Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators will have learned from media
reports of the death last Friday of Arthur Kroeger, Companion of the Order of
Canada, who was one of our senior and most respected public servants.
I had been meaning to call or write him to tell him how much I enjoyed his
book, Hard Passage: A Mennonite Family's Long Journey from Russia to Canada
published last year. Religious persecution from place to place in Europe drove
the Kroeger ancestors from a period of relative tranquility in Czarist Russia,
then upheaval: the First World War, German rule over Ukraine, the Russian
Revolution, civil war, a typhus epidemic and famine. Their long journey resumed
in search of peace and freedom, this time in Canada.
In 1926, 6,000 Mennonites came, including Arthur's parents and five children.
Arthur Kroeger was born in a farmhouse in Naco, Alberta in 1932. The family knew
real privation and hunger in the Depression years and insecurity of a different
kind. "To have been an ethnic," he wrote, "was to experience the power of
conformist pressures, and to grow up on the Prairies with a German name during
the war was to know the discomforts of being different."
Arthur's two older brothers scraped together enough money from a small farm
machinery dealership they had started to send him to university. It was a close
call. The university term was two weeks along before they could be sure they
could afford it.
From University of Alberta, Arthur Kroeger went to Oxford University on a
Rhodes Scholarship, and then to a 34-year career in the federal public service.
One of his brothers, much later, went into politics and served as a cabinet
minister in Alberta.
Hard Passage is a wonderful book and it tells a wonderful story, all
the more compelling and moving for being told in Arthur Kroeger's direct, spare
style. It is the story not only of the Kroegers but of the Mennonites of the
Ukraine and of Canada. The group that emigrated in 1924, he wrote:
. . . included the future parents of Jake Epp who, in 1979, would become
the first Mennonite appointed a federal cabinet minister; of Gordon
Thiessen, who served as Governor of the Bank of Canada from 1994 to 2001; of
Peter Harder, who was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2003;
and of Henry Friesen, who served as president of the Medical Research
Council of Canada from 1991 to 2000.
That was quite a group.
In 1925, the Russlaenders included the future parents of Vic Toews who, in
2006, became Attorney General of Canada. In 1927, a year after the Kroeger
family arrived, 847 Russlaenders reached Canada, among them the future parents
of tenor Ben Heppner.
It would be a classic understatement to say that these people have made a
positive difference in the life of Canada, and none more so than Arthur Kroeger.
His story and theirs offers a meditation on Canada's great good fortune to have
been blessed with such people, now well into the third generation.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, Alberta has a new
high-tech heart centre named after a man who is well known to many of us in this
chamber, a former Progressive Conservative, Deputy Prime Minister and Health
Minister, the Right Honourable Don Mazankowski. I am speaking of the Mazankowski
Alberta Heart Institute, which officially opened on May 1, 2008, on the
University of Alberta campus.
The $217 million facility was primarily funded by the Government of Alberta.
The University of Alberta Hospital Foundation capital campaign also contributed
an impressive $45 million to the project.
The Right Honourable Don Mazankowski, a heart attack survivor himself, said
. . . will be a beacon of hope for those who are afflicted by the
This centre for excellence in heart disease prevention, treatment,
rehabilitation, education and research includes 124 beds; five adult operating
rooms; one pediatric operating room and catheterization lab; two adult cardiac
catheterization labs; and three electrophysiology labs for both adult and
pediatric patients. The centre is the first of its kind in Western Canada and
one of the few institutes in the world to provide cardiac care to both adult and
pediatric patients under the same roof.
At the institute's opening, Prime Minister Harper showed his support for the
institute and said:
Building on the University of Alberta Hospital's already sterling
reputation for health and heart care excellence, this Institute is
attracting top international cardiac doctors and researchers because they
know it will rank with the best in the world. That means Albertans and
Canadians will be getting quality cardiac care that is second to none, right
here in Edmonton.
I heartily agree with those sentiments.
Moreover, the institute is a "green building," which may become the first
hospital of its kind to achieve silver certification from Leadership in Energy
and Environmental Design, LEED, for energy-saving features like occupancy
sensors, rooftop green spaces and heat recovery wheels.
Congratulations to Alberta for its new heart institute, and to Canada, which
is building on its already impressive expertise in the area of cardiology.
Congratulations to Don Mazankowski for this richly deserved honour and
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, two weeks ago the
Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group travelled to Washington, D.C., on
one of our regular visits to advocate to our congressional colleagues in the
House of Representatives and the Senate about the pressing issues concerning
Canada-U.S. trade and economic issues of interest to every region of Canada and
to every region of the United States of America.
Repeatedly, we brought to the attention of our congressional colleagues, who
are obsessed with economic issues facing their constituencies and their states,
the fact that Canada is the largest trading partner of the United States, with
over a billion and a half dollars a day in two-way trade and the leading trading
partner in 36 of the 50 states of the union.
We reminded our American colleagues that NAFTA has created more jobs than any
other single initiative, including over 7.5 million jobs in the United States,
while at the same time increasing jobs in Canada. These jobs are all value-added
in the manufacturing and service sectors and are confused too often with
outsourcing to low-cost, low-wage countries.
Canada is, by far, the United States' largest secure source of energy in oil,
gas, hydroelectricity and nuclear materials. Despite these clear and unequivocal
economic facts, there is a growing drumbeat against NAFTA as a whipping boy for
job loss in the United States, especially in the so-called Rust Belt areas.
My concern is that perception is becoming reality and that politics at the
grassroots level across America may undermine the continued growth and
prosperity that NAFTA brings to both sides of the border. Meanwhile, the
situation continues to deteriorate as costs and delays increase, exacerbated by
undermanned customs posts on both sides of the border. Job losses also continue
to grow on both sides of the border. New infrastructure for clogged border
points, especially at Windsor-Detroit and Buffalo-Fort Erie, is woefully
falling behind and is now expected to be completed by 2015 at the earliest, a
Therefore, honourable senators, we have a crisis of misinformation and
mis-politics that the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group will seek
to patiently address in the weeks and months ahead as we meet with senators,
congressmen, state legislators and governors, as the United States continues to
be embroiled in presidential politics and congressional and state political
At the end of this week, honourable senators, our parliamentary group will
travel to Santa Fe for the forty-ninth annual meeting of the Canada-U.S.
Inter-Parliamentary Group to engage our congressional colleagues with these and
many other issues.
I bring this matter to the attention of honourable senators in order to point
out the seriousness and the contagion of the issues facing Canada in the weeks
and months ahead.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, on May 12, 1958, Canada and
the United States signed the NORAD agreement. Perhaps more than any other
institution, NORAD defines the enduring and steadfast military relationship of
our two countries, but it also transcends the purely military and serves as a
constant reminder of the unbreakable bond between our two great democracies —
partners, friends and allies.
NORAD has changed over the years, which more than anything else is testimony
to this remarkable organization's ability to adapt to changing circumstances. In
fact, there have been nine renewals of the original agreement with four
substantial changes in 1975, 1981, 1996 and 2006.
In spite of these changes and the half century that has passed since its
founding, the rationale for Canada's participation in NORAD remains the same: It
provides us with enhanced protection from direct military attack; it gives us
first-hand insight into U.S. military thinking, not to mention some measures of
influence over decisions that may affect Canadian interests; it provides
valuable and ongoing opportunities for joint training, as well as cooperation in
the areas of defence research and development; and it provides or supports
thousands of jobs in defence production.
I hope that all honourable senators will join me on this, the fiftieth
anniversary of NORAD, in not only celebrating this occasion but also doing what
we can from this moment forward to ensure that this organization exists for
another 50 years.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I would like to join Senator
Tkachuk in saluting NORAD. Canada and the United States have shared a long
history of military relations. They have not always been amicable, as our
respective national interests have from time to time diverged. However, over the
past 50 years, our two nations have shared a common interest in the North
American Aerospace Defense Command. NORAD celebrated its fiftieth anniversary
yesterday, May 12, and throughout this summer, there will be celebrations of the
partnership we have shared in monitoring and defending the North American
Today, we use highly developed tracking systems to monitor aircraft, both
identified and unidentified, as well as other objects that may invade the North
American airspace. NORAD's mandate has expanded in recent years to include
coastal maritime surveillance. NORAD is also instrumental in helping us maintain
our Arctic sovereignty.
Established in 1958, NORAD was originally called the North American Air
Defence Agreement. In 1981, it changed its name to that which is used today,
North American Aerospace Defense Command. As international political and
military situations have evolved, there have been coinciding changes to the
agreement, but the main objective has always stayed the same, to protect North
America from outside attack. Even that mandate changed slightly after the attack
on September 11, 2001, when we learned that attacks from within North American
airspace could also be a threat to security.
Honourable senators might be interested to know that during the September 11
terrorist attacks in the United States, Canadian Lieutenant-General Rick Findley
was in command of the NORAD operations centre. This clearly illustrates the fact
that Canada is a full partner in NORAD.
NORAD headquarters is located in Colorado Springs. Cheyenne Mountain
Operations Centre, where the majority of surveillance operations take place, is
only a short distance away. There are also satellite bases in Winnipeg and
Bagotville in Canada.
The lengthy relationship that Canada and the United States have shared in
their mutual interest in the defence of North American airspace is one that we
should be proud to uphold. Canada gains much from this alliance. We are indeed
fortunate to have such a good working relationship while maintaining safety for
the citizens of North America.
Hon. Robert W. Peterson: Honourable senators, I rise today on a matter
of great concern to Canadians regarding the functioning of the National Parole
Board and the incarceration system in this country.
As you may know, First Nations people are disproportionately over-represented
in the Canadian prison population at both federal and provincial facilities.
Although First Nations make up only 4 per cent of Canada's population, they
represent 18 per cent of admissions to federal prison facilities. In
Saskatchewan, this reality is even more troublesome when we consider that the
Aboriginal population at provincial prison facilities reached 80 per cent in
The Liberal critic for Aboriginal Affairs, Anita Neville, wrote in a letter
to the minister responsible to the National Parole Board, the Honourable
Stockwell Day, that the 2007 report from the Office of the Correctional
Investigator highlighted numerous concerns pertaining to First Nations
incarceration and parole granting.
Amongst the most unsettling findings were the unfair sentencing practices
faced by Aboriginals, their higher rate of revocations for breach of parole and
the consistent over-classification of that group on the part of Correctional
Service of Canada.
As disconcerting as these findings are, also troubling is the investigator's
assessment that the proportion of full parole applications resulting in reviews
by the National Parole Board is noticeably lower for Aboriginal offenders than
it is for any other group in the country.
The devastating social problems that lead to disproportionately higher First
Nations crime are known and must be dealt with in appropriate ways. However, we
must not allow these problems to be made worse by institutions that do not
function properly and aggravate an already complicated social dynamic.
Like my colleague in the other place, I am calling on the National Parole
Board to review its practices to ensure that First Nations people are treated
fairly and in a culturally sensitive matter. Moreover, I call on the National
Parole Board to ensure that efforts are made to ensure appropriate First Nations
representation on the National Parole Board and among staff and professional
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, in this place we often complain
about what people do, and we sometimes laud the actions of Canadians. Today, I
would like you to join me in congratulating the actions of a non-Canadian.
Some time ago, Domingo Silva was the third engineer on a ship called the MSC
Trinidad. In a move that may well have ended his sea-going career, Mr.
Silva took video pictures of a bypass pipe that had been installed on the ship
on which he worked, which, it is alleged, would allow bilge water to bypass the
bilge tank on the ship and be dumped directly into the ocean.
Mr. Silva knew that to dump bilge water in this way was in contravention of a
number of international conventions, and certainly the laws of Canada. Mr. Silva
delivered those video pictures to the authorities when the ship came ashore, and
it is now detained in the Port of Montreal for further investigation.
Members will recall the passage in this place of amendments to the Migratory
Birds Convention Act, which had to do with actions of this kind. The discharge
of oily bilge waters resulted in the deaths of thousands of seabirds on the
coast of Newfoundland and Labrador two years ago.
Mr. Silva has done the right thing and has likely done so at great personal
cost, which we must hope will be something from which he will be somehow
insulated. Canada owes Mr. Silva a great vote of thanks. He has set an example
that we must hope other seamen will follow.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would like to draw your
attention to the presence in the gallery of Mr. William Hay, M.L.A., Speaker of
the Northern Ireland Assembly and Chairman of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Commission, together with the following members of the Northern Ireland Assembly
Commission: Mr. Stephen Moutray, Mr. Paul Butler, Reverend Dr. Robert Coulter,
and Mr. Sean Neeson.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the
Supplementary Estimates (A), 2008-09 for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your
attention to the presence in the gallery of a class from the Glebe Collegiate
Institute in Ottawa. The students are accompanied by their teacher, Mr. Gordon
Hamilton Southam. They are guests of Senator Marcel Prud'homme, P.C.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, a message has been received
from the House of Commons with Bill C-30, An Act to establish the Specific
Claims Tribunal and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.
Bill read first time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be
read the second time?
On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second
reading two days hence.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 23(6), I
have the honour to table in the Senate, in both official languages, the report
of the Canada-China Legislative Association respecting its participation in the
Sixteenth Annual Meeting held in Auckland, New Zealand, from January 21 to 25,
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government.
Yesterday, the Conservative government announced the Canada First Defence
Strategy with great facility. I would like to remind the leader that the
Canadian Oxford Dictionary describes the word "strategy" as, first, a "long-range policy designed for a practical purpose;" and second,
"the process of planning something or carrying out a plan in a skilful way."
Therefore, I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if she can table
a government strategy that will guide them in their quest to spend $30 billion?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I thank the honourable senator for the question.
The Canada First Defence Strategy, which was announced yesterday by the Prime
Minister and Defence Minister Peter MacKay in Halifax, is a comprehensive
long-term plan to ensure that the Canadian Forces finally have the people,
equipment and support that is essential to doing their job. There are three
clear priorities to the Canada First Defence Strategy: first, to strengthen
Canada's ability to defend our country and protect our citizens; second, to
shoulder our fair burden of continental security; and, third, to contribute to
With regard to how this strategy will work, it will help the Canadian Forces
to grow by evolving to expand to 70,000 regular force and 35,000 reserve force
members, improving key infrastructure, increasing the forces' overall readiness
and proceeding with the replacement of surface combat ships, maritime patrol
craft fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft, fighter aircraft and land combat
vehicles and systems.
As the Prime Minister noted yesterday, this was a commitment that our party
made when we were running for election. It was certainly something the Chief of
the Defence Staff had been urging from government. We have now made this
long-term commitment to Canada's defence strategy, and other than a few people
in the opposition, I notice it has been very well received by people who
actually deal with the military and are concerned about issues of defence.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, I am happy that the
Leader of the Government in the Senate has referred us to the last budget
because I do not believe that we have learned much about this $30 billion. This
announcement was merely a chance for a new photograph in front of a military
flag. Military personnel, at least those who are retired and can speak freely,
are very disappointed with this announcement because it says nothing concrete
about what the funds will be used for. More importantly, it makes no mention of
the national defence policy the government intends to implement.
Having weapons or tools available to protect the country is one thing; having
a defence policy is another.
What are the government's intentions and specific plans for spending this $30
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator was obviously listening to
different people than I was.
I found the people who commented in the media on the Canada First Defence
Strategy were thankful a long-term commitment to strengthen our defence has been
delivered by a government.
The policy will deliver significant economic benefits to the country. Our
funding plan is based on an automatic annual increase in defence spending from
the current 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent beginning in 2011-12. Our commitment is
for the long term. Stable funding will provide good jobs and new opportunities
for thousands of Canadians who work in the defence industries. It will also
benefit the communities where those industries are located.
Additionally, on the recruitment side, it will allow our young men and women
to join the Canadian Forces or the reserves and have some sense that the
organization they are joining will be supported by the government as a result of
this Canada First Defence Strategy.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, with respect to the last
question, I suppose we are indeed listening to different people. I will return
to that point later.
My question today, addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate,
concerns the Rotterdam Convention. I suspect the minister might want to take
this question as notice. It is important.
The Rotterdam Convention and the meeting of the parties to the convention has
developed a list of prior informed consent substances. This convention means
that the countries agree among themselves that no one will export certain
substances deemed to be injurious to human health to another country without a
prior informed consent of the country to which the product is sent. There is a
veto. To put something on the list requires unanimous consent of the parties.
Most countries involved want asbestos and chrysotile asbestos, in particular,
to be added to that list. Asbestos is a substance that is injurious to human
health. Canada, however, has vetoed the addition of asbestos, of which we export
a great deal to those countries. Canada has vetoed the addition of chrysotile
asbestos to that list. On the face of it, that veto seems to put the interests
of industry, which are important in our country, against the interests of health
in the countries to which asbestos is exported. There are about 74 of those
Can the minister inquire as to whether the government will change its mind
and, when the next conference of parties relating to the Rotterdam Convention
occurs, agree and accede to the request to add the chrysotile asbestos to the
list of prior informed consent substances, PIC?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): The honourable senator is correct in his opening sentence in
that I will take that question as notice. The question is complex. Many products
are listed as hazardous.
I will take the question as notice.
Senator Banks: I thank the leader for that.
Canada says and has said for a long time that it will only export chrysotile
asbestos to those countries in which there are information and dust-control
seminars, for example, given to trade unions in those countries. Canada says it
does so only on that basis.
How often does the Government of Canada collect and review that information
from the countries to which it exports that product? How many times has Canada
collected and reviewed information from those countries in the two years since
the last convention of the parties? Finally, are any countries on record to
which Canada has refused to export chrysotile asbestos because the countries
have not complied with those requirements?
Those questions are in addition to the first question.
Senator LeBreton: I will pass along those detailed questions and seek
a delayed answer for the honourable senator.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, the UN Climate Change
Secretariat has notified Canada that we are in contravention of a Kyoto
reporting obligation because the government has failed to establish a national
registry of greenhouse gases. This is embarrassing internationally, and it is
also very troubling when one begins to wonder exactly how a government could
achieve anything in climate change if they are not even in the process of
measuring greenhouse emissions to begin with.
My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. How could
anyone take this government seriously about its effort to achieve even its
pathetically weak climate change objectives if it has not bothered to establish
a basic registry system to record and report greenhouse gas emissions in this
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): Once again, the honourable senator is wrong with his facts.
There was a contract for Canada's national registry under the Kyoto Protocol. It
was awarded to Perrin Quarles Associates on February 14 of this year, following
a competitive bidding process. PQA has significant experience in developing
registry systems, including the Clean Development Mechanism Registry and New
Zealand's national registry for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Rather than criticizing our government, as the honourable senator always
does, he should reflect on some of his own leader's past comments, considering
that he is the one who made it clear that Canada could not meet its Kyoto
targets. Of course, as his deputy leader has said in the other place, and as is
well known, "you did not get it done."
We are working very hard and have made great strides on our greenhouse gas
emissions plan. We have a plan, and I am happy to say that many industries and
governments are supportive of it. We will work very hard toward a reduction of
20 per cent by 2020.
Senator Mitchell: We hear about striving, about a plan and talk, talk,
talk, but we get absolutely no action, even in this answer.
Senator Stratton: Thirteen years.
Senator Mitchell: The leader says there is some sort of contract that
her government is letting, but we still have no indication of when that might be
Will the leader indicate to us that when her government cancelled all the
previous climate change programs in 2006 did they also consciously cancel the
development of the registry? Is that why we have had to wait until now before
they would even bother to start letting the contract, let alone getting it done
and meeting our international obligations?
Senator LeBreton: First, I am glad to see the honourable senator has
acknowledged that we actually have someone working on the registry.
It is clear that Canadians know and understand that there was nothing done on
the environment. The honourable senator talks about talk, talk, talk. There was
a significant amount of talking by the Chrétien and the Martin governments. Ours
is the first government to require mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas
emissions and air pollution from industry — 20 per cent by 2020.
As the honourable senator knows well, we recently published details of our
regulatory framework. Budget 2008 included $66 million over two years to set up
key features of the regulations. The budget also includes a $250 million
investment in carbon capture and storage. We are making significant investments
to improve public transit. We are investing in clean energy technology and we
set a $1.5 billion trust fund for the provinces and territories for projects
that produce reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Those are
concrete, real measures. We are determined to move forward on this file —
something that has not happened in the past under the honourable senator's
Senator Mitchell: Those are concrete, real announcements, many of
which have been made over and over again in the process of spin. Environment
Minister Baird and the Leader of the Government in the Senate seem to spin so
hard that they are perpetually dizzy.
The UN may well suspend Canada's right to trade in the $92 billion
international carbon market because we are not fulfilling our obligations to
report under the Kyoto Accord. Has this government bothered to assess what loss
might be incurred by Canadian companies that are already actively trading in
that $92 billion international carbon market, when we have not even bothered to
set up a market?
Senator LeBreton: The only person "spinning" is Senator Mitchell.
The honourable senator is spinning his wheels on matters that the Liberals did
not resolve. We know what happened the last time the Liberals made promises on
the environment: Canada was 35 per cent over its Kyoto targets. We also know
that this government has been able to move its environment plan forward because
the Liberals have supported government measures in the other place.
Senator Mitchell: The government cancelled them in 2006.
Senator LeBreton: Even though Senator Mitchell wants to believe
otherwise, a serious effort is being made not only on greenhouse gas emissions
and pollution but also on protecting pristine lands, lakes and parks.
Senator Mitchell: We do not want effort; we want results.
Senator LeBreton: We have made great environmental strides, and this
work is reflected in the public's view and that of most reasonable people that
the government is making a serious effort to deal with the environment. We must
bear in mind that we live in the northern half of North America and, therefore,
we have a climate that is colder than many other countries. We must also be
mindful of our economy as we move forward on the environment with great care.
Most people acknowledge that we have done that.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, providing quality health care
to Canadians should be one of this government's top priorities. Unfortunately,
we live in an age where a top magazine in Canada can make the claim that one's
dog can receive better health care than a person.
Senator Andreychuk: They have said that for a long time.
Senator Milne: In Budget 2005, $75 million was earmarked over five
years to expand the assessment of qualifications and the integration into the
workforce for health care professionals from other countries around the world.
The program is referred to as the International Medical Graduates, IMG, Portal.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise honourable senators how
much of this funding has been spent, whether the program still exists and how
this government is implementing it to improve health care delivery for
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I read the article to which the honourable senator referred,
that mentions the care some people receive for their pets, provided they can
The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is trying to streamline our entry
system so that qualified people, in particular from the medical profession, can
come to Canada because we are in dire need of nurses, doctors and medical
technicians. Honourable senators, the government has committed to delivering
significant sums of money to the provinces and territories in the form of an
annual 6 per cent increase in the Canada Health Transfer. The delivery of health
care, as the honourable senator well knows, is provincial and territorial.
Obviously, there are real concerns about personnel shortages in some parts of
With regard to the specific program that the honourable senator has inquired
about, I will take that as notice and provide a delayed answer.
Senator Milne: I thank the Leader of the Government in the Senate for
that response and I will await the actual answer with bated breath.
While researching the programs specific to health care professionals, I
noticed that in 2005 the current government made a commitment to create the
Canadian agency for assessment and recognition of credentials. In addition, they
committed themselves to working with the provinces and professional associations
to ensure foreign-trained professionals meet Canadian standards while getting
properly trained professionals into Canada quickly.
On February 29, columnist Carol Goar commented that Mr. Harper's Canadian
agency for the assessment and recognition of credentials turned out to be an
information office with no authority to accredit foreign-trained professionals.
I believe I have heard it referred to as "an empty room with a telephone."
Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate undertake to advise
honourable senators how much public money has been spent since Budget 2006 in
order to establish this information office that provides no authority to
accredit these foreign-trained professionals? Also, how many of these
professionals have actually been able to enter Canada under this program?
Senator LeBreton: I wish to thank the honourable senator for that
One of the difficulties with medical professionals establishing their
credentials is that provinces and territories administer our health care system.
This year, we will transfer $22 billion to the provinces and territories
under the Canada Health Transfer. I will determine how much of that $22 billion
the provinces and territories have earmarked specifically for integrating
foreign-trained medical personnel into their various systems.
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, in keeping with my
reputation for being non-partisan, I will begin my question to the Leader of the
Government in the Senate with kudos.
The Minister of Health convened a panel to look into 24 scientific papers
published on Insite, the supervised injection site in the City of Vancouver.
They could have appointed whack jobs who call themselves "scientists," who in
fact are only ideologues, but they did not. I believe they chose a fair and
unbiased panel. The report is now in. That report has confirmed what the 24 peer
reviews and published papers stated. Insite increases the use of addiction
treatment; reduces the prevalence of syringe sharing; reduces public disorder;
does not lead to greater levels of crime; saves lives from and prevents
overdose; provides education for HIV, hepatitis, abscesses, drug effects, et
cetera; and provides addicts with access to a health care provider. This is what
we knew from the papers commissioned by the previous government for the
My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Can she please
clarify the Conservative government's position with regard to Insite? Can she
give Canadians a sense of whether we can expect a long-term exemption so that
Vancouver Coastal Health can move forward on improving services, promoting
treatment and saving lives?
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Secretary of State
(Seniors)): I wish to thank the honourable senator for that question.
The Minister of Health sought out research and advice from qualified
individuals. As the senator knows, we have extended Insite until June 30 of this
year. The minister is currently studying the issue and a decision will be made
as soon as possible.
Having said that, it is important to point out that the government has taken
major steps on the whole issue of drug abuse. On April 28, we announced the Drug
Treatment Funding Program, which provides $111 million over five years to
provincial and territorial governments to boost drug treatment that is available
to young people who are at risk.
We are committed to working with the provincial and territorial partners to
improve access to quality services and effective approaches to treating
individuals who pose a risk to other individuals or to themselves, their
families and their communities.
This announcement builds upon an announcement last year of a new National
Anti-Drug Strategy to prevent young people from becoming involved in drugs, to
support treatment services for those with addictions and to combat the
production and distribution of illicit drugs. Minister Clement has also launched
a national prevention campaign aimed at youth and their parents. Honourable
senators have probably seen some of that in our newspapers and on television.
The important aspect here is that we realize that drug abuse is a serious
problem in the country. We have invested significant funds to combat the
Of course, the honourable senator is asking specifically about the Insite
program in Vancouver, and as I said in my earlier response, the minister will
make an announcement as soon as he is able to do so.
Senator Campbell: I appreciate anything the government does to help
with treatment for addicts. Unfortunately, in the second case that the leader
mentioned, the government has followed what all governments have followed and
that is enforcement rather than treatment, prevention and harm reduction. We
continually call this "a problem." It is not a problem, it is an illness. It
is no different from cancer or any other illness. We must get away from calling
this something it is not.
Last week, 800 crosses were erected in Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver. Those
crosses represent the people who have died due to drug-related addictions.
Brothers, sisters, sons, daughters; for anyone here who has lost someone, it
does not matter how he or she died, it matters what we can do to prevent it from
happening again. We need to move forward with regard to treatment.
Perhaps one of the things the minister can answer — and I do not understand —
is how the Conservative government continues to delineate among jurisdictions.
In other words, the federal government has a responsibility, the provincial
government has a responsibility and the municipalities are children of the
province. There is a myth out there that the federal government actually puts
money into the Insite program. The federal government does not put money into
that program. They put up $1.5 million over the first three years, specifically
to investigate what was going on, and that was at our insistence.
Each year, $3 million comes out of the health budget of the Province of
British Columbia. Insite is completely supported by the premier, completely
supported by the politicians and 78 per cent supported by the people. The
question that I have is, while health is a provincial matter, why would I need
permission from the federal government to keep a health care facility open.
Senator LeBreton: First, I must take issue with what the honourable
senator says, namely that we focus more on enforcement and not on treatment.
That is absolutely not true.
Senator Di Nino: Right on!
Senator LeBreton: About 75 per cent of the monies that we expend is
for treatment. The remainder is for enforcement.
Some federal money was allocated to the Vancouver Insite program, as the
honourable senator points out. With regard to the specific question, I must
confess to the honourable senator that since he claims this has nothing to do
with the federal government, I find it curious why I would be asked the
question. I will take that portion of the question as notice.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table two answers to oral questions raised by
Senator Tardif on March 5, 2008, concerning human resources and social
development, Budget 2008, student loans and grants, funding for research; and by
Senator Milne on May 1, 2008, concerning the Ontario tobacco industry.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Claudette Tardif on March 5, 2008)
Budget 2008 announced the wind-down of the Canada Millennium Scholarship
Foundation (CMSF) in 2009 and the introduction of the new Canada Student
Grant Program to provide more effective support to low- and middle-income
students who struggle with the cost of higher education. The research
program that was conducted by CMSF which was funded with proceeds of its
endowment will end with its sunset in 2009.
The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of research to the
development of effective policies and supports for post-secondary education.
Accordingly, the federal government conducts extensive research on a wide
range of post-secondary education issues each year through the work of Human
Resources and Social Development Canada and Statistics Canada.
Various options for conducting additional research on access to
post-secondary education are currently under consideration. However, the
Government will continue to draw on collaborative research partnerships and
external academic and policy research in order to benefit from diverse
perspectives on student needs and access issues, including those touching
The Government of Canada will also continue to support research conducted
by post-secondary institutions, providing an additional $80 million per year
to Canada's three university granting councils for research in support of
industrial innovation, health priorities, and social and economic
development in the North.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Lorna Milne on May 1, 2008)
The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has met several times
with members of the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers' Marketing Board;
representatives of tobacco manufacturing operations; the province of Ontario
and other stakeholders concerned about the situation facing tobacco growing
The federal government has vowed to continue seeking transition
opportunities by working with producers and communities to help them access
Following through on this commitment, the Minister asked Mr. Joe Preston,
MP, to chair an economic development task force composed of regional mayors
from the tobacco counties, economic development officers, chamber of
commerce representatives, and business people from the tobacco belt. This
group will look to identify programs and work with communities to access
assistance and further economic development.
The government is dedicated to finding solutions for the sector and will
continue to work with communities, the industry and other federal and
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, a message has been received
from the House of Commons to return Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision
of official development assistance abroad, and to acquaint the Senate that they
have agreed to the amendments made by the Senate to this bill without further
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Oliver, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Tkachuk:
That the Senate do not insist on its amendments 1 and 3 to Bill C-13, An
Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused,
sentencing and other amendments) to which the House of Commons has
That a Message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, before I address the specifics
of Senator Oliver's motion, it is worth providing some context about this bill.
As honourable senators will see from the title of Bill C-13, it is an omnibus
bill. It covers a fairly wide range of topics under the ambit of the Criminal
Code. It is important to stress that this bill has various good elements on,
again, quite a wide range of topics.
This legislation covers, for example, things like forfeiture for luring a
child; minimum sentences for impaired driving; Internet gaming; the maximum
default fine on summary conviction — which is to rise to $5,000 from $2,000. As
I say, it takes good or reasonable steps in the areas that it covers.
To be more specific, the bill also contains good and laudable elements
affecting minority language rights in the criminal courts. These concern such
areas as the translation of documents; examination of witnesses; changes of
venue; strengthening provisions for bilingual preliminary inquiries and trials.
These are all good things needed by members of language minorities in this
country; in particular, francophone minorities outside Quebec and, to some
extent, New Brunswick.
Therefore, representatives of language minorities supported this bill and
told the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs that they
did support it, as did the Commissioner of Official Languages. I should like to
stress, by the way, that the expansion of benefits in this bill would apply in
practice outside Quebec, and to some extent New Brunswick. As I have said before
in this chamber, minority language rights in the Quebec courts have always been
fully, generously and expansively respected.
The position and practice in the province of Quebec sets the standard that
one would like to see everywhere in Canada. In Quebec, of course, the minority
in question is the English-language minority.
As Michel Doyon, Bâtonnier of the Barreau du Québec, so aptly reminds us in
the document submitted by the Barreau to the committee, and which he signed:
Quebec has not hesitated to put the necessary resources into offering
defendants the choice of having their trial in the language of their choice.
I would add, as I have already said, that this has always been the case. Your
committee, therefore, was particularly interested in the evidence given by
representatives from the Barreau du Québec who appeared before the committee on
November 29, 2007. Those representatives were Louis Belleau and Nicole Dufour.
Maitres Belleau and Dufour raised a number of concerns; two in particular
caught our attention.
The first concerns the role of judges when an accused who speaks a minority
language appears before them. As written, Bill C-13 would require a judge to
ensure that an accused person is notified of that person's right to a trial in
either official language. This is, in some ways, a broadening of the protection
that is now provided under the Criminal Code in section 530(3), which provides
that a judge must notify the accused of that right to a trial in the official
language of his or her choice if that accused person is not represented by
Note, however, the difference: Under the present Criminal Code provision, it
is the judge who must notify the accused. Under Bill C-13, the judge would only
have to ensure that the accused was notified by someone.
To quote further from the letter written by Mr. Doyon, the Bâtonnier of the
Barreau du Québec:
It is difficult to understand why it would have become necessary to do
away with the obligation a judge has to advise the accused of his right as
this amendment can only have the effect of increasing the uncertainty as to
whether or not the accused received the information and above all understood
the extent of his or her rights.
Current subsection 533 does not seem to impose any onerous obligations on
the court. The advice does not have to be given verbally. It could suffice
to give the defendant a standard, bilingual brochure explaining his rights.
We believe that in an area that is so fundamental, it is critical that the
accused be properly informed of his or her rights and that the proposed
amendment not tend to encourage informal information being given to the
The second concern raised by the Barreau du Québec that caught our attention
was a more general concern. It was a fear that, over time, what is set out in
this bill as a floor in terms of minority rights might end up becoming a
ceiling; and even in Quebec, which has such a proud and generous tradition,
administrators might start to believe that they only had to live up to the law.
Then, as soon as they had met the requirements of the law, which is less than
Quebec does now, could they reduce the service that is now provided and could do
so for any one of a number of reasons, perhaps out of a desire to cut costs or
for administrative convenience.
In light of this carefully considered testimony, your committee proposed
three modest amendments. Our object was to help to protect minority language
rights against undoubtedly unintended erosion and also to help parliamentarians
to assess the success or weaknesses of the proposed law as time goes by.
Those amendments called for, first, a parliamentary review by committee after
three years — fortunately, that one was accepted by the House of Commons;
second, a requirement that the judge will notify an accused person of that
person's right to a trial in either official language; and, third, that annual
reports be provided to Parliament on three things. These three things are the
number of orders granted directing that an accused person be tried before a
judge or a judge and jury who speak both official languages, the number of
trials held in French outside Quebec and New Brunswick and the number of trials
held in English in Quebec.
Unfortunately, the House of Commons rejected these last two amendments, but
what I found and still find truly astounding is the weakness of the reasoning
for their rejection that was cited in the House of Commons message to the
Senate. Let me quote. They said they disagreed with the first amendment, which
is the one affecting judges:
. . . because it would place an undue burden on judges and does not take
into consideration provincial and territorial practices that are currently
in place to ensure that accused persons are informed of their language
What is the undue burden on judges? Since the Criminal Code already requires
judges to make this precise notification when a person is not represented by
counsel, there is, as the Barreau du Québec suggested, no indication, at least
that your committee heard, that it would pose an undue burden on the system to
require judges to do this in all cases. On the contrary, even as the Commons
message suggests, the evidence is that systems have been devised so that even
unilingual judges can fulfil this duty, so why reject our amendment? I do not
want to say "bad faith," so I will say that the answer must be for reasons of
administrative convenience; it would be more convenient not to have to do this;
however, administrative convenience is not a good enough reason.
Honourable senators, the Supreme Court of Canada, in the case of R. v.
Beaulac, 1999, said:
I wish to emphasize that mere administrative inconvenience is not a
relevant factor. The availability of court stenographers and court
reporters, the workload of bilingual prosecutors or judges, the additional
financial costs of rescheduling are not to be considered because the
existence of language rights requires that the government comply with the
provisions of the Act by maintaining a proper institutional infrastructure
and providing services in both official languages on an equal basis.
I repeat, judgment said: "Mere administrative inconvenience is not a relevant
The second element the House of Commons rejected was our call for statistical
reports. The answer there was basically that we cannot do it because we do not
do it; provinces and territories do not keep those statistics now.
As its model for this amendment, your committee took a provision that was
written into the Anti-terrorism Act in 2002, section 83(31), which required
annual reports on the number of investigative hearings and preventive
detentions. That did not seem to be a problem for anyone to provide. I cannot
believe it would be beyond the wit of man to provide these statistics with
respect to official languages. Statistics Canada, for those honourable senators
who do not already know, already collects statistics on an enormously broad and
detailed range of judicial matters covering at least 98 different categories.
For example, Statistics Canada reports annually on traffic offences reported
by type of offence, in Canada, the provinces and 12 selected police metropolitan
areas; adult criminal courts, elapsed time at court, mean and medium length of
prison term and length of probation; legal aid applications by status and type
of matter; number of cases heard in youth courts by length of sentence and
dollar amount of most significant dispositions. It will not have escaped your
attention that all those categories involve provincial governments and
I cannot see why a system that can collect all that information and much more
cannot include one more box on the relevant forms to tick off concerning the
language of a trial. Once again, the issue seems to boil down to administrative
Honourable senators, frankly, this is embarrassing. It is not what one
expects from a serious Parliament that is genuinely interested in minority
language rights. However, if we reject the House of Commons message, there are
heavy risks. We could find ourselves in a ping-pong game, bouncing the bill back
and forth between the House of Commons and the Senate, as we did with the bill
on animal cruelty. Delaying this bill could also mean that it would be caught in
a dissolution and die. The prospect of delay is real. I remind honourable
senators that the House of Commons took nearly three months to send this bill
back to us. In either of those circumstances, the bill will be lost. Remember
that this bill has many good elements, including elements that language
minorities need and want.
I do not know when I have come across a better example of the saying that the
perfect is the enemy of the good. Your committee proposed two modest steps that
will help to make the system a little more perfect, but what was already in the
bill made the system good — or at least better. Fortunately, as I said, the
House of Commons accepted our amendment calling for a three-year review. I do
not know what will happen in the other place, but I have full confidence that in
this place, either the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs or the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages will perform that
review thoroughly and properly.
In light of all of this, with considerable disappointment, and even some
bitterness, my recommendation to colleagues is that we swallow hard and accept
the House of Commons message. I do so in the firm faith that when the government
changes hands, these little errors will be rectified speedily.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver moved second reading of Bill C-23, An Act to
amend the Canada Marine Act, the Canada Transportation Act, the Pilotage Act and
other Acts in consequence.
He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak today on Bill C-23, which
proposes a combination of amendments to the framework legislation governing
ports authorities, the Canada Marine Act.
These amendments recognize the underlying importance of marine transportation
to the Canadian economy and, at the same time, seek to address pressures that
have emerged since the legislation was enacted. The amendments are aimed at
promoting strategic investment and productivity improvements.
Bill C-23 has been a long time in the making. It dates back to 2002, when a
review panel undertook a comprehensive cross-country consultation process.
These consultations were reflected in a report to Parliament and subsequently
laid the foundation for Bill C-61, which died on the Order Paper in 2005.
Honourable senators may be aware that many provisions of Bill C-23 are
similar to those contained in the previous Bill C-61. New provisions, however,
have been included in this package that reflect more recent consultations and
also take into account changes to the marine transportation landscape.
Some of my honourable colleagues no doubt are aware also that the entire
marine industry strongly supports this bill and is anxious that it be passed as
soon as possible. I will explain why the bill is so important not only to the
marine industry but also to the economy of our country.
Today, the Canadian port authorities handle more than 200 million tonnes of
goods each year worth about $100 billion. This activity represents a quarter of
all Canadian trade. As part of this government's long-term economic plan called
Advantage Canada, $33 billion in investments have been identified for
infrastructure improvements. This infrastructure investment is the largest in
nearly 50 years.
These proposed changes to the Canada Marine Act will enable port authorities
to tap into some of these investment opportunities. Bill C-23 will make port
authorities eligible for federal funding for capital costs of infrastructure,
environmental sustainability and security projects at the beginning, putting
Canada ports authorities on an equal footing with other transportation modes
that have access to contribution funding.
For example, Bill C-23 would allow Canadian port authorities, CPAs, to access
infrastructure funding to facilitate the advancement of short sea shipping. For
those not familiar with short sea shipping, it is a multimodal activity that
incorporates the marine movement of cargo or passengers between points that are
in relative proximity to one another without crossing an ocean. Short sea
shipping includes domestic as well as international marine transport along
coastlines, to and from nearby islands or within lakes or river systems, and may
also include cross-border traffic with the United States or Mexico.
The concept of short sea shipping supports the development of an efficient,
integrated transportation system to meet current and future needs arising from
economic expansion, increased trade, population growth and urbanization. From an
environmental perspective, for example, the potential benefits of short sea
shipping include air quality improvement, reduced traffic congestion and
mitigation of noise pollution. It is not difficult to see the environmental
benefits to all Canadians if we can encourage and facilitate more short sea
shipping. Other benefits include increased throughput at marine terminals,
development of new transportation options and overall increased system capacity.
We need to ensure that the marine industry is a sustainable industry that is
environmentally responsible. Canadian ports already provide considerable
oversight with respect to implementing environmental measures and practices.
Similar to other models, Bill C-23 will allow the federal government to
assist port authorities with these environmental initiatives. Bill C-23 will
permit CPAs to access funding under the ecoTransport strategy. This initiative
is aimed at reducing the environmental and health effects of freight
transportation. Funding under this program can be used, for example, by a port
authority to offset the initial costs of shore-power installations, resulting in
greater adoption of marine shore-power equipment in Canadian ports, reduction
of greenhouse gas, GHG, emissions and air pollutants from the marine sector and
improved efficiency in the transportation industry.
Canadian ports are more active now than at any other time in the history of
the entire port system, and honourable senators need only look at the globe to
see why. Canada is uniquely positioned at the geographic crossroads between new
rising economies and the economic heartland of North America. It is important to
seize those geographic advantages. That is the goal of the national policy
framework for strategic gateways and trade corridors. It is a framework intended
to help governments at different levels along with the public and private sector
to plan together to attract a greater share of global traffic.
We have seen tremendous progress in a very short time with the Asia-Pacific
Gateway and Corridor Initiative. This government is also moving quickly on other
gateways and corridors. Take the Atlantic gateway, for example. The closest
point in North America for ships coming through the Suez Canal is the East Coast
of Canada, and one of those ports is Halifax. It is the intent to create an
Atlantic gateway that will be a system of modern and efficient transportation
infrastructure to facilitate trade to and from North America through our
Significant attention is also being directed to an initiative to build the
competitiveness of an Ontario-Quebec continental gateway and trade corridor.
CPAs need to be well positioned to be able to respond to all of these
In addition to allowing access to infrastructure funding, Bill C-23 would
also modernize the current borrowing regime for larger port authorities.
Presently, CPAs can only seek an increase in their borrowing limit by making a
request to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities for
supplementary letters patent that increase the borrowing limits set out in their
individual letters patent. An increase requires the recommendation of the
minister supported by an independent financial assessment of the CPA's debt
capacity and the ability to remain financially self-sufficient. Approval is then
required by the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Finance and the
Bill C-23 proposes amendments to the act that would allow the larger ports to
borrow on open markets based on a code governing the power to borrow in
combination with commensurate accountabilities on the part of the board and
senior port management. Those ports that earn revenues of $25 million a year for
three consecutive years such as Vancouver Fraser, Halifax and Montreal, could,
if they chose to, implement a commercial borrowing regime. The threshold is $25
million a year over three years.
Key governance amendments are proposed that would be more responsive to CPAs'
needs and would promote a more stable and long-term management framework. Canada
port authorities have proven to be an excellent governance model for promoting
the competitiveness of Canada's ports and have undertaken their management
responsibilities in a sound and fiscally responsible manner. The strength of
Canada's ports today is certainly a testament to this.
The changes proposed in Bill C-23 are geared to providing long-term
stability in the governance of CPAs. They provide greater clarification
regarding the terms of appointment of boards of directors, providing for an
additional term for reappointment of board directors, thereby increasing the
maximum tenure from six to nine years at three-year terms each. They also allow
incumbent directors to remain in office until renewed or a new appointment is
made, for a maximum of nine years, increasing the overall continuity and
stability of the board. If there were three people whose terms were up but new
appointments had not yet been made, they could stay until those new appointments
were there and that prevents their not being able to meet quorum, whatever it
is, and it provides for continuity.
One excellent example of the governance measures that can lead to a more
competitive gateway, for example, involves the amalgamation of the Lower
Mainland ports and the opportunity to expand their role in global supply chains
in the rapidly evolving Asia-Pacific Gateway and Trade Corridor.
The integration of the port authorities in the Lower Mainland is a key policy
measure under the Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative. An amalgamated
port authority is in a better position to pursue strategic investments in
facilities and intermodal connections where constrained by a limited land base
and where facilities are closely positioned geographically. It can optimize port
planning and maximize the efficiency of the port.
The proposed changes to the Canada Marine Act would streamline and facilitate
potential future amalgamations where they make sense and are supported by a
strong business case.
Bill C-23 also modernizes the enforcement regime. The current enforcement
provisions in the Canada Marine Act consist primarily of court-based mechanisms
that are suited to criminal offences. Increasingly, modern federal legislation
contains an array of alternatives that are administrative in nature. These
alternatives are intended to address instances of non-compliance with regulatory
offences as opposed to criminal offences for which the criminal prosecutions
would continue to be appropriate.
We need to use our policy tools to create a powerful transportation and
logistics system. The first is that the gateway and corridor strategies require
port authorities to bring their play-move to the next level. We need to remove
some of the constraints imposed by the Canada Marine Act and support the ability
of ports to make funding decisions.
Before I close, honourable senators, I would like to emphasize the importance
of Bill C-23 in achieving gateway and corridor objectives. Establishing a
commercially based borrowing regime for large ports and permitting access to
federal funding for infrastructure, security and environmental sustainability
are crucial elements of this bill, as are funding for infrastructure, security
and environmental sustainability.
As I previously mentioned, there is a very broad support throughout Canada
and throughout the marine industry for this bill to be passed.
Honourable senators, I strongly encourage the speedy passage of Bill C-23.
These amendments will provide significant benefits to port authorities and
contribute significantly to a more efficient and globally competitive marine
industry that advances Canada's position in global commerce.
Hon. James S. Cowan: Would Senator Oliver entertain a question?
Senator Oliver: Yes.
Senator Cowan: The honourable senator was referring to the gateways
and corridors initiative. He will recall that when he and I were in Halifax
several months ago with the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and
Communications, we heard evidence from the Halifax Port Authority and a number
of other port authorities about how they looked forward to being able to access
the funding that would be available under those initiatives. Some of them
referred to the need to change the legislation, but they also indicated that
even though the government had announced the initiatives some months before —
last fall, I believe — they were unaware of application forms or relevant
information concerning access to that funding.
Does the honourable senator have any later information as to whether it is
now possible to access application forms for accessing the gateways and
corridors initiative funding?
Senator Oliver: I thank the honourable senator for his timely
As Senator Cowan is aware, the Prime Minister was in Halifax yesterday and
one of the things that he did was attend a private meeting with a number of Nova
Scotia's leading businessmen, including people from the port. I chaired that
meeting. One of the questions that came up in that meeting was the very question
that the honourable senator has posed.
The Prime Minister reconfirmed that the funds to which the honourable senator
referred are still intact, still in place and available, and he confirmed that
there is much groundwork to be done by two main levels of government, both the
federal and the provincial government.
The four Atlantic provinces have to work out which ports they want to
promote, as it is unrealistic to have four or five ports applying for
infrastructure funds. The indication from the Prime Minister as recently as
yesterday is that the Atlantic provinces have more preliminary work to do before
these types of forms can be filled out. The federal government is quite prepared
to sit down and work on those important negotiations with the provinces.
Senator Cowan: Is the honourable senator suggesting that in order for,
say, the Port of Halifax to access that funding, it will require some sort of
vetting or approval or agreement amongst all four Atlantic provinces, in which
case it is highly unlikely that it would ever come to pass?
Senator Oliver: No, that is not my suggestion. There is already, under
the authority of Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, ACOA, an Atlantic
provinces council and committee meeting and they are working on a number of
those preliminary matters. Those talks are going well.
The Prime Minister's indication is that there is still more work to be done
before the forms can be signed. There is already an Atlantic committee in place
under the aegis of ACOA.
Senator Cowan: Did the Prime Minister make any public comment on this
yesterday? Is there a press release or some form of circular?
Senator Oliver: No, Senator Cowan, it was a private meeting.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I have a question for Senator
On the Pacific Coast, there is particular anxiety with respect to the
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority having to do, among other things, with the
onshore generation of power that the honourable senators talked about, as well
as the Olympic Games, and so on.
I presume that this bill will go to the Standing Senate Committee on
Transport and Communication for study. I assume it will be fast-tracked, studied
and passed. It will then receive Royal Assent. The coming-into-force provision
of this bill is one that delegates the authority, as many bills do, to the
Governor-in-Council to decide when to bring it into force.
Does the honourable senator think that the processes he has been talking
about would be an impediment to bringing the bill into force so as to allow
ports, such as the amalgamated Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, to gain access
to the programs?
Senator Oliver: Not at all. A number of potential witnesses have
indeed phoned my office and said: We would love to come and appear as witnesses
before you, but we like the bill as it is. We are very anxious that this bill be
passed, because once it is passed and receives Royal Assent and is proclaimed,
it can help us a great deal. We in the industry urgently want this bill.
Therefore, I cannot see this bill being held up by the government at all
after it receives Royal Assent.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore moved third reading of Bill S-224, An Act to
amend the Parliament of Canada Act (vacancies). —(Honourable Senator Moore)
He said: Honourable senators, today we begin debate on the final stage of
consideration of Bill S-224. The bill would limit the discretion of prime
ministers with respect to vacancies in both Houses of Parliament. It would
establish a time frame for filling Senate vacancies similar to the six-month
rule already in place for the House of Commons. In addition, it would put an end
to the selective calling of by-elections, eliminating the capacity of prime
ministers to manipulate by-elections for partisan ends.
There are three aspects to the rationale behind Bill S-224. The first, and
most important, is the right of the people and of the provinces and territories
to a full and timely representation in both Houses of Parliament. Second is the
independence of the legislative branch from control or influence by the
executive and the concern about increasing concentration of power in the Office
of the Prime Minister. Third is the capacity of each House to function without
the impairment caused by too many vacancies.
Honourable senators, the Constitution of this country is the result of a
compromise among former British colonies. Compromise is at the very essence of
our country, and the Constitution protects the provinces by guaranteeing the
rights they negotiated on entering Confederation. As part of the elaborate
compromise of Confederation, the provinces were entitled to representation in
two federal Houses. The sitting arrangements in both Houses were the result of
negotiation and compromise.
I am not saying that we can never change those provisions and I acknowledge
the initiative of Senator Murray, who proposes to change the allocation of
Senate seats. All I am saying is that paying lip service to democracy and the
rights of provinces means nothing if we do not respect the rule of law. So long
as the current arrangement is the rule of the land, it must be respected. To do
otherwise is to deny citizens, provinces and territories their rights under the
When it comes to the House of Commons, a prime minister should not be able to
call by-elections in Quebec because he thinks he can win, while leaving
vacancies in Ontario to languish for fear that the opposition will win them. In
one recent case, citizens in Toronto Centre had to wait over eight months for a
by-election, while citizens in another part of the country were, by the grace
of the Prime Minister, allowed to have a new representative in less than two
months. This is not merely partisan manipulation; it is a repudiation of the
constitutional rights of every citizen to be represented in Parliament.
What is more, the current government argued that the excessive discretion of
the Prime Minister needed to be curtailed when it proposed to establish fixed
dates for elections. However, it failed to address by-elections when it took
that initiative. As Professor Ned Franks of Queen's University noted in his
appearance before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Australian by-elections are governed by the principle that electors
should not be left without representation any longer than necessary.
Unfortunately, the same principle does not govern by-elections in Canada.
The current government established fixed election dates so that prime
ministers could not fiddle with the timing of general elections to their
party's advantage. However, that has left the timing of by-elections open to
prime ministerial machinations.
As for the Senate, I have said it before and I will say it again: The
Constitution requires that vacancies be filled. By convention, this is achieved
when the Prime Minister advises the Governor General to make an appointment, but
this does not mean that the Prime Minister has the option of leaving seats
vacant. Let me quote the well-known author on the Crown in Canada, Professor
David Smith of the University of Saskatchewan. When he appeared in committee, he
made the following remarks:
Is it possible for the chief adviser of the Crown not to give advice when
in fact it is only on advice that you have democratized our system of
government? How then can you not give advice? I do not think discretion
extends to not doing something. It has a breadth of range of things that you
may do, but I do not think it includes doing nothing.
Regrettably, the current government seems to have a different view.
Honourable senators, the discretion of this Prime Minister, or any other,
does not permit the unilateral altering of the Constitution without the consent
of Parliament or of the provinces. What if a prime minister thought that some
provinces have more seats than they deserve and decided to reduce their numbers
by refusing to fill vacancies? What if a prime minister wanted to impose Senate
elections on provinces like Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia,
which have made it clear they do not want them? These are not acceptable actions
for the government of a modern democracy like Canada, founded on
constitutionalism and the rule of law. The Prime Minister must pursue his
objectives through constitutional means. If the Prime Minister wants to reduce
the number of Senate seats for some provinces, or if he wants the provinces to
elect senators, he must proceed by way of a constitutional initiative after
negotiating for the support of the governments and legislatures of the
provinces. He cannot abuse his discretion by refusing to fill vacancies that he
is constitutionally mandated to fill, as a way of pressuring Parliament and the
provinces into accepting his proposals.
Let me quote from Jennifer Smith, a Professor of Political Science at
Dalhousie University. In her evidence before the committee, she agreed that the
right of the people to have their representation in Parliament is paramount. She
The Government of Canada certainly is not supposed to sabotage the
Constitution by undermining existing national government institutions like
the Senate. The Senate is a foundational institution that if it "belongs"
to anyone, it belongs to the people of Canada. It is not the play thing of
political elites and until the people are consulted about the proposed
change, then they have every right to expect that it serve them in the way
that it is designed to do.
The current war of attrition against the Senate shows a blatant disregard for
the rule of law and the Constitution. Bill S-224 would remove the discretion
that empowers a prime minister to ignore the rights of citizens, provinces and
territories to be represented and would put an end to the abusive manipulations
we have witnessed in the past.
In Canada, in the 21st century, 160 years after responsible government began
in Nova Scotia, we still tolerate a situation where the executive has
significant control and broad discretion over filling vacancies that occur in
both Houses of Parliament. That situation is unworthy of a democracy like ours.
We cannot effectively promote democratic values in places like Afghanistan if we
fail to observe them at home. This anachronistic discretion in the hands of a
prime minister has no principled basis, and it is time we reined it in.
The bill we are considering at third reading today, honourable senators, is
also designed to address in some measure a shared concern by most observers of,
participants in and commentators on our political system. The concentration of
power in the office of the Prime Minister has been criticized even by its
current occupant, and it is a threat to the balance of institutions that makes
our democracy work properly. Bill S-224 will curtail the excess of discretion
that currently lies in the hands of the Prime Minister and remove the improper
influence of the executive branch over the legislative branch.
Honourable senators, no one in this house doubts that vacancies impair our
ability to perform our collective constitutional duties. If the Prime Minister
persists in his current policy, the Senate will reach 30 vacancies by the end of
next year. That number is nearly one third of the membership. For the Senate to
function properly, and bear in mind that it is already a much smaller house than
the House of Commons, we need a certain critical mass to take on the various
activities. Let me quote Professor Franks on this point. He said:
I do have a concern that, over time, we cannot let the Senate atrophy. It
either has to be abolished or it has to be a functioning part of Parliament.
Death by 100 cuts is not the way to go.
The problem is most glaring in our committees, where the bulk of our work is
done. The government in this place is already struggling to staff 17 standing
committees, two special committees and three subcommittees. The Senate has 22
committees in total. The government bench has only 21 members if we do not
include the Speaker. The implications are obvious. Let us be honest: The
government can barely manage to staff half its committee seats, often
functioning with only one or two members present at meetings.
The House of Commons could not function well, either, if it had many
vacancies. That is why Parliament established a time frame of six months to
ensure that the membership of the elected House would not atrophy. The six-month
time frame is a good measure for the House of Commons, and it is a good measure
for the Senate of Canada. Bill S-224 will put the Senate on par with the House
of Commons and ensure that its membership cannot be reduced to the point where
it becomes dysfunctional.
Let me turn now to some of the issues raised in the Standing Senate Committee
on Legal and Constitutional Affairs when it examined Bill S-224.
Honourable senators, when the Leader of the Government in the other place
appeared in committee, he talked a lot about the government's proposals for
Senate reform, and attempted to equate my initiative with the status quo. He
seemed to want to create a false choice between my bill and an elected Senate.
First, I state clearly that Bill S-224 has nothing to do with Senate reform.
Vacancies affect both Houses. In addition, no matter what the future brings for
the Senate, there will be vacancies. Several provinces have clearly rejected the
Prime Minister's current reform initiative, not least because of his
unilateralist approach to federalism. Even if the Prime Minister were to succeed
with his proposals, the Senate he envisions will have vacancies. Regardless of
the Senate we have today or in the future, the Prime Minister should not be
allowed to let vacancies pile up for years. My bill is a remedy that works both
for the status quo and for the Senate in the future.
Honourable senators, a concern was raised that my bill could result in
by-elections being called with a voting day close to the fixed date of a general
election. The existing provisions of the Elections Act address this concern and
make provisions for it. Moreover, Bill S-224 does not change the existing
timelines for by-elections; the bill merely prohibits the selective calling of
by-elections to the detriment of the democratic rights of citizens who are
without a representative in the House of Commons.
Some discussion in the committee focused on what could happen if a Senate
vacancy were due to be filled immediately after a government is defeated in the
House of Commons, or defeated in a general election. Obviously, such a
government will have lost legitimacy under our constitutional conventions to
tender binding advice to the Governor General. Senator Murray expressed concern
that a Governor General in such a situation could be intimidated into making
appointments. He raised the spectre of an overbearing prime minister arguing
that the law requires the Governor General to accept the advice. Honourable
senators, I submit that this concern is not valid. It is important to focus on
how the bill has been crafted. The bill does not attempt to constrain the
Governor General at all. It creates a statutory obligation on the prime minister
to tender advice, but it does nothing to disturb the settled convention that a
Governor General will refuse to act on such advice when it is tendered by a
defeated government. That convention was firmly established in 1896 when Lord
Aberdeen refused to make appointments on advice by from Sir Charles Tupper, who
had been defeated in a general election. Bill S-224 does not affect that
In our committee deliberations, Senator Andreychuk raised the theme of legal
sanctions on several occasions. If I understood her correctly, she regards the
provisions of Bill S-224 as unenforceable in court. I have two responses to that
First, witnesses agreed that the main consequences of failure to respect the
law would be political, but they did not all agree with the view that Bill S-224
would be unenforceable. In fact, Professor Errol Mendes of the University of
Ottawa Faculty of Law stated clearly that it is enforceable, particularly
because it addresses the powers of the prime minister, not those of the Governor
General. He addressed this subject in more than one response to questions. Let
me quote from one:
If a statute has been duly passed by Parliament and mandates the Prime
Minister to fill vacancies, as section 32 says, on a vacancy arising, just
as if he disobeyed the equivalent provision in the House of Commons, anyone
could go to court, under the public interest standing rules, and ask for
either a declaration or one of the administrative remedies to force the
Prime Minister to do it. It has happened in the past, and it could happen in
this situation too.
Second, with respect, I think Senator Andreychuk misses the point. If we look
at things through the lens that she suggests, much of the constitutional fabric
of our country is not enforceable — that is to say, there are no real sanctions
against a prime minister who violates all sorts of provisions of the
Constitution, both written and unwritten. Indeed, if Bill S-224 is
unenforceable, so too are the existing provisions of the Parliament of Canada
Act that require the prime minister to call by-elections within six months.
The object of my bill is not to sanction a prime minister who fails to
respect the Constitution. My objective is to clarify the law.
I have already made the argument at second reading that the Constitution
clearly requires that vacancies be filled. The provisions are mandatory, not
permissive. However, prime ministers can leave Senate vacancies to linger
because the Constitution does not provide a time frame and it is difficult to
know when a prime minister has waited too long.
Bill S-224 does not attempt to sanction the Prime Minister; it attempts to
bring clarity to the issue: to draw the line, so that we will know when a prime
minister has crossed it. In light of such clarity, the political consequences
that Senator Andreychuk seems to rely upon would be more likely to materialize.
Honourable senators, in conclusion, we all know that prime ministers of both
stripes have taken liberties with the powers entrusted to them in respect of
vacancies in both Houses of Parliament. Indeed, prime ministers have shown
through their actions that they cannot be trusted with such power.
Bill S-224 is a modest attempt to curtail the abuses of the past. It will
ensure that the rights of citizens, provinces and territories to representation
in Parliament can no longer be manipulated, delayed or denied outright. The
measure would put an end to excessive executive power in relation to the
legislative branch. Finally, it would ensure that the membership of both Houses
is maintained at levels that will allow them to function properly.
I urge honourable senators to support this bill.
On motion of Senator Comeau, for Senator Brown, debate adjourned.
Hon. Yoine Goldstein moved second reading of Bill S-235, An Act
concerning unsolicited commercial electronic messages. —(Honourable Senator
He said: Honourable senators, last week the world marked a rather
inauspicious anniversary, namely the thirtieth anniversary of the sending of the
first spam email message. In the intervening 30 years, spam messages, more
technically known as "unsolicited emails," have progressed from being a minor
nuisance to becoming a serious threat to the integrity of e-commerce, a
significant drain on corporate resources and productivity, and a vehicle for a
wide range of criminal activities.
Although the word "spam" technically refers to any unsolicited email
message, this bill concerns unsolicited commercial messages; namely, those that
promote products, goods, services, investment or gaming opportunity. It is these
commercial messages that account for the vast majority of spam traffic and that
sustain spammers by providing them with significant profits. Commercial spam is
also the most straightforward for government to deal with since its commercial
nature means that it is not protected by the freedom of speech.
Honourable senators, Canada is the only G8 country that does not have
anti-spam legislation. Although an anti-spam task force was established under
the Martin government and came up with an excellent and comprehensive report, we
have not followed through with any legislation.
Some years ago, Honourable Senator Oliver repeatedly introduced anti-spam
bills which, although they proceeded from very different principles than those
followed in this bill, were, nevertheless, a bold attempt on his part — for
which he deserves congratulations — to attempt to control and discourage the
spam that plagues our country every bit as much as it plagues every other
country where the use of the Internet and email is generalized.
Trying to deal with spam generates a host of problems. Much spam is generated
extraterritorially; that is, outside of Canada. Some messages which some would
consider to be spam would be considered by others to be legitimate advertising.
Issues of freedom of speech and freedom of expression arise. Political activity
could be compromised by too stringent a piece of legislation, but too permissive
a piece of legislation would have virtually no effect because spammers, whatever
else may be said about them, are a very creative bunch.
We all know what spam is. Although the Senate filters a tremendous number of
spam messages, some, nevertheless, get through. We have all been solicited to
buy Viagra at bargain prices on the web or via email.
We have all received a goodly number of plaintive emails, predominantly from
Nigeria but from elsewhere as well, telling us that the sender is an orphan or
the widow of an oil minister who died in unexplained circumstances. They speak
of leaving a bank account in a secret place that contains in excess of $70
million. They tell us that our cooperation is required in order to transfer the
money to a safe haven, like Canada. In exchange, we would receive 20, 30 or 40
per cent of that $70 million.
Those few who are foolish enough to respond end up providing bank account
information and various pieces of other personal information that allow the
sender to raid the bank account, withdraw virtually all the money and then
While many of us may not consider spam to be a significant challenge to deal
with, it imposes massive costs at the global level. Depending on which source
one uses, somewhere between 75 and 95 per of all email sent in 2007 was spam.
That is up from 10 per cent in 2000. In concrete terms, there are roughly 120
billion spam messages sent each day, give or take a billion or two.
In order to protect consumers from this ever-increasing flood of messages,
Internet service providers, known as ISPs, have been forced to spend vast
amounts of money for which the consumer pays to purchase the latest email
filtering services and to upgrade their bandwidth so that the flow of spam does
not overload the service. The global email security market alone is now
estimated to be worth some $5 billion annually.
In addition to the costs to ISPs, spam also creates significant costs for
businesses and individuals, in terms of increased costs for Internet services,
reduced productivity and losses from fraud. Studies have estimated that having
employees spend just 15 minutes a day dealing with spam messages can cost
businesses an average of $3,200 per worker each year in lost productivity. In
2003, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated that
spam costs companies $20.5 billion in lost productivity worldwide. That is a
figure that has certainly increased since that time.
Fraud committed via spam also imposes significant and growing costs. Recent
years have seen a massive increase in so-called "pump and dump" activities.
These are schemes whereby false stock tips are distributed via spam to drive up
the price of a stock so that the original holders can sell at a profit. One such
incident that took place this last summer involved the sending of over 500
million messages encouraging investors to buy into an obscure U.S.-based firm.
Investors who fall for this kind of scam typically lose about 8 per cent of
their investments in the first two days. It gets worse immediately thereafter.
Even more worrisome are "phishing" attacks whereby users are sent
misleading emails that lure them to a phoney website that impersonates the site
of a trusted business. Usually, but not always, it is a bank. They do so in the
hopes that the user will be duped into entering his or her account number and
password. Such attempts have grown remarkably common in recent years, with total
losses estimated at over US$630 million in 2005-06, with each incident costing
an average of US$850.
Finally, the negative impact of spam email threatens the viability of the
Internet as a method of commerce. A study by Consumer Reports found that
concerns over identity theft had made 25 per cent of the respondents stop
shopping on-line, and 29 per cent had reduced the number of on-line purchases
they made. Unless confidence can be restored, the potential of the Internet as a
platform both for sharing information and for reaching new markets will be
seriously compromised and undermined.
There are two schools of thought with respect to regulating spam. One school
of thought envisages a system whereby each person, business or group is free to
send unsolicited commercial emails to any recipient they choose, provided that
the messages that are sent contain a tool by which the recipients can advise
senders of commercial email that they do not wish to receive further commercial
emails from that sender. This strategy is called the "opting out" approach and
serves as the foundation of anti-spam efforts in the United States.
Unfortunately, while appearing sound in theory, the opting-out approach has
proven to be highly ineffective in practice since sending an opting-out message
to a spammer generally confirms that a recipient's email address is valid and
active, resulting in a large increase in the volume of spam received at that
The opposite mechanism, "opting in," prohibits the sending of unsolicited
commercial electronic messages to any recipient unless that recipient has
previously consented to receiving these messages or, in some circumstances, is
deemed to consent to receiving the messages. This opting-in approach is the
foundation of the Australian Spam Act, which is universally held up as a model
piece of legislation.
The bill I propose adopts the opting-in approach. The sending of commercial
messages is generally prohibited unless the intended recipient gives prior
consent to receiving them. There are exceptions to that rule. To avoid stifling
freedom of expression and commercial activities with charitable ends, for
instance, the bill exempts a variety of people and institutions from the
obligation to obtain prior consent.
These institutions include political parties, political nomination
contestants, leadership contestants, candidates of political parties, registered
charities or other not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions and
public opinion, polling or survey organizations. A person who has an existing
business relationship with the recipient is also exempt from the prohibition.
The bill envisages that other types of organizations may also be exempted
from time to time by regulation. However, this bill provides that a recipient of
an exempt commercial message may advise the sender that the recipient does not
wish to receive any further exempt messages from that sender, thereby opting out
of the exempt sender's mailing list.
The bill requires all senders to indicate clearly who sent the message or who
authorized the sending of the message, and must contain readily accessible and
accurate routing information so as to permit the recipient to contact the person
easily who is either sending or who has authorized the sending of the message.
To avoid having spammers change their address every day, which they all
otherwise do, the information that I indicated to honourable senators must
remain valid for at least 30 days after the commercial electronic message has
In addition to accurate contact information, the bill requires all commercial
email messages to include an easily accessible "unsubscribe" mechanism that
the recipient can use to withdraw consent to receiving any further messages from
that sender. As a result, email users will be able to unsubscribe from
commercial messages that they do not wish to receive even though they initially
consented to receiving such messages.
The power to unsubscribe from commercial emails also applies to messages that
were sent by exempt senders such as political parties or businesses with whom
the recipient had a prior relationship. Accordingly, while exempt senders can
send a first message without the express consent of the recipient, they cannot
send repeated messages if the recipient objects.
One great difficulty in dealing with spam is that a lot of it originates
outside of Canada. With rare exceptions, the Canadian legal tradition is not to
legislate extraterritorially; that is, Canada will not pass laws generally that
apply to non-residents. The fact that spammers are elsewhere than in the
jurisdiction that passes the anti-spam legislation is one of the weaknesses of
anti-spam legislation throughout the world.
I try to overcome that issue in this bill by introducing the concept of the
commercial beneficiary of the spam message. All this spam promotes wares,
services or gaming, or schemes of various types involving land or other similar
schemes. The sender of the spam from a foreign jurisdiction is often not the
commercial beneficiary of the message. To capture this problem, the bill
provides that the commercial beneficiary of these messages has the same
liability as the sender; that is, the commercial beneficiary is effectively
deemed to be the sender of the message, although the bill does not say so in
those terms. The result, however, is that where spam promotes a service or goods
to be supplied by a Canadian, the supplier becomes subject to the penalties
envisaged by the statute, even though that person was not the sender of the
spam, but only the commercial beneficiary.
Speaking of penalties, breaches of any of these prohibitions are subject to
serious penalties. Spam has worked so far because it costs senders almost
nothing to send out millions of messages, and only one or two people need to
fall for a scam for a spammer to make money. As a result, the penalties
envisaged by this bill are purposely high to scare people. Fines can amount to
as much as $1.5 million, enough to act as a significant deterrent.
I fear going beyond the time limit so I will describe only two other features
of this bill. The first is an attempt to enlist and protect Internet service
providers, ISPs. All these communications go from a sender to a recipient
through ISPs. They can be small providers or they can be giants like Bell,
Rogers, TELUS and many others.
In all cases, the bill provides that an ISP, upon reasonable notice, may
refuse or cancel service or refuse access to any person who has been convicted
under the bill or who sends commercial electronic messages that the ISP has
reasonable grounds to believe are sent in contravention of the bill. Moreover,
the ISP may filter or block some or all commercial electronic messages
originating through another ISP that hosts or facilitates the spammer.
This penalty is potentially severe and debilitating for those foreign ISPs
that allow their services to be used by spammers. The bill allows Canadian
telecommunications service providers to block not only the spam, but all
messages from that provider. We hope that will motivate the foreign ISPs hosting
spammers to police themselves and to minimize spam or to block it.
The other feature I want to tell honourable senators about is the
anti-phishing provisions. As I indicated earlier, phishing is the use of a
created website or domain name that purports to be the site of a well-known
institution. Some of us have received these messages, supposedly from the Royal
Bank of Canada or similar institution, saying that their security arrangements
are being reviewed, and that we should check our account by emailing back the
bank account number and the password, which the recipient then uses to access
that bank account. Of course, the moment that information is supplied to the
sender of the phishing email, the sender then empties the bank account of the
recipient more quickly than one can say how-do-you-do.
Honourable senators, Canada's law enforcement officials are currently doing
their best to tackle the negative impacts of spam. They participate in global
and bilateral anti-spam and anti-phishing initiatives and have established
services such as PhoneBusters, which is Canada's national anti-fraud call
Canada's securities commissions have also stepped up their efforts to stop
"pump and dump" schemes and other investment fraud. However, until spamming
and phishing are specifically prohibited by law and subject to strong penalties,
these agencies will fight the battle with both arms tied behind their backs.
Honourable senators, this bill is a non-partisan, entirely apolitical piece
of proposed legislation. I respectfully ask each honourable senator to support
I do not express frequently enough the admiration that all honourable
senators have for Senate support personnel, who not only help us to do our work
but also make the work possible. Without each of them and their expertise in
various areas, we could not fulfil our duties. In dealing with this particular
bill, although my researchers and I were involved in the research and the
drafting, as well as the choices of the approaches we wanted to take to various
problems, the final draft was prepared by the Office of the Law Clerk and
Parliamentary Counsel, specifically by Suzie Seo and Janice Tokar. I thank them
publicly and I put on the record how much I admire their professionalism, their
flexibility, their competence and their speed. One could not ask for more.
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). —(Speaker's
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, on Tuesday, April 29, 2008,
Senator Di Nino rose on a point of order respecting Bill C-253, An Act to amend
the Income Tax Act, (deductibility of RESP contributions). In his remarks, he
recognized that the bill violates neither the Constitution Act, 1867, nor the
Rules of the Senate of Canada. He did, however, argue that the bill does not
respect constitutional convention surrounding the financial initiative of the
Crown and has failed to respect normal parliamentary procedure.
After Senator Di Nino's intervention, the Senate agreed to hold further
consideration of the matter over to the next day. When the item was called
again, Senator Fraser, Senator Carstairs, Senator Moore and Senator Cools all
expressed the view that there was no proper point of order. In particular, they
argued that the bill does not violate either constitutional provisions or Senate
procedure, and that it is improper for the Senate to concern itself with the
practices of the other place.
I have reviewed all these interventions and I thank honourable senators for
On the issue of violating constitutional conventions relating to the
financial initiative of the Crown, the Speaker must be extremely cautious. The
responsibilities of Speaker are largely confined to the proceedings of the
Senate itself. While the principle of the financial initiative of the Crown
finds concrete expression in certain sections of the Constitution and the
Senate's rules, all participants in discussion on the point of order accepted
that these provisions were respected. Accordingly, this issue does not need to
be further addressed.
The second major issue in Senator Di Nino's point of order was that the bill
has not respected normal parliamentary processes relating to financial
legislation. This point particularly relates to the specific procedures for
financial legislation that exist in the House of Commons.
As honourable senators know, each House is master of its own procedure,
within the bounds of the Constitution and the law. Just as honourable senators
would object to the other place examining Senate procedures, it is inappropriate
for the Senate to question those of the Commons. As noted in Beauchesne's, sixth
edition, at citation 4, one of most important privileges is the right for each
chamber ". . . to regulate . . ." its own ". . . internal proceedings . . .
or more specifically, to establish binding rules of procedure." This point has
been made at different times in Speakers' rulings here in this place. In fact,
reference was made to some of these rulings in debate on the point of order.
In this case, the Senate received a duly attested Message from the Commons
indicating that it had passed Bill C-253 and requested the Senate's concurrence.
It is not for the Senate to question how the Commons adopted the bill. All that
matters is that it was properly sent to us.
Many of the concerns raised by Senator Di Nino deal with the substance of the
bill and are more properly matters for debate. The point of order has not been
established, and debate can continue.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Nolin, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Di Nino, for the second reading of Bill C-307, An
Act respecting bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, benzyl butyl phthalate and
dibutyl phthalate.—(Honourable Senator Fraser)
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, Bill C-307 has been before this chamber for several months now and I
believe we should refer it to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the
Environment and Natural Resources for thorough consideration.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Eggleton, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Milne, for the adoption of the sixteenth
report (interim) of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science
and Technology, entitled: Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's
Advantage, tabled in the Senate on April 30, 2008.—(Honourable
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I believe that Senator Keon, who took the adjournment, will speak to
this item. I suggest that it remain adjourned in his name.
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. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Question!
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Yes.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is there a motion on the disposition of this
Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, when will Senator Stratton speak
to this item?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I believe that Senator Stratton had intended to speak to this motion
today. However, he was called away to a meeting of a steering committee and is
unable to be in the chamber.
Does Senator Moore have a problem?
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: No, I do not have a problem. Get your Prime
Minister to appoint some senators.
Senator Comeau: If the honourable senator wants to debate this issue,
the Prime Minister was ready to start making appointments, but the other side
decided to vote against all measures that would have made it possible to have
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, my understanding is that
the question before the house is that this item stand.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Hubley, calling
the attention of the Senate to questions concerning post-secondary education
in Canada. —(Honourable Senator Tardif)
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, I am pleased to rise today to highlight, once again, the importance of
post-secondary education to Canadian society. Senators Hubley, Callbeck, Poy and
Cowan have already addressed this matter with eloquence and I am happy to add my
voice in support of their excellent remarks.
Honourable senators, last month I celebrated the third anniversary of my
appointment to this upper chamber. In June 2005, on the occasion of my first
inquiry on the state of post-secondary education in Canada, I stated, and I
More and more of our citizenry are realizing the social and economic
benefits of a post-secondary degree and are seeking to attend schools across
the country. The challenge, then, for all levels of government is in
providing, for those who desire it, a post-secondary education that is
accessible, affordable and of high quality.
Furthermore, in June 2006, I reiterated my commitment by making an inquiry
into this matter that is vital to current and future generations. I would like
to thank Senator Hubley for putting forward an inquiry this year, thereby
showing that this is a matter of interest to a large number of senators.
Honourable senators, since 2005 many things have changed throughout the
country and many others have not. Fortunately, even more Canadians are
participating in and benefiting from the many advantages of post-secondary
On March 4, 2008, Statistics Canada released the census data from 2006 on
educational attainment rates in Canada. I wish to share with honourable senators
some of the key findings of the census.
Sixty per cent of Canadians between the ages of 25 and 64 have completed some
form of post-secondary education.
The number of university graduates has risen 24 per cent since 2001,
increasing to 23 per cent of the total population.
Of those immigrants who have come to Canada between 2001 and 2006, 51 per
cent have a university degree. Eight per cent of the Aboriginal population aged
25 to 64 has a university degree compared with 6 per cent in 2001.
These findings are all positive, honourable senators, and speak to our
growing understanding of the value of a post-secondary education. Yet, within
that same 2006 census, there is a significant amount of sobering data.
For example, Canada ranks sixth in the OECD in terms of the proportion of the
population with a university degree, behind countries such as Norway, the U.S.
Thirty-three per cent of women between the ages of 25 and 34 have a
university degree. Only 25 per cent of men between those ages have a university
Eleven per cent of all Canadians aged between 25 and 34 still have less than
a high school diploma.
Although the number of Aboriginals obtaining a university degree has grown,
the figure has not kept pace with the growth in the general population. The
university participation gap between Aboriginal students and the general
population is now at 15 per cent compared to 14 per cent in 2001.
Thirty-four per cent of Aboriginals between the ages of 25 and 64 have failed
to complete high school.
Twenty-six per cent of Canadians between the ages of 25 and 64 living in an
urban area have a university degree compared to only 11 per cent of those living
in rural areas.
There is more. In the past seven months, the presidents of three of Canada's
largest and most prestigious universities have all publicly proclaimed the need
for greater public and private investment in post-secondary education.
President Indira Samarasekera of the University of Alberta referencing the
Canadian figures stated that:
. . . faculty members have not kept pace with enrolment growth . . .
We now have 2,000 more faculty than we had in 1992, but we also have
222,000 more students.
President Stephen Toope of the University of British Columbia has noted that:
. . . when our brilliant researchers attract federal funding for their
research, there is a modest top-up to universities to sponsor the overhead
costs of supporting those researchers. That top-up is still too small; it
still doesn't recognize the full costs of research. Even worse, however, the
more successful a university is in attracting research funding, the lower
the rate of the overhead top-up. We punish extraordinary accomplishment.
President David Naylor of the University of Toronto has pointed out that:
. . . in advanced or graduate education, we clearly underperform. The
Conference Board study of 17 OECD nations found that only Italy awarded
fewer Ph.D. degrees per capita than Canada. Compared to the United States,
Canada awards a third fewer doctoral degrees and half as many master's
degrees per capita.
He also noted that:
. . . twenty years ago, Canadian universities received $2000 per student
more from government than their U.S. peers. Today they receive on average
That is but a sample of the deficiencies in Canadian post-secondary
education policy illustrated by these presidents. Other bodies have outlined
more. Nature Magazine, one of the world's most reputable and renowned
journals, recently criticized Canada's current government for its "dismal"
track record and "manifest disregard for science."
The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has noted that in
. . . the institutional cost of supporting research. . . funded through
the Indirect Costs Program, are estimated to be at a minimum 40 per cent of
the total direct costs of research.
The federal government is currently reimbursing at an overall rate of
approximately 25 per cent.
The Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation has stated that:
. . . in 2006, 59 per cent of undergraduate university students graduated
with debt resulting either from a government student loan or borrowing of
another type. They owed an average of $24,047.
These are some of the significant problems facing our students, our
post-secondary institutions and our country. These are real problems related to:
university participation rates, graduate student participation rates, gender
inequalities, geographical inequalities, Aboriginal participation and completion
rates, student loans, student debt, faculty growth, research development and
Each of these problems matters and must be addressed because we live in a
time in history when the world's most important resource lies not on the side of
a mountain or under a pile of sand, but within the mysterious confines of the
human mind. We are in the midst of what economist Richard Florida calls "the
creative era" — an era where knowledge is not just king, it is everything.
The social and economic well-being of our nation depends on our ability to
transform ideas into technologies and innovations. To neglect the institutions
that foster and incubate those ideas — universities and colleges — is to invite
Much has changed and much has stayed the same. Sadly, three years after my
appointment to the Senate, one thing that remains the case is that Canadian
legislatures have failed to make post-secondary education a public policy
priority, meaning that an agenda of accessible, affordable and high quality
education, an agenda that our citizens need and demand, is being advanced at a
Honourable senators, that does not mean that there has been no progress or
change in the field of post-secondary education. On the contrary, changes are
being made, but we should be concerned about the speed and diligence with which
we are tackling this issue, or to put it more accurately, the lack of speed and
diligence with which we are tackling this issue.
Canadian governments have made progress in post-secondary education largely
by investing time and resources, but the action taken does not reflect the
promises made by these governments, the needs of students and post-secondary
institutions or developments occurring simultaneously around the world.
As lawmakers, we are progressing much too slowly on the issue of
post-secondary education, and we do not have a common set of goals, with the
result that we are not giving Canadians what they want.
Last week, Senators Cowan and Meighen spoke about the need to find solutions
to the problems of post-secondary education in Canada. I can only agree. The
time for solutions is now. I do not think the solutions are out of reach. It is
not the lack of solutions that is preventing rapid progress in this area. It is
the lack of political will.
We can implement some of these solutions ourselves. However, many require the
support of the provinces, post-secondary institutions and the private sector.
I will conclude by reiterating that I would like to see a national agreement
on post-secondary education. As I said in 2005 and 2006, the time has come for
legislators across the country to invest in our future and in the welfare of our
society by making post-secondary education a national priority.
I add my support to Senator Callbeck's motion calling on the Standing
Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology to examine and report on the
accessibility of post-secondary education in Canada. I believe that such a
report will contribute to finding solutions and will play an important role in
what I feel should be our ultimate goal: to make Canada an international centre
On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.
The Senate adjourned until Wednesday, May 14, 2008, at 1:30 p.m.