Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I am pleased to pay tribute
to the Public Service Commission today, in honour of the 100th anniversary of
this independent agency.
I am certain that honourable senators will join me in expressing our best
wishes to this agency as it enters its second century.
This important institution reports to Parliament, and is directly responsible
for ensuring the integrity, staffing and political neutrality of the federal
These principles have been essential to building a professional and impartial
public service, generally regarded as one of the best in the world.
The history of the public service form of government can trace its origins to
the Qin Dynasty of China, three centuries before the birth of Christ. While
Canada's Public Service Commission is not quite that old, it did celebrate its
one-hundredth anniversary yesterday.
Over the millennia, civil servants have played a vital role in the
administration of governments across the globe. As the British and other
European empires expanded in the 18th century, they needed to establish a less
militaristic form of governing their colonies and selected the Chinese civilian
By the end of the 19th century, the British government had begun to develop
the system of an autonomous civil service, which evolved to become the model for
our Civil Service Commission of Canada, adopted in 1908. Over the last 100
years, the civil service, which became known as the public service in 1967, has
evolved into an autonomous, non-partisan civil body that has done the country a
tremendous service of which we can all be proud.
The Public Service Commission of Canada is the guardian of that system.
Although, with the Public Service Modernization Act of 2003, the hiring function
has been delegated from the Public Service Commission to the deputy ministers,
the Public Service Commission continues to audit and ensure that the principles
of fairness continue to be employed. Employment equity is one of those
principles, honourable senators.
The Public Service Commission also has an important role to play in the audit
process to ensure that those four employment equity groups, namely, women,
visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples, and people with disabilities are
employed proportionately in the public service equal to or exceeding their
proportion in the national workforce. The Public Service Commission of Canada
thereby helps parliamentarians to ensure fairness in the hiring practice of the
Therefore, honourable senators, I take this opportunity to thank the public
servants of Canada for the remarkable work they provide to our country and to
wish the men and women of the Public Service Commission of Canada a very happy
one-hundredth anniversary and congratulate them on the work they do for us.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, Arthur Collins, DFC, died on
April 16. A distinguished patriot and Canadian fighter pilot in World War II, he
was also the squadron leader for Toronto's famous 400th Squadron of the Royal
Canadian Air Force that flew many dangerous missions over enemy-occupied Europe,
taking photographs of enemy installations. With information from these
photographs the attack on Europe on June 6, 1944, D-Day, and the liberation of
Europe that followed allied forces were well-informed as to the nature of the
enemy. Those were the days before satellite photography.
On one occasion Arthur Collins flew his aircraft at an altitude of 25 feet
and though he took a direct hit, he was able to fly home with the photographs to
be used by the Allied Forces. His squadron was called the "eyes" of Eisenhower
and was fundamental to Allied success. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying
Cross for that service. Four years ago, His Excellency the Ambassador of France
extended the Legion d'Honneur on behalf of the French republic for his service
as a Canadian who helped to liberate that great country.
In Canada, Arthur Collins was a leader in the advertising industry, a chair
of the Institute of Canadian Advertising, and President and CEO of Foster
Advertising which served great companies like General Motors and Carling
O'Keefe. He was a great friend of Senator Keith Davey, whom we all remember
fondly from this place. Though Senator Davey was of another political
affiliation, they worked on many committees together such as the Special
Olympics which Arthur Collins chaired. Like Senator Davey, who was a trusted
Liberal adviser, Arthur Collins was indispensable to Conservatives like Premier
Davis, Bob Stanfield and Prime Minister Mulroney for over 30 years.
Arthur Collins was part of what was called the greatest generation of
Canadians who survived the Depression, overcame the Nazi and Axis war machine,
and showed immense courage, gallantry and diligence. The greatest generation
literally saved civilization, protected Canada, defended the Allies and the
principles we hold dear, came home, built families, homes, industries, cities
and farms. They actually built the Canada they loved and defended with their
Honourable senators, those in attendance at Christ Church Anglican Cathedral
in Toronto last week included 400 squadron members, hundreds of friends and
fellow soldiers, as well as the family of Arthur Collins, his wife Patricia, his
sons, his daughter and his grandchildren. We were all there to give thanks for
his life and for those of his generation who served us all and whom he
represented so well.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, early in March, the
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced major changes to their lineup of
classical music. Radio 2 has reduced the amount of classical music available to
Canadians from 12 hours each day to 5 hours, all of which will now be heard in
the mid-afternoon, when most Canadians are at work or at school. It was
announced that funding will be eliminated. It was also announced that the
funding for the CBC Radio Orchestra will be eliminated.
In the vast majority of this country Radio 2 provides a distinct and unique
sound. In place of classical music, the CBC will increase their roster of pop,
jazz, and world music. Classical music fans across the country have mobilized
and staged a series of protests against this move.
The CBC Radio Orchestra has, since 1938, had the mandate to commission and
perform the works of Canadian composers. In the classical field there are few
outlets for Canadian composers. The loss of even a single classical orchestra is
a major loss for this community, particularly one which has been supported so
strongly by Canadian taxpayers. The CBC has defended the changes to Radio 2 as a
broadening of their spectrum of music and note that classical music will remain
the single largest component of their musical offering. I sincerely hope that
the CBC will remain committed to providing classical programming so that all
Canadians can continue to experience and enjoy this rich part of our country's
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I want to add a few
comments to those made by Senator Day in recognizing our Public Service
In 1908, the first permanent Civil Service Commission was created and given
the responsibility by Parliament for safeguarding the principle of merit as the
basis for hiring into the civil service. Through the years, successive
generations of public servants have dedicated themselves to fulfilling the PSC's
mandate, ensuring that merit is the basis for hiring in the federal public
service and protecting the political impartiality of public servants. The PSC
strives to ensure that the hiring practice and process is free from any and all
barriers that prevent the federal public service from reflecting the Canadian
public it represents.
Today, Canada's federal public service is regarded as one of the best in the
world. Our public servants are regularly consulted by counterparts in other
countries seeking to learn more about our system. The PSC is no exception. It
has assisted South Africa and Ukraine, as well as countries in Latin America and
the Caribbean on issues related to public service governance and staffing.
From April 29 to May 2, Library and Archives Canada is hosting a special
exhibit highlighting many of the PSC's achievements during the past 100 years.
Among the documents and artifacts on display will be a copy of the Civil Service
Amendment Act which created the first permanent Civil Service Commission.
The centenary exhibit reminds us of the tremendous changes that have taken
place in the federal public service and the role played by PSC in responding to
these challenges. While the commission has evolved with a name change to become
the Public Service Commission, the safeguarding of merit and non-partisanship
has remained the same.
Honourable senators, it is important that parliamentarians note the need to
support and respect the Public Service Commission, and I am sure that all
senators join me on this special anniversary to congratulate those dedicated
public servants who serve at the Public Service Commission. I believe their
achievements merit a celebration and our support in their service to Canada.
Hon. Vivienne Poy: Honourable senators, I wish to take this
opportunity to say how happy I am to be back in this chamber. I want to thank
many of my colleagues for their kind words and touching messages and for the
beautiful flowers I have received over the past weeks.
Particularly in the past month and a half, I have experienced the importance
of organ donation, the act of which is giving a new life to another person. In
my case, it was to one of our sons. Today, due to a lack of available organs,
the majority of kidney transplants are done with organs from live donors.
Honourable senators may wonder: Is the surgery painful? Yes, it is. Some may
also ask, "Knowing what I know now, would I have done it?" Yes, I would have.
I close by mentioning that last week was National Organ and Tissue Donor
Week. I remind honourable senators that signing your organ donation cards is not
sufficient. It is vital to let family members and loved ones know if you wish to
have your organs donated.
Honourable senators, thank you once again for all your support and
encouraging words during my convalescence.
Hon. Leonard J. Gustafson: Canadian families continue to enjoy some of
the world's lowest food costs, and spend less than 10 per cent of their
household budget on food. As a matter of fact, food prices in Canada's grocery
stores remain steady, and increases have remained below the rate of inflation.
Canadian farm families produce enough high-quality and fair-priced food for
Canadians and people around the world. Even after filling the vast majority of
Canada's demands, Canadian producers export a great deal of quality food around
Last year, Canadian farm families easily produced enough wheat to meet 5
million tonnes of domestic demand and export 20 million tonnes. Canadian farmers
are stepping up to meet the increasing world demand and have projects to grow 24
per cent more wheat this year than last year.
Canadian producers have met domestic demand for beef and pork, and still
export 360,000 tonnes of beef and 760,000 tonnes of pork.
These are the words of the Minister of Agriculture:
We are monitoring the situation at home and abroad and we are helping
less fortunate people in other parts of the world who are facing food
shortages by delivering real help as the second-largest contributor to the
United Nations World Food Programme.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in
both official languages, the sixteenth report (interim) of the Standing Senate
Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology entitled: Mobilizing
Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage.
On motion of Senator Eggleton, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.
Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table,
in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Parliamentary Delegation
on the Meeting of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic
Region, held in Rovaniemi, Finland, from February 28 to 29, 2008.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
As everyone knows, yesterday the government refused to express confidence in
Elections Canada. This is the first time in the other place that a government
has turned its back on the independent institution responsible for ensuring
fairness and impartiality in the country's elections.
The government has just told Canadians that their democratic system is no
longer protected. Does that mean that the Conservative government will not have
confidence in Elections Canada during the next election? Does Mr. Harper's
government plan to call on the United Nations to send in international observers
to guarantee the impartiality of our electoral process during the next election?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): The motion the honourable senator refers to was moved in the
other place yesterday. It was an opposition day motion moved by the Bloc
Québécois. I thought it was rather interesting to see the Bloc Québécois, a
separatist party, moving a motion showing faith in a federal institution.
The fact of the matter is that this was not a government action. Government
members voted against the motion not because the government is against Elections
Canada, but rather the actions of Elections Canada in the case of their
treatment of our party on the legitimate filing of our election returns.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: I hope the Leader of the Government in the
Senate knows that the government members are ministers and members of the
Given the undisputed proficiency of Elections Canada and its independent
status, which is still respected, or so it was until January 2006, Elections
Canada has participated in encouraging democratic electoral processes in several
countries around the world and has helped ensure transparency in the electoral
processes of new democracies.
Haiti and Afghanistan come to mind, for example. Elections Canada also helped
Mexico with its electoral reform and assisted Ukraine with its free election in
Since the Conservative government no longer has confidence in Elections
Canada, can the Leader of the Government tell us if it intends to revoke
Elections Canada's mandate to assist elections in countries that need democratic
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator misunderstood the vote that
took place in the House of Commons yesterday. The members of the government that
voted against the opposition day motion of the Bloc Québécois were not passing
judgment on the institution of Elections Canada but, rather, on Elections
Canada's actions and their interpretation of the rules in respect of the
expenses in the last campaign. It is obvious that Elections Canada broke their
own rules in terms of the manner in which they obtained our party's records.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: I find if fascinating that the leader can
respect the institution of Elections Canada and, on the other hand, deem it
correct to challenge the decisions made by Elections Canada. Either this
government supports Elections Canada or it does not support Elections Canada.
The leader's words yesterday would indicate that this government does not
support Elections Canada.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, we followed the same rules when
we filed our election returns for 2005-06 as we followed in 2004. We followed
the same rules as the other political parties. The only difference between 2004
and 2006 was that we won the election in 2006. That is the only difference.
We filed our election returns based on the law, as we understood it, and on
precedent of other parties. Elections Canada challenged our elections returns
and we filed an action. The matter is before the courts.
It appears that the honourable senator's side knows more about this issue
than our side knows, so much so that a senator on her side said in response to a
question, and I quote: "We initiated the investigation." This side initiated
the lawsuit and the other side initiated the investigation. I am still waiting
for an answer to that one.
Senator Carstairs: Is the honourable senator trying to tell the house
that her party not only cheated the Canadian people in 2006 but also cheated
them in 2004?
Senator LeBreton: I will speak to the reality of the situation. We
legitimately filed our elections returns in an open and transparent way, which
caused Elections Canada to challenge us. We, in turn, challenged Elections
Canada. The matter is before the courts, where it belongs. The money belonged to
the Conservative Party.
Juxtapose that situation to what happened under the Liberal Party, with
Senator Mercer as executive director, when stolen taxpayers' dollars were
distributed in brown envelopes to various ridings and multi-millions of dollars
were paid out to advertising firms for phoney invoices. The whereabouts of $40
million is still unknown.
Hon. Yoine Goldstein: It is false that this was Conservative Party
money. Conservative candidates put in for a 60 per cent reimbursement of those
expenses, which they did not expend. That is not their money. That, with
respect, is electoral fraud, is it not?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): The honourable senator is quite wrong. There are many examples
from all parties. A report from Jean-Pierre Kingsley, the former Chief Electoral
Officer, said that the ads used in the various ridings are local by their tags,
not the content. This is exactly what the Liberal Party did themselves along
with the Bloc Québécois and the NDP.
At least we had a bit of honesty as demonstrated in The Globe and Mail
last Friday from Robin Sears, the former National Director of the NDP. Mr. Sears
said the NDP followed the same rules and the scandal lies with Elections Canada.
It was nice to have a person like Robin Sears set the record straight.
Furthermore, in his article, Mr. Sears said it appears that in this case,
Elections Canada changed the rules midstream and they applied them only to the
Conservative Party. I think we have every reason to challenge the change in
rules and that is why the issue is before the courts.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: I want to set the record straight. In the nine
years that I worked at the Liberal Party of Canada with seven of those years as
National Director of the Liberal Party, not once did this happen. We never had
the luxury that the Conservative Party has of having money to throw around. We
never had enough money, so we could not give money.
Honourable senators, let me tell you an interesting thing about Elections
Canada. If you have a problem and you are not sure what to do, you may go to
them and say, "Here is our problem. Is this within the bounds of the rules?"
They will give you a ruling in advance. If you do that, you do not get into any
trouble with Elections Canada. That is my advice to my Conservative friends.
Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, Status of Women Canada
officials and Minister Verner appeared before the House of Commons Standing
Committee on the Status of Women yesterday. During her opening remarks to the
committee, the minister highlighted last month's visit by Canadian Conservative
government officials to the United Nations where they announced their action
plan on equality. The action plan was a key initiative announced in the
government's budget and therefore, everyone was interested in hearing about it.
Honourable senators, we learned yesterday that the plan does not have any
details, money or a timeline. Senior department officials told the committee
that they did not even have a target date.
My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate is simple. When
will the Conservatives stop throwing around all these grand ideas and start
actually doing something to address gender inequality in this country?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Thank you Senator Mercer, for the question and I feel compelled
to answer the honourable senator's preamble.
The honourable senator talked about what to do if there was a problem. We did
not approach Elections Canada because we did not have a problem. We were simply
following the same rules the other parties followed in other election campaigns.
Elections Canada took action against Bob Rae. Mr. Rae challenged them in the
courts and the courts ruled in his favour. That is the way it should be.
With regard to Minister Verner and the Status of Women Canada, it is a nice
try, honourable senator, but I will leave it to Minister Verner to announce the
plan. I will not scoop the minister here in the Senate.
Senator Mercer: Honourable senators, it is difficult to pose this
question to Senator LeBreton because she has an extremely good record on the
issue of women's equity. She has pushed for that for many years, and I applaud
her for that. She has been a strong advocate for women in government, as any of
us would be.
It is a fact that women make up more than 50 per cent of our population. In
March of 2007, I called the attention of the Senate to gender equity, saying
that this place could be a model for gender equity by requiring that our
membership be 50 per cent female.
I did not hear the leader's thoughts on that suggestion then, and now her
government apparently has no thoughts of any kind on women's issues. They are
more concerned about finding their names in the paper and pretending to care
Let us also not forget that it was a Conservative government that shut down
the Court Challenges Program, cut off funding to women's advocacy groups and
closed 12 of 16 Status of Women regional offices.
I again ask the leader: Where is the money?
Senator LeBreton: I well remember the honourable senator's admonitions
about Senate vacancies. His colleague Senator Prud'homme has, time and again,
suggested the same thing.
I will once again go through the programs that the government has undertaken
on behalf of women. Although we did not cut off funding, it is true that we
changed funding to Status of Women by directing it away from advocacy groups and
toward communities where the money is much better spent, and we also increased
In 2007, we increased the budget of women's programs in Status of Women
Canada by 42 per cent, bringing the budget to the highest level ever of $15.3
million. Budget 2008 stated that over the next year the government will build on
this achievement through the development of an action plan that will advance the
equality of women across Canada. Earlier this year, Minister Verner announced a
series of projects across the country that will receive funding from the women's
For example, on March 26 the minister announced over $1.5 million for 11
projects in British Columbia, and on April 4, she announced that 10 women's
organizations in Alberta will receive over $2 million in funding. She has made
these announcements across the country.
Senator Mercer: I continue to be concerned, however, that Canada's
reputation and that of the Government of Canada, no matter who forms the
government, is being tarnished with women in Canada and around the world.
I know the Leader of the Government in the Senate does not read The Globe
and Mail. She has told us a number of times that she does not like to read
it. Therefore, I commend to her another fine daily newspaper in Canada, the
Cape Breton Post, in which there was a great article last week about the
appointment of Carmen Chacón, a 37-year-old member of the Spanish Parliament, as
the minister of defence in Spain. It is unusual to have a woman as a minister of
defence, and the fact that Madam Chacón is seven months pregnant also makes her
With that kind of symbolism, the Spaniards have said that women have an equal
place in their government, including in their cabinet, and that even pregnancy
is not a barrier to that equality.
We need to establish some benchmarks here. The government says they have a
program, but they have no money, no timeline and no plan.
What is the plan for fixing these problems in this country? Countries all
over the world are showing us up.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I hasten to point out that the
first woman cabinet minister in Canada served under a Conservative government.
As well, the Conservative government had a female Minister of National Defence,
just in case senators have forgotten, and a female Minister of Foreign Affairs.
When I was responsible for appointments in the government, women headed up
the Civil Aviation Tribunal and Export Development Canada. Senator Janis Johnson
was the first woman director of the Conservative Party.
We are also trying to recognize the rights of Aboriginal women and
matrimonial property rights, which, for some reason, members of the honourable
senator's party on the other side seem to be stopping.
Minister Verner and all ministers in our government, starting with the Prime
Minister, are doing everything we can to enhance Canada's reputation in the
world, not only with women but with all Canadian citizens.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, about the time that the
Conservatives cancelled all the Liberal climate change programs and denied
climate change, their own Departments of Natural Resources and Environment were
compiling a remarkable, disturbing and extensive report on the significant and
wide-ranging impacts of climate change on Canada and on Canadians.
What levels of hubris, lack of responsibility and incompetence would have
driven this government to deny all this information prepared by its own
department staff, to cancel clearly effective Liberal environment programs and
to continue to deny climate change, despite the peril in which it puts Canadians
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): First, I do not know whether the word "hubris" applies to the
government or to the question.
In any event, one cannot cancel something that never happened, and absolutely
nothing happened under the honourable senator's government.
We have now put forward a reasonable climate change plan.
It is nice to answer an environment question for a change because there has
not been one in this place since we came back. I took that as a great compliment
to Minister Baird, namely, that the environment was no longer such a concern to
the opposition and it was not necessary to ask questions about it anymore. It is
the same over in the other place as well.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Speaking of Minister Baird, he is spinning so
hard all the time that he is continuously dizzy.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate said that nothing was happening,
and that the Liberals had not done anything. Can she please clarify why she has
not fired her own deputy minister of the environment who clearly stated the
following on February 23, 2006, to Minister Ambrose:
The Climate Fund is a cost-effective vehicle to drive technology
innovation and a low-carbon future in Canada.
If nothing was happening, and her deputy minister of the environment was
telling her that good things were happening, why is that deputy minister of the
environment still there?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I do not remember anyone saying that climate change was not an
issue or a problem. I do not believe that.
So the honourable senator knows what we have been doing in the area of
climate change, on March 10, the government published details of our regulatory
framework, which will put us on a path to reducing emissions by an absolute 20
per cent by 2020. The framework includes details and rules of regulation,
including carbon trading, offsets, a technology fund and a credit for early
Budget 2008 included $66 million over two years to set up key features of the
regulations around "Turning the Corner," our practical and credible plan.
Climate change, as the honourable senator has said many times, and we all
agree, is a challenge that requires action by all levels of government and all
As I have said before, we also created a trust fund of $1.5 billion. This is
money set aside for provincial and territorial clean air and climate change
projects. We are all in this together.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Can the leader please explain upon what basis,
what reports, what analysis and what data her government based its target? Did
it pick this target of 20 per cent reduction of 2006 levels by 2020 out of the
air? All the credible scientific information, the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, international standards and our Kyoto obligations clearly state
that 20 per cent of 2006 levels by 2020 bears no relationship to what needs to
Senator Stratton: Why did you not do something?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Exactly: I was wondering whether the honourable senator would
mention Kyoto. I was expecting a question yesterday on the tenth anniversary of
the signing of the Kyoto accord. I was armed with, "We did not get it done"
from Mr. Ignatieff to Eddie Goldenberg saying that the Prime Minister of the day
signed on to it with absolutely no plan to implement it, but it was sort of a
In any event, we are taking concrete steps based on the information that we
have within our own Department of the Environment. As was the case when the
Prime Minister attended the G8 Summit last year, and when he went to the United
Nations and to the conference of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, APEC,
there is an acknowledgement from around the world that this problem cannot be
solved by one country alone. It must be solved by all countries, including
having the big emitters at the table as part of the solution.
Hon. Yoine Goldstein: This question is for the Leader of the
Government in the Senate. On April 14, two weeks ago, federal Justice Minister
Rob Nicholson appointed former New Brunswick Justice Minister Bradley Green as a
judge of the family division in Saint John, New Brunswick, where cases can drag
on for years, and it takes a full year for preliminary motions to go to trial.
I am sure that Justice Green is a fine gentleman, but he has spent his entire
career in politics and has apparently never seen the inside of a courtroom. He
was Justice Minister from 1999 to 2006 in Bernard Lord's Conservative
government, and Minister of Health and in charge of Aboriginal affairs when he
lost his seat in 2006.
Far from starting a law career, he then worked as an adviser to the official
opposition in the legislature. The Canadian Bar Association declined comment on
this appointment because it violates the bar's position that cabinet ministers
should undergo a two-year cooling off period before appointment to the bench to
promote public confidence that the judiciary is independent and apolitical.
This appointment was manifestly and clearly a patronage political
Conservative appointment without any justification whatsoever, except for the
political activities of the appointee.
There is now an opening in the Supreme Court of Canada. Is it the position of
the government that it will have an open, free nomination based exclusively and
solely on the attributes of the nominee and not at all based on political
considerations, or will the government do the same thing all over again?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): First, I think all of us should be concerned with the tone and
tenor of Senator Goldstein's question. As the honourable senator knows well, all
judicial appointments are made following a judicial review process that was
initiated under the previous Conservative government and followed by the
subsequent Liberal governments. The appointment of Mr. Justice Green would have
followed that process and been part of the recommendation.
As the honourable senator knows, the people who sit on those committees — in
this case in New Brunswick — would include the current Minister of Justice in
Sooner or later honourable senators will have to give up this childish
behaviour regarding Senator Fortier because it does not look good on the Senate.
This individual was chosen through a valid process. Only people who are
recommended by the process are appointed. If we use the honourable senator's
criteria, then Mr. Justice Michel Robert from the province of Quebec should
never sit on the bench because he was the President of the Liberal Party.
As far as the vacancy on the Supreme Court is concerned, and with respect to
future appointments to the Supreme Court, when we came into government we
recommended Mr. Justice Rothstein, who was chosen from the list of former Prime
Minister Paul Martin. Therefore, there is an open, transparent and squeaky clean
process for appointing judges in the provinces and territories and at the
federal level. It behooves all of us, including Senator Goldstein, to avoid
denigrating that very good process.
Senator Goldstein: The Leader of the Government in the Senate just
finished hearing that that process was not followed and the recommendations of
the bar were not agreed to by this government. I completed my remarks by saying
that. That information comes from The Lawyers Weekly, which is hardly a
Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, there are over 50 vacancies
at the Immigration and Refugee Board, the total complement of which comprises
about 140 people. There are thousands of applications for refugee status that
are suspended and delayed because the honourable senator's government is not
filling the more than 50 vacancies that exist. Is the government waiting for
Conservative members who are qualified, or is it looking for qualified people?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Returning to the judicial review process, we followed the
recommendation of the Canadian Bar Association. Whether this person who is a
member of the Law Society of New Brunswick has a disagreement with the Canadian
Bar Association, I cannot say.
With regard to the Immigration and Refugee Board, there was a huge number of
vacancies when we took office. Many vacancies were filled by the Martin
government, and those vacancies were about to come due. I expect that Mr. Martin
was thinking he would be the Prime Minister again and would be able to refill
The reason for the delay is that we are at this time putting applicants
through a very rigorous process in order to ensure that they are qualified to
deal with immigration and refugee cases. They must write and pass a written exam
and they must appear before an advisory board. The process is a rigorous one.
We are making progress. I believe we have appointed quite a number of
well-qualified people who have some expertise in this field.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein moved third reading of Bill S-210, An Act
to amend the Criminal Code (suicide bombings). —(Honourable Senator Grafstein)
He said: Honourable senators, you have heard these arguments before. I will
sum up briefly, from my perspective, what took place at the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
I commend all senators who served on that committee, cross-examined the
witnesses with great precision and intelligence, and ended up with an
interesting, instructive and educative record. At the culmination of those
committee hearings, the committee unanimously recommended the adoption of this
The evidence before the committee overwhelmingly supported the bill. The only
opposition offered was by the Department of Justice, which said the elements of
suicide bombing were already contained in the Criminal Code and, as a result,
might cause confusion with respect to other aspects of the Criminal Code with
respect to prosecutions. The RCMP, called by the government, denied this
confusion. They, in effect — if I can sum up their evidence simply — supported
the bill and suggested only that perhaps it did not go far enough.
In addition, other witnesses were called. The Dean of York University Law
School, Patrick Monahan, who is well known to Parliament, spoke in favour of the
bill. Those witnesses who supported the bill included Ed Morgan from the
University of Toronto Law School, an international expert who talked about the
international ramifications of the bill; Leo Adler, a lawyer with international
experience; and Mark Sandler, an outstanding defence lawyer.
Finally, the most telling piece of evidence called by the committee was the
representative of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, William
Trudell, who amazingly supported this bill. This is a rare occasion when that
association supports or accepts any amendment to the Criminal Code put forward
by either government or private members. I urge all senators who have any
questions about the bill to read his evidence, which was instructive, as well as
the transcripts, which were not long.
On the substance, then, this bill deals with an anathema: something totally
unacceptable to civilized society. This bill has also received unbelievable
bipartisan support. In my experience, this bill, supported by an association
called Canadians Against Suicide Bombing, led by a former judge, Justice Reuben
Bromstein, has gained support that reaches across every segment of our
Supporting the bill are three former prime ministers: Kim Campbell, John
Turner and Jean Chrétien, all of whom, by the way, were former Attorneys
General. As well, it is supported by the former chief justice of Ontario, also
himself an Attorney General of Ontario.
Four former provincial premiers support this bill, as well as religious
leaders from every religion in Canada and distinguished Canadians, including Ed
Broadbent. Therefore this bill has overwhelming bipartisan support because they
all understand the purpose of suicide bombing, which is to kill innocent people
for political, ideological or so-called religious objectives and sow terror in
the populace. This cult of death is anathema to every organized religion, be it
Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or others; agnostics and atheists alike all
abhor "suicide bombing" as contained in this bill.
The Criminal Code is an educative tool. It is also a tool for deterrence. In
the last week alone, honourable senators — and this evidence is anecdotal — over
125 deaths were caused by suicide bombings across the world, as well as
countless injuries and maiming. This bill will send a clear and simple message
to the international community that Canada stands resolutely against suicide
bombing, whether at home or abroad, in any way, shape or form or under any
Honourable senators, I urge its speedy adoption.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): I have a
quick question for the honourable senator, if he will take it.
I believe I heard him say at the beginning of his comments that the bill
received unanimous support at the committee stage. Will he confirm if that was
the reality at committee stage yesterday?
Senator Grafstein: I apologize. I have just been informed by the
leader that the matter was on division, so I take back my previous statement. I
assumed, from speaking to senators on all sides, that there was strong support
for the bill.
Senator Comeau: I wanted to be absolutely sure. I did read about this
matter in The Hill Times, I think, as well, that someone had called
The Hill Times and had indicated that the committee had said that it was
agreed to unanimously. I do not know who from the committee would have made such
a comment to The Hill Times. However, having heard that indication
repeated here today, I wanted to be absolutely sure whether or not that was
Given that I had made some comments in the Senate regarding the bill and that
I had expressed certain concerns, I was surprised to read that there was
unanimous agreement on this item.
Senator LeBreton:The Hill Times must do a correction.
Senator Grafstein: I did not speak to The Hill Times on this
matter. The chairman of the committee is here. If I misled the Senate, I
withdraw those comments.
On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Banks, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill S-229, An Act
to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Property qualifications of Senators).—(Honourable
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I am pleased to participate
in debate on Bill S-229, a bill introduced by Senator Banks that would remove
the real property and net worth requirements for persons to be qualified to sit
in the Senate.
This short speech of mine comes at a rather opportune time as Senator Banks
and I had a lengthy discussion last night on the difficult process of coming to
unanimity between our two parties. The importance of this bill should not be
exaggerated; it seeks to accomplish a needed and overdue but minor reform.
Bill S-224 underscores the marked difference between division of the
government on the one hand and the lack of division to maintain status quo on
the other. While many paid lip service to Senate reform, actions and results
thus far demonstrate the challenge of making reform. This sad reality is being
played out, despite the fact that Canadians — and this has been demonstrated in
poll after poll — want serious Senate reform to occur. The government, for its
part, has listened to Canadians and made Senate reform one of its key
In last October's Speech from the Throne, the government renewed its
commitment to Senate reform and subsequently reintroduced Bill C-19 on Senate
tenure and Bill C-20 on Senate appointment consultations. Bill C-19 replaces the
former Bill S-4, which was delayed, as honourable senators know, for over a year
by the Senate following its introduction and was then effectively killed by the
Liberal majority in this chamber. Most Canadians and commentators would regard
reducing the tenure of senators as an incremental but important step in making
the Senate worthy of 21st century democracy. However, senators on the other side
chose to block even this incremental attempt at reform. It is worth reviewing
what happened in debate on Bill S-4 because it set the context for the debate we
will have on this bill. Suffice to say, the story of Bill S-4 and its treatment
in the Senate serves as a cautionary tale for why we need Senate reform.
As I mentioned earlier, the Senate acted to stall progress on the former bill
for over a year. While most bills are subject to review once in each chamber by
one committee, Bill S-4 was twice subject to committee review. The "subject
matter" of the bill was first examined by the Special Senate Committee on
Senate Reform chaired by Senator Hays with Senator Angus as deputy chair. The
bill was then subject to the regular committee review process in the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
In an unprecedented tactic, the Senate ultimately killed the bill by refusing
to allow it to proceed to third reading unless it was first referred to the
Supreme Court of Canada. This was done despite the fact that the report of the
Special Senate Committee — a committee formed by senators and composed of a
majority of Liberal senators, I might add — endorsed the government's overall
approach to Senate reform and affirmed the constitutionality of the bill. The
report concluded that:
Our discussions with constitutional scholars and legal experts have
yielded, for the most part, convincing arguments that the government has
chosen the correct approach to making this change. The witnesses generally
felt that the Constitution was sufficiently clear on this matter and that a
reference to the Supreme Court of Canada to clarify and resolve the matter
is not required.
Bearing in mind that it is the subject matter of the bill that has been
referred to the Committee, most Committee members have concluded that there
appears to be no need for additional clarity on the constitutionality of
Bill S-4 as a condition precedent to the Senate proceeding with a
consideration of the Bill as proposed.
As the Special Senate Committee report noted, many of Canada's leading
constitutional experts appeared before the committee and supported the
government's position on the constitutionality of the bill. This list of
supportive experts included Peter Hogg, Patrick Monahan, Stephen Scott and
former Senator Gérald Beaudoin, to name but a few. When the bill was reviewed
again by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs,
Peter Hogg and Patrick Monaghan took the trouble to contact the committee to
reiterate their support for the government's constitutional position.
Quite rightly, the government rejected the proposal of the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for a Supreme Court reference. The
vast weight of public opinion supported the government's position that Bill S-4
was constitutionally valid and that there was no need to delay the reform
process further with a reference. While I was initially hopeful that the Senate
would listen to Canadians and embrace reform, it became obvious during the
debate on Bill S-4 that the Senate was opposed to even the most modest reforms.
Honourable senators, I am hopeful that the elected members of the other place
will be more sensitive to the views of Canadians on this matter because
Canadians are not prepared to accept an institution that has remained virtually
unchanged since Confederation, an institution that is neither democratic nor
accountable to the people of Canada. While the Senate may have suited 19th
century sensibilities when it was created in 1867, it is now an institution that
is severely out of touch with our times. In our contemporary society the Senate
lacks the credibility to fulfill its role as an effective representative of the
regions in the federal legislative process. The status quo is not good enough
for our political institution and this is particularly true in regard to the
Senate. That is why it is essential that we continue the pursuit of practical,
achievable, and meaningful reform that will help to ensure that the Senate
devolves in accordance with the expectations of Canadians.
Honourable senators, I believe we are at a critical juncture in the history
of the Senate. The patience of Canadians and the government is waning. If we do
not embrace change then we may be viewing the dying days of this institution. We
have the power to change destiny by supporting real reform to the Senate, as has
been proposed by the government. Honourable senators, because some change is
better than no change, I support Bill S-229 and commend Senator Banks for
introducing the bill while awaiting the day that I might stand in this chamber
and vote in favour of the government's more meaningful Senate reform proposals.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Tkachuk: Yes.
Senator Carstairs: The honourable senator spent a considerable amount
of his speech this afternoon addressing the processes of the Hays committee and
then the position of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs, which indicated that they wished to see a reference to the Supreme
Court of Canada to ensure clarity and to ensure that there was absolutely no
disagreement as to whether the process by which the House of Commons, under the
Prime Minister, were moving in terms of legislation.
Had that reference been sent at that time, I suspect that we would now have a
reply from the Supreme Court of Canada, at which point, if they ruled with the
government, namely that what the government was doing was perfectly lawful, we
would be now ready, willing and able to pass a potential bill. Why does the
honourable senator believe that such a reference was not made if it would
facilitate the process of Senate reform?
Senator Tkachuk: The second Senate committee chose to amend the bill
and wished us to send the amended bill, not the original bill as referenced.
Therefore, the government decided that it would not do that but introduce these
reforms into the House of Commons instead.
Senator Carstairs: With the greatest respect, Senator Tkachuk, the
real issue of the report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs was: Can the Senate be reformed by the vote only of the
House of Commons and the Senate, or does it require the engagement of the
provinces of this country? That was the genuine aspect of the question that was
to be put before the Supreme Court of Canada.
Why is the government, who espouses the view of the important roles of the
provinces of this country, unwilling to put that question to the Supreme Court
Senator Tkachuk: I cannot deal with suppositions. I only know that the
bill that the second committee decided to refer to the Supreme Court was not the
bill that was introduced by the government. Rather, it was an amended bill.
Therefore, the government decided that it was not the bill they wanted and they
did not refer it to the Supreme Court.
Senator Carstairs: My final question to the honourable senator is that
the Government of Canada can refer any reference they wish to the Supreme Court
of Canada. It does not have to be the reference of the Standing Senate Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. It can be a simple reference to the Supreme
Court of Canada saying: Do the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada believe
the provinces must be engaged in a process of significantly changing the number
of years in which a senator can serve in this chamber?
Senator Tkachuk: What is it about my answer that the honourable
senator does not understand? I told her that the bill was an amended bill and
the government decided that it would not refer it to the Supreme Court.
Therefore the government has reintroduced the bill into the House of Commons;
that is a democratic process.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, this debate on Bill S-4 has been extremely interesting. I, however,
want to reflect upon Bill S-229 and I have not had time to complete my
reflections on that topic. Therefore, I move the adjournment of the debate.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: May I have permission to ask a question of the
honourable senator, if he chooses to answer? I think all honourable senators
know what it is.
Today is a good day in Canada. It is the Prime Minister of Canada's 49th
birthday. Since the honourable senator is involved in matters pertaining to
Senate appointments, will the honourable senator relay to the Prime Minister our
well wishes but will he also ask the Prime Minister to consider something. Soon,
we will have an election campaign. Knowing the difficulty of electing a woman in
any political party and, having a good institution called the Senate, can he
make it his intention to appoint only women until we reach the number of 53
women and 52 men? He can keep his option of appointing whoever he wants,
according to the Constitution. My request is that he make a call across Canada
to ask people to send the best names. Then he may choose from those names, as it
is possible for him to do. We would be the first chamber of the world to have a
majority of women in the house, as it should be.
I wish the Prime Minister a happy birthday and I intend to see him later
today. I also want to make this suggestion, and I will continue to do so until I
Senator Tkachuk: I promise I will take the wishes of Senator
Prud'homme and honourable members of the Senate to the Prime Minister. I know
that the honourable senator has asked about this issue previously. The question
was discussed. I am sure that the Leader of the Government on this side has
already brought that topic to the attention of the Prime Minister. I am sure
thousands of Conservative women across this country support it.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: I thank Senator Tkachuk for his comments. The
objective of my question is to inquire as to the nature of his optimism on this
bill. To the extent that there was a particular outcome on the last go-round on
Senate reform, and the Senate and Senate committee pronounced itself, can
Senator Tkachuk share with us the evidence that causes him to be optimistic that
the outcome would be a different on this go-round of the study of this bill?
In other words, what evidence does the honourable senator have that persons
here are likely to change their minds?
Senator Tkachuk: Senator Cools, this particular bill, Bill S-229, is
not my bill; it is Senator Banks' bill. As he is on the Liberal side and I am on
the Conservative side, I have more optimism than I did before that this bill may
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Mitchell,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Hubley, for the second reading of Bill
S-228, An Act to amend the Canadian Wheat Board Act (board of directors). —(Honourable
Hon. Bert Brown: I am out of breath having listened in this chamber to
the debate on Senate reform.
Honourable senators, it gives me great pleasure to rise and speak to the
motion before us. I am pleased at this opportunity to highlight the many ways
this government is taking action for Canada's grain farmers. I hope that is why
we are here — in the interests of our farmers, not in the interests of partisan
Each and every year, Canada's grain industry conducts $10 billion worth of
business here in Canada and around the world. Those dollars drive the economies
of both rural and urban Canada. They create and sustain jobs right through the
grain production chain: from farm input suppliers, to elevators, to transporters
and to processors. They support our rural communities that contribute so much to
Canada's grain growers sustain our health and well-being as Canadians by
putting the very bread on our tables. We must never forget that. It concerns me
when I see the headlines about high food prices as if farmers have anything to
do with that. Farmers have endured years of prices well below the cost of
To blame them now when, for once, they receive a decent price for their wheat
is beyond ludicrous. The value of wheat to the farmer in the average loaf of
bread is pennies. Someone is becoming rich but it is not the farmer.
This government has deep roots on the farm. Many of our members come from
farms, or are still actively farming. We know the difference between urban myth
and reality. We know how critical it is to stand up for a sector that puts food
on our tables, and that contributes over $25 billion to our exports and 8 per
cent to our GDP.
That is why, honourable senators, farmers have once again taken the rightful
place they deserve in the policies and programs of the Government of Canada.
That is why we are investing more than $2 billion in the development of biofuels
to open up new markets for our grain and oilseeds producers, to create new jobs
for our rural communities and to create a better environment for Canadians. That
is why we are working hard to deliver marketing choice to help our Western wheat
and barley producers capture new opportunities and make the business decisions
that are right for their farms.
That is why we have moved to eliminate kernel visual distinguishability as a
criterion for registering varieties of wheat. This elimination will help our
grain producers access new and better wheat varieties; new varieties better
suited as livestock feed and as biofuels feedstock, for instance.
That is why we have proposed amendments to the Canada Grain Act to keep our
grain producers competitive by improving the regulatory environment for Canada's
That is why we are taking real action to reduce transportation costs and
improve rail service for farmers' products, by pushing forward Bill C-8 and by
adjusting the revenue caps to reflect actual hopper car maintenance costs.
That is why we are taking action at the WTO agriculture negotiations to
create opportunities for our exporters, while defending interests important to
our supply-managed sectors.
Honourable senators, sometimes the best way for governments to help our
farmers is to let them do what they do best by removing obstacles standing in
the way of producers maximizing their returns from the marketplace. The bill
before us takes a big step backwards in that regard.
Farmers have asked for more transparency, more responsiveness and more
clarity from the Canadian Wheat Board, but this bill would do the reverse. It
would encumber the current system with more red tape and bureaucracy. It would
throw a heavy blanket of procedural delays that would force the government and
the CWB's board of directors to hold formal consultations over operational
decisions on which the board wants quick Governor-in-Council approval.
This bill is nothing but a series of measures to help the CWB bureaucracy dig
in and resist changes demanded by the farmers. This bill is about making it
harder to change the status quo. Instead, we need to focus on delivering
efficient services for producers and helping farmers prepare for a competitive
This bill pins producers down at a time when they need clear signals on
spring seeding decisions. Producers need to know how much acreage to put in
barley and they need to know it now.
There are many other attractive options out there. We are risking losing
those acres to other crops at a time when the future for barley is brighter than
ever, when the international marketing opportunities are growing and when the
price outlook for both feed and malting barley is strong.
Malting barley exports to the U.S. are expected to grow by almost one third
this year. Continued expansion is projected for all barley markets, including
malting barley. This is driven mainly by solid growth and demand in markets such
as China. Better still, much of the growth is happening on the value-added side,
which keeps jobs and dollars in Canada.
Farmers have spoken. They want action, not bickering over semantics.
The Canadian Wheat Board was established in 1935. That was a time when this
country was in the midst of the Depression. Electricity was unheard of in most
rural areas. Most farmers brought their goods to market by horse and buggy.
The Canadian Wheat Board was established as a voluntary marketing agency for
Prairie wheat. In 1943, sales of wheat through the board became compulsory and
the price of wheat was frozen in order to provide Great Britain with dependable
supplies of wheat to feed the troops.
A few years later, in 1949, the board's powers were extended to include
Prairie oats and barley. For 25 years, the board was the single desk for Western
oats, barley and wheat, whether for human consumption or animal feed. However,
as the markets changed, so, too, did the Canadian Wheat Board.
In the mid-1970s, exclusive marketing rights over Prairie grain fed to
animals in Canada were removed from the board. The world did not come to a
crashing halt and the bottom did not fall out of the market. In fact, the use of
cereal grains for livestock has grown significantly since then.
As the world changed again, so, too, did the Canadian Wheat Board. In 1989,
oats were removed from the board's jurisdiction. Again, the world did not end
and the bottom did not fall out of the market. A thriving oats processing sector
has since developed in Western Canada.
Let us recap how the Canadian Wheat Board has evolved. What started out as a
monopoly during the Second World War has been slowly but surely evolving until
what we are left with is a single desk for barley and wheat for export and
domestic human consumption.
Farmers adapted quickly to the changes. What made sense in the 1940s, when
zoot suits were in fashion, honourable senators, does not make sense today.
To conclude, honourable senators, time is of the essence for our farmers. The
Canadian barley industry is on the cusp of tremendous growth. What we have to
ask ourselves is: Are we about delivering action for our farmers or are we
delivering exercises in political gamesmanship like this bill?
The clock is ticking for our producers. Spring seeding is fast approaching.
We need to send farmers a strong signal of our support for clarity, transparency
and accountability, and our support for farmers and their business goals.
We need to stop the foolishness and defeat this bill.
Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Will the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Brown: Yes.
Senator Goldstein: I was intrigued by the statement of the honourable
senator — I hope I wrote it down correctly — that the current government has
allocated a significant amount of money "to increase production of biofuels and
create new markets."
Is the honourable senator aware that the cost of production of biofuels
exceeds the cost of oil, even in today's elevated oil market?
Further, is the honourable senator aware of the fact that using grains to
create biofuels is helping significantly to aggravate the crisis which the world
is now experiencing in terms of feeding itself on rice and other grains that are
being diverted to biofuels and other like alternatives?
Senator Brown: The cost of biofuels at this moment in time is higher
than normal fuels because the industry is in its infancy. The biofuel sector is
experimenting with various conversion methods. It is finding new feedstocks. In
Brazil, they use only sugar cane refuse, which is of no use for anything else.
Biofuels will use, for instance, the frozen canola feed, which drops from
being for human consumption to no use at all by humans because it has a much
higher acid content when it is frozen. Number 3 grade canola is no longer useful
for human consumption.
We have experienced a couple of years when most of the canola crops in
Western Canada were frozen. It would be a very good method to use that and it
would be cheap in comparison to what the costs are now.
As far as the biofuel industry goes, it is in its infancy. Time will tell
whether it is something that should and would grow.
I forgot the second part of the honourable senator's question. Could he ask
Senator Goldstein: Was the honourable senator aware that the
alternative use of grain of all kinds by Canada and other "developed"
countries is having the effect of exacerbating the shortage of grain and bread
throughout the world, so much so that the World Health Organization has
predicted that there will be 100 million additional people living at a
starvation level within the next 12 months?
Senator Brown: I agree with the honourable senator's comments to the
extent that there have been some biofuels the United States used for corn as a
feedstock. The corn can be fed to animals or some of it can be used for human
consumption. However, that certainly is not what has caused the 100 million
people in the world to be short of food right now.
The industry is in its infancy. They are looking for different feedstocks.
They will end up using corn husks and corn plants after harvest is done for that
kind of thing in the future. I do not know where the biofuel industry will go
over the long term but I know that it was long-supported by many Liberals in
both Houses. In response to that support, many people are experimenting with it
although it has had some problems.
Despite the problems, we have seen tremendous successes. For example,
Brasilia, Brazil, is the only major multi-million-population city that is
absolutely devoid of the use of Standard Oil products. The city is sustained
completely by sugar cane refuse and ethanol products.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein moved second reading of Bill S-233, An
Act to amend the Library and Archives of Canada Act (National Portrait
Gallery).—(Honourable Senator Grafstein)
He said: Honourable senators, I will not repeat what I said earlier in our
resolution in support of this measure. Suffice it to say, I take some ownership
of the idea of a national portrait gallery in Canada. I joined forces with
Senator Joyal, one of Canada's most outstanding art experts and after our
experiences in looking at national portrait galleries around the world, we
determined that a national portrait gallery should be located in Canada, in
Ottawa. We came to this conclusion, and Senator Joyal was aware of it before I
was, that Canada has one of the largest treasure troves of portraits and
photographs just across the Ottawa River in Gatineau.
When my colleague and I learned that the American Embassy would be vacated,
we agreed that it would be an ideal location for such a portrait gallery. We
attended on then Prime Minister Chrétien and persuaded him to move this project
Honourable senators, this is not an issue of taking credit but rather of
trying to understand the essence of the current proposal by the government.
Bill S-233 is simple. First, it calls for an amendment to the Library and
Archives of Canada Act, which holds this national treasure trove of hundreds of
thousands of paintings and photographs. The bill calls for an amendment to
establish the portrait gallery within the National Capital Region of Canada. The
second and more important amendment is that the matter should be left to
Parliament with a vote in both Houses of Parliament to determine whether the
measure that I propose in Bill S-233 is acceptable to the people's Parliament.
The government's current plan is to put the location of a gallery to exhibit
Canada's greatest treasures up for bids. People have contributed over the years
and over the centuries to this national treasure trove. This process of bids
pits one region against another and one city against another and is not fair to
all regions. Colleagues from the Maritimes are bereft because Prince Edward
Island, the home of Confederation, is left out of the bidding process; and that
is not fair. Since this is a house of regions, we should realize it is not fair
to all regions.
The government's plan for bids is not a cost-effective measure. We have heard
about the government's concern for accountability and respect for the taxpayers'
dollars. This measure, even though it seeks private funds, is not
The proposed location for a national portrait gallery on Wellington Street
across from Parliament Hill is one of the most beautiful Art Deco buildings in
this area. Over $20 million has been spent on that building thus far and an
international competition has already been held to renovate the building.
Millions of dollars have already been spent on that building across the street
from Parliament Hill. As the national portrait gallery it would become the
second-most notable building in Canada because when the national media on the
Hill turn their cameras once a day, they would see that building in the
background. It will quickly become an unbelievable promoter of Canadian art and
culture without any cost to the federal government — all with the turn of a
camera, a building as well-known as Parliament itself.
Another problem with the government's plan for bids is its inconsistency with
government policy. Senator Joyal brought to my attention that the government,
while it proposes transporting these national treasures to the city with the
winning bid, has slashed its funding for the transport of such works. The
government's plan to receive bids is inconsistent with that government policy
and is not cost-effective. The cost of transportation and insurance would be
Would cities such as Calgary, Edmonton or others be left out of the bidding?
Obviously not. National portrait galleries in countries such as England and the
United States put together small exhibits for cross-country tours, and we could
do the same here in Canada. Other cities would not be left out but what would be
left out is the entire treasure trove of portraits and photographs that would
never be exhibited and, therefore, would not be seen.
It does not solve the problem of taking this treasure trove of paintings and
portraits out of the dustbins for the great education that would be available
for people to see — the portraits of the great and unknown people that have made
Canada the country that it is.
The National Portrait Gallery in London is a jewel of a portrait gallery and
is available for viewing on the Internet. You can select pictures and get copies
of them. In my office, I have a copy of the first imperial cabinet where Canada
sat during the First World War.
There is a way to meet the government's objective to spread culture across
the country — and no one on this side disagrees with that — but it must be done
in a cost-effective way to the benefit of all Canadians.
What message would this send to artists, who believe that they dedicate their
art to the National Gallery? Allow me to give honourable senators one personal
example. The National Gallery owns the entire photographic collection of one of
Canada's greatest photographers, Yousuf Karsh, whom I knew. His gallery and
studio were at the Chateau Laurier Hotel just a few steps from this place. I saw
him there often. Mr. Karsh dedicated his entire collection to Canada, having
spent most of his life in this country. The famous portrait of Sir Winston
Churchill was taken just down the hall in the Speaker's chamber. I can bet you
dollars to doughnuts that Yousuf would not have been prepared to contribute his
treasure trove of photographs to a gallery that was not in Ottawa.
Honourable senators, each year between 750,000 and 1,000,000 people come to
Ottawa to visit Parliament Hill. When they leave the Hill, these visitors do not
have any place to go within walking distance. A portrait gallery across from the
Hill would be a huge historical and educational opportunity and attraction. It
would quickly become the most visited gallery in Canada. Honourable senators,
there is no sense or sensibility in separating the National Archives from an
exhibition hall that could take place within the National Capital Region.
I urge the government to give this matter careful consideration. Since Bill
S-233 was introduced, I have received dozens of emails from across Canada in
support of the bill, with some exceptions, such as some in Alberta who oppose
it. I have heard from artists and friends alike who have said that they would be
disappointed indeed if, after donating their personal art collections, it were
not exhibited here in the national capital.
I urge the government to reconsider their proposal. This government is a
minority government. It does not represent all of the people; it represents a
relatively small segment of the voting public of this country. Only a vote by
both Houses of Parliament can do that.
Therefore, I think it is important that this matter be left to Parliament to
decide on a measure so important to the culture, to the art and to the history
of this country. If both Houses of Parliament, in their wisdom, opine against
it, so be it. However, I believe that if this question was fairly put to both
Houses of Parliament this bill would carry. I urge the support of honourable
On motion of Senator Comeau, for Senator Segal, debate adjourned.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Stollery, for the second reading of Bill
S-211, An Act to regulate securities and to provide for a single securities
commission for Canada.—(Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette, P.C.)
Hon. Joan Fraser (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, you will notice that this is the fifteenth day this item has appeared
on the Order Paper. However, I know that Senator Hervieux-Payette, who takes a
keen interest in this topic, does intend to speak, but she is unfortunately
unable to be here.
I therefore move that the debate stand in Senator Hervieux-Payette's name.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the rules are clear on
this. Typically, if a senator wants to begin debate on the fifteenth day and the
debate lasts two or three minutes, that is within the rules, which the Senate
adopted precisely to avoid the initial motion by our colleague, Senator Fraser.
According to the rules, Senator Fraser may move that debate be adjourned for
the remainder of her time.
Senator Fraser: Because this is a topic that interests me as well and
because I have some very strong opinions about it, I move that the debate be
adjourned for the remainder of my time.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Milne, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Cook, for the second reading of Bill S-230, An Act
to amend the Excise Tax Act (zero-rating of supply of cut fresh fruit). —(Honourable
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to second
reading of Bill S-230. At the outset I wish to say that I support this bill and
welcome it. I also wish to thank Senator Lorna Milne for her industry and for
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I want to interrupt for a moment. We generally have a tradition
whereby the second speaker from this side would have 45 minutes reserved for
their intervention. Would Senator Cools mind if the 45 minutes was reserved for
Senator Cools: Absolutely not, I am happy to do so. My speech should
not detract from that person's 45 minutes.
I was thanking Senator Milne for her efforts in bringing forth this bill. It
is a tiny little bill and, to my mind, is crystal clear in what it intends to
Before I try to describe the bill in more detail, I will say that I was drawn
to support this bill because of my participation many years ago in this house
during the so-called GST debate. I am always amazed how consistently and
persistently we continue to see the fallout of what I consider to be the
insufficiencies and inadequacies of the whole GST legislation.
This bill is of great interest to certain segments of this country,
particularly fruit growers, the grocery industry and food retailers. It seems
somewhat corny, but a great confusion has arisen in the business of selling
fruit. For example, as one often sees at Loblaws, if a plastic container of cut
fruit such as pineapple is sold alone — in other words, only pineapple — there
is no GST. However, if it were to be combined with any additional item like
strawberries or a pear, it becomes a fruit salad. That changes its category and
it is then taxed GST. Even then, if several fruits like this appear in a
vacuum-packed plastic container, then they are not taxed, no GST.
Apparently, this seemingly insignificant fact creates great confusion in the
marketplace. I never paid much attention to it, but once the matter was brought
to my attention, I thought it deserved support. It is a great credit that
Senator Lorna Milne has brought this matter forward for adoption and study in
I am a great supporter of the growers of the world. I am a gardener. I was
born on a very small island, but I grew up on lots of land on that island.
Currently, I have a nice little raspberry patch in my backyard and 64 rose
Having said that, I find that I always have sensitivity to those individuals
who grow and produce food and bring it to market to feed the millions of
Canadians. I often wish Canadians would pay more attention to the business of
growing and producing food. I was raised by a Methodist mother who always
instructed me that I should never trust anyone who would not put their hands
into the soil and work it.
This is a good initiative. I am prepared to support it. I am prepared to vote
for it. I would like it to have a good hearing and a thorough examination in
committee. Perhaps during committee study we could explore some of the related
problems around these tax schemes that afflict these particular industries and
Honourable senators, I thank you for your attention in this matter. It is a
good initiative and worthy of our support.
Senator Comeau: I indeed have an interest in this subject. I am still
in the process of gathering information. I met with individuals the other day in
regard to the issues involved and I want to understand it more from the
department's point of view. Therefore, I wish to adjourn the debate for the
balance of my time.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moore, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill C-253, An Act
to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of RESP contributions). —(Debate
on Point of Order)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, on this item, honourable
senators were being helpful to the chair, which has been asked to deal with a
point of order raised by Senator Di Nino. I will take my place and hear other
points that honourable senators may wish to make to help the chair.
Hon. Joan Fraser (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I thank Senator Cools again for her helpful suggestion yesterday that
we should take a bit more time to think about the issues surrounding this point
of order that Senator Di Nino raised. It is an important matter. Whenever we
consider matters that affect our ability to study things that touch Canadians so
closely, we must be careful about how we proceed. I have now had the time to
consult various authorities on this matter, and I have some thoughts that I hope
Your Honour will find useful.
To begin with, let me say that I was glad to hear that Senator Di Nino does
not believe that this bill conflicts with section 81 of our rules, which deals
with supply bills, or with section 54 of the Constitution Act, which deals with
Royal Recommendation for appropriations bills, or that it conflicts with section
53 of the Constitution Act, which says that money bills must originate in the
It is important to repeat those points because those points go to the heart
of whether this point of order, if in fact it is a point of order, is valid. We
can argue that since Senator Di Nino has conceded that none of those rules and
constitutional sections applies, the whole argument the honourable senator
raised yesterday then falls. However, I will do him the courtesy of trying to
address the matter more carefully. The real issue then becomes, if we have made
the concessions that he did, whether this bill is properly before us.
Senator Di Nino believes that it is not properly before us because it was not
preceded by a ways and means motion in the other place. The honourable senator
also told us that he believes that the process by which the bill reached the
Senate was highly irregular and unprecedented. I do not share that opinion. I
think it comes close to an attempt on our part to curtail the ability of the
House of Commons to govern its own affairs. That, I submit, would be improper
and entirely out of order for this chamber to do.
It is part of our system that each House respects the ability of the other
House to govern its own affairs. That is a principle that we treasure and that
we insist upon respecting. We insist upon respecting it if the House of Commons
is trying to tell us how to govern our affairs, and what is sauce for the goose
is surely sauce for the gander. Never, never is that more important than when we
discuss matters relating to money.
We are in agreement that this bill is not a money bill in the traditional
narrow sense, but it does deal with Canadians' money. We know that, in the
parliamentary Westminster system, the House of Commons, because it is elected,
has a unique role in determining matters affecting policy that touches upon
Canadians' money, and this bill does. That does not mean that we cannot ever
reach a conclusion that differs with the House of Commons. Of course, it does
not mean that. Indeed, on occasion, it will be our duty to say that a bill that
the House of Commons has sent us is in some way improper.
I submit that situation is not the case now. In particular, I note that this
bill was not the product or the victim of any oversight in the House of Commons.
We know that such oversights occur. Bill C-10 offers one current example, but
this was not that case. This bill was fully debated and considered over a
considerable period of time in the House of Commons.
The issues that Senator Di Nino raised yesterday were raised in the House of
Commons. At no stage in the House of Commons did the table officers or
legislative counsel raise any objection to this bill, as it is their mandated
duty to do if there is any difficulty. Furthermore, the precise point that
Senator Di Nino raised yesterday was part of a point of order raised in the
other place, and the Speaker ruled on November 1, 2006, that this bill was in
order according to the rules of that House.
The bill was duly passed by the Commons and then was sent to us, as is
normally the case, by a message received from the House of Commons. As far as I
can tell, the message itself is not defective.
I draw to your attention a ruling on May 14, 1996, by the then Speaker of the
Senate, who stated:
I cannot accept any point of order founded on the proposition that the
other place did not follow adequate parliamentary procedure.
I remind honourable senators again that it is the bounden duty of the Speaker
of the other place to uphold, to protect jealously, the rights and privileges of
that House, as indeed our own Speaker ruled in June 2005.
In my view, it is extremely inappropriate for us to dispute what the Speaker
of the other place ruled in this case. Let me cite one final ruling by our own
Speaker on June 12, 2001:
As Speaker, I cannot rule on what was done, or not done, in the other
What are we to do? What is the Speaker's role? The Speaker's role is to
encourage the continuance of debate. It is to encourage the consideration of
matters of public interest and public policy in this place. Indeed, Your Honour
ruled a little more than a year ago, on February 20, 2007, and quoted Speaker
It is my view that matters are presumed to be in order, except where the
contrary is clearly established to be the case. This presumption suggests to
me that the best policy for a Speaker is to interpret the rules in favour of
debate by Senators, except where a matter to be debated is clearly out of
In my view, this bill is clearly in order. Senator Di Nino tried valiantly to
raise points concerning the content of this bill, which in his view would put it
out of order. However, in my view, all those points are precisely the elements
that should be considered in debate in this chamber and in committee. What we
should not do is prevent the ability of this chamber to give due consideration
to a bill that has been duly passed and approved by the House of Commons and
sent to us for our consideration.
It may well be that senators do not like this bill. I gather the government
does not like it, and maybe a majority of senators will not like it. We can
approve it, reject it or amend it, but we have a duty to study it.
Honourable senators, let me close with a rather telling quote from a retired
House of Commons procedural clerk, one B. Thomas Hall, who wrote in The Hill
It may be that future parliamentarians will want to examine carefully the
implications of this use of a private member's bill to effect important
changes in the nation's finances. But at the present time, it's completely
constitutional and procedurally correct.
Honourable senators, I urge you to take those points into consideration.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, with the greatest respect
to the Honourable Senator Di Nino, I do not believe he has a point of order. I
believe his speech primarily was a speech in opposition to the bill. This
opposition, of course, is his right, although not under a point of order.
Frankly, I would not expect the other side to support a positive piece of
legislation that would encourage forward planning on the part of parents to
ensure their children are able to access the post-secondary education they
deserve. However, my comments this afternoon will not be on the subject of the
bill. They will be confined to the point of order.
I will begin by using Senator Di Nino's own arguments. The first argument
that he made was that he admitted in his remarks that the bill does not directly
appropriate public funds. Therefore, I suggest there is no point of order.
Senator Di Nino then admits that the bill is not in conflict with section 81
of the Rules of the Senate. Again, there cannot be a point of order. He
admits it is not in conflict with section 54 of the Constitution Act and admits
that section 53 of the Constitution Act has been respected. Therefore,
honourable senators, there is no point of order.
Senator Di Nino states that his only concern is that the bill may be somewhat
inconsistent with the principles of responsible government. Honourable senators,
this vague reference to the concept of responsible government would be much
better dealt with in the debate of this chamber and in committee. The vagueness
of the honourable senator's concerns, I suggest to you, does not warrant a point
Senator Di Nino concludes that the bill did not receive sufficient scrutiny
in the other place. Honourable senators, I suggest that if this situation was a
point of order, we could raise points of order on the vast majority of
legislation we receive from the other place. Fortunately for the House of
Commons, that situation is not a valid point of order.
Finally, I request that His Honour examine the ruling of a former Speaker of
the Senate, the late Honourable Gildas Molgat, on April 2, 1998, in responding
to a point of order raised by the Progressive Conservatives on Bill S-13. In his
Speaker's Ruling, Senator Molgat made specific reference to Beauschesne's
Parliamentary Rules and Forms, 981 and 982. He argued that there was no
violation of those provisions and that the bill was entirely in order. He argued
clearly that Bill S-13 was not a tax from a procedural point of view, and I
believe those arguments apply also in this case.
We know, honourable senators, that Speaker Milliken has ruled that this bill
is in order; that the former House procedural clerk, to whom Senator Fraser has
referred, B. Thomas Hall, has said that this bill is in order; and that Ned
Franks, a well-recognized academic, has said that this bill is in order. I
commend all of those arguments to His Honour and I personally argue that this
bill is entirely in order and that the debate should commence as soon as
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, it is curious indeed that
Senator Di Nino waited until yesterday to raise a point of order, almost two
months after the bill was received in this place. I suggest that the timing of
his action flies in the face of the whole reason for giving notice. How long is
the chamber to wait? Perhaps this practice should be examined by our Rules
Regardless of that issue, Senator Di Nino's argument was not a point of
order; it was a political speech regarding the substance of the bill itself. He
admits as much when he states that rules or practices of the Senate have not
been broken, as has been mentioned by both Senator Carstairs and Senator Fraser.
His entire point rests on the novel and completely unacceptable position that
the Speaker of the Senate has the authority to overrule or second-guess the
Speaker of the other place with respect to procedural matters in that other
Honourable senators, this point of order is complete nonsense from start to
finish. Each House is the sole master of its own procedures. Neither the other
House nor any court, nor the Crown, may interfere. If the Speaker of the Senate
attempts to do so in this case, it will not be long before the Speaker of the
other place will be called upon to interfere in a Senate procedural question
and, if it becomes accepted practice that one house can interfere with the
other, what will stop a court from doing the same?
The Speaker of the Senate can rule only on the rules and decisions of the
Senate. However, Senator Di Nino is not asking to do that. The honourable
senator is asking the Speaker of the Senate to rule on the procedures of the
other place. That, I submit, he cannot do. I therefore ask the Speaker to rule
herein with dispatch.
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I support Senator Fraser,
Senator Carstairs and Senator Moore in their opinions that there is no
procedural question here and that there is no point of order here at all. What
is here, however, is a good, substantive debate and a good difference of
opinions on substantive questions. However, from what I can see, there is no
point of order.
Honourable senators, this debate took off on a strange curve. I believe that
Dan McTeague, the member for Pickering-Ajax-Uxbridge who brought forth this
bill, is an extremely accomplished, able and experienced member of Parliament.
When this bill was introduced, it received enormous public support. We all owe
him a debt. Time and time again, Mr. McTeague shows what an able member of
Parliament he is. He is extremely thorough and he researched all these
questions. I wanted to put that on the record so that we are crystal clear that
no one here is impugning or questioning Danny McTeague in any fashion.
Honourable senators, what we have here is a most interesting phenomenon that
has happened before, namely, a situation where a bill has passed in the House of
Commons, supported by the House of Commons, despite the opposition of the
ministry. That is the real, substantive question that we have.
To assist His Honour, I have a quotation here from Alpheus Todd that speaks
to this particular issue. I quote from his book on Parliamentary Government
in England: Its Origin, Development and Practical Operation, volume 2, 1892:
But we find no example of any bill being permitted to pass through both
Houses to which ministers were persistently opposed. Where the opinion of
parliament has been unequivocally expressed in favour of a particular bill,
regardless of objections thereto expressed by ministers, it has been the
invariable practice for ministers either to relinquish their opposition, in
deference to that opinion, and to lend their aid to carry the measure, with
such amendments as might be necessary to conform it to their own ideas of
public policy, or else to resign.
Honourable senators, there is a plethora of opinion that tells us again and
again that the ministry must never find itself in a state of difference,
conflict or opposition to the members of the House and that when the ministers
discover that the House is determined to express a certain opinion on a measure,
it is for the ministers to give way and then to put at the House the disposal of
the public treasury and the disposal of the legal minds within the respective
departments to assist the members of the House.
I wanted to put that on the record because this fact seems to be no longer
well understood. The notion is that Her Majesty's government should never be in
conflict with Her Majesty's people or Her Majesty's people's representatives.
I wished to provide that background as an aid to His Honour. I now come to
the central point. I, too, had carefully read Senator Di Nino's intervention and
carefully highlighted all of his arguments. I think that Senator Fraser and
Senator Carstairs have ably articulated those points, so I need not reiterate
them. Senator Di Nino says that at every stage, there are problems, but these
are not really the problems at all. He says that there is no problem with the
major issues, being Rule 81 of the Rules of the Senate of Canada and
sections 53 and 54 of the BNA Act. Finally, he said that on November 1, 2006,
the Honourable Speaker Milliken ruled that a ways and means motion was not
Having said all of that, honourable senators, we are in a most interesting
position whereby Senator Di Nino is appealing under the rubric of a point of
order to the Speaker of the Senate to essentially overcome or to defeat the
House of Commons vote and the ruling of the Speaker of the House of Commons.
I do not think that is a good position for our Senate Speaker to be in. I
should like to encourage His Honour to decline from going down that road, this
or any other day. Honourable senators, the natural state of the equipoise,
balance or equilibrium of the Constitution is that the various parts of the
system are supposed to be in harmony. However, at all times, Her Majesty's
servants, the ministers, must never be in conflict with Her Majesty's
Having said that — and His Honour knows this, because we have discussed this
on several occasions — the Speaker of the Senate is the Queen's representative
in this place. It is his bounden duty to ensure that Her Majesty does not come
into conflict with Her Majesty's representatives, in the house.
I wanted to express my support for my colleagues on this very important
In regard to Senator Di Nino's closing paragraph, I wish to speak about ways
and means motions. Other senators have articulated these sentiments. At page
1200 of the Debates of the Senate of April 29, 2008, Senator Di Nino said
Given the situation, I submit, honourable senators, that the absence of
any reference to ways and means motions in the Rules of the Senate
does not preclude the ability of the Senate Speaker to conclude that the
bill does not respect the financial procedures of Parliament.
Honourable senators, the Senate has no cognizance whatsoever of ways and
means resolutions, no way of possessing them whatsoever and no way of dealing
with points of order on them. If we know anything about Parliament, ways and
means resolutions are uniquely and peculiarly creatures of the House of Commons.
I belong to that group of people who remains concerned with the fact that
those old committees of supply and ways and means were done away with. I see
Senator Stollery looking at me.
The phenomenon of ways and means resolutions, the numerous texts that were
cited in support of them and the fact that no minister ever really supported the
bill are all red herrings; all of that is totally irrelevant to what is before
us. What we have before us is a substantive policy. That is what we have to wrap
our minds around.
It is to that substantive discussion that Senator Di Nino should bring these
concerns. I think it would be a good debate as well as helpful and instructive
in this increasingly arcane business of supply which seems to pass right over
most of our heads.
Honourable senators, I close by saying that Senator Di Nino has raised no
point of order. He has made a very well-prepared and well-articulated speech,
but on substantive questions. His Honour should decline to accept this as a
point of order.
Honourable senators, there are many other things that I would like to say,
but I think I will leave the matter there. It is crystal clear that a real
debate on the proper constitutional roles of the two Houses of Parliament and of
the government to the two Houses of Parliament is needed. Our Senate Speaker
cannot be asked to do the government's undesirable work of defeating a bill that
the government was unable to defeat in the House of Commons.
The Hon. the Speaker: I thank all honourable senators for their
contributions. I will study the matter and report back as expeditiously as
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Keon, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Di Nino, for the adoption 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 Stratton)
Hon. Charlie Watt: Honourable senators. . .
[Senator Watt spoke in his native language.]
Honourable senators, I stated my intention to His Honour that I would make
this short because I do not want to be ruled out of order.
Now I will switch from Inuktitut, but bear with me, because I will be
speaking in broken English. That is what Senator Adams and I do to get our
points across. I state that fact.
First, let me quickly summarize what I have said. I am thankful for the
effort my colleagues have put into this matter, recognizing that it is
important, that I do have the right to speak in my mother tongue. I believe that
I also have a constitutional right to speak in my mother tongue.
For that reason, I thank the committee for its work, the fact that they have
travelled to Iqaluit, studied how the translations take place between French and
English and Inuktitut, a service that already exists in this country in Iqaluit.
I believe their finding was interesting. Otherwise, I do not think they would
have made the report in the fashion they did.
I thank the chair of the committee, Senator Keon, along with the deputy
chair, Senator Smith and the other members of the committee. More importantly, I
acknowledge and thank, from the bottom of my heart, the person who made the
motion, Senator Corbin. This will never be forgotten — not only by me, but by
the people in the North.
Over the last three weeks, on a day-to-day basis, week after week, when I was
up North and even when I was down South, I heard how proud the Inuit people were
that the Senate viewed this issue as an important one that they wanted to move
For that reason, as an Aboriginal person who speaks Inuktitut fluently, along
with my colleague, Senator Adams, who also speaks Inuktitut fluently, we felt
that we were given an opportunity to make a difference in our country today.
As honourable senators have heard, Canada has indicated only four or five
Aboriginal languages might have a chance to survive. I want to say to honourable
senators that Inuit is strong today. Let me repeat: Today. That does not
necessarily mean the strengths of our way of communicating in Inuktitut will
remain, because all kinds of influences come from outside our area that
interfere with our activities.
Honourable senators, I think it is a time for us to make the move, rather
than being looked at by the world as being hesitant to provide space to minority
peoples of this country. We are no threat to the official languages, English or
French. In no way are we a threat. That should not be taken into account; it
should not become a barrier.
I urge all honourable senators — I know you will do the right thing — to move
this issue forward and make it happen.
[Senator Watt spoke in his native language]
Hon. Terry Stratton: I congratulate Senator Watt on his speech. It was
commendable that he is able to speak his language in this chamber. However, I
want to make some comments on it, if I may, and therefore take adjournment of
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the sixth report of the Standing
Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration (committee
budgets—legislation), presented in the Senate on April 17, 2008.—(Honourable
Hon. Terry Stratton moved the adoption of the report.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifteenth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (budget—study on
early learning), presented in the Senate on April 17, 2008.—(Honourable
Senator Eggleton, P.C.)
Hon. Art Eggleton moved the adoption of the report.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Keon, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Segal, for the adoption of the second report of the
Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament
(amendments to the Rules of the Senate— reinstatement of bills from
the previous session of the same Parliament), presented in the Senate on
November 20, 2007.—(Honourable Senator Cools)
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Senator Comeau was interested in saying a few
words on this item today and I had indicated to him that I would yield the floor
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Yes, indeed,
I want to make some comments on this subject. Unfortunately, I still have some
remaining work to do on the important issues arising from this motion.
Therefore, I want to adjourn the debate for the remainder of my time.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Keon, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Eyton, for the adoption of the third report of the
Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament
(amendments to the Rules of the Senate—questions of privilege and
points of order), presented in the Senate on November 20, 2007. —(Honourable
Hon. Joan Fraser (Acting Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, in my view, this report is extremely important. I was fortunate enough
to be a member of the Rules Committee when the work on this report was done and
I have a great interest in it.
However, it is Wednesday, and we are running out of time, so I want to move
the adjournment for the balance of my time.