on many Canadians. We must remember that this bill is in response to needs that have been identified by the provinces to deal with many of the justice issues, which, unfortunately, have lagged behind and created backlogs. I think the $5 million is money well spent.

Hon. Willie Adams: My question is to Senator Di Nino. I want to comment on his speech. It sounds like places such as Iqaluit have only one judge. We have court cases in almost every community, usually family cases. People travel all the way from their community to Iqaluit, thousands of miles away, for a criminal case. If the bill goes to committee, perhaps other people concerned about the issue can come to Ottawa and speak about it.

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Senator Di Nino: First, it is important to recognize that in this bill we must be sensitive to the cultural and geographic needs of Aboriginal communities in the Far North. This bill tries to address the problems that exist in these communities.

There will obviously be stationary judicial positions that will deal with those matters in their courts. However, this proposed pool of judges will consist of judges who will travel to communities to ensure that language and culture are well served to the degree that is practicable as with communities in the South. The bill will take into account the distance that people will have to travel to attend these courts.

On motion of Senator Joyal, debate adjourned.

Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Stollery, for the second reading of Bill S-212, An Act to amend the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act.—(Honourable Senator Cools)

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to say that I had indicated both to the Senate and to Senator Joyal last week that I would speak to this bill this week, particularly today. However, I am not quite ready. The subject matter, as we know, is enormous. This bill is a good initiative. I thought I would yield the floor to Senator Joyal today so that the question can be put. The bill could then be referred to the committee of which I am a member. I will have ample time to debate it there.

Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I move second reading of Bill S-212.

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 Joyal, bill referred to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures, and the Rights of Parliament.

[Translation]

Phthalate Control Bill

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin moved second reading of Bill C-307, An Act respecting bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, benzyl butyl phthalate and dibutyl phthalate.—(Honourable Senator Comeau)

He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak today about the merits of Bill C-307, the phthalate control bill.

Honourable senators, this bill was amended before being sent to the Senate for consideration. The amendments proposed in the other place, which are the result of negotiations between the sponsor of the bill and members of the government, show that this important topic is being treated impartially for the well-being of the Canadian people. The government supports Bill C-307, as amended, which we have before us.

Under the amended bill, the chemicals known as phthalates — BBP, DBP and DEHP — will remain subject to the current procedures for handling substances that are likely to pose a risk to the environment and human health.

At the second reading stage in the other place, the government expressed concern that Bill C-307, as originally drafted, would circumvent the comprehensive scientific assessment of phthalates, by imposing an immediate and outright ban on their use. I am pleased that the sponsor of the bill has acknowledged the government's concerns and agreed to respect the rigorous scientific assessment process provided for under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.

We have learned that the federal departments of the Environment and Health have already assessed the risks associated with the three substances named in Bill C-307. Actions have been taken, where warranted.

Having said that, the government fully supports the reassessment of BBP and DBP within the next two years, provided that the assessments are made in accordance with the method provided for under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

The government is also prepared, with regard to the third substance, to support the implementation of other measures to better regulate the use of DEHP, which has been proven to have associated health risks. Both of these measures are included in Bill C-307 and are consistent with the government's commitment to protect human health and the environment, as reiterated in the recent Speech from the Throne. They are also consistent with the government's chemical management plan, which I will discuss in more detail in a moment.

I am pleased, honourable senators, to confirm that Bill C-307 is now compatible with the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which provides the framework for identifying, prioritizing and assessing existing substances and for controlling or managing those considered to pose a risk to Canadians or the environment. One of the stated goals of CEPA is to manage the level of risk from substances.

The bill recognizes the reality that, from time to time, we will come across substances that may pose a threat to the environment or to health but that also offer important benefits. DEHP is such a substance. There are health concerns associated with human exposure. However, a ban on DEHP could create severe problems for the medical community as there are currently no viable alternatives for this plasticizer in certain medical devices.

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CEPA's management process relies on scientific evidence and comprehensive research and monitoring programs.

Scientific knowledge of phthalates is constantly evolving, so the reassessments of BBP and DBP called for in Bill C-307 seem judicious, as they will help build our knowledge and support sound decision-making.

One particularly important aspect of the CEPA management process is that the public and interest groups must be given notice of risk assessments that are under way or planned.

That gives them the opportunity to comment on the results of the assessments before any decisions are made.

Initially, Bill C-307 did not provide for public participation.

CEPA also allows for some flexibility in terms of risk management responses, because it takes into account not only environmental and health issues, but also social, economic and technological factors.

Regulations are sometimes a necessary evil, but not always. For example, Bill C-307 would provide for the development of clinical practice guidelines for using medical devices that contain, among other things, DEHP.

Honourable senators, the government is committed to working with all of its partners to ensure that Canada is at the forefront of international chemicals management and that our citizens and our environment are protected.

Last December, the government unveiled its chemicals management plan. The plan, which is a key element of the government's comprehensive environmental and human health protection agenda, provides for immediate action to regulate chemicals that are harmful to human health or the environment.

The government has committed $300 million over four years to implementing the plan, which will build on Canada's position as a global leader in the safe management of chemical products. Taking action now will reduce future costs associated with water treatment, the clean-up of contaminated sites and treating illnesses related to chemical exposure.

The plan will help enhance quality of life for Canadians and better protect our environment.

The plan will benefit Canada's business community by ensuring a level playing field and providing a predictable regulatory system based on sound science.

The plan includes: stricter regulations and enforcement; restrictions on the reintroduction of and new uses for regulated substances; rapid screening of lower risk chemical substances; accelerated re-evaluation of older pesticides; mandatory ingredient labelling of cosmetics; regulations to address environmental risks posed by pharmaceuticals and personal care products; enhanced management of environmental contaminants in food; health monitoring, surveillance and research; improved communication of the risk to Canadians; and finally, good stewardship of chemical substances.

Under the aegis of the Chemicals Management Plan, the government has developed a comprehensive strategy to manage phthalates that duplicates many of the measures provided in Bill C-307.

For instance, the strategy includes a reassessment of BBP and DBP under the CEPA, the implementation of controls to protect children under the age of 3 and the development of clinical practice guidelines for medical devices containing DEHP.

It also provides for the addition of DEHP to Health Canada's cosmetic ingredient hot list, as well as the assessment and risk management of other phthalates in cosmetics.

As part of the reassessment process, the government will be reviewing the scientific evidence used to support recent regulatory actions taken by the European Union on the three most worrisome substances, DEHP, BBP and DBP, as well as the other phthalates.

It will continue to monitor the evolution of scientific knowledge about the use of the infamous DEHP in medical devices and will take other measures as necessary.

I should mention that none of Canada's major partners, including the European Union, have banned DEHP from medical devices such as blood bags and intravenous tubing.

In addition, the government will continue to monitor 11 phthalate metabolites and 8 parent phthalate compounds as part of the Canadian Health Measures Survey. A complete action plan, as you can see.

The phthalates will be included in a biological monitoring study of children from birth to age 6. The data gathered from these studies will identify measures that the government could take in the future.

In conclusion, honourable senators, it is evident that the Canadian government has assumed its responsibilities and intends to take exhaustive measures to evaluate and regulate phthalates and other potentially dangerous substances. Given that Bill C-307 is in line with these measures and with the Government of Canada's commitment to protecting the Canadian public and its environment, I will be supporting Bill C-307, and I encourage you to support it as well.

Hon. Joan Fraser (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Would the honourable Senator Nolin entertain a question?

The honourable senator's speech was fascinating. We learned a great deal about regulations, consultations, plans and applying guidelines, among other things.

However, my attention may have wandered at one point, even though I really tried to listen carefully to Senator Nolin's speech. There is one thing I did not understand. What is a phthalate? Where are phthalates found? And why are they believed to pose a risk to human health?

Senator Nolin: I thank Senator Fraser for that very important question. Phthalates are a family of products, and I was speaking about the best-known use of phthalates, which is the use of DEHP in medical devices. DEHP is like plastic and is used in blood bags, intravenous tubing and surgical instruments.

The government did not agree lightly to get on board with this bill after it was amended to require that these substances be assessed under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act rather than simply prohibiting a product that has proven itself.

I would encourage Senator Fraser to follow my example and be present when the Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources asks very important questions of officials who have a fundamental, extensive and very thorough knowledge of the wonderful world of phthalates.

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Senator Fraser: I trust that is when we will find out why it is thought there are risks, since this would seem to be a very elaborate process if there are none.

On motion of Senator Fraser, debate adjourned.

Royal Assent

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore informed the Senate that the following communication had been received:

RIDEAU HALL

April 17, 2008

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Marshall Rothstein, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy of the Governor General, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bills listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 17th day of April, 2008, at 3:01 p.m.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila-Marie Cook
Secretary to the Governor General

The Honourable The Speaker of the Senate Ottawa

Bills assented to Thursday, April 17, 2008:

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals) (Bill S-203, Chapter 12, 2008)

An Act to add perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and its salts to the Virtual Elimination List under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (Bill C-298, Chapter 13, 2008)

An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Bill C-37, Chapter 14, 2008)

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 (Bill C-40, Chapter 15, 2008)

[English]

Human Rights

Budget—Study on International Obligations Regarding Children's Rights and Freedoms—Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the seventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (budget—study on the rights of children), presented in the Senate on April 15, 2008.—(Honourable Senator Andreychuk)

Hon. Terry Stratton moved the adoption of the report, for Senator Andreychuk.

Motion agreed to.

Budget—Study on Legal Issues Affecting On-Reserve Matrimonial Real Property on Breakdown of Marriage or Common Law Relationship—Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (budget—study on matrimonial real property on reserve), presented in the Senate on April 15, 2008.—(Honourable Senator Andreychuk)

Hon. Terry Stratton moved the adoption of the report, for Senator Andreychuk.

Motion agreed to.

Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament

Fifth Report of Committee—Debate Adjourned

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament (use of Aboriginal languages in the Senate Chamber), presented in the Senate on April 9, 2008.—(Honourable Senator Keon)

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

He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak to the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament. It provides the findings and recommendations of the committee relating to the use of Inuktitut and, prospectively, other Aboriginal languages in the Senate.

On November 14, 2007, your committee decided, pursuant to rule 86(1)(f)(i), to take up some items of business that were not concluded at the end of the First Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament. Among these was the matter of the interpretation of Aboriginal languages in the Senate chamber. On November 20, 2007, the committee agreed to proceed with a fact-finding trip to Iqaluit, Nunavut. This was the remaining investigative activity that had been planned during earlier phases of the committee's work. Its completion on February 21, 2008 contributed significantly to the content of this report.

Honourable senators will be aware that this matter has a considerable history in this place. On behalf of the committee I wish to express particular gratitude to one of its members, whose earlier contributions have done much to shape the study and move it forward. In the First Session of the Thirty-eighth Parliament, Senator Corbin produced an amendment to rule 32 of the Rules of the Senate of Canada relating to this matter. The committee held a number of meetings on the issue following referral to it on this motion.

Unfortunately, the Thirty-eighth Parliament was dissolved before your committee could complete its work.

In the First Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament, on April 6, 2006, Senator Corbin placed a motion relating to the use of Aboriginal languages in this house. This motion was debated in the Senate on a number of occasions before being referred to the committee, which continued its study.

Special thanks are also due to Senators Smith, Robichaud and Brown, who travelled to Iqaluit between February 19 and 21, 2008, to explore issues and practices relating to the use of Inuit languages in the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut. The delegation benefited from the participation and enjoyed the hospitality of Senator Willie Adams. I extend my special thanks to him as well.

While I am on my feet, I wish to thank Senator Adams for the visits I have had to his region over the years when he was so gracious.

The trip to Iqaluit was a valuable experience for committee members. The discussions with the Speaker and members of the assembly, assembly staff and government officials have strongly confirmed the principles reflected in the motion of Senator Corbin, and concerning which there has been a longstanding consensus in committee.

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On behalf of those who were able to participate in the trip, I take this opportunity to thank all whom they met for their wonderful hospitality and for being so generous with their time and knowledge.

Aboriginal Canadians have been appointed to sit in the Senate only over the past 50 years. During this time, they have made a valuable contribution to our work, and bring an important and distinctive perspective.

I believe we should all feel pride in the reality that the report acknowledges and reflects. In the discussions of this issue in the Senate and in the committee, in both this Parliament and the previous one, there has been no disagreement with, or dissent from, the basic principle that Aboriginal senators should be able to use their Aboriginal languages in the Senate chamber. In essence, this report proposes that the time has come for the Senate to live up to this principle and facilitate the use of these languages in its proceedings.

Your committee argues that the language to begin with is Inuktitut. In the words of the report:

. . . the concentration of speakers of Inuktitut in Nunavut, establishing a critical mass in support of the language, combined with the probable impact of efforts to foster future use of the language, make it likely that there will be a continuing presence in the Senate of Inuit Senators whose contribution would be significantly enhanced by the opportunity to engage in deliberations using their first language.

Reflecting this situation, the first recommendation in the report is that a pilot project involving the use of Inuktitut in the Senate chamber be commenced at the earliest opportunity. The report provides details concerning what committee members envision as a cost-effective approach to implementation, moving through several phases. Initially, the focus would be on the presentation of remarks based on a written text in the chamber, following advance notice so that interpretation capacity would not need to be maintained initially on a continuous basis. The medium-term objective of the pilot project would be the provision of simultaneous interpretation for speakers of English, French and Inuktitut in the Senate chamber.

Second, your committee recommends that the scope of the pilot project be extended to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples and the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. Ultimately, levels of service equivalent to those in the Senate chamber should be provided to members of these two committees, each of which has traditionally benefited from high levels of participation by Aboriginal senators.

In making these recommendations, the committee's intent is not to limit the use of Aboriginal languages in the Senate to the use of Inuktitut. The committee's third recommendation reflects this view. The recommendation is that, after a reasonable period of time of experience with Inuktitut, such as one Parliament, a review be undertaken to identify cost-effective approaches to accommodate the other Aboriginal languages in the Senate chamber.

The fine details will need to be worked out on a cost-effective basis as this project proceeds. I believe that the basic concept is clear and already shared by honourable senators. It is that Aboriginal languages should be able to be spoken and understood, upon request, in the Senate chamber subject to reasonable guidelines. If honourable senators concur, your committee also proposes to monitor the implementation of this proposal and will, if necessary, recommend changes if they are desirable or necessary.

Like other members of our committee, I strongly believe that facilitating the use of Aboriginal languages in the Senate is the right thing to do. I look forward to the reaction of honourable senators to this proposal.

Hon. David P. Smith: I believe Senator Keon moved the adoption of the report. I wanted to clarify that point. I hope that the report will be adopted by this chamber as soon as possible. Others may wish to speak to it and that may not occur today.

By way of background, this subject was triggered initially by Senator Corbin's motion, and the committee, under the previous Parliament, spent time trying to develop a consensus on a few principles. We are all agreed, and we obtained various legal reports on this subject, that there is not a legal obligation to provide this capability. However, there is nothing that prevents us legally from providing it if we, as a chamber, decide that this capability is good public policy and the right thing to do.

We developed a consensus that we would start with Inuktitut on a pilot project and that in the event that it goes well — and I am confident that it will — any senator who wishes to make a statement at some point in an Aboriginal language, with reasonable notice, will be able to, down the road.

I believe we identified seven senators who have some ability to speak an Aboriginal-Canadian language. For two senators — Senator Watt and Senator Adams — Inuktitut is their first language, their mother tongue. In the case of the other five senators, for whom Inuktitut is not necessarily their mother tongue, they were consulted. They were happy because they wanted the capability to be provided on a cost-effective basis; to give lots of notice so that interpreters are not standing by, thereby incurring additional expenses.

With regard to Inuktitut, we would have this pilot project. One thing on which we developed a consensus was that those members of the committee who were able to and interested could travel to Nunavut because that is where the system is in place.

I traveled there, as well as Senator Robichaud and Senator Brown. Our host was Senator Willie Adams. No one can accuse us of going on a banana-belt trip when it was February and the temperature hit 40 below. I was reminded that 40 below in Celsius and 40 below in Fahrenheit are the same thing. It was cold, but the hospitality was exceedingly warm.

We were in attendance on the day they had the budget speech. There are 19 members in their legislature. I found it particularly interesting that when we added up all the members' statements, which is at the beginning of the day much the same as they are here, most members had the opportunity to say something because there are only 19 of them. After that, they held a question-and-answer period and then the budget speech.

When we were there, all but two spoke in Inuktitut. Over 85 per cent of the population speaks Inuktitut. The Inuit people are committed to keeping this great Aboriginal language alive. As senators are well aware, we traveled with francophone interpreters; therefore, we were able to have translation in all three languages, even though it was translated from Inuktitut into English and then from English into French. I noted there was some concern by Alain Wood, who runs the translation service, about how much is lost each time it is translated. However, in speaking with the people in translation afterwards, they were pleased at how efficient the process was.

It is fair to say that over 90 per cent of the dialogue that day in their chamber was in the Inuktitut language. There is no other example of that translation in Canada. I know the situation is different in Yellowknife. The Inuit people are role models for keeping their Aboriginal language alive. They teach it in school and are very proud of it.

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We will be able to provide this service in an efficient and cost-effective way. We will start off with this pilot project and extend it to these two committees. I hope there is consensus on both sides of the house, as there has been within our committee. I think this is the right thing to do. If this measure can be approved quite soon, the trial period can start when Parliament resumes for the fall session.

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I want to thank my colleagues for the work they have done.

I hope that Senator Adams will not take my comments as having anything to do with him, his people or his language. They have everything to do with the Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982. If we were to do what is being recommended, we would be creating precedent.

As we all know, section 133 establishes that two languages — although we are not limited to two — can be used in this and the other chamber of the Parliament of Canada.

When the committee was studying the proposal now before us, did it consider section 133 and the possibility of creating a precedent?

All of that is to offer no offence to my colleague. It is a constitutional question with which I am struggling.

Senator Smith: There has been no intent to create precedent. In the North, Inuktitut is an official language. Hansard is provided in Inuktitut as well. We are not talking about having Hansard in any language other than English and French. We are talking about having a cost-effective system whereby someone can make a statement in an Aboriginal-Canadian language, having given reasonable notice. We would start with the Inuktitut language, and we hope to be able to add some other languages. For example, one of Senator Dyck's parents spoke Cree, as does Senator Dyck, although it is not her first language. She has said that it would be a great honour for her to make a statement in Cree if, for example, there was a delegation here of people from the West who speak Cree. She would be happy to give a couple of weeks' notice. We would bring in an interpreter for that. However, that interpretation would not be available all the time. We are not talking about having the services they have in Yellowknife.

I was interviewed on the radio in Nunavut a few days ago. I was asked whether we are considering making Inuktitut an official language. I said that we are not talking about taking the lid off the constitutional box; we are talking about doing something that we think is right in principle in terms of recognizing the Aboriginal peoples of this great country. We are not going to go down the constitutional road.

Senator Nolin: I totally understand, respect and admire the goal here. However, we will have to decide whether we will be creating a precedent. I do not think we want to create a precedent. We need to find a way to enable our Aboriginal colleagues to express themselves in their mother tongues without setting a precedent.

It is not a question of only agreeing or disagreeing with the proposal. We have to be quite surgical in achieving that without crossing a barrier. Otherwise, we will move into constitutional territory, and I am convinced that no one wants to do that.

Senator Smith: Senator Nolin's point is well taken. I cannot speak for everyone on the committee, but I can say that so far we have managed to develop a consensus on these issues. We will be making further reports to this chamber when we have more hard facts on the exact costs involved. We will have to go where we have to go to get the money for this. This report is saying that we should move on to the next step.

Our committee will try to choose appropriate language to respond to Senator Nolin's question. If our committee is given the opportunity to do that, we will rise to the occasion and do it.

Hon. Hugh Segal: There appears to have been a very thoughtful and careful analysis of this matter by Senator Smith and his colleagues. The recommendations strike me as judicious and constructive. Was any consideration given to the hard political reality that once the door is opened for a particular initiative, that is, in and of itself, a solid rationale to open the next door for the following initiative? Although that may not be the intent of anyone currently, we may end up on that road; and if at a point, for whatever reason, we decide to stop on that road, it may be difficult not to proceed any further.

While I understand that committees should not be assessing hypothetical questions about the future, because of the sensitivity of this issue I would be interested if Senator Smith would share with us any thoughts that were expressed in consideration of this recommendation.

Senator Smith: As senators may be aware, the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories in Yellowknife allows for a number of the Aboriginal languages that are used in that territory. Some years ago, they decided to set up translation and interpretation systems for up to 11 languages, although I think that number has been reduced.

We are not talking about a make-work project. We are not talking about hiring people who will spend most of their time sitting around. We are talking about showing respect for people who speak a Aboriginal-Canadian language. We are not talking about any other any languages.

We have the ability to apply common sense to a challenge that is based on principle and respect, and that is what we are trying to do. All the senators who were interviewed about this said they would be prepared to give significant notice. Perhaps once or twice a year, particularly if visitors were here from their community whose mother tongue was an Aboriginal-Canadian language, it may be appropriate for them to say something in that language. We could extend a contract to someone to provide interpretation of that nature.

Today we are talking about phase one of a pilot project that deals only with Inuktitut. We spent some time speaking with officials in the legislature in Yellowknife. They gave Alain Wood, who runs the Translation Bureau here, the names of quite a few people who live in Ottawa, some of whom work for the federal government, who would meet the high standards of the Translation Bureau and are able to do this. Mr. Wood was satisfied that this could be done in a practical and cost-efficient way.

That is what we want to try to do in this pilot project.

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Hon. Bill Rompkey: I have a few comments in support of the committee report. To begin with, not all of the Inuit live in Nunavut. There are Inuit who live in Nunavik, and there are Inuit who live in Nunatsiavut. Nunatsiavut in Northern Labrador is the home of the most southerly Inuit in Canada. There are about 5,000 people in those communities and as a result of the land claim this house passed three years ago, they have their own legislature and government. They use the language of Inuktitut. They are Inuit, the same as the Inuit in Iqaluit and the same as the Inuit in Nunavik. In fact, they have many relatives in Nunavik because it is all on the Ungava Peninsula. The Inuit know no provincial borders. They did not put the provincial borders there. They were there long before the provincial borders, and they crossed those provincial borders as a people, as relatives and as families, doing what they have done for thousands of years.

There are Inuit people all across Northern Canada. They speak. That is what Parliament is all about. Parliament is about speaking. That is what the word "parliament" means; it comes from the French phrase "to speak." That is what the Inuit want to do. The Inuit want to speak, and they should have the right to speak.

How can one speak well if one does not speak in their own language? The Acting Speaker's mother tongue is French. He expresses himself extremely well in English, but I would argue that he expresses himself even better in French. He does such a good job of maintaining his right to speak in French. My mother tongue is English; my French is not nearly as good as his English.

The thing I feel the worst about is that I have not learned more Inuktitut. I have represented people there for 35 years — 23 in the House of Commons and the rest here in this house. That is the point. Parliament is about speaking, and people speak and express themselves best in their mother tongue.

Senator Comeau: What about Acadian?

Senator Rompkey: I think that is a valid point.

Why the Inuit only now? There may be others later on, but why the Inuit now? The first and longest journey starts with the first step. The people in the North have been under siege in two ways. First, they have been under siege from the South in terms of bottled southern television to which they cannot respond. If the South is allowed to bombard the North with messages, without the North ever speaking back, eventually the people will be submerged and lost.

Even more difficult for the Inuit is that they live in the area of Canada under the greatest siege at the present time. With global warming and climate change, the land of the Inuit is more threatened than any other land in Canada. My argument is that they should be able to tell us about that threat. They should be able to tell us about where they live and what is happening to them. This is what must happen if they are to remain a part of Canada.

The Prime Minister said, "Use it or lose it." If we do not allow the Inuit to use it, then we will really lose it. It does not matter how many RADARSATs or icebreakers or Auroras or Canadian Rangers we have; if we do not have the Inuit living on their land, we will have a great hole in Canada.

My argument is that this is an important measure we are taking. It may be a first step, but it is an important step, and I think we should do it.

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, earlier we heard the introduction of a bill with regard to increasing the number of judges to respond to the needs of these Northern communities. My understanding was the judges serving these Northern communities would have to be able to hear the accusations and the trials in Inuktitut, in the native language. If that is required in one arm of government, why would it not be acceptable here?

[Translation]

Hon. Fernand Robichaud (The Hon. the Acting Speaker): Was that a question for Senator Rompkey?

Senator Ringuette: I will repeat the question in French, honourable senators. Earlier, we had the introduction of a bill to increase the number of judges to respond to the needs of the Inuit population in Northern communities. I assume that these judges, who will hear the accused and receive information about particular cases, will be able to get the Inuktitut version. If that is required in the judicial branch, should it not be required in the legislative branch?

[English]

Senator Rompkey: That is an extremely good point. As far as I know, that system is already in place. As a matter of fact, I had the honour to be the English teacher of the first Inuk judge in Canada. James Igloliorte from Hopedale in Northern Labrador became the first Inuk judge in the entire country. When he travelled, he had translation in Inuktitut. That is the system of using the language. There is precedent for using it in the judicial system. You could argue that if there is precedent for using it in the judicial system, there is no reason why it should not be used in the parliamentary system.

Senator Segal: I would like to ask my friend Senator Rompkey whether, in his judgment, the right to interpretation before the courts, which goes all the way back to the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights in 1960, confirms, that it is, in his view, the same right as one's ability to speak in an official language in this chamber.

Senator Rompkey: I have not given that question a lot of thought. Can I take it as notice?

I do not know about rights. I am not sure we should couch it in the context of rights. I would rather couch it in the context I spoke of earlier, which is the reality of Canada today and the need to be heard and the need for all citizens to express themselves in their own legislatures and in national legislatures. That is why we are here. What is the Senate all about? This Senate is about minorities, whether we are small provinces, French-Canadians or Aboriginals, this is what we do in the Senate. This is partly why we are here. I do not think it is a question of the dry assessment of rights one way or the other or in one area or the other. Honourable senators are best to consider this reality in Canada today and what needs to be done so that all our citizens can express themselves in their best way.

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Senator Segal: Honourable senators, I recognize well the honourable senator's affirmation of the principle of minority representation, and I defer to his judgment. I also defer to any Newfoundlander who has managed with a third official language for a long time — probably richer than either English or French in many respects — as a net benefit to the country.

The question I put to the honourable senator is whether the country's institutions can accommodate a plethora of languages other than English and French in its democratic institutions over a period of time for the justifiable reasons he has laid out: namely, minorities should be able to express themselves in their mother tongue. By the nature of our internationalizing society, the fact that we are already a multinational country with First Nations, French Canadians and English Canadians, we can make a case for a plethora of languages being used in this place. Let us use the word "precedent" and other softer terms, rather than the word "right." Does it not trouble the honourable senator, as a parliamentarian, that we might open the door for the best of reasons, to a circumstance that could then become utterly unmanageable?

Senator Rompkey: I always believe in open doors rather than closed doors. I would much rather have an open door. If John Diefenbaker were here today, what would he say? It was John Diefenbaker who recognized the value of the North to Canada. It was he who started the roads to the North. It was he who said that the North is there and we had better do something about it. If he were here today, it is likely he would say, far more eloquently than I, that this is what we should do. We should not be worried about what might happen in the future. Leave the might-have-been and what-might-be and let us do now what is right.

On motion of Senator Stratton, debate adjourned.

Public Service Employment Act

Bill to Amend—Report of Committee Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Day, seconded by the Honourable Senator Banks, for the adoption of the eleventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (Bill S-219, An Act to amend the Public Service Employment Act (elimination of bureaucratic patronage and establishment of national area of selection), with an amendment), presented in the Senate on April 3, 2008.—(Honourable Senator Stratton)

Hon. Terry Stratton: Honourable senators, I made a promise and I rise to fulfill that promise today.

With respect to the eleventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance regarding Bill S-219, I want to comment on the amendment that was made in committee. I quote Senator Day:

The bill did not have a coming-into-force date, and that was recommended by the head of the Public Service Commission, Madam Barrados. She recommended that there be a coming-into-force date; and after some discussion, the committee agreed unanimously on this amendment. I say "unanimously," as this included the proponent of the bill, Senator Ringuette. Everybody agreed that this amendment should be added.

It is my understanding that there was a coming-into-force date in the bill when it was passed. I also want to point out strongly that Ms. Barrados, for the first time, is finally bringing the problem under control in the public service, a problem that has been around for as long as I can remember. Different governments have tried to solve this problem, but Ms. Barrados is making superb progress since she began her position with the Public Service Commission. She distinctly said that she wants to achieve her objectives, including Senator Ringuette's objectives, by the end of this calendar year.

However, Senator Ringuette was not satisfied with that goal because Ms. Barrados had said that if she were permitted to the end of 2009, she would be well-assured of accomplishing her objectives. A compromise was sought with Senator Ringuette that the date would be July 1, 2008.

We wanted to ensure that while we were trying to achieve Senator Ringuette's objectives, we knew full well that Ms. Barrados had been doing a superb job and would reach that objective. We wanted to give Ms. Barrados the opportunity to accomplish the objectives, thereby making this bill virtually redundant.

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

An Hon. Senator: On division.

Motion agreed to, on division, and report adopted.

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

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

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Message from Commons—Concurrence in and Disagreement with Senate Amendments

The Hon. the Acting Speaker informed the Senate that the following message had been received from the House of Commons:

ORDERED—That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their Honours that this House:

agrees with amendments numbered 2, 4, 5 and 6 made by the Senate to Bill C-13, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments); but

disagrees with amendment numbered 1 because it would place an undue burden on judges and does not take into consideration provincial and territorial practices that are currently in place to ensure that accused persons are informed of their language rights; and

disagrees with amendment numbered 3 because the Minister of Justice would be unable to comply with the statutory duty imposed by the amendment as provinces and territories do not keep statistics to report on the operation of the language of trial provisions.

ATTEST

AUDREY O'BRIEN,
The Clerk of the House of Commons

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

Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on Issues Related to Mandate—Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (budget—study on emerging issues related to its mandate—power to hire staff and travel) presented in the Senate earlier this day.

Hon. Tommy Banks moved the adoption of the report.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

(1620)

[Translation]

Official Languages

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on Official Languages Act—Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the third report of the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages (budget—study on the Official Languages Act), presented in the Senate earlier this day.

Hon. Maria Chaput moved the adoption of the report.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

[English]

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Budget and Authorization to Travel—Study on Impact and Effects of Social Determinants of Health—Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the thirteenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (budget—study on population health—power to travel) presented in the Senate earlier this day.

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

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

Budget and Authorization to Travel—Study on Current Social Issues of Large Cities—Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fourteenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (budget—study on cities—power to travel) presented in the Senate earlier this day.

Hon. Art Eggleton moved the adoption of the report.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

Fisheries and Oceans

Budget—Study on Issues Relating to New and Evolving Policy Framework for Managing Fisheries and Oceans—Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the third report of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (budget—study on policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans) presented in the Senate earlier this day.

Hon. Bill Rompkey moved the adoption of the report.

Motion agreed to and report adopted.

Human Rights

Committee Authorized to Include in its Study of Cases of Alleged Discrimination in Hiring and Promotion Practices and Employment Equity for Minority Groups in Federal Public Service the Study of Labour Market Outcomes for Minority Groups in Private Sector

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk, pursuant to notice of April 10, 2008, moved:

That, notwithstanding the order adopted by the Senate on November 21, 2007 authorizing the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights to examine cases of alleged discrimination in the hiring and promotion practices of the Federal Public Service and to study the extent to which targets to achieve employment equity for minority groups are being met, the committee be further authorized to examine labour market outcomes for minority groups in the private sector and to include this information in its final report to the Senate that is to be submitted no later than December 31, 2008.

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

Motion agreed to.

[Translation]

Adjournment

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

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (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, April 29, 2008, at 2 p.m.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Motion agreed to.

The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, April 29, 2008, at 2 p.m.