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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 10

Thursday, February 12, 2009
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


THE SENATE

Thursday, February 12, 2009

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

Prayers.

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Yukon Quest

Hon. Hector Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, I rise to signal that a major international athletic event is about to take place. I refer to the Yukon Quest, a 1,000-mile international dog-sled race that begins on Saturday, February 14 in Yukon's capital city, Whitehorse. Two weeks later, the mushers and their dog teams will complete their race in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Yukon Quest is an epic two weeks of sled-dog racing over 1,000 miles through Arctic winter wilderness. The mushers guide their 14 canine athletes across frozen rivers and lakes and over mountain summits in the heart of the Arctic winter through some of the most pristine wilderness remaining in North America.

I invite all honourable senators and Canadians to come to Yukon once in their life and observe one of the toughest endurance races in the world. It is truly an event that honourable senators will never forget.

Zimbabwe

Hon. Vivienne Poy: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak about the current governance crisis in Zimbabwe and the dire humanitarian situation facing its people. As usual in crisis situations, the women rally. Women of Zimbabwe Arise, WOZA, includes 35,000 human rights activists of all ages engaging in peaceful protest to express their objections to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

Every year on Valentine's Day, February 14, brave women gather on the streets of cities across Zimbabwe to distribute roses to express their motto that "the power of love can conquer the love of power."

WOZA wants good governance, access to education and food, health care delivery, and a civil society. Their pleas for a better life have resulted in harassment, detentions and torture.

In 2002, I was twinned by Amnesty International with Willias Madzimure, an MP with the Zimbabwean Movement for Democratic Change, MDC. Last year, when the MDC had apparently succeeded in the elections, I thought there would be an improvement in the governance situation. Willias Madzimure was re-elected, as were many other MDC members. However, as you know, the election was followed by further violence. Willias Madzimure's own furniture factory was firebombed last July.

Honourable senators, today, as we prepare to celebrate Valentine's Day with our loved ones, I ask that, as senators, we pledge our support through Amnesty International by buying roses and sending messages to encourage the women of WOZA in their struggle against an oppressive regime.

Zimbabwe is coping with an unstable government, widespread human rights abuses, spiraling inflation, and a massive decline in living standards. The recent cholera epidemic, which has spread from the cities to rural areas, has added additional hardship to the lives of Zimbabweans.

This year, WOZA demonstrated two days ago, prior to the swearing-in ceremony of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister of a new unity government yesterday. Eight members of WOZA and two lawyers were arrested and remain in custody.

Honourable senators, if this new Zimbabwean government is to have any chance, we must continue to support the brave women of WOZA and all the people of Zimbabwe.

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I join with Senator Poy in talking about the situation in Zimbabwe. The crisis continues to rage. Hyperinflation has destroyed the economy, chronic fuel and food shortages plague the country, and cholera and HIV/AIDS are ravaging the population.

Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 34 years for a woman and 37 for a man. By comparison, if we lived in that country, it is likely only one of us, our new colleague Senator Brazeau, would be alive today.

The recent power-sharing agreement between President Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai is, in my opinion, likely to fail. Robert Mugabe has as much interest in sharing power as he does in alleviating the suffering of his people. In a country where over 3,000 people have died since last August from a completely preventable disease, and any expressed opposition to the government is systematically and violently repressed, one can only assume that Mr. Mugabe's interest on both counts is nil.

Indeed, as Senator Segal pointed out earlier this week, Mr. Mugabe plans to celebrate his eighty-fifth birthday with an orgy of spending — all this while the country is in ruins and the suffering of the people continues unabated.

Yet, many courageous Zimbabweans continue to fight for their rights, freedoms and survival. One organization, Women of Zimbabwe Arise, WOZA, as Senator Poy has told us, has worked since 2003 to provide a forum for what they call "principles of strategic non-violence" to address concerns individuals may be too afraid to raise alone. WOZA means "come forward" and has over 35,000 members, both men and women, from across their country.

For their efforts, over 2,500 of them have been arrested and jailed, some repeatedly, and many have been beaten while in custody. Two of these amazing women I wish to single out and praise are the organization's leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu.

Honourable senators, WOZA deserves our respect and support. Showing we care can be as simple as distributing a rose, an act that WOZA members engage in each Valentine's Day to remind their fellow Zimbabweans of their entitlement to dignity, respect and basic human rights. It is all part of a campaign to demonstrate the organization's motto: "The power of love can conquer the love of power."

This Valentine's Day, in honour of the 10 WOZA activists who were recently arrested, please wear the rose pin sent to your office as a symbol to recognize and join in unity with the struggles of WOZA. Honourable senators, let us raise our collective voices to speak loudly to shed light on the desperate plight of the people of Zimbabwe, and assure them we will not abandon them.

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I too rise today to draw attention to the continual political tension that has led to the human suffering in Zimbabwe. There cannot be too many statements to underscore this dire situation.

The political and human aspects of a country are always intertwined. The negative consequences resulting from political difficulties are promoting the destruction of human rights of Zimbabwe citizens by the government that has been elected to protect them. President Mugabe must be made accountable for putting his political survival above the real survival of his citizens.

This government, mired in disagreements and contests for power, has recently embarked on a power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The political process taken to achieve this delicate power-sharing agreement has exacerbated the human rights violations and the volatile humanitarian crisis.

This power-sharing government can be the hope for peace and dignity for the people of Zimbabwe. Our support and solidarity concerning the human struggle in Zimbabwe is paramount.

Women and children are of particular concern, as they have been greatly impacted by the negative consequences of political failures. Regardless, they have banded together under the peaceful protest banner of Women of Zimbabwe Arise, WOZA. The approximate 35,000 WOZA human rights defenders have displayed resilience in engaging in peaceful protest and promoting the dignity and rights of Zimbabwe citizens despite unlawful oppression.

Peaceful protest is a right that is provided for in Zimbabwe's constitution, yet it has obviously not been upheld as protesters are arbitrarily detained and subjected to physical and psychological harassment, torture and unexplainable delays.

Even with the new Prime Minister Tsvangirai's conditions of office, and pursuing demands of President Mugabe and the authorities to release 30 prisoners of conscience, they all remain in custody, along with 8 members of WOZA and their 2 lawyers. This abuse is only a reflection of the degree of counter-humanitarian offences occurring in this country.

The power-sharing agreement can be a positive development toward a sustainable end of the political power struggles and the negative consequences that are affecting the people of Zimbabwe and civil activists in particular.

Our embassy's officers are to be commended for their staunch presence in Zimbabwe in the midst of difficult times. Canada and Canadians should continue to positively express our solidarity with Zimbabweans by continual on-the-ground assistance and engagement with the African and international communities.

February 14, this Saturday, is an appropriate day to distribute paper roses to Zimbabweans to remind them of their dignity and their government's duty to respect that dignity through the protection of human rights.

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Silver Dart Commemoration

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, February 23, 2009, will mark an important milestone in the field of human achievement and a great moment in the history of Cape Breton Island, the Province of Nova Scotia, and Canada.

On that day, 100 years ago, Cape Breton native John Alexander Douglas McCurdy became the first person in the British Empire to pilot a heavier-than-air flight when he flew the Silver Dart over the frozen waters of Loch Bras d'Or to the astonishment of onlookers.

An engineer by training, J.A.D. McCurdy went on to become the first licensed pilot in Canada and was a director of aircraft production in Canada during the Second World War.

From 1947 to 1952, he was Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. He passed away in 1961 and is buried in the family plot in the village of Baddeck, overlooking the very spot where he made history as a young man.

His historic accomplishment will be honoured in less than two weeks when, once again, people will gather, this time in the thousands, on the frozen waters of the Bras d'Or Lakes, to witness a re-enactment of this magnificent feat. Former astronaut Bjarni Tryggvason will pilot a new replica of the Silver Dart on Monday, February 23.

This is an auspicious occasion. I will attend this event, and I am sure all honourable senators will join me in wishing good luck to the pilot, Mr. Tryggvason, as he attempts to duplicate, and pay homage to, this wonderful Canadian achievement.

Hemp Production

Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, on January 21 it was announced that after over 10 years of extensive research and development in industrial hemp, Stonehedge Bio-Resources Inc. is building a bioprocessing facility in Eastern Ontario to serve North American markets.

Some of the products and co-products are aimed at the automotive, energy, agriculture, construction materials, and pulp and paper markets.

This fibre separation facility is expected to provide new farm income for up to 200 growers, putting thousands of acres into the cultivation of hemp.

Stonehedge Bio-Resources is an Eastern Ontario-based company that has positioned itself to produce industrial hemp-based products aimed at the Carbon Negative, Sustainable Green Building market.

This new investment in the commercial hemp industry in Ontario would not have been possible without the financial support of three foreign investors: Lime Technology Ltd., from the United Kingdom; American Lime Technology, USA; and a private U.K. investor.

These letters of intent represent both the financial investment of over $2 million as well as the formation of a strategic relationship between Stonehedge and some of the world's leaders in the application of industrial hemp.

In 2007, Stonehedge participated in an Ontario-led trade mission to France that led to their introduction to Lime Technology Ltd., one of the companies that will invest $1.5 million in Stonehedge's industrial plant.

Once the plant is up and running, Stonehedge expects to produce more than $17 million per year in renewable hemp fibre, wood-like chips and pellets, as well as matting and seed products.

I hope honourable senators will join me in congratulating Stonehedge Bio-Resources Inc. in obtaining these new investments.

I also applaud the Government of Ontario for providing Stonehedge with advice, expertise and support in building international partnerships.

I look forward to providing honourable senators with my final update on the progress of the industrial hemp industry in Canada in a few weeks' time.

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Gang Violence

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, another day passes and another report of gang-related violence surfaces in British Columbia's Lower Mainland.

This statement was prepared three days ago. Every day since then, there has been violence in the Lower Mainland. These acts are public and brazen. Residents are terrified. People are being killed while bystanders are left fearing for their lives.

Last Friday, two gunmen opened fire on a young man with known connections to a notorious gang. The crime scene was a packed grocery store parking lot in Langley.

One week ago today, a man was gunned down in broad daylight outside a shopping centre in my hometown of Surrey.

Abbotsford residents are so desperate to reclaim the safety of their city's streets they have resorted to publicly shunning gang members in hopes that social pressures will curtail their violent rampage.

Police in Port Moody issued a public warning to residents that a gang member connected to these recent shootings has moved into their city, and the police named him.

Illegal gang activity occurs daily, but it only makes headlines when innocent people become victims.

Residents of B.C.'s Lower Mainland are shaken by such activity. Sadly, they are not alone. Gang violence is a problem in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and several other parts of Canada.

Gang violence knows no boundaries. Gang violence sparks fear and erodes public safety.

Last year, our government passed the Tackling Violent Crime Act, which allows for tougher prison sentences for gang-related violence, cracks down on gun crime, and provides help to our youth to prevent them from joining gangs.

These measures are good, but they do not go far enough. Police continue to express frustration with legal limitations surrounding the collection of evidence related to gang activity.

The B.C. Solicitor General has called on Ottawa to amend the Criminal Code in order for the police to collect wiretap evidence on gang members' mobile phones and Internet services.

Criminals have used the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a shield for their activities. Honourable senators, there is no right in this land to commit crime. For 45 years, I have lived in the Fraser Valley, an area known as B.C.'s Bible belt. Honourable senators, the Bible belt has now become the "bullet belt."

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Gangs are fighting each other over territory, fuelled by the lucrative drug trade that goes on unsuppressed. This activity is left totally unchecked because of limited police resources and bail that is too easily accessible in the courts.

Legislators have failed to give our law enforcement officers the adequate legal tools they need to get the job done. Our justice system is eroded to the point where criminals no longer fear the courts. Our society has now become one where decent, law-abiding citizens are losing confidence in the justice system.

Honourable senators, failure to serve justice on criminals is an embarrassment and inaction will only continue to endanger public safety. I know what I am talking about; I was a policeman for six years of my life.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Privacy Commissioner

Privacy Management Frameworks of Selected Federal Institutions—2009 Audit Report Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a special report on the examination of the privacy management frameworks of selected federal institutions from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, pursuant to section 39 of the Privacy Act.

[Translation]

Auditor General

Managing Identity Information—2009 Report Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a report of the Auditor General of Canada entitled Managing Identity Information, pursuant to subsection 7(5) of the Auditor General Act.

(1355)

The Estimates, 2008-09

Supplementary Estimates (C) Tabled

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Supplementary Estimates (C), 2008-09 for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009.

Agriculture and Forestry

Report Pursuant to Rule 104(2) Tabled

Hon. Percy Mockler: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 104(2), I have the honour to table the first report of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, which outlines the expenses incurred by the committee during the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament.

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 103.)

[English]

Aging

Report Pursuant to Rule 104(2) Tabled

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 104(2) of the Rules of the Senate, I have the honour to table the first report of the Special Senate Committee on Aging, which deals with the expenses incurred by the committee during the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament.

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 104.)

[Translation]

National Finance

Report Pursuant to Rule 104(2) Tabled

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 104(2), I have the honour to table the first report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, which outlines the expenses incurred by the committee during the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament.

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 105.)

[English]

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Report Pursuant to Rule 104(2) Tabled

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 104(2) of the Rules of the Senate, I have the honour to table the first report of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which deals with the expenses incurred by the committee during the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament.

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 106.)

[Translation]

Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Report Pursuant to Rule 104(2) Tabled

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 104(2), I have the honour to table the first report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, which outlines the expenses incurred by the committee during the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament.

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 107.)

[English]

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Report Pursuant to Rule 104(2) Tabled

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 104(2) of the Rules of the Senate, I have the honour to table the first report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, which deals with the expenses incurred by the committee during the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament.

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 108.)

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study 2008 Legislative Review of Export Development Canada

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I shall move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade be empowered to review and report on the 2008 Legislative Review of Export Development Canada, tabled in the Senate on Tuesday, February 10, 2009.

The Estimates, 2008-09

Notice of Motion to Authorize National Finance Committee to Study Supplementary Estimates (C)

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next sitting of the Senate, I shall move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in the Supplementary Estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009, with the exception of Parliament Vote 15.

Notice of Motion to Refer Vote 15 to Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I shall move:

That the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in Parliament Vote 15 of Supplementary Estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009; and

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

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[English]

The Senate

Notice of Motion to Authorize the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament to Study the Application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it Applies to the Senate

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Senate refer to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament the issue of developing a systematic process for the application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it applies to the Senate of Canada.

Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Provisions and Operations of the National Defence Act

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs be authorized to examine and report on the provisions and operation of An Act to amend the National Defence Act (court martial) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act (S.C. 2008, c.,29); and

That the committee submit its final report no later than June 30, 2009.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Issues Related to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Generally

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I give notice that at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, in accordance with Rule 86(1)(h), be authorized to examine such issues as may arise from time to time relating to foreign relations and international trade generally; and

That the committee report to the Senate no later than June 30, 2010.

[English]

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Rise of China, India and Russia in the Global Economy and the Implications for Canadian Policy and Refer Papers and Evidence from Second Session of Thirty-ninth Parliament

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

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

That the papers and evidence received and taken and the work accomplished by the committee on this subject during the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament be referred to the committee; and

That the committee present its final report no later than June 30, 2010, and retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until September 30, 2010.

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study State of Early Learning and Child Care and Refer Papers and Evidence from Previous Parliament

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to examine the state of early learning and child care in Canada in view of the OECD report Starting Strong II, released on September 21-22, 2006 and rating Canada last among 14 countries on spending on early learning and child care programs, which stated ". . . national and provincial policy for the early education and care of young children in Canada is still in its initial stages. . . . and coverage is low compared to other OECD countries";

That the committee study and report on the OECD challenge that ". . . significant energies and funding will need to be invested in the field to create a universal system in tune with the needs of a full employment economy, with gender equity and with new understandings of how young children develop and learn";

That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by the committee on this subject since the beginning of the First Session of the Thirty-Ninth Parliament be referred to the committee; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than June 30, 2009, and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Current Social Issues of Large Cities and Refer Papers and Evidence from Previous Parliament

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to examine and report on current social issues pertaining to Canada's largest cities. In particular, the Committee shall be authorized to examine:

(a) poverty, housing and homelessness;

(b) social inclusion and cohesion;

(c) urban economies;

(d) models for collaboration and co-operation among governments;

That the study be national in scope, and include a focus on the largest urban community in each of the provinces;

That the study report include proposed solutions, with an emphasis on collaborative strategies involving federal, provincial and municipal governments;

That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by the Committee on this subject since the beginning of the First Session of the Thirty-Ninth Parliament be referred to the Committee; and

That the Committee submit its final report no later than October 30, 2011, and that the Committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

(1405)

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Impact and Effects of Social Determinants of Health and Refer Papers and Evidence from Previous Parliament

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to examine and report on the impact of the multiple factors and conditions that contribute to the health of Canada's population — known collectively as the determinants of health — including the effects of these determinants on the disparities and inequities in health outcomes that continue to be experienced by identifiable groups or categories of people within the Canadian population;

That the committee examine government policies, programs and practices that regulate or influence the impact of the determinants of health on health outcomes across the different segments of the Canadian population, and that the committee investigate ways in which governments could better coordinate their activities in order to improve these health outcomes, whether these activities involve the different levels of government or various departments and agencies within a single level of government;

That the committee be authorized to study international examples of population health initiatives undertaken either by individual countries, or by multilateral international bodies such as (but not limited to) the World Health Organization;

That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by the committee on this subject since the beginning of the First Session of the Thirty-Ninth Parliament be referred to the committee; and

That the committee submit its final report no later than June 30, 2009, and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 180 days after the tabling of the final report.


[Translation]

QUESTION PERIOD

Industry

State of Aerospace Sector

Hon. Francis Fox: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. When Senator Fortier was absent, I used to ask the leader questions, but times have changed. My question has to do with the aerospace industry. As honourable senators are aware, many sectors of Canada's economy are going through hard times. The aerospace industry we are so proud of is no exception. Thousands of workers are worried they will lose their jobs, and thousands of young people who would have liked to work in this industry are afraid there will be no jobs for them. Job cuts have been announced by Bell Helicopter, Bombardier and, yesterday, Pratt & Whitney in Longueuil and Halifax.

This high-tech manufacturing sector provides value-added jobs for more than 80,000 Canadians, half of them in Quebec. The industry is particularly prominent in Montreal, the world's third-largest aerospace centre. Despite the difficult economic situation, global demand for aircraft is estimated at $3 trillion. Canada's aerospace industry therefore has enormous potential for medium- and long-term growth, on one condition: it will have to deal with increasingly fierce international competition. As a result, Canada must invest now in research and development in order to profit from that growth.

The government of which the minister is part had promised in its election platform to extend the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative and to increase funding for this initiative by $200 million over four years. The recent budget did not include any money for aerospace, however. Why is the government not keeping its promise to Canada's aerospace industry, because its future competitiveness depends on this?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, everyone was very disappointed by the recent news that Bombardier was making these cuts due to lower market demand for corporate jets.

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However, Bombardier did inform us that their employment should remain unchanged this year as they are currently recruiting for 730 permanent positions in Montreal.

In 2007, we announced $900 million for the industry through the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative, or SADI. Money has flowed and will continue to flow to the aerospace industry. Our Economic Action Plan further supports the industry. We are making it easier for companies to access financing and we have extended the capital cost allowance for equipment and machinery.

The honourable senator asked about our election campaign commitment. We fully intend to honour this commitment, but remember that platforms that are released during an election campaign are for the mandate of a government. The Economic Action Plan that was tabled by the Minister of Finance addresses many areas trying to stimulate the economy as a whole. There were many initiatives included in the budget that was presented on January 27.

I wish to assure the honourable senator that the aerospace industry is very important to the government and to the country and we are supporting the industry through the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative.

[Translation]

Senator Fox: Honourable senators, the Leader of the Government in the Senate has told us that the election promise of contributing an additional $200 million over four years will be kept. Given that there are three years remaining, I assume that the process will be accelerated. The industry will certainly be reassured by the answer just given.

Research and development are always forward looking and must ensure competitiveness. However, what matters at this time is to ensure the survival of the industry on a day-to-day basis. The maintenance and repair of civilian and military aircraft represent more than 15 per cent of the revenues of the Canadian aerospace industry. In the current economy, these revenues are extremely important.

When it purchased seven Hercules C-130J planes, the government made a commitment that 75 per cent of the maintenance work would be carried out in Canada. According to experts, the contracts offered by Lockheed Martin to Canadian firms consist of very little work with value added — and I emphasize the term "value added". It is not enough to place an order for one million dollars; the value added must also be considered. We are far from reaching the levels set by the government.

Can the minister confirm that the government will ensure that these companies respect the targeted objectives?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, like most Canadians, we are very proud of Bombardier. Obviously, all industries are suffering the consequences of the worldwide economic crisis.

Senator Fox, as stated in our economic plan, we will assist companies to stimulate the economy and create markets for our products. However, all of these measures are intertwined. We hope to have our economic plan pass very quickly.

The government is sensitive to the difficulties faced by industry and, as I said in my first answer, we continue to support the industry through the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative. The government has been working closely with all of the stakeholders in the various industries, including the people at Bombardier and as a result they have informed the government that their employment should remain unchanged this year.

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As I mentioned earlier, Bombardier is still planning to recruit 730 permanent positions in Montreal.

Senator Fox: To be more specific, the in-service support program which was entered into between the government and American suppliers of aircraft for the military indicated that 75 per cent of maintenance services would be done in Canada by Canadian firms. In view of the importance of that undertaking and that it seems unlikely to be met, will the government see to it that these contracts with the American industry are fulfilled? These contracts are becoming the bread and butter of the Canadian industry in these difficult times.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, obviously, with the state of the economy in the United States, there has been pressure on cross-border trade and the requirements they have for our services.

With regard to the commitment made with the Americans, I have seen no evidence that it has changed, but I will be happy to seek further clarification in a written response.

Green Technology and Carbon Credits

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, the good news is that Canada will finally get a climate change policy. The bad news is that it will not be made in Canada; it will be made by President Obama in the United States. It is very important — although I doubt it will happen — that we be prepared for this U.S. cap-and-trade policy.

Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us what steps her government has taken to help our farmers and businesses prepare by developing green technology, green techniques and carbon credits so that they will be able to compete and win against American interests in this carbon market?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, I believe Minister Prentice made a statement today, which I became aware of as I was coming into the chamber. I will take the honourable senator's question as notice.

Senator Mitchell: I am surprised the leader does not have an answer; it has only been two years since the government announced the program.

When will the government actually create the carbon market that it said it would create about two years ago — the market which will absolutely be the trade part of the cap and trade — so that our farmers and businesses will not have to buy and sell carbon credits in the United States and be unable to take advantage of the opportunities that should be here in Canada?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, every time Senator Mitchell starts off his questions with one of those lectures, I can well understand why he could never get elected in Alberta.

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!

Senator LeBreton: I meant get elected to govern in Alberta.

Senator Comeau: Caucus of one.

Senator Tkachuk: Hit a sensitive spot, have we?

Foreign Affairs

Arctic Sovereignty

Hon. Willie Adams: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate regarding relations between Canada and the United States in the area of Arctic sovereignty. I recognize that there is a relationship between Denmark, the United States and Russia. I believe the Northwest Passage belongs to Canada.

We have been studying the passage in the Arctic, especially the adjacent strait with Greenland. We have a 12-mile limit that has been settled in a land claim, just like the rest of Canada.

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Between the land and the water, Nunavut owns 60 per cent of the coastline in Canada through the Nunavut land claim. The rest of Canada — B.C., Yukon, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador — owns only 40 per cent.

We heard from Fisheries and Oceans Canada that foreigners travelling to Baffin do not have to report to Canada until they are 12 miles inside the boundary of Nunavut. My concern is the future of Arctic sovereignty. I hope Canada and other countries will recognize that the Arctic belongs to Canada. Next week, President Obama is coming to meet with Prime Minister Harper. I hope that in relations between Canada and other countries, the sovereignty of the Arctic is recognized.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): As the honourable senator knows, the issue of Arctic sovereignty is prominent with our government. One of the last acts of the outgoing President Bush about Arctic sovereignty was not particularly well-received in Canada or by our government.

We are taking a number of measures to assure our sovereignty, including, as the honourable senator will recall, the process of proper mapping in the North, adding more military and having a larger environmental presence.

As I said yesterday, I am not directly involved in what will be on the agenda for the visit between the Prime Minister and President Obama next Thursday, but I assure the honourable senator that officials of our government, the ministers responsible and our people in Washington, the Honourable Michael Wilson and others working with the Canadian Embassy and in the halls of Congress, always have Arctic sovereignty and our claims to the North at the forefront of their discussions.

We have made it clear that this area is Canadian territory, and I am happy to say that this government is extremely committed not only to Arctic sovereignty, but also to developing the North and to ensuring that the people living in the North are true partners in the ongoing development of that region.

Canada-United States Relations—Status of Omar Khadr

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. U.S. President Obama is moving quickly to close down the Guantanamo Bay prison, and is reshaping how his government prosecutes and questions al Qaeda, the Taliban or other foreign fighters who pose a threat to Americans. Emptying Guantanamo Bay of its 248 prisoners will be a large, overwhelming job. Does the minister not think that Canada should step up to assist the U.S. by offering to look after Omar Khadr, the only Canadian detained at Guantanamo Bay, especially in light of trying to further our friendship with the U.S.?

Americans do not want Guantanamo Bay detainees brought to American soil. We have an excellent justice system and the ability to look after our own. Why do we not agree to look after our own problem and make this offer next week to President Obama?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, my answer remains the same.

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As we all know, the U.S. administration has recently taken the decision to proceed with the closure of Guantanamo Bay, to halt the judicial process and to evaluate each case. That was a decision everyone was expecting, no matter who won the election in the United States, because both Senator McCain and President Obama made that commitment during the campaign.

We, as the government, will await the outcome of these decisions of the American government, which were recently put forward by President Obama.

However, honourable senators, let us not forget that Mr. Khadr has been accused of serious crimes including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, material support for terrorism and spying, all in violation of the laws of war.

I do not anticipate that this matter will be high on the agenda of either leader. There is a judicial process in the United States and the government, and I, as a member of the government, cannot comment on a judicial process taking place in another country. If I were to do that, the honourable senator would be demanding that we apologize to the United States government for interfering with their judicial process.

Senator Jaffer: I agree with the leader that there is a judicial process, but it is my understanding — and I would like clarification from the leader — that the U.S. is trying to find ways to deal with this problem and is looking to its allies for assistance. Why can we not just look after our own problem and deal with Mr. Khadr? I agree that he has been accused of serious offences, but let us not forget that he was a 15-year-old child soldier. I am not suggesting that we set him free when he comes here. I am saying that we can deal with him within our justice system. Why do we not step up and do that?

Senator LeBreton: For clarification, honourable senators, Mr. Khadr was a child soldier when the Liberal Party formed the government. He is no longer a child.

The honourable senator claims that the U.S. government is seeking assistance from its allies. I do not know on what information the honourable senator bases that remark. They made a decision with regard to Guantanamo Bay, and it was not unexpected. Many people at Guantanamo Bay had never been charged, which was not the case with Mr. Khadr.

It is only reasonable that this government await the outcome of the processes taking place within the government of President Obama before taking any action. We must let their processes work and decide after that how to proceed.

Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, I have the distinct impression that I am attending a play by Harold Pinter.

Is the Leader of the Government aware of the fact that what she refers to as the judicial process with respect to Omar Khadr in the United States has terminated? President Obama has said those trials will not take place. What, therefore, is the government waiting for? What termination of what process is the leader thinking about?

Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator is quite incorrect. They have halted the judicial process; they have not terminated or ended it. They are evaluating each of the cases. That is not terminating the process.

Until that evaluation is complete and we have some sense of how the United States government plans to handle these cases, including that of Mr. Khadr, which is within their jurisdiction, we cannot impose upon them matters that are clearly within their jurisdiction.

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Senator Goldstein: No one is suggesting that Canada impose anything on the United States. Surely, this government, rather than sitting by silently and witnessing the horrible abuse of human rights that took place and is still taking place in Guantanamo, can at least ask the question as to whether the United States would be willing to bring Omar Khadr here for his trial.

Senator LeBreton: Senator Goldstein is asking me to pose a question that would not be proper because there is a process in the United States. We must let that process work and await the results of how they plan to deal with this matter. Once we know, then we will be in a position to determine our next step.

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I have a supplementary question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I believe I heard her say that Mr. Khadr was a child soldier when our party was in power but is not a child soldier now. Whatever party was in power in Canada, could she please explain the relevance of that comment? The charges relate to events that may or may not have taken place when he was, by definition of international law, a child soldier. How old he is under the Harper government is irrelevant.

Senator LeBreton: I was only using the honourable senator's term "child soldier." As honourable senators know, there are varying opinions as to whether a person is a child soldier when they are part of a terrorist organization.

In any event, I was using the other side's term. He was a younger person when the other side was in government and did nothing about it, and now the other side is expecting us to do what they did not do.

Senator Goldstein: Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that "child soldier" is defined in a protocol signed and ratified by Canada? The leader's suggestion that Omar Khadr was or was not a child soldier is, with great respect, nonsense.

Senator Eggleton: You were wrong then and you are wrong now.

Senator LeBreton: Oh, is that what it is?

I am well aware of the definition of "child soldier." I was simply saying that some people do not agree with that definition.

Of course, it goes back to the issue at hand. Omar Khadr faces serious charges. He was in Guantanamo Bay. Canadian officials have been in contact with him many times. There is a process in the United States, and it behooves all of us to respect the process in the United States. Once they have completed that process, we will then determine what the next action should be with regard to Omar Khadr.

Senator Goldstein: Has the honourable senator read the passage in Alice in Wonderland that says, "Words mean what I want them to mean"?

Senator LeBreton: I do not think it is me falling down the rabbit hole.

Heritage

CBC Radio

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I will try the Leader of the Government in the Senate on a subject she may find a little easier to navigate.

Honourable senators, on Monday of this week, in a committee of the other place, Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore was asked whether he would consider opening up CBC Radio 1 and Radio 2 for commercial advertising. His response, in part, was that the CBC has a lot of pressure for commercial advertising.

We're working with Hubert Lacroix and people at the CBC in order to really get a full sense of the scale of the problems that they have. Commercial advertising is an option that has been talked about for some time. I would frankly consider anything so long as the end result is to have a strong national broadcaster.

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Given that virtually everyone who has ever examined the CBC, including the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, has concluded that CBC Radio's identity, mandate and nature were transformed for the better when they dropped commercial advertising, can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell me what that rather incomplete statement from the Canadian Heritage Minister should lead us to expect by way of public policy toward CBC Radio?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): I know the honourable senator may find this shocking, but she helped me navigate my answer to the question. She read what the minister had to say. I have nothing more to add.

Senator Fraser: I was trying to suggest that, as a statement of government policy, the minister had not given all the detail perhaps to which parliamentarians might be entitled. I have the right to make that suggestion, and I am making it.

Another thing that I would ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to draw to the attention of the Heritage Minister is that the private sector is not eager to see the CBC increase its commercial presence. The private sector is already having trouble attracting commercial revenue, particularly now, in the current economic downturn. The last thing they need is fresh competition from the CBC on that ground.

Senator LeBreton: I will pass on the suggestion of the honourable senator to Minister Moore. I am certain he is well aware of these issues, but he will be happy to have the honourable senator's learned opinion.

Points of Order

Hon. Jane Cordy: Your Honour, I rise on a point of order.

Yesterday, during Senators' Statements, I described a letter that Senator Oliver had written to the Cape Breton Post. I also read into the record verbatim a letter written to the Cape Breton Post by Brent MacAdam and Skylar Erickson on behalf of Sydney Academy's grade 12 political science class.

This morning, when I read the Debates of the Senate on page 174, I noted that after I said, "These are the students' words," that Senator Tkachuk stated: "Yeah, right. I bet."

Rule 18(1) of the Rules of the Senate of Canada provides that the Speaker has responsibility to maintain order and decorum in the Senate. I hope that the next time a colleague implies that one of the honourable senators in this chamber is less than truthful, that Your Honour, under the authority of rule 18(1), will call that senator to order.

I also ask leave at this time to table the students' letter to the editor from December 20, 2008, taken from the Cape Breton Post website.

The Hon. the Speaker: Do other honourable senators wish to comment on this point of order?

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Our suggestion from this side is that His Honour is capable of adjudicating this point of order.

The Hon. the Speaker: Do you wish to speak on this point of order, Senator Mitchell?

Senator Mitchell: No, I have a new point of order.

The Hon. the Speaker: If no other honourable senator wishes to speak to this point of order, I will take it under advisement so that I can read the transcripts and will report to the chamber at the next sitting.

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Hon. Sharon Carstairs: The honourable senator asked leave to table the letter. I do not know if we have done that.

The Hon. the Speaker: Yes, we did.

On a different point of order now, the Honourable Senator Mitchell.

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Your Honour, I have engaged in many Question Period exchanges with the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Believe it or not, I have enjoyed the challenge and the give and take.

I have never risen on a point of order to discuss one of her answers; I have taken it all as part of the debate. However, what she said earlier in answer to my question was so empirically off base that I simply have to correct the record.

In fact, I have been elected four times in Alberta and I have never lost an election.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Mitchell: While the Leader of the Government in the Senate has had a very admirable career with many successes — and I absolutely mean that — I just want to point out that, to the best of my knowledge, winning an election in Alberta or anywhere else was not one of them.

The Hon. the Speaker: The chair is able to rule on this point of order right away. There is no point of order, but the record will show the views of the honourable senators.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Energy Efficiency Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Cochrane, seconded by the Honourable Senator Rivard, for the second reading of Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Energy Efficiency Act.

Hon. Grant Mitchell: We were just debating having a further friendly exchange over here, honourable senators. It is fun with my new seatmates. I do not feel as lonely and we are engaged all the time. I feel like I am in front of enemy lines, but I know they are adversaries, not enemies, as I think Mr. Churchill said once. We do not take it personally.

I have a great deal of pleasure and honour to be the lead in our caucus on Bill S-3. I want to congratulate Senator Cochrane for her speech. It was very clear and well argued.

I have a few points I would like to pick up on, but all in all, it is a pretty good bill. By and large, I am quite happy with its contents. What concerns me much more is what is not in it.

It is the product of positive collaborative politics, and hopefully we are moving into a new era. You will recognize the effort I made to rise up to a higher level in countering Senator Tkachuk's argument yesterday. I think this bill is, in many respects, a furtherance of a new era of cooperation. I believe this is a bill that received all-party cooperation in the House of Commons and I expect it will receive both party's cooperation and support in this house as well. I have a few points that I would like to make, however, as well as a few questions.

Clause 2 addresses interprovincial trade and importation. Has the government in any way worked with the provinces to establish the implications of this kind of an initiative for their regulations, their economies and their relationships? It would, of course, prohibit the transportation of any product that is in one province to another province if that product has not kept up with improving standards. It does have implications for interprovincial and federal-provincial relations, and I am interested in knowing whether that kind of consultation has been done and whether there is some ongoing mechanism to see it is done.

Clause 3 of the bill addresses information to be provided by dealers. I think most of us have seen the energy-use labels on various appliances and I think there are a number of places where that clause could be improved.

One of the things that concerns me is that, while the energy use is important, there is the issue of how much energy was used to create it in the first place. We must consider this as an integral and important part of assessing its carbon footprint. I suggest and ask that in future legislation, that particular element of a labelling initiative be added so that this process could be improved.

It is also the case that labelling will be based upon estimates, studies and assessments made in foreign countries. Undoubtedly, many of these appliances are made in China. We have seen all kinds of issues with respect to Chinese health and environmental regulations. If we get a product imported from China, how do we know for sure that the manufacturers' estimates are accurate?

There is a provision for audit in this bill. It is not clear exactly who does the audit, but let us say it is the Government of Canada. What department would do that audit and does that department have sufficient staff and resources to ensure that it is done properly?

Clauses 6 and 7 address reports — one that is every three years — to establish a comparison of energy standards in Canada versus North American jurisdictions. I am assuming that means states and other provinces; otherwise there would not be much of a comparison. The four-year, one-time report would see whether established standards have been implemented for each energy-using product. Clearly, these are important, and the reporting can hold a government's feet to the fire and focus its attention, but it does raise a significant issue. What are the consequences if they do not meet the standards? What if the comparison is not positive? What recourse does anyone have to take this government to the next step?

Clearly, we can address that in the House of Commons and in the Senate. However, there is a great deal of evidence of a government simply denying reports and avoiding action. I am referring to the Kyoto bill, C-288. Reports are required, the government reports, but it is an abysmal failure in achieving any progress on climate change and carbon emissions.

What recourse is there? What confidence can we have that this kind of reporting, without some kind of muscle, would actually accomplish anything it is supposed to accomplish?

What concerns me in addition is that the bill talks about labelling. There is nothing wrong with giving consumers more information. In fact, there is a great deal right about it, but there are so many other things that need to be done to deal with climate change and air pollution that simply focusing in this way on labelling seems to be a drop in the sea.

Is there an effort to elevate this kind of information more broadly to the population of Canada so they can begin to assess information and understand its importance?

Why are there not absolute standards? My wife and I recently bought a dishwasher. We bought the most energy efficient one we could find, but of course there were ones that were far less energy efficient.

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Why are not all those dishwashers, washers and dryers held to a standard, a low-emissions energy use measure? I know what the answer will be: It is far more expensive to build a more energy-efficient unit.

I do not know why people accept that at face value. I do not know why it is that it would cost more money to build a more energy-efficient unit than it does to build a less energy-efficient unit.

I think that manufacturers may well use this idea that there is greater value in a lower-energy-use appliance to increase the price. If we are thinking of auditing anything, we should begin to audit the cost to companies that make these machines to find out if there is any justification that they should cost more. Perhaps we need to push for the best possible standard and make it a requirement that every single unit sold in this country must meet those best possible standards or best practices. It would be interesting if this government would actually do that.

I found a slight mathematical or logical problem in Senator Cochrane's presentation. She made the point that the initiatives dealing with standby power in this bill would reduce power usage by as much as 10 per cent per household in Canada. Then she said that this would replace the equivalent of the total energy used by 300,000 Canadian homes.

Of course, I think there are more than 3 million Canadian homes. Therefore, if the power reduction is 10 per cent, it would equate to replacing the energy used by more than 300,000 homes. That is just a small point, but I would like to see those figures clarified because it is critical that the government should begin to take credit for doing something significant in this area when, in fact, it may not be all that significant.

That brings me to my next point. Does the government have any idea of the level of carbon emissions that will actually be reduced by this initiative and how that reduction — if it is calculated — works into their overall plan to, as they say, reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent in 2020 of 2006 levels? If we are just throwing these figures out and we do not know how they contribute to where we still need to go, then it is not a very effectively-managed program to reach an objective. From what I know achieving objectives, such as winning elections in Alberta, you must have a focus, a plan and people who execute that plan. You must also have audits and accountability to ensure the plan is executed. I do not see any of that here. Therefore, I would appreciate some indication of how much of the emissions will be reduced and how that contributes to the overall reduction that this government says it will accomplish. As far as I know, such a thing has not begun, except for a labelling program.

Another question arises: Will the government actually implement this plan? We saw the Kyoto Protocol, and it was not implemented. We saw an announcement related to cap and trade two years ago and nothing happened. We passed a bill related to fixed-term elections, and it was not followed. The real question is whether this government will actually do what it says.

This issue of energy efficiency is so important and we have waited so long for something that it would be nice to think this is kicking off the next phase and that we actually will get more done.

I want to make the point that while this bill is, to some extent, an achievement — because it is the first thing to be done about climate change by this government in any major way — the fact is that it is a compromise born out of absolute, fundamental frustration. We are facing a huge problem. I know there are people in the world who want to deny the existence of climate change or, worse yet, who say it is not the product of human activity. I will repeat what I said yesterday: The science is so overwhelming. There is such an overwhelming scientific consensus, unlike there has been on other scientific issues. To deny it is, in my mind, tantamount to the leaders of South Africa who deny that HIV leads to AIDS. None of us would deny that because there is overwhelming science.

The science is clear in its conclusion that climate change is occurring because of human activity. There is also much evidence that the same techniques used to discount the fact that tobacco causes cancer are being used by those who want to deny climate change in order to discount the human factor in climate change. I would hope that no honourable senator would go down that path and suggest that climate change is not affected by human conduct because it is.

Why has more not been done? Why has this government not taken this kernel of an effort and built beyond it? Why do we not have the cap-and-trade system we have been told we would get?

I have racked my brain. What do we have instead? All of the Liberal climate change policies have been cancelled. We had in place the government's poster for "climate change initiative," which was the tax credit for people who use buses. They probably need the money, although one would wonder how many of them actually pay taxes.

However, when you analyze that and relate it to reductions in carbon, do honourable senators know what that costs? It costs $800 per tonne. I am not making that up; that figure was in the environment commissioner's report last week.

Do honourable senators know the cost of a single tonne of reduction in the previous Liberal government's "Green Shift" plan? It was $10 per tonne. Do honourable senators know how much it costs to reduce a tonne of carbon in Europe? It costs $14.83 on a proper market. Do honourable senators know what it costs to reduce a tonne of carbon for farmers in Alberta? It costs $6 a tonne. The fact of the matter is that $800 a tonne is appalling, particularly in the absence of any other initiative whatsoever.

Honourable senators, it takes leadership. We have seen leadership in Europe and we have seen leadership in the U.S. We will finally have something imposed upon us because there is no evidence that this government has done anything to prepare for President Obama's cap-and-trade system.

Let us assess the consequences of not doing anything. Immediately, we may be overwhelmed by the U.S. cap-and-trade initiative. That means that we may not have carbon credit markets in Canada so that our businesses and our farms can buy and sell carbon credits in Canada. We will need carbon credits. That is the trade part of a cap-and-trade policy. The Americans will do it. If we want to sell our products to the U.S., we will likely have to parallel what they are doing.

Often, certainly in the early stages, in order to make your cap, businesses have to buy carbon credits — offsets that represent real reductions — elsewhere. If we do not have a market, where will they buy them and sell them? They will buy them in the U.S. Do honourable senators know what that means? All of that money could be invested in Canadian farms. As I said yesterday, I do not know too many farmers who have too much money. It could be invested in Canadian businesses. It could create technologies, cash flow, jobs and investments — all of the things that would stimulate an economy. However, this will happen in the U.S.

Speaking of stimulating the economy, think about the ineffectiveness of some of the initiatives in that stimulus package. For example, if a municipality wants to take part in funding certain initiatives, they have to match them, but they will not have enough money to do so. That will not stimulate anything. However, if we have other people and businesses investing directly in carbon credits, that money goes to businesses and farms so they can stimulate the Canadian economy. Carbon credits represent real reductions — third-party verified, gold standard, international Kyoto Protocol organizations. Instead, we will be stimulating the U.S. economy.

It seems to be a question of having no leadership. The argument is always made that it will hurt the economy. I do not know how that has been drawn out of the ether. It will not hurt an economy. It will absolutely be the next economic and industrial revolution. It will be green and sustainable. We can either begin to provide leadership and get ahead of the curve, or we will be lost.

In Calgary, I was speaking to CEOs of major energy companies and one of them made a profound point. He said we are getting very worried about U.S. indications that they may not want to buy oil from the oil sands could hurt Canada's ability to sell that oil. We have to be ahead of the curve on this.

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Yet, what do we see? We see a government — a Prime Minister — who is doing nothing to provide leadership and to sell the idea of the stimulus package. In the economic crisis we face, it is necessary to go out and convince people that it will be okay and that we can have some confidence. Confidence is the key element to get this economy going again.

Equally, the Prime Minister needs to provide leadership on environmental climate change policy. If we do that, he can build an economy and we can create a future sustainable for our children and grandchildren. This is not about us. We can do what is fundamentally right.

If I were the Prime Minister at this point, I would be thinking about legacy. He has been in office through three elections. Who knows if he will do a fourth. This is a remarkable opportunity to create a legacy — to do something exceptionally important and special to allow Canada to be a leader in the world once again.

While this bill takes a tiny step in the right direction and while it is the product of compromise and working together, it is far too little.

I ask Senator Cochrane to take it back to the mix, stand up in her caucus and make some points to thank the prime minister for doing this, but to ask that the minister do something more significant to preserve our climate and our economy for the future.

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Would the honourable senator take a question?

Senator Mitchell: Certainly.

Senator Moore: I have been listening closely to the honourable senator's remarks with regard to the cap-and trade system being put in place in the United States. Does the honourable senator see this as the vehicle by which the United States will create a system of protectionism in which the carbon footprint for the production of goods and materials will be assessed and either permitted or denied entry into the United States?

As the cap-and-trade system is put into effect, it could cost Canada real dollars to buy those credits. As the honourable senator suggests, is it now time to put in place proper green production systems to avoid such protectionist measures in the future?

Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, there are two kinds of protectionism in this context. One is economic protectionism, that is, to hoard their jobs, to hoard their manufacturing and to cut off the trade that is very good for economies. The other kind of protectionism is much more elevated in that they want to protect their health and their children's environment.

In that respect, I think it absolutely could be based on a concept that I would re-qualify as protectionism. Good for them. We should all be protecting our environments and our children's future. I cannot say this strongly enough. It is not about us; it is about children and grandchildren. People talk about family values. What could be a greater family value than giving your children the legacy of a sustainable environment and a new green economy?

However, I divert. I am distracted.

What they will absolutely not protect themselves from is Canadian money going in to buy and sell credits. They will love to have all that money, which will not be in Canada; it will be in the United States.

That raises the question: What does Mr. Harper have in his briefing book today that he will be able to raise with President Obama next week to establish our presence in this negotiation on the cap-and-trade regime?

He probably has nothing, because we sure have not seen it. However, he can point out that Canada has rights in this; that Canada will be prepared to do certain things; that we have levels for caps that we can impose; that we can be competitive; and that he should consider what this does for a North American cap-and-trade policy. Canada is creating a market that would be integrated with the United States that could work effectively.

I come back to the honourable senator's point. The United States will want to protect their environment; they do and they are way ahead of us in that regard. No, they will not protect their economy from our money; they will suck up our money and this government will sit by and watch it happen.

Senator Moore: There was a bill before the U.S. Congress last year. I believe it was from Senator Joseph Lieberman; perhaps Senator Grafstein knows. It was legislation providing for this cap-and-trade system to be effective by 2012, a very short time away. Does the honourable senator have any knowledge of that legislation?

The reading I have done indicates that it was put aside by both parties because they did not want to get into discussions about it. Does the honourable senator know if that will be coming back to the table? If it is three years hence, and I do not know why it would not be, how do we get ready for that?

Senator Mitchell: That is an interesting parallel. This Conservative government has been in office for three years as well. If the United States can do it in three years, you expect Canadians can do it in three years. I think we are as capable as Americans, maybe even more.

In the United States, often when one is burdened with an impossible president — at the end of the Reagan era, there was similar evidence — lots of work goes on in spite of that president. When that president is gone, they are then often prepared to advance breakthrough legislation and policy. I expect the honourable senator will find the United States is quite ready to go and that by 2012 it will be eminently easy for them to achieve their cap-and-trade system.

It is very disconcerting that this government — not to repeat myself too often, but I do not think you can repeat yourself too often on this issue — has given us no evidence that it has prepared for this whether it is for 2012, 2015, or 2020.

(On motion of Senator Cowan, debate adjourned.)

Budget 2009

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Comeau calling the attention of the Senate to the budget entitled Canada's Economic Action Plan, tabled in the House of Commons on January 27, 2009 by the Minister of Finance, the Honourable James M. Flaherty, P.C., M.P., and in the Senate on January 28, 2009.

Hon. Nancy Greene Raine: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure to address you for the first time. I am pleased to have been asked to serve in the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. There is serious work to be done, especially at a time when the world's economies are in such turmoil.

I look forward to working in a bipartisan way with senators from both sides of the chamber to ensure that the government's Economic Action Plan moves forward and the economic stimulus that it contains can stabilize the Canadian economy. Only by working together can we help to inspire Canadians to persevere through tough times. Now, more than ever, Canadian families and communities must help each other. When times are difficult, it is important to stay optimistic and to be thankful that we live in a country such as Canada.

Honourable senators, I am particularly pleased to be speaking to you today, exactly one year before the opening of the Vancouver Olympics. This is especially true after last week when Canadian athletes won a total of 26 medals in international competition in only four days, including 12 gold medals.

In Europe, John Kucera of Calgary became the first ever Canadian male to win a gold medal in alpine skiing, winning the men's downhill in France.

In Bulgaria, short-track speed skaters had a great weekend. Jessica Gregg of Edmonton won her first ever gold medal in the 500 metre race and Kalyna Roberge of St-Étienne-de-Lauzon won bronze in the 1,000 metre race. François-Louis Tremblay of Alma won gold in the 500 metre and silver in the 1,000 metre. Charles Hamelin of Ste-Julie won bronze in the 1,500 metre. To top it all off, for the first time ever, both Canadian men's and women's teams won gold in the relays.

In Norway, at the long-track speed skating World Allround Speed Skating Championships. Kristina Groves of Ottawa won gold and Christine Nesbitt of London, Ontario won silver in the 1,500 metre race.

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Meanwhile, back in Canada at the new Olympic venues at Whistler and Vancouver, our teams also came up with great performances. Nowhere was there more excitement than at the Freestyle World Cup at Cypress Mountain, where Canadians won an incredible five out of six gold medals. In the new and exciting ski cross event on Friday, the men's team had a clean sweep of the podium. Chris Del Bosco, a dual citizen from Colorado who races for Canada, won the gold; Stan Hayer of Calgary, the silver; and Davey Barr of Whistler, the bronze. In the women's ski cross, Aleisha Cline of Squamish won gold and Ashleigh McIvor of Whistler took the silver.

That same evening, Steve Omischl of Kelowna won gold in the aerials. The following day, both Olympic champion Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alberta, and Alexandre Bilodeau of Rosemere, Quebec, won gold medals in the moguls. At Whistler, the new Olympic sliding track received rave reviews with Kaillie Humphries of Calgary and Heather Moyse of Summerside, Prince Edward Island, winning the silver medal. Pierre Lueders of Calgary and David Bissett of Lethbridge took the bronze. Earlier in the week, in the men's skeleton race at the same venue, Jon Montgomery of Russell, Manitoba, won gold and Jeff Pain of Calgary took the bronze.

Finally, Canadian figure skaters also excelled at the Four Continents Championship in Vancouver with the gold medal going to Patrick Chan of Toronto and the silver to Joannie Rochette of Montreal. Silver medals also went to pair skaters Jessica Dubé of Drummondville, Quebec, and Bryce Davison of Cambridge, Ontario; and ice dancers Tessa Virtue of London, Ontario, and Scott Moir of Ilderton, Ontario.

What a weekend it was. I cannot remember when so many Canadian athletes in so many different sports have had so many podium performances. These results are not the only great ones this year. In January, George Grey, from my home town of Rossland, BC, and Alex Harvey of Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges won bronze in the cross-country team skate-sprint relay at Whistler Olympic Park. I love it that two of the medal-winning partnerships are pairs made up of Francophone and Anglophone athletes — a great example of what sport can do for national unity.

As we look forward to the Olympics in 2010, I know that Canada's Olympic contenders will make us all proud and that they will have a lasting impact on our youth. It is so important for youngsters to have heroes. I grew up in Rossland, a small town nestled in the mountains in the Kootenay region of British Columbia. We were proud of the local racers who went off to represent Canada at the Olympics and World Championships, and I grew up wanting to make the team and represent Canada. I was a 16-year-old rookie on our team when I watched Anne Heggtveit win her gold medal at the Squaw Valley Olympic Games. It was then that I set my goal of winning the Olympics. Thanks to great coaching, the support of my ski club and fundraising from across Canada, I raced for Canada throughout the 1960s. By my third Olympics, I was a favourite, and I can tell you, it was an incredible feeling to stand on the podium and watch the new Canadian flag raised as our anthem played.

I retired at the end of that season at the ripe old age of 24, after winning my second overall World Cup title. I had reached my goals and, in those days, there were not the financial rewards in skiing that there are today. I retired, made Mars Bars commercials and General Motors commercials, fell in love with Al Raine, was married, had twin sons and lived happily ever after; but I digress.

When I retired in 1968, I served on a small but effective federal government task force on sport. After receiving input from sports associations and other stakeholders, we were confident that our proposals for change were well-founded. Our chairman, Harold Rae of Toronto, was determined that our report not wind up on a dusty shelf, so we travelled across the country bouncing our ideas off the top sports media of the day. Needless to say, when the task force report came out, the media clamoured for action and I am proud to say that, in the end, virtually all our recommendations were adopted.

The task force on sport was the only time in my life that I served on something similar to the studies done by Senate committees. I truly enjoyed the experience and, even now, 40 years later, I can see that our work made a difference. I hope to make a similar contribution while serving on Senate committees.

Over the years I have followed with great interest the development of high performance sport in Canada. Like all Canadians, I was proud to see the wonderful job that Calgary did in running their Olympics in 1988. If we had any regrets it was that our athletes were shut out of the gold medals, though we loved Karen Percy's two bronze medals won in front of her hometown fans, and Elizabeth Manley's silver medal won in figure skating on the final day was awesome.

In preparation for the 1988 Olympics, the federal government had increased funding for sport following the 1984 Games. Anyone involved in high-performance sport knows full well that it takes much longer to field a winning team. Fortunately this time around, our government initiated the Own the Podium 2010 program, which has been doing a great job for the past eight years. This time our athletes will be ready. Some people say we are burdening our athletes with the pressure of our high expectations but, I can tell you, the athletes love it. They are used to pressure and will thrive on competing at home. This past weekend's results bode well for a great performance in 2010. I am pleased to see that our government has announced that the solid support that is producing today's Olympic contenders will continue long past the 2010 Games. This government believes in high-performance sport and in the value of champions.

At this point, I want to say a few words about another amazing group of athletes — our Paralympians. These athletes are probably Canada's most underrated and under-recognized athletes, with individual stories of courage and determination as they overcome obstacles that most of us can hardly imagine. I came to know the top skiers as we hosted Canadian Para-Alpine Championship at Sun Peaks last year. What a wonderful and inspirational group of young people they are. The Paralympics take place two weeks after the Olympics in 2010, and Vancouver and Whistler will host test events this March. I hope they receive the media coverage they deserve. Canadian coverage of the Beijing Paralympics was absolutely disgraceful such that the only way to follow the games was on the Internet. What a shame that is when we had so many great performances.

Honourable senators, I have been involved in a small way with the effort taking place to stage the 2010 Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver and Whistler. When I raced in the 1960s, I followed the efforts of the original committee that dreamed of bringing the Olympics to British Columbia. They built the first lifts up Whistler Mountain in 1966. At that time, the B.C. Government set aside land for an Olympic village — a legacy that resulted in the site being available for the eventual development of Whistler Village. There is no doubt Whistler is the number one ski resort in North America, and that it will be an awesome stage for the Olympic events, combined with the events in Vancouver. Legacies from the Olympics come in many forms. For British Columbia it includes upgrades to the Sea to Sky Highway, rapid transit connecting Richmond and the airport to downtown Vancouver and the expansion of the Vancouver conference centre. Even the Olympic Village, in spite of its current financing problems, will be a valuable addition to the city's housing stock. Spectacular new sports facilities, including the Whistler Sliding Centre and the Nordic facilities at Whistler Olympic Park, have been completed on time and on budget, and are receiving rave reviews. These sports facilities are a lasting legacy for generations to come.

While the bricks and mortar of the game's legacy are exciting, perhaps even more impressive is the pride that comes when people take on a challenge and work together to pull it off. From the beginning, the Vancouver Organizing Committee, VANOC, established its mission as follows:

The Vancouver 2010 mission is to touch the soul of the nation and inspire the world by creating and delivering an extraordinary Olympic and Paralympic experience with lasting legacies. The vision is to build a stronger Canada whose spirit is raised by its passion for sport, culture and sustainability.

The Olympic Games are more than the pinnacle of sport competitions: they are the coming together of people, including thousands of volunteers, artists, entertainers and, of course, international athletes and their supporters. Since the beginning, VANOC has been working with the four host First Nations, who have embraced the opportunity to showcase their art, traditions, history and culture. VANOC has reached out to involve all of Canada in the games, even choosing a symbol that is more relevant to the rest of Canada than it is to native British Columbians. The Inuksuk embraces and invites everyone to become involved. Volunteers will come from all over the country and I know that many Canadians will be touched as they take part in the Olympic torch relay that will pass through more than 1,000 communities in all 13 provinces and territories. It will be fun. It will be a great show, and best of all it will be watched by billions of people around the world. The impact on tourism promotion will be bigger than anything we have ever done before.

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Being in the tourism business for the past 40 years, I know that the best way to get the word out is to stage a successful Olympic Games. Not only will we have the opportunity to show our hospitality to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who will experience the Olympics in person, we will also be able to showcase our scenic beauty to the huge television audience. Already, we have had film crews travelling around British Columbia preparing vignettes to have on hand for television broadcasts.

There is a natural tendency to think that all the benefits go to Vancouver and Whistler, but in reality many places will benefit. My husband and I spent 25 years in Whistler helping to develop the resort. We did not leave because we disliked it. It is an amazing place. However, I grew up in the interior of British Columbia and I missed the great winter climate and the dry powder snow. We have spent the past 15 years at Sun Peaks Resort, and have seen it grow from a single mountain with a few private cabins to the second largest ski area in British Columbia with a vibrant resort village nestled among three mountains. We are proud that the Austrian ski team chose Sun Peaks for their November training camp and that they will make Sun Peaks their training base during the Olympics. Sun Peaks is only 45 minutes from the city of Kamloops, a historic crossroads city in the heart of B.C.'s cattle ranching country.

Honourable senators, I bring greetings from your former colleague, the Honourable Len Marchand, who has given me lots of sage advice. Kamloops prides itself on a rich heritage of both culture and sports, with a symphony orchestra, art gallery and the longest running theatre company in Western Canada. As Canada's tournament capital, Kamloops has a wealth of sports facilities, golf courses and playing fields. It also is home to Canada's newest and most comprehensive university, offering vocational and technical programs, as well as academic degrees.

Thompson Rivers University has 9,500 students on campus, including over 1,200 international students from 70 countries. In addition, 15,000 students are taking courses in the TRU open learning division. Last Sunday, Kamloops hosted a Countdown to 2010 festival and over 5,000 people went through the Tournament Capital Centre, a multi-sports facility shared by the university and the city. I can tell you, if the enthusiasm that I see for the Olympics in Kamloops and Sun Peaks is any indication, Canadians really are embracing the Olympic experience.

I look forward to one year from today when the opening ceremonies take place and all the years of planning and preparation are put to the real test. I know it will be exciting. I know our athletes will win medals and make us proud. When it is all over and I ask myself whether it was worth it, for me it will not be about the medal count or about putting on a great show. I will judge it a success if we change Canadian lifestyles in a positive way, inspiring people to set health and fitness goals and igniting dreams of excellence in our children. It will be a success if the world sees Canada as a just and tolerant society, a country with outstanding natural beauty and an energetic people who value fair play in sports and life.

We will showcase Canadian spirit and values to the world and I will remember the Olympic creed: The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.

My life's experience in sport and in mountain tourism has given me a very different background from many of you in this chamber. I am not experienced in politics but I know that the government has a big impact on our lives. As a child in a large family, I learned that we had to do our share of the work and to pick up litter. As an athlete, I learned to set goals, to work hard and to be part of a team. In the tourism business, I learned about the golden rule and that is what service is all about. I pride myself on my common sense, and I know that it is a lot more fun to be upbeat and optimistic than to be negative.

Honourable senators, I ask your indulgence as I learn the ropes. I look forward to making a meaningful contribution to the work of the Senate.

The Hon. the Speaker: Will the Honourable Senator Raine take a question?

Senator Raine: Yes.

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: First, I want to welcome Senator Raine and tell her I am delighted that she has joined us. As a former Minister of Sports, I tried to preach what I was supposed to oversee, and I was very much involved in the Olympic Games of 1988 out West.

Would the new senator provide some lessons to skiers like me?

Senator Raine: I plan to be here during the week, but I plan to be at Sun Peaks most weekends. If the honourable senator wants to come to Sun Peaks I would be happy to give her some tips.

Hon. Lowell Murray: I wish to join Senator Hervieux-Payette and other honourable senators in congratulating Senator Raine on her maiden speech. She brings a perspective to this place and a background that we have had too little of in the Senate and in Parliament generally. While I know that, as time goes by, she will have many other interests than the particular subjects she spoke so well about today, I urge her to stick with it. We need to hear this perspective and we need the benefit of that experience and expertise. I congratulate her and wish her well.

Honourable senators, I thank the Deputy Leader of the Government for having put this notice of inquiry on the Order Paper, thus affording us an opportunity to discuss budget matters in general, an opportunity that we would not otherwise have had in advance of the budget implementation bill coming to this place.

On Monday night, there was a briefing for honourable senators and members of the House of Commons on the budget or, more specifically, on Bill C-10, the budget implementation bill. The briefing was presided over by Ted Menzies, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance, and it was conducted by officers of the Department of Finance and a number of other departments that have been affected by the budget. Although the briefing went on well beyond an honourable senator's bedtime, it was still extremely interesting, informative, and helpful. I want to acknowledge that right away.

I want to touch upon three subjects today, if time permits; I doubt it will. If I run out of time, then I will hold my fire on one or other of the subjects until Bill C-10 arrives here.

The three subjects are equalization — and I flag it now to provide honourable senators who wish to head for the exits when this arcane, complex and difficult subject comes up have ample warning; second, the Canada Health Transfer and the Canada Social Transfer; and finally, if I have any time left at all, I want to say a word about the Canada-Nova Scotia Crown Share Adjustment Payments.

With regard to equalization, honourable senators have heard this from me before but I think it is worth repeating: The concept is working, in my opinion, as it should. The idea of equalization is that when a province's fiscal capacity falls below a national average the federal government makes payments to that province to bring it up to the national average. The objective is that citizens, wherever they live in Canada, will have access to a reasonably equal standard of public services at a reasonably equal burden of taxation to support them. Anomalies, exceptions and problems arise, notwithstanding the best efforts of governments to keep the formula and its operation simple. When that happens, because one or other or several provinces have been disadvantaged by the turn of events, governments try to iron it out and resolve it, and they do. The problem is that in so resolving it, new anomalies are, more often than not, created. The operation of the formula becomes even more complex and sometimes new "unfairnesses" — if I may use that non-word — are created.

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We are confronted with several of these situations at present, and if I have the time, I may allude to one or two of them in what I have to say.

I would like to say also with regard to equalization that I have never suggested, and I do not suggest now, that equalization should be exempt from general austerity measures. However, it needs to be said that this is not an austerity budget. It is the exact opposite; it is a stimulus budget. I think the government owes us an explanation. I would like to hear supporters of the government engage on this point. Why does the government believe that equalization payments to the provinces — which are used by those governments for roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and services to their citizens — do not contribute to economic growth and need, therefore, to be restrained?

A reasonable argument could be made that some of these expenditures contribute more quickly to an early economic recovery than some of the longer-term measures do, welcome and praiseworthy though they may be.

[Translation]

In his 2007 budget, the Minister of Finance imposed a new cap on equalization payments so that no recipient province ends up with a greater fiscal capacity than that of a non-recipient province. That was Ontario; Ontario's fiscal capacity was the cap.

Recently, Ontario has become a recipient province. Everyone who was following this story closely expected British Columbia's fiscal capacity to become the cap.

But no. In his fiscal update last November, the Minister introduced an entirely new cap so that, from now on, it will not be based on the non-recipient provinces; rather, it will be based on the average fiscal capacity of the recipient provinces. Of course, this will lower the cap and will cost the recipient provinces more.

According to Quebec's minister of finance, Ms. Jérôme-Forget, it was during a finance ministers' meeting last November that Mr. Flaherty, five minutes before the end of the meeting, informed the recipient provinces of their equalization payment amounts for the 2009-10 fiscal year. He had decided on a new formula but did not reveal the details of this formula and did not announce the amounts the recipient provinces would get in the coming years. Period. No discussion.

[English]

In the case of Nova Scotia — to add insult to injury — not only did it take a hit by the lowering of the ceiling, but in the calculation of Nova Scotia's fiscal capacity, the federal government included the value of the offshore offsets. This was something that Nova Scotia and many people thought they heard the federal government swear on their grandmothers' graves that they would not do. Anyway, it was done. Nova Scotia protested. The government saw there was an anomaly, and so amends were made, or are about to be made.

When honourable senators get Bill C-10, we will see that there is a provision for $74 million outside equalization, an ex gratia payment to be taken from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and sent to Nova Scotia to solve the problem. It will solve the problem for this year, but be certain that the Nova Scotia problems have just begun. Of course, the federal government and others will have to come and look at it in the medium and longer term.

Newfoundland and Labrador, as we know, is no longer a recipient of equalization, yet the equalization formula is connected to other things, including offshore revenues and payments to Newfoundland arranged a long time ago as its equalization decreased. All of a sudden, an option open to them previously was changed. Newfoundland and Labrador protested that this would cost the province between $1 billion and $1.6 billion over the next three years. It now turns out, as we will see in the legislation, that it is not for the next three years. For the moment we are only dealing with one year, but it is a $1.1 billion hit.

Newfoundland and Labrador, as I say, is no longer an equalization-recipient province. It goes without saying that it has a higher than average fiscal capacity. I do not have the numbers, but I was told that they have the second highest fiscal capacity in Canada, second only to Alberta. This is something to rejoice in. We hope it continues, although we all know that nothing of the kind is certain, given the volatility of the resource base on which that relative and recent prosperity is based.

Even if it is a non-recipient province, even if it is a province with a high fiscal capacity — at least at the moment — a $1.1 billion hit on a small province like Newfoundland and Labrador, in the weeks leading up to their budget, is a real hit. It is a very difficult thing for a provincial government to manage.

I hope that somewhere in this process, when the bills come to us, that something will be done about that, if not at the initiative of the government, then at the initiative of the opposition or at the initiative of the Senate.

These anomalies and exceptions that grow up are sometimes, as I indicated, related to — I was going to say "long forgotten." They are not long forgotten; they are only too well remembered by some. They are fiscal arrangements and agreements of the past or are related to the connection between equalization and social transfers or to offshore resources, or what have you. They grow up in that way.

That brings me to the Canada Health Transfer and the Canada Social Transfer. I have had something to say about this before, but, for the record, I am an Ontario senator and taxpayer and I quite understand that Ontario has some legitimate grievances.

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Premier McGuinty has put them forward, and some of these grievances are being addressed, including by the present government. I think the financial disadvantage Ontario was at vis-à-vis integration of immigrants is being resolved. EI remains to be resolved. Ontario's representation in the House of Commons will more properly represent her population.

I think there is one area on which Premier McGuinty is terribly wrong and that is his repeated contention that payment of equalized tax points to some provinces is unfair to Ontario. Equalized tax points are the essence of fairness. This goes back to the transfer of tax points. In 1977, the federal government said the federal contribution to social programs would be made half in cash and half in tax points. After 1977, the federal government would pay its contribution to those social programs half in cash and half in tax points — 13.5 points on the personal income tax, 1 point on corporate income tax. The provinces looked at the transfer in Ontario and Alberta, the provinces with the more buoyant economies, said they would take it; these are growth taxes; they are worth a lot of money and we are glad to have them. The other provinces said if that is the way you will pay for half of social programs, you will have to equalize the tax points to be fair. The premiers of Ontario and Alberta understood this, Premier Davis and Premier Lougheed at the time. Therefore, since 1977, the equalization recipient provinces have been getting an extra dollop of cash, called Associated Equalization, to bring the value of their tax points up to a five-province average.

Premier McGuinty looks at that and says that they are getting more cash than we are and it is unfair. He is forgetting completely about the value of his tax points. It does not make sense. What is deplorable is that the present government has bought into this argument, and we saw the effects of the changes made a year or so ago to the Canada Social Transfer. While the federal government kept the recipient provinces whole with some more money on a transitional basis, this will cause all kinds of problems and will have to be resolved very soon. As soon as the agreement made by Prime Minister Martin and the provinces runs outs in 2014, they will do the same thing with the Canada Health Transfer. It is already starting to operate to some extent, and lo and behold, I think Ontario was disadvantaged because it is now a recipient province, and I think you will find that Ontario is getting, what I would call, Associated Equalization, extra money precisely in respect of those social programs.

There was a complaint after the budget came down on January 27, the result of which is that if you look at the tables, table 3:10 in the budget plan on page 191 gives for the next two fiscal years both the per capita and the global amounts going to each province under the Canada Health Transfer. That was on January 27. On February 6, when Bill C-10, the implementation bill, was tabled, there is another table around page 332 with different figures. They are different because the government had to do some patchwork after the budget when some new anomalies were drawn to their attention.

I just want to flag this item as I think it is very important. Those of you on the relevant committees need to be ready to deal with it in considerable detail when the time comes. I will leave it at that. I will deal with the business of the Nova Scotia Crown shares another day.

The Hon. the Speaker: There is a short period of time left for questions and comments.

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I want to put on the record that, again, I am lulled by the serenity and persuasiveness of Senator Murray, but when it comes to his characterization of Ontario's argument, I fundamentally disagree both in pith and substance. Perhaps it would be more useful in the chamber for him to lay down a resolution. I will not ask him to repeat his arguments. If he lays down a resolution I will address each and every one of those arguments to indicate that I feel the federal government is totally and completely unfair to the province of Ontario.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, listening to this exchange, it reminds me of the chap who once said, "I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news is that my Cadillac just flew over the cliff. The good news is that my mother-in-law was in it."

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh.

(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)

Speech from the Throne

Motion for Adoption of Address in Reply—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Fortin-Duplessis, seconded by the Honourable Senator Gerstein:

That the following Address be presented to Her Excellency the Governor General of Canada:

To Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY:

We, Her Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the Senate of Canada in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious Speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.

Hon. Richard Neufeld: Honourable senators, it is certainly an honour for me to rise in this chamber to give my first address. It reminds me of when I was first elected in 1991 to the British Columbia chamber and was able to do the same thing, although I believe I am much more in awe that I ended up here in the Senate. It is something that not too many can attribute to their lives. If you think about it, I am one of 105 people in this chamber today. I am one out of six residents of British Columbia or I am one out of 893 total number of senators ever appointed.

If my parents were alive, they would be proud. I know that they are watching right now. If my mother were here, she would be adjusting my tie and would say: "Son, are they being good to you there?" I would have to reply: "Yes, I have been welcomed by both sides." I want to thank everyone in this chamber that sent me a welcome note. I appreciate that very much and look forward to working closely with each and every one of you. I am a proud Canadian; I can tell you that. I have my political beliefs, but I can also work with people to try and make things better for Canadians, and that is what we should be doing in this chamber.

I would like to thank Prime Minister Harper for the trust he placed in me. I had a great conversation with Prime Minister Harper when he phoned me. I will digress a little bit. I was getting on a plane in Fort St. John to fly to Victoria and my ministerial assistant at the time sent me an email. It said, "The Prime Minister wants to talk to you at 1:30 p.m. this afternoon. Is there something I should know?" I said, "Well, I will tell you about it when I get there."

The weather was bad in British Columbia and I had to postpone the phone call twice because I could not get to Victoria. When I finally arrived at the legislature, the Prime Minister was on hold waiting for me to get into the building.

It was a much different conversation than what was related in the house yesterday by one of the senators. I want to thank the person or persons who put my name forward because I am sure my name was not at the top of the list with the Prime Minister of Canada. Someone actually did something for me, and I want to thank that person. I send out a special thank you to my wife, Montana, for sharing me with the honourable senators in this chamber and for agreeing to my appointment. I believe family support is vital if we are to perform these jobs.

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As an aside, when people ask me if I have a hobby, my usual reply is, first, spending time with Montana and, second, collecting and fixing old cars, bikes, motorcycles and anything that has any antique value.

I grew up on a farm in southern Alberta and, as a young man, moved with my parents to the Peace River Country in 1959-60. My parents taught me to take advantage of opportunities that came my way. I am an ever-optimistic person.

I know we are in trouble today in Canada, North America and the world. I believe we are in a lot more trouble than most people realize. Some leaders have recognized that situation and are providing leadership and ways to help Canadians through this tough time. Now is not the time to spread doom and gloom. I guarantee you that when you spread doom and gloom, bad things will happen. Be positive. It might be tough sometimes, but it is a much easier way to move forward. Now is a time to provide hope, positive feelings and leadership for the future.

I spoke earlier about opportunities, honourable senators. We have an opportunity, and it is here in Canada's Economic Action Plan. I will put on the record a few things set out in this plan. It will improve access to financing for consumers and businesses with support of up to $200 billion. That amount is astounding. It will reduce taxes for Canadians and businesses by more than $20 billion in 2008-09 and the following five years by increasing the basic personal amount that Canadians can earn without paying federal income tax.

Why do we not leave the money in people's pockets? Let them decide how they wish to spend it, rather than government. Government does not always make great decisions when it comes to spending the money they take out of people's pockets. I think people have better ideas of how to spend their money.

The plan will increase the amount that low- and middle-income families can earn before the federal Child Tax Benefit is phased out. There is nothing wrong with that, honourable senators.

Tax cuts work. When my party was elected in the province of British Columbia, the first day we were in the house we reduced personal income taxes. British Columbia now has the lowest personal income tax rates in the country for those making up to $110,000 per year. We left money in people's pockets.

The plan will undertake the most ambitious building project in Canada's history with almost $12 billion in new infrastructure funding. What is wrong with $12 billion worth of infrastructure funding? There is also $1 billion over five years for the Green Infrastructure fund, about which Senator Mitchell spoke earlier. I suggest Senator Mitchell vote for this plan.

There will be up to $500 million over the next two years to accelerate infrastructure projects in small communities. Honourable senators, if there are some in this house who do not want that money, I will take it. We have small communities all over the province of British Columbia that would love to have that money to build rinks or other needed infrastructure to provide services to people and the jobs that go along with them.

There is provision for $1 billion over two years to expedite new, ready-to-go provincial, territorial and municipal projects. The arena in a small community that I represented collapsed under a snow load two years ago, and community members have been dealing unsuccessfully with an insurance company since then. In the meantime, they had to build a smaller rink to ensure that people would stay in town. The closest community is 400 kilometres away.

They now have 50 per cent of the money. I told them to be sure that their application for this funding is submitted. Let us have some of that money working all across Canada. I am advocating for my province, because that is my job here, but I want to see this happen in Canada as a whole.

Honourable senators, Canada's Economic Action Plan contains many initiatives. The plan will protect Canadians now affected by the global economic slowdown with enhanced benefits and training opportunities for the future. There is nothing wrong with that plan. Let us think about how we can progress with it as quickly as possible to make that money work for Canadians across the country.

Honourable senators, all of us in this chamber have an opportunity to make this plan work for Canadians, whom I fondly refer to as Fred and Martha. People can be pessimistic or "negative Nellies" about this action plan, or they can be optimistic and positive, and make it work.

Honourable senators, politics has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was growing up on a farm in southern Alberta, I listened to Ernest Manning on the radio. I date myself.

In B.C. we had W.A.C. Bennett, the famous Social Credit premier, and his son Bill Bennett. I had the awesome opportunity of working with Premier Campbell these last 10 years and of being a minister in his government for seven and a half of those years.

W.A.C. Bennett was a builder of huge electrical dams, railroads, roads and bridges. He built infrastructure, and today British Columbia is better for it. There was a lot of controversy about the infrastructure projects at the time, but they contributed greatly to the current wealth of British Columbia. His son, Bill Bennett, the premier, was the same.

I think about Expo '86, and Senator Raine talked about the upcoming Olympics.

Premier Campbell was elected to govern from 2001 to 2005. He won a second term in 2005 and will go to the polls again in May of this year seeking a third term. If he is successful, as I am sure he will be, it will be the first time in many years that a British Columbia premier is elected three times in a row. Things are a little different in British Columbia, a little tougher.

As ministers and caucus members, he asked us to think about certain things. The first thing was to cooperate with the federal government. British Columbia has taken that tack, and it has paid off. That is about as close as I want to go to the controversy between Newfoundland and Labrador and the federal government. We found that, although governments do not always agree and indeed cannot, they should air their differences, cooperate and get on with it.

Premier Campbell asked us to cut needless regulations. In fact, he created a ministry with the target of cutting 35 per cent of regulations in the province of British Columbia while ensuring that we properly managed the environment.

He asked us to deal with the long-standing First Nations issues. British Columbia has over 200 bands of the approximately 600 bands in Canada, and it has few treaties.

I spoke earlier about reducing taxes. One of the first things we did was to reduce taxes, and we have continued to reduce them in British Columbia. We have low corporate taxes, low small business taxes and low personal taxes. We stimulated investment. As an example, for the 10 years previous to Mr. Campbell's government, the oil and gas industry provided $464 million a year in Crown royalties. In seven years, we have that up to $2 billion a year, on average.

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In fact, oil and gas investment, in the 10 years previous to Mr. Campbell's government, was $1 billion a year. We brought that to $4 billion a year. That is what it takes to stimulate investment and create jobs.

Regarding the environment and climate change, I wish Senator Mitchell would look farther west than Alberta when we talk about climate change. I am proud to say that British Columbia has a premier who is leading Canada when it comes to climate change.

With respect to the Olympics, I do not have to say anything more. Senator Raine talked about the Olympics that will be held one year from now, and the Olympics are a big deal in British Columbia. I invite every honourable senator in this house to come to British Columbia and visit the Olympic Games. You will be astounded.

Most of all, he said, "Be a leader; do not follow; get out in front." They say that if you are not out there making decisions and making mistakes, you are not making very many decisions. You need to get out there and you may fail at a few things, but let me tell you, you can change.

I appreciate that some have different viewpoints on many of these issues, but for the benefit of our country and the people, let us get on with making this Economic Action Plan a reality.

I will close by saying, as my mother would say — and I believe she had the right to. She survived the Russian Revolution and immigrated to Canada as a young teenager. She survived the Great Depression in Canada. She survived the Second World War. As a young woman, she and my dad adopted me and my two sisters to give me an opportunity, and for that I am ever appreciative. Family for me is strong.

She would say to me, now: "Son, Canada is a great and wonderful country. Be kind, be understanding, be true and, most of all, do the right thing and take advantage of good opportunities."

If she were here today, she would agree that this Economic Action Plan is a great opportunity.

Honourable senators, let us endorse it.

Hon. Nancy Ruth: Would the senator take a question?

The Hon. the Speaker: The senator's time has expired. Is it agreed that his time be extended by five minutes?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Nancy Ruth: I was delighted with the honourable senator's speech and the initiative he is taking to get things done in B.C. My understanding is that the infrastructure monies are available for building new battered women's shelters and refurbishing the shelters. Will the honourable senator be able to stimulate that initiative in British Columbia?

Senator Neufeld: That is a good question. I always liked Question Period back in British Columbia.

Yes, we would be able to do so. Social housing is a big issue in the province of British Columbia. We have made huge strides on that and other issues and look forward to dealing with them further as we get the stimulus package out.

(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)

Appropriation Bill No. 4, 2008-09

First Reading

The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a bill had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-12, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2009.

(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.)

[Translation]

Business of the Senate

Motion to Permit Electronic Coverage of All Select and Joint Committees for Remainder of Current Session Adopted

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to notice of February 11, 2009, moved:

That, for the remainder of the current session, all select and joint committees be authorized to permit coverage by electronic media of their public proceedings with the least possible disruption of their hearings.

(Motion agreed to.)

Motion to Engage Services of All Select Committees for Remainder of Current Session Adopted

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to notice of February 11, 2009, moved:

That, pursuant to section 1(2) of chapter 3:06 of the Senate Administrative Rules, all select committees have power, for the remainder of the current session, to engage the services of such counsel and technical, clerical, and other personnel as may be necessary for the purpose of their examination and consideration of such bills, subject-matters of bills and estimates as are referred to them.

(Motion agreed to.)

Motion to Authorize Human Rights, Official Languages and National Security and Defence Committees to Meet on Mondays for Remainder of Current Session Adopted

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to notice of February 11, 2009, moved:

That, pursuant to rule 95(3), for the remainder of this session, the Standing Senate Committees on Human Rights, Official Languages, and National Security and Defence be authorized to meet at their approved meeting times as determined by the Government and Opposition Whips on any Monday which immediately precedes a Tuesday when the Senate is scheduled to sit, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding a week.

[English]

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, the only other committee that I know of that sits on Monday is the Special Senate Committee on Aging. Has it been deliberately left out of the motion, or would the honourable senator accept a friendly amendment to include it?

Senator Comeau: I would indeed accept a friendly amendment to include the Special Senate Committee on Aging.

Motion in Amendment

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I move:

That the motion be amended by adding the words "and the Special Senate Committee on Aging" after the words "National Security and Defence."

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: The motion in amendment is carried. Is there further debate?

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I wish to ask a question of Senator Comeau. The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, which is included in this motion, is used to determining the times on Mondays on which it sits. I know that the motion talks about times as approved by the leadership. I am wondering whether that in any way constrains the capacity of that committee to determine its meeting times on Mondays.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Yes, the committee members would seek the views of their leadership to be able to change. Generally speaking, the leadership on both sides — I am referring to the whips — has been historically very good at accommodating wishes from the membership of the committees. I would suggest that we keep this provision as is, and, if we sense in the future that the whips on both sides are somehow not accommodating the committees, we can revisit the matter. Again, I would suggest that we stick with what has traditionally been the means by which the work of those committees progresses.

Senator Banks: Would the honourable senator agree, so that it is a matter of record, that this provision is new? That is to say, the approval of meeting times of the committee is a new provision. At least, it is new to me and other members of the committee who are present.

Senator Comeau: No, as far as I know it is not new at all. This has been a standard motion that we bring in every year, except that in the past we used to move this motion every time that there was a week's break. This time around, we are doing it for the session. That is the only new development. By bringing in this motion that covers the session, we will not have to bring forth a motion every few weeks. Essentially, it becomes a standing order for the session.

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Senator Banks: I am grateful, as I think we all are, for the honourable senator's initiative in making these three motions and saving us all much time in committee and in the house. However, for the purpose of my question, I want to place on the record my understanding that the establishment by the leaderships of the time of day on which that particular committee — I cannot speak for any other — meets is a new provision, and I have reservations about it. The Senate may wish now to vote on the motion. It is up to the house.

Senator Comeau: For the record, I disagree with the honourable senator's comments. In fact, the time of day is determined by the leadership on both sides. I can illustrate the point that the leadership on both sides has been accommodating in the past. I attended the meetings of the Standing Committee on Official Languages on Mondays. I recall that at one point my plane changed its time of arrival in Ottawa. My colleagues on the committee were accommodating in proposing the time at which we would sit. I believe Senator Corbin was the chair at the time. My committee members were accommodating. We went to see the leadership, and the leadership was also accommodating.

I think the leadership wants to avoid having extended meetings. I believe committees meet for two or three hours. On occasion, some committees have wanted to go beyond the three hours into four, five or six hours. The leadership on both sides has tried to limit this practice to accommodate members, so that they know the committee will meet for a limited amount of time and not for an open-ended period.

Senator Banks: I am asking the honourable senator because he has raised the question to explain why, if the members of a committee wish to work longer and harder than is normal, or scheduled, or is done by other committees, the leadership would want to constrain the time of work of committees. I will ask my leadership the same question.

Senator Comeau: By all means, the honourable senator can make his case to the leadership. If he wants to propose to the leadership that he wishes to work five, six, seven or eight hours, he can make the pitch to the leadership. If the leadership on both sides accepts the argument, so be it. However, I doubt that they would leave it completely up to committee members to make that provision. The leadership on both sides have good and valid reasons why they may wish to limit the amount of time spent sitting on a committee. There may be a conflict with other committees. We have, on occasion, members who have sat on two committees.

There may be many reasons why the leadership may not accommodate having open-ended meetings for as long as the honourable senator wants at this time.

The honourable senator may try to make his pitch.

Senator Banks: I move adjournment of the debate.

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

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Those in favour of the motion will signify by saying "yea."

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: Those contrary-minded will signify by saying "nay."

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the "nays" have it. The motion is defeated.

Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question!

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

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Motion, as amended, agreed to, on division.

[Translation]

Adjournment

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

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:

That when the Senate adjourns today, it does stand adjourned until Tuesday, February 24, 2009, at 2 p.m.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, February 24, 2009, at 2 p.m.)