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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 18

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


 

THE SENATE

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

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

Prayers.

[Translation]

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Tributes

The Honourable Michel Biron, C.M.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I received a notice from the Leader of the Government, who requests, pursuant to rule 22(10), that the time provided for the consideration of Senators' Statements be extended today for the purpose of paying tribute to the Honourable Senator Michel Biron, who will be retiring from the Senate on March 16.

I would remind honourable senators that, pursuant to our rules, each senator will be allowed three minutes and may speak only once, for a maximum time of tributes of 15 minutes. However, the 15-minute time limit does not include the time for response by the senator to whom tribute is being paid.

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, dear Michel, today we are paying tribute to a man who is far too young to retire, a man who, I have no doubt, will continue to contribute to our country.

Senator Biron has worked hard for the cause of Canadian unity. We must thank him for that, because it may be even harder to be a die-hard federalist in Nicolet than in other parts of Quebec. Senator Biron has been a champion of Canadian unity. On behalf of everyone, I want to salute and thank him.

I would also like to point out that, before coming to the Senate, he was a businessman. Senator Biron once headed up H.N. Biron, a going concern that manufactured socks. Without Senator Biron's socks, we should all have gone barefoot.

He also contributed to the health of Canadians, particularly those in his region. He acquired several mountains, among them Mont-Orignal. He himself skied, and he also gave the people of his region the opportunity to ski and to keep jobs in the region because, from time to time, the local tourism industry, unlike his excellent socks, has come close to unravelling. Senator Biron persisted, invested and has served his region well.

At the same time — and, being a humble person, he would never boast about any of his achievements — he owns a telephone company. Every year, to save taxpayers' money, many of us use the free Sogetel datebook he gives us.

In short, he has made a remarkable contribution to the growth of the telecommunications industry. He consolidated small companies in his region and provided excellent service. As we know, sometimes the regions are not as well served as urban areas. Sogetel, however, is a success story. I was talking earlier to our colleague, Senator Bacon about the Régie des communications du Québec and the CRTC, which have certainly always found that this company has served taxpayers and people in the region extremely well.

Just recently, likely in anticipation of his new career, Senator Biron purchased a large boat — I was going to call it a ship. Senator Biron was very nearly unable to be with us today so that we could say our goodbyes, because on his maiden voyage to the southern United States, he ran into a storm, and he must have said his act of contrition several times. Had he not had some sailors on board to help him, there might have been a disaster at sea. Fortunately, with the help of his friends, he reached safe harbour.

As well, in anticipation of his return to his part of the country, he has had a very lovely house built, likely so that he can enjoy all the pleasures of living in that magnificent region. As you may know, he has a special fondness for beautiful cars. We all noticed that he changed his car fairly often, but I think he deserves to indulge his passion because he works very hard.

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I would like to conclude by saying that he has made a significant contribution to FIPA, the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas. We will miss him here in the Senate and within the parliamentary associations. Thank you again, Senator Biron.

[English]

Hon. Nancy Ruth: I rise today to thank both the Honourable Senator Biron and his staff. When I first came to this place, our offices were next door to each other. I was an independent senator and I did not know anyone.

Senator Biron was kind enough to smile at me and to say good morning. We shared the elevator and exchanged pleasantries. I listened to his patient advice in the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. We shared pictures of his sailboat and dreams of the future. I wish Senator Biron well and I want to say thank you.

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: I rise today in tribute to my friend and colleague, Honourable Senator Michel Biron, who leaves this place after eight years of dedicated service to the province of Quebec and the country as a whole.

Senator Biron came to the Senate in 2001. That year, he was also awarded the Order of Canada for his contributions to the economic fabric, and community and cultural development of his region. That was a high point in his career and he was noted then as a "dynamic and visionary individual."

Senator Biron arrived in the Senate as an energetic telecommunications entrepreneur and savvy businessman, ready to offer his knowledge and work ethics to improve public policy in the areas of banking, trade, commerce and national finance. Honourable senators, I believe he has contributed to these areas.

At the induction ceremony into the Order of Canada, Senator Biron was noted for being a devoted and generous citizen by the Governor General. He has served this place with this noted sense of compassion; he extended kindness to all in his capacity as a senator.

Honourable senators, these humanitarian traits were evident with the introduction of his private member's legislation in 2005, aimed at protecting Registered Retirement Savings Plans, RRSPs, and Registered Education Savings Plans, RESPs, for the bankrupt and insolvent. He called this type of protection for the small business owner part of our "collective responsibility" and, during this time of economic downturn, it was an initiative that I am certain many would have found comforting.

On a personal note, my friend, I will miss not having you sit here next to me and, most of all, I will miss sharing French books with you and having you explain to me the different meanings of French words. I will miss you. I want to take this opportunity to thank Senator Biron for his service to the Senate.

[Translation]

Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest: Honourable senators, I am pleased to join with my colleagues in paying tribute to my good friend Michel Biron. Needless to say, I am sorry to see him leave this place.

Senator Hervieux-Payette called attention to Michel Biron's remarkable achievements in the area of business and economics; however, his involvement goes deeper than just economics. Above and beyond the jobs created for the people in the Richelieu-Yamaska area thanks to Michel Biron's initiative and tremendous talents, he is also committed to social and cultural causes.

It is important to emphasize this aspect of Michel Biron's social commitment to promoting the attractions of Quebec's most beautiful regions. I am sure that, as he has always done, Michel will continue to serve his region and his community for a long time.

Obviously, Michel Biron is a Liberal. As we like to say in Quebec, "He is as Liberal as they come." His exemplary devotion to the Liberal Party of Canada and the Liberal Party of Quebec and his involvement in the two major referendums demonstrate his affection for Canada.

This did not stop Michel from disagreeing with some of his party leaders on occasion, but he did not make a scene and continued to serve his party, because he knew that for our democratic life in Canada, it is important to participate in and contribute to political parties, for that is the basis of democracy.

Whether in the Senate, in his community or within the Liberal Party, Michel has always been a model citizen. Our message to Michel is this: we wish you continued success!

(1345)

Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, when I came to the Senate three-and-a-half years ago I was seated, by chance, next to Michel Biron. We had known one another for many years. Long-time party supporters, we had worked together on numerous elections — like my friend Jean-Claude Rivest — and on two referendums and a number of conventions.

Senator Biron was not one to speak here often, but within the party, in the House or in caucus, his statements were always fair and well thought out. He did exceptional work in the committees he sat on, particularly the National Finance Committee and the Banking Committee.

As a businessman, he made a significant contribution to the Senate when it came to economics. His solid experience in the world of business and entrepreneurship especially benefitted the regions of Quebec that he worked so tirelessly for, promoting economic development in the regions.

[English]

Although Michel and I have been in the federal Liberal Party for many years and have been active in many federal elections — in my case for over 30 years, and if he is leaving today, probably a little longer in his case — we did not always agree on party policies. For example, we did not always support the same candidate during leadership races. Actually, we probably never did. Nor did we always share the same vision or solutions regarding Quebec's role and position in Canada.

However, our commitment to serve our province and our country has always united us instead of dividing us. The force of our great party is precisely that it is always open to different points of view and to constructive debates, in our case giving us the opportunity to serve both Quebec and Canada with passion.

[Translation]

It is that political passion that I admire in you, Michel, your passion for your friends and your ideas. You have a sailboat and a river waiting. Enjoy it, as my friend Jean-Claude said, and I wish you every continued success.

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, we have been paying tribute to Senator Biron for about an hour now. I am happy to be able to join with all the honourable senators who have expressed their affection for him.

I will have known this modest, efficient and immensely courteous man for 50 years this fall. We attended the Université de Montréal where he made two friends he still is in touch with today: a distinguished dentist, Dr. Maurice Houde who is still his best friend and mine, and a friend from Lebanon, another dentistry student at the Université de Montréal, Dr. Tabourian. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge them. I know that it will make him happy that I have mentioned these two names because tomorrow we can tell the two dentists that we celebrated and said our sad and joyful goodbyes to our friend Senator Biron.

I agree with everything that has been said about his career in economics. He is a business man who knows the banking system well. But without him, political parties could not survive.

[English]

I was listening to Senator Gerstein when he said he was proud to be a fundraiser; so are many others.

[Translation]

As a former chair of the Canada and Quebec Liberal caucus, I can attest to the fact that, when the Liberal Party was in dire financial need, this man went to the bank, signed in person and backed the Liberal Party of Quebec. It was quite rare, fairly risky and very dangerous. He never lost because the party always repaid its debts. People such as myself, who still believe in politics, regardless of party affiliation, will agree that there are not many men like Michel Biron. I wish to salute his extraordinary contribution.

(1350)

[English]

I hope there will be a lot of applause. We will test the degree of popularity regarding this statement.

[Translation]

He is one of the closest friends of the Right Hon. Jean Chrétien.

[English]

If you spoke about Senator Biron in front of Jean Chrétien, he would smile and be quite happy because they have known each other for a long time. Senator Biron has been so loyal to Mr. Chrétien.

[Translation]

Today it is a pleasure for me to speak about the contribution he made to the political system in his own quiet but very effective way. And I can say, as a living witness, that he was there for the Liberal Party in its time of need.

I salute him for these and all his other qualities and acknowledge his family, here today, and his very devoted staff. Congratulations and long live our friendship.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to our colleague, the honourable Senator Michel Biron, from Mille-Îles, Quebec, who will retire from the Senate on March 16, 2009.

Senator Biron was appointed on October 4, 2001, together with myself and Senator Phalen, who will retire at the end of the month. Biron, Phalen and Day — the three musketeers.

Our calm and unassuming colleague is a man of many talents. Senator Biron, who is renowned as an entrepreneur in the telecommunications sector, was awarded Man of the Year in Telephony in 1981. In 2001, he was awarded the Order of Canada in recognition of his accomplishments. He has also owned a ski resort in his beloved region of Nicolet, Quebec.

Senator Biron and I have had the opportunity to work closely together as members of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. When he saw how absorbed I could sometimes get in the details of certain pieces of legislation, he would try to lighten things up by saying that he simply could not support the bill in question.

I must admit that the first few times he said that, I took it very seriously, but then I began to notice his ironic smile and the hint of amusement in his eyes.

Senator Biron, it was a pleasure for me to work with you over the past eight years, and I am sad to see you leave the Senate. I wish you every success in your future endeavours.

[English]

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I join with others in paying tribute to our good friend Senator Biron. However, I wanted to do so in a more personal way. I have not had the privilege of working with him on many committees, although he did sit on one committee with me for a short while, when we travelled to Nicolet, Quebec.

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I saw a side of this gentleman that many have not had the privilege of seeing. When Senator Biron was in his hometown, he felt at ease and proud of his region. While we were in Quebec, he took us to his beautiful home. As Senator Hervieux-Payette mentioned, he likes nice cars, and he drove us around to show us all of the good things and some of the not so good things in the area. He also demonstrated great pride in that region of Quebec. You could see that a great deal of this man went into developing that part of Quebec and making it the beautiful place it is today.

Senator Biron is a lover of boats, as Senator Hervieux-Payette also mentioned. While we were in Quebec, he showed us the new boat that he was about to order and has since received. Senator, I hope that you will spend many healthy years on that boat.

Senator Biron is a great Quebecer, a great Liberal and a great Canadian. We will miss him. Bon chance, mon ami.

Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, it is with great affection and a bit of sadness that I say farewell to our colleague and say thanks for what he has done quietly in this chamber with a great deal of heart and background. Those qualities are special to find when embarking on the kind of work that we do in the Senate.

Many thought we were mad when our committee determined to tour every province and territory on the issue of rural poverty. We could not find a better person to take us into his beloved province of Quebec when we held hearings in that region. He brought in people from the rural areas and we held a truly extraordinary meeting. It gave us a true experience of what was required and what was being done in the province of Quebec in terms of agriculture, the people, the communities and the businesses. It was our special place during our visits to that province, and we could not have had a better guide.

Senator Biron will be missed. He has given us a great deal of knowledge. We know how much he is honoured in his community, and he honoured us with his presence in this place. We thank him for that.

[Translation]

Hon. Michel Biron: Honourable senators, thank you for saying such kind and thoughtful things about me.

I would like to say a special thanks to the chairs of the committees I was on for their kindness and consideration. The list includes the Honourable Lise Bacon, chair of the Transport and Communications Committee, and the Honourable Len Gustafson and Honourable Joyce Fairbairn, chairs of the Agriculture Committee.

(1400)

I subsequently sat on the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, chaired by the Honourable Leo Kolber, Richard Kroft, Jerahmiel Grafstein and David Angus, as well as on the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, with the Honourable Lowell Murray, Anne Cools and Joseph Day in the chair.

I also worked with Senators Trevor Eyton, John Bryden and Céline Hervieux-Payette, who served as successive chairs of the Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations.

The discussions and debates I took part in were always marked by respect and openness, and it was a privilege for me to contribute to them. Without a doubt, the years I spent here were rewarding in every sense of the word.

I want to point out that committees make a significant contribution to legislation in this country by reviewing bills in order to improve them, a process that very often results in amendments that are valid and necessary, or by examining issues that lead to new bills in the House of Commons.

Senators are appointed so that they will not be influenced by polls or trends. They must not let themselves be intimidated by political pressure, so that they can deliberate calmly. The Senate has taken part in the development of Canada since Confederation. Senators' enormous contribution to advancing our country deserves to be recognized.

The Senate upholds the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and its role in this regard must not be weakened by reforms. The Senate is an institution designed in part to address regional interests and therefore must be subject to consultation with the provinces.

I agree with the arguments made by several provinces about the length of senators' terms of office and their election. Before changes are made that could fundamentally alter how the Senate operates, the provinces and the federal government should enter into a constitutional accord concerning the Senate.

Senate reform is important to our country's future and to all Canadians. I hope that a broader consensus will lead to solutions that are wise and responsible, for the greater welfare of all the people in our beautiful country.

I thank the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien for the honour he bestowed upon me by appointing me to the Senate.

I would also like to thank Senator Sharon Carstairs, then Leader of the Government in the Senate, for welcoming me so warmly upon my arrival, and Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette for her advice and support during my term.

I would like to thank Lise Lefebvre-Campbell for her dedication and her loyalty. My thanks also go out to the entire staff of the Senate and all those I may not have the chance to thank personally before I leave.

I would like to thank my brother, Georges, chairman of the board of Sogetel, for his sound leadership following my appointment, as well as my nephew, Alain Duhaime, who, as president and chief executive officer, has so competently managed the business. He has successfully met the technological challenges currently facing the telecommunications industry.

I would also like to express my heartfelt appreciation to my three daughters for their support. Thank you, Hélène, Julie and Isabelle.

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I would also like to recognize my grandsons, Léon and Nicolas, as well as the rest of my family and friends who are here today.

Honourable senators, I hope I will always remember the many friends I am leaving in this place.

Nevertheless, I am happy to be returning to Nicolet, to meet the challenges facing my company and, more importantly, to enjoy spending more time with my family and grandchildren.

Les rendez-vous de la Francophonie

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I am pleased to tell you about an annual event of great significance to all francophones and francophiles in Canada, namely, Les Rendez-vous de la Francophonie. This event offers an abundance of cultural activities across the country from March 6 to 22. It is a unique and precious opportunity to promote the French language and the Francophonie from coast to coast to coast.

Les Rendez-vous de la Francophonie is part of the celebrations that mark the International Day of La Francophonie, which will take place on March 20.

The theme this year, Canada's Francophonie Today — Rich in its Diversity! captures the essence of today's Francophonie as it exists in Canada. This theme reveals the invaluable contribution of francophone immigrants to our country. Each province organizes its own Rendez-vous celebrations.

Alberta's vibrant francophone culture can be traced back to a time before the province was created. In recent years, the Alberta legislature, with the support of the province's Francophone Secretariat, has celebrated the province's French-Canadian culture and heritage at a special ceremony of Les Rendez-vous de la Francophonie. This ceremony was held on March 9 in the Alberta Legislature rotunda and hosted by the Honourable Ken Kowalski, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, who was accompanied by several ministers, members, dignitaries and presidents of the Association canadienne-française de l'Alberta and representatives of several francophone associations.

This week, at the Alberta Legislative Assembly, there will be a bilingual historical exhibit on Alberta's francophone presence, family activities and tours in French. In the 17 Alberta regions where francophones live, flag-raising ceremonies will be held, featuring the Franco-Albertan flag.

Throughout the country, francophones and francophiles enjoy this period of celebration to show their love of the French language and to take part in activities that help them better understand their history, appreciate the richness of their culture and establish ties that will strengthen their feeling of belonging to this heritage, which is so precious to us.

The important contribution of francophones to the building of our country is decidedly a value to be preserved and perpetuated. Francophones and francophiles have all the tools required to encourage the engagement of youth and newcomers in the French fact.

I trust that all francophones and francophiles will bring their energy and their zest for living in French to the festivities surrounding Les Rendez-vous de la Francophonie.

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[English]

Saskatchewan

Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, the weather forecast from Environment Canada says Saskatoon will have a high of minus 30 today, but the American news network, CNN, is calling Saskatoon a hot spot when it comes to the economic climate of Canada. A CNN report last Wednesday, March 4, quoted Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall as saying:

It is a great time to come to Saskatchewan. For those who are losing their jobs, we need them to know we have thousands of jobs open right now in both the public and private sector. We have a powerful story to tell, a story of success, and that's something we want to share that with those who are struggling.

Thus far, Saskatchewan has managed to buck the trend of increased unemployment during the current global recession. Saskatchewan's unemployment rate actually fell to 4.1 per cent in January from 4.2 per cent in December, making it the only province to post a decline in unemployment.

CNN cites Saskatchewan's favourable royalty rates for oil producers, cheap land and low insurance prices as reasons for the province's strong economic showing. Saskatchewan sends more oil to the United States than Kuwait. The province is the world's leading uranium-producing region and it produces over a third of the world's potash. However, Saskatchewan is not only resting on those laurels. It is staying ahead of the curve by diversifying its economy, embarking on ambitious green projects and developing vast, newly discovered oil reserves. Natural Resources Canada has recently revealed that Saskatchewan now leads the nation in mining output, after pulling ahead of Ontario in 2008.

Despite all the good economic news in Saskatchewan these days, Premier Wall is not taking any chances with his province's continued prosperity. To help the economy continue to stave off recessionary forces, Premier Wall announced what he calls a "$500 million infrastructure booster shot."

A Conference Board of Canada report released Tuesday, March 3, indicates Saskatchewan will likely continue to lead the nation in economic growth in 2009 because of the infrastructure investment and tax reductions undertaken by Premier Wall and his Saskatchewan Party government. These measures are in perfect step with those taken by the federal Conservative government in our current budget.

I congratulate Brad Wall on his government's continued excellence in economic management. I know he will continue to make the right choices for the people of Saskatchewan. I look forward to ongoing cooperation between the Government of Saskatchewan and the Government of Canada. Just as Canada continues to outperform the broader international economy, so too does Saskatchewan lead the way within Canada. Saskatchewan is truly the best of the best, and I am proud to call Saskatchewan my home.

Thomas C. Goltz

Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, last week the Azerbaijani community of Ottawa hosted distinguished American professor and journalist Thomas Goltz. He currently teaches at Montana State University. Mr. Goltz was at the National Library and Archives to discuss the events in the Azerbaijani town of Khojaly 17 years ago. He also attended a newsmaker breakfast at the National Press Club last Tuesday morning, which I also attended.

Mr. Goltz has been reporting from the South Caucasus since the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991, and has published many books on the subject. I invite all honourable senators to join him and the Azerbaijani community throughout Canada in commemorating the Khojaly tragedy.

The Late Robert Bloy

Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, just over a week ago, my dear friend B.C. MLA Harry Bloy lost his father, Robert Bloy, who passed away peacefully in his sleep at age 94. I take this opportunity today, honourable senators, to pay tribute to Robert Bloy.

He was a loving family man with impeccable work ethics and devotion, who taught his children and his grandchildren the same core values. I have been a witness to Robert Bloy's influence on his son Harry, who is a government liaison to the B.C. Korean community. I have worked closely with Harry on various community projects.

Robert Bloy — Rob or Bob to his family and friends — was born in England and immigrated to Canada in 1927 at age 13. First settling in Montreal, he went to school and delivered groceries by bicycle in Mount Royal.

He later moved to Ontario, working the mines of Falconbridge and Sudbury with his brothers. He lived with his family of eight in a tent for two years. Robert worked hard, eventually earning a ticket as a stationary engineer.

While life was good in Northern Ontario, Robert took a gamble and moved to the big city of Toronto. He worked on many large buildings in and around the Greater Toronto Area. The job Robert did then is now done by a computer chip. Robert Bloy eventually worked in schools and proudly retired as head custodian of schools for the Etobicoke Board of Education.

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Of course, his greatest job was building a family of three sons — Harry, Wayne and Randy — and one daughter, Debbie, with his wife of 61 years, Agnes. His legacy now includes many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Like my father, who passed away last spring and would be celebrating his seventy-seventh birthday on March 16, Robert Bloy was a man of great integrity who taught his children, grandchildren and all who knew him, by example, that more than what you are doing, it is how you are doing it that makes all the difference.

Honourable senators, I end this tribute to Robert Bloy and to the loving memory of my father, Lee Sung Kim, with the words of John W. Gardner, who stated: "Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well."

International Women's Day

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, in recognition of International Women's Day, I would like to say a few words about women in the sciences. In particular, I will highlight the career of Dr. Suzanne Abrams, a brilliant chemist.

Honourable senators, when I was an undergraduate biochemistry student at the University of Saskatchewan in the 1960s, I never had a female professor at all, let alone in the sciences. Today the situation has improved, but we have not yet achieved gender equity, except at the student levels in some sciences.

The large gains in the number of women in the life sciences can be attributed to the efforts of organizations formed in the 1970s and 1980s such as WISEST and WinSETT, which have undertaken activities ranging from science camps for girls to professional development for women engineers.

Equally important are the individual trailblazers, like Dr. Suzanne Abrams, at the National Research Council of Canada Plant Biotechnology Institute in Saskatoon, who, despite the formidable odds, has had a successful career in science and has paved the way for other women to succeed in science.

I congratulate Dr. Suzanne Abrams, who was recently appointed the first female research director at the Plant Biotechnology Institute in Saskatoon. She was also the first woman research scientist on continuing professional staff, and in 1984, when there were no maternity benefits, Sue was the first research scientist on staff to have a baby.

Sue obtained her PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from Dalhousie University and joined the NRC as a Research Associate in 1977. She was promoted to Principal Research Officer in 2000. Sue is an internationally recognized expert in plant hormone research and is a world authority on the chemistry of the plant hormone abscisic acid, a key signalling molecule that regulates growth and development in plants.

Honourable senators, Dr. Abrams is an awesome role model for inspiring girls and women who dream about the chemistry of the world around us, animate and inanimate. She is an inspiration to girls who are curious about how the world works and who are eager to find solutions to scientific puzzles.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Suzanne Abrams, the first female research director, National Research Council of Canada Plant Biotechnology Institute, Saskatoon.

[Translation]

Budget 2009

Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, the Government of Canada is helping Canadian workers by improving training and skills development.

Many Canadians feel vulnerable because of the global economic slowdown that started beyond our borders.

Our government recognizes that Canadians and their families are facing uncertainty because of the slowdown. But the Conservatives are looking out for Canadian families. That is why, as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan, we announced that the employment insurance benefit period would be extended by five weeks for the next two years. But we know that that is not enough and that more help is needed.

Our government is working very hard to create jobs by investing in infrastructure, by stimulating construction through the home renovation tax credit, by making our tax system more competitive, and by helping workers get the training they need.

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As part of our economic plan, we have invested an unprecedented $8 billion in the Canada Skills and Transition Strategy.

Over the next two years, we will increase funding for the employment insurance program by $1 billion. As a result, more claimants will have access to training than ever before.

Together with the provinces, we have put forward a pilot project to extend employment insurance benefits for long-time workers enrolled in long-term training. These are men and women who have held the same job for years and are having trouble finding new jobs.

We are working with the provinces to get laid-off workers into training programs faster so that they can get back into the labour market sooner.

We have also extended the work-sharing program so that more Canadians can continue working while training.

Honourable senators, our government is not just standing by as the global economic recession unfolds. I encourage all honourable senators to help us pass the Budget Implementation Act as quickly as possible once it comes before us.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Finance

Canada's Economic Action Plan—March 2009 Report Tabled

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report entitled Canada's Economic Action Plan — A First Report to Canadians — March 2009.

[English]

Energy Efficiency Act

Bill to Amend—Second Report of Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee Presented

Hon. W. David Angus, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, presented the following report:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

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

SECOND REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-3, An Act to Amend the Energy Efficiency Act, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Tuesday, February 24, 2009, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

W. DAVID ANGUS
Chair

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

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

[Translation]

Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament

Second Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.

(For text of report, see Appendix to today's Journals of the Senate, p. 280.)

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

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

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Transport and Communications

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Emerging Issues Related to Communications Mandate

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

That the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications be authorized to examine emerging issues related to its communications mandate and to report on the wireless sector, including issues such as access to high-speed Internet, the supply of bandwidth, the nation-building role of wireless, the pace of the adoption of innovations, the financial aspects associated with possible changes to the sector, and Canada's development of the sector in comparison to the performance in other countries;

That the Committee report to the Senate from time to time, with a final report no later than March 31, 2010.

[English]

Conference on Combating Antisemitism

Notice of Motion to Support London Declaration

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Senate endorse the following Declaration, adopted by the Conference on Combating Antisemitism, held at London, United Kingdom, from February 15 to 17, 2009:

THE LONDON DECLARATION ON COMBATING ANTISEMITISM

Preamble

We, Representatives of our respective Parliaments from across the world, convening in London for the founding Conference and Summit of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism, draw the democratic world's attention to the resurgence of antisemitism as a potent force in politics, international affairs and society.

We note the dramatic increase in recorded antisemitic hate crimes and attacks targeting Jewish persons and property, and Jewish religious, educational and communal institutions.

We are alarmed at the resurrection of the old language of prejudice and its modern manifestations — in rhetoric and political action — against Jews, Jewish belief and practice and the State of Israel.

We are alarmed by Government-backed antisemitism in general, and state-backed genocidal antisemitism, in particular.

We, as Parliamentarians, affirm our commitment to a comprehensive programme of action to meet this challenge.

We call upon national governments, parliaments, international institutions, political and civic leaders, NGOs, and civil society to affirm democratic and human values, build societies based on respect and citizenship and combat any manifestations of antisemitism and discrimination.

We today in London resolve that;

Challenging Antisemitism

1. Parliamentarians shall expose, challenge, and isolate political actors who engage in hate against Jews and target the State of Israel as a Jewish collectivity;

2. Parliamentarians should speak out against antisemitism and discrimination directed against any minority, and guard against equivocation, hesitation and justification in the face of expressions of hatred;

3. Governments must challenge any foreign leader, politician or public figure who denies, denigrates or trivialises the Holocaust and must encourage civil society to be vigilant to this phenomenon and to openly condemn it;

4. Parliamentarians should campaign for their Government to uphold international commitments on combating antisemitism — including the OSCE Berlin Declaration and its eight main principles;

5. The UN should reaffirm its call for every member state to commit itself to the principles laid out in the Holocaust Remembrance initiative including specific and targeted policies to eradicate Holocaust denial and trivialisation;

6. Governments and the UN should resolve that never again will the institutions of the international community and the dialogue of nation states be abused to try to establish any legitimacy for antisemitism, including the singling out of Israel for discriminatory treatment in the international arena, and we will never witness — or be party to — another gathering like Durban in 2001;

7. The OSCE should encourage its member states to fulfil their commitments under the 2004 Berlin Declaration and to fully utilise programmes to combat antisemitism including the Law Enforcement programme LEOP;

8. The European Union, inter-state institutions and multilateral fora and religious communities must make a concerted effort to combat antisemitism and lead their member states to adopt proven and best practice methods of countering antisemitism;

9. Leaders of all religious faiths should be called upon to use all the means possible to combat antisemitism and all types of discriminatory hostilities among believers and society at large;

10. The EU Council of Ministers should convene a session on combating antisemitism relying on the outcomes of the London Conference on Combating Antisemitism and using the London Declaration as a basis.

Prohibitions

11. Governments should take appropriate and necessary action to prevent the broadcast of explicitly antisemitic programmes on satellite television channels, and to apply pressure on the host broadcast nation to take action to prevent the transmission of explicitly antisemitic programmes;

12. Governments should fully reaffirm and actively uphold the Genocide Convention, recognising that where there is incitement to genocide signatories automatically have an obligation to act. This may include sanctions against countries involved in or threatening to commit genocide or referral of the matter to the UN Security Council or initiate an inter-state complaint at the International Court of Justice;

13. Parliamentarians should legislate effective Hate Crime legislation recognising "hate aggravated crimes" and, where consistent with local legal standards, "incitement to hatred" offences and empower law enforcement agencies to convict;

14. Governments that are signatories to the Hate Speech Protocol of the Council of Europe 'Convention on Cybercrime' (and the 'Additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime, concerning the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems') should enact domestic enabling legislation;

Identifying the threat

15. Parliamentarians should return to their legislature, Parliament or Assembly and establish inquiry scrutiny panels that are tasked with determining the existing nature and state of antisemitism in their countries and developing recommendations for government and civil society action;

16. Parliamentarians should engage with their governments in order to measure the effectiveness of existing policies and mechanisms in place and to recommend proven and best practice methods of countering antisemitism;

17. Governments should ensure they have publicly accessible incident reporting systems, and that statistics collected on antisemitism should be the subject of regular review and action by government and state prosecutors and that an adequate legislative framework is in place to tackle hate crime.

18. Governments must expand the use of the EUMC 'working definition' of antisemitism to inform policy of national and international organisations and as a basis for training material for use by Criminal Justice Agencies;

19. Police services should record allegations of hate crimes and incidents — including antisemitism — as routine part of reporting crimes;

20. The OSCE should work with member states to seek consistent data collection systems for antisemitism and hate crime.

Education, awareness and training

21. Governments should train Police, prosecutors and judges comprehensively. The training is essential if perpetrators of antisemitic hate crime are to be successfully apprehended, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced. The OSCE's Law enforcement Programme LEOP is a model initiative consisting of an international cadre of expert police officers training police in several countries;

22. Governments should develop teaching materials on the subjects of the Holocaust, racism, antisemitism and discrimination which are incorporated into the national school curriculum. All teaching materials ought to be based on values of comprehensiveness, inclusiveness, acceptance and respect and should be designed to assist students to recognise and counter antisemitism and all forms of hate speech;

23. The OSCE should encourage their member states to fulfill their commitments under the 2004 Berlin Declaration and to fully utilise programmes to combat antisemitism including the Law Enforcement programme LEOP;

24. Governments should include a comprehensive training programme across the Criminal Justice System using programmes such as the LEOP programme;

25. Education Authorities should ensure that freedom of speech is upheld within the law and to protect students and staff from illegal antisemitic discourse and a hostile environment in whatever form it takes including calls for boycotts;

Community Support

26. The Criminal Justice System should publicly notify local communities when antisemitic hate crimes are prosecuted by the courts to build community confidence in reporting and pursuing convictions through the Criminal Justice system;

27. Parliamentarians should engage with civil society institutions and leading NGOs to create partnerships that bring about change locally, domestically and globally, and support efforts that encourage Holocaust education, inter-religious dialogue and cultural exchange;

Media and the Internet

28. Governments should acknowledge the challenge and opportunity of the growing new forms of communication;

29. Media Regulatory Bodies should utilise the EUMC 'Working Definition of antisemitism' to inform media standards;

30. Governments should take appropriate and necessary action to prevent the broadcast of antisemitic programmes on satellite television channels, and to apply pressure on the host broadcast nation to take action to prevent the transmission of antisemitic programmes;

31. The OSCE should seek ways to coordinate the response of member states to combat the use of the internet to promote incitement to hatred;

32. Law enforcement authorities should use domestic "hate crime", "incitement to hatred" and other legislation as well as other means to mitigate and, where permissible, to prosecute "Hate on the Internet" where racist and antisemitic content is hosted, published and written;

33. An international task force of Internet specialists comprised of parliamentarians and experts should be established to create common metrics to measure antisemitism and other manifestations of hate online and to develop policy recommendations and practical instruments for Governments and international frameworks to tackle these problems.

Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism

34. Participants will endeavour to maintain contact with fellow delegates through working group framework; communicating successes or requesting further support where required;

35. Delegates should reconvene for the next ICCA Conference in Canada in 2010, become an active member of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition and promote and prioritise the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism.


QUESTION PERIOD

Finance

Budget 2009

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, in the face of the current economic catastrophe, the Harper government continues to turn a blind eye to the situation and has even denied certain inarguable facts. I was pleased to see Senator Comeau table a report entitled Canada's Economic Action Plan a few moments ago. Some of us have had a peek at that report since it was tabled yesterday in the other place, and it is interesting to note that it is silent on the subject of job losses. The government seems to have abandoned its previous commitment to create 190,000 jobs. There is no reference to that at all in the report.

Over the past two months, we have heard rumours that almost 250,000 Canadians have lost their jobs. Yesterday, we heard from the Minister of Finance. He denied that anyone predicted this recession and that the Harper government did not need to prepare for it. He seems to think he can rewrite history.

In its first report, the government appears to have admitted that much-needed stimulus will not get out the door before July, August or September, which is well into construction season. That is not acceptable.

My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. When will the Harper government smarten up and work with the opposition to get the needed stimulus to communities before it is too late?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): The honourable senator is pleading to the wrong people. He should be pleading with the members of his own party and his colleagues here in the Senate chamber.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister delivered a speech in Brampton outlining Canada's Economic Action Plan. As he knows, there are five elements to the action plan: support for workers and taxpayers; support for the housing industry; infrastructure and investment to create jobs; support for businesses and communities; and improved access to financing. All of these elements are contingent on the budget implementation bill passing.

The honourable senator's comment about the July time frame is precisely why the government has set aside money so that the stimulus can flow as of April 1.

(1430)

As honourable senators know, this money will be managed by Treasury Board. Treasury Board officials are working judiciously to make sure that this money flows quickly.

Once the budget implementation bill is passed, we will be able to move. It has been proven that Canadians want this stimulus package. Even the honourable senator's own leader in the other place has said that.

Senator Mercer: The Leader of the Government in the Senate is correct about wanting the stimulus package, and this party is committed to ensuring that the stimulus money flows quickly into the hands of Canadians. However, it seems a little hypocritical when she speaks about speeding things up when only yesterday we spent two hours in this place wasting time on frivolous procedural wrangling, which held up the work of this chamber.

There is no need for the Leader in the Senate to lecture us. We are fully aware that everyone is worried about the state of our communities, so she need not lecture us on the shameful actions of this government and its so-called plans.

Recent layoffs at a poultry processing plant in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, have resulted in the line-ups at the food bank increasing by almost 30 per cent in one month alone. Let me quote a young woman named Laurie Corkum, who was quoted in a CBC news report. Her ex-husband lost his job at the processing plant and was unable to make his child support payment. She now has to go to the food bank to help support herself and her three-year-old son Brandon.

I don't like coming here but you have to do what you have to do.

These workers and their families have nowhere else to turn because they cannot obtain the support they need. What about the people who receive layoff notices tomorrow or later this afternoon? When will this government take some responsibility for getting us into this mess, rather than blaming it on everyone else, or do they simply want to continue making it up as they go along?

Senator Comeau: Who writes your stuff?

Senator LeBreton: With the honourable senator's experience as an executive director of a political party, in observing parliamentary procedure and, indeed, in being a member of this place for a number of years, I thought he would have known that the actions in this chamber yesterday had nothing to do with government business. Government business had been dealt with. Any delays in this chamber yesterday were delays over a frivolous bill from one of the honourable senator's colleagues, trying to take away the right of the Prime Minister to fill vacancies or properly call by-elections.

With regard to the current economic situation, there is no joy in hearing of people who have lost their jobs or are about to lose their jobs. The government is doing everything possible to help these people access Employment Insurance.

Many people collecting Employment Insurance right now are waiting for the budget to pass because they are coming to the end of their eligible period and they want to take advantage of the extra five weeks. We are receiving many inquiries about this extension. People want to know if they can access this money once the budget is passed. Of course, they can, but the budget implementation bill needs to be passed first.

In case the honourable senator missed it, there was a report today from the International Monetary Fund. In this report, they say:

The mission supports the large, timely, and well-targeted fiscal stimulus in Budget 2009. The stimulus package is appropriately sized — well above the Fund's benchmark of 2 percent of GDP. It is also prudently based on a worse economic outturn than private sector forecasts. With sizeable infrastructure spending and permanent tax cuts, it is weighted toward items that are most effective in stimulating demand. Its steps to boost the safety net will protect Canada's most vulnerable, and training enhancements will facilitate reallocation of displaced workers. The budget appropriately leverages provincial stimulus, and provinces' intentions to launch supplementary packages are welcome. The mission also welcomes the move to cut external tariffs, which is in line with Canada's long-standing commitment to trade liberalization and openness.

(1435)

Those words were in the report this morning from the International Monetary Fund, which basically outlined what the Prime Minister said in his speech yesterday in Brampton, Ontario.

Senator Mercer: We would like to thank the honourable senator for reading the words from the IMF statement. However, in commenting on the stimulus package and the complex cost-sharing requirements in this budget, we on this side have heard from dozens of small communities and municipalities, as well as the provinces, who say that this stimulus package, although wonderful, requires cost-sharing, and they do not have the money to share those costs.

This government will have to sit back and have another look at the situation because, if the provinces and municipalities cannot come up with the cost-sharing portion of the funds, the money will not be spent again. As was the case with last year's budget, the government will end up reporting that it is not spending the money that we all want spent on the stimulus package to get Canadians back to work and to eliminate the lineups at food banks across the country.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, there is a cost-sharing agreement in most stimulus packages. The Minister of Transport has met with his counterparts in the provinces, territories and municipalities. The budget provides for immediate stimulus to get projects started hopefully by April 1, weather permitting, because our construction season is not long.

It is true that some municipalities do not have funds to get started, while others do. Many municipalities and provinces are ready to proceed. The Prime Minister, various ministers of cabinet and the Premiers of Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia have announced that they are ready for projects to begin. The next step is to pass the budget implementation bill and get on with what Canadians want us to do, which is to get this money flowing so that we can put Canadians to work.

The Senate

Comments During Question Period

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate about her comments in respect of Bill S-224 being "frivolous." Since when does a private member's bill in this place become frivolous?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): I thank Senator Moore for his question. Since when in this place is a person not entitled to their own opinion?

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!

Senator Moore: Is the leader speaking for the government? Her colleague Senator Segal says that she does not.

Senator LeBreton: Actually, it was the honourable senator's colleague Senator Mercer who used the word when he spoke of "wasting time on frivolous matters." I would suggest that Senator Moore have a word with the Honourable Senator Mercer.

Senator Moore: It seems to me, honourable senators, that Senator Mercer's comment was with respect to the diatribe that came forth after my bill was introduced.

Finance

Budget 2009

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This Conservative government continues its disdain for science. Researchers and research projects are being undermined through underfunding. Funding to the three national research councils has been slashed in this budget.

South of the border, President Obama is providing $25 billion for basic research in his stimulus package, whereas this government offers no funds for basic science in its stimulus package. Will this government commit the necessary funds to support our researchers and Canadian universities?

(1440)

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): As usual, the honourable senator bases her questions on articles that appear in newspapers when particular groups, for whatever reason, come forward with their view of what the government is doing.

Senator Mercer: Facts, facts!

Senator LeBreton: Senator Mercer wants facts, so I will take the time to give honourable senators some facts.

Senator Stratton: You walked into that one!

Senator LeBreton: Our government is committed to supporting science and innovation as part of our economic action plan, which, as you know, is the name of our Budget 2009. We will make over $5 billion in strategic new investment in research and innovation. That investment includes Canada Foundation for Innovation, $750 million; Institute for Quantum Computing, $50 million; Industrial Research Assistance Program, $200 million over two years; Canada Graduate Scholarships Program, $87.5 million over three years; industrial research and development internships, $3.5 million over two years; and the Canadian Space Agency, $110 million.

For those wondering about the stimulus, Budget 2009 also contains a $2 billion knowledge infrastructure fund for the renewal of college infrastructure. To ensure that funding flows quickly, we ask that priority projects be submitted by the end of March so that projects can be announced as early as next month.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada said it is "very pleased" with this funding.

Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, my information is not taken from newspapers, but from an open letter written by the Canadian Association of University Teachers. The letter is to the Prime Minister, written on February 12, 2009. It represents more than 65,000 academics and general staff in 121 universities and colleges across Canada.

In the letter, they say that not only were granting councils denied more funding, they were told that their budgets will also be cut by $147.9 million over the next three years through streamlining operations and aligning programs with government priorities.

Will the funding be restored to the national research councils?

Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator started asking me about the teachers, and then she talked about the National Research Council. I will talk about the teachers first.

Our government has increased funding for scholarships with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council by 50 per cent, to $75.2 million. More scholarships are available to more graduate students — I actually thought that teachers taught students, Senator Tardif.

Stakeholders asked us to make more scholarships available to business students; we have done that as well. The Canada Graduate Scholarships Program will continue to fund social sciences and humanities studies and also to support business and finance research.

In the past three budgets, we have increased annual funding for three granting councils by a total of $205 million per year, providing more opportunities for scientists and researchers across the country to conduct more research.

In Budget 2009, better known as Canada's Economic Action Plan, the government is also investing $87.5 million in the Canada Graduate Scholarships Program to develop, attract and retain the world's best Canadian and international researchers.

With regard to the National Research Council, I am informed that 287 more people are working at the National Research Council this year than last. We are talking about fewer than 25 positions affected by these changes, and the National Research Council is looking at ways that a few of its services can be delivered by working with the private sector.

The Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information is and will remain a key part of the National Research Council.

Senator Tardif: I have a supplementary question.

Senator Comeau: Good news hurts.

Senator Tardif: The core of my question was regarding research. The National Research Council of Canada has been told that it must find savings of $27.6 million over three years, funds it has been directed to give to small- and medium-sized businesses to innovate. That will affect not only the three national research councils but the National Research Council of Canada as well. We are talking about research.

(1445)

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the National Research Council, like all agencies of government, made recommendations to the government as to where efficiencies could be found.

Specifically with regard to the National Research Council, our government in Budget 2009, better known as Canada's Economic Action Plan, announced $5.1 billion in new investment for science and technology, including $200 million for the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program to help small- and medium-sized business innovations. The National Research Council and other organizations, as I mentioned previously regarding the strategic review, identified areas within their own jurisdictions where funding could be used more efficiently, and we are reinvesting that money into science and technology programs.

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, can the minister confirm that the operating grants that are being distributed by the three major tricouncils, namely, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, will not be cut over the next three years? Their budgets are being cut.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I went through the statistics already. However, with regard to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada's health researchers are world-renowned. They have made incredible contributions to the world of health and science. Our government has continued to demonstrate strong support for research by increasing CIHR's budget by $34 million in 2008. Today, their budget stands at close to $1 billion. This government made that commitment to this research body in Budget 2006. We have made that commitment in every budget since to the point that they now have a budget of close to $1 billion.

Senator Comeau: That must hurt.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, the minister's government is expert at euphemism, in giving something a name and then having that "something" turn out to be not what it was supposed to be. For example, we have the present budget implementation act, which is the "budget implementation and everything under the sun act."

About two minutes ago, the honourable leader mentioned increased funding to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. However, does she agree that the applicants have been told that 20 per cent of those funds are allocated to social sciences and humanities research, and that the balance of those monies will be given to applications for business-related undertakings?

Senator LeBreton: I listed the amount of money that had been given to the various research councils. The councils make the —

Some Hon. Senators: No!

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the colour of the rug is red, not green.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

(1450)

Senator LeBreton: Senator Banks, the councils have been given increased funds and the criteria for disbursing the funds varies from council to council.

Honourable senators, I will obtain a detailed answer as to the various criteria the granting councils use to try to satisfy all of the requests for funding that they receive.

Senator Banks: To be very specific, could I ask that the leader verify that the various granting councils make their decisions based on their own criteria rather than having those criteria imposed on them?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I listed various sums of money given to the various granting councils and said that I would find out what procedure these councils use in dispensing these funds.

Human Resources and Skills Development

Retaining Professionals

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, many millions of dollars have been spent trying to attract Canadian-educated scientists who have gone abroad because they did not have research opportunities in Canada. Over the last number of years, the centres of excellence and the research councils have attracted many of those Canadians back to our country.

Will the minister inform us of what incentives exist for those scientists to remain here while billions of dollars are granted to research laboratories south of the border? We are pulling funding out of theses labs.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, there was false report in one of the so-called weekend national newspapers. The government has put a significant amount of money, through grants to universities, into research, science and technology, and education.

I have read about what is happening south of the border, but I cannot comment on the result of that funding. However, we value our scientists and we have invested significant sums of money into the various research councils and the science and technology research sector. At this time, it is not possible to determine what the impact of this will be because, although some of this money has been in place for some time, we are just putting some of it in now. We do not know what the impact will be in the United States.

As I have said, the government has given almost $1 billion to CIHR. We should have faith in our own scientists and in our own system. I am certain that we have created an attractive situation for scientists in this country. I will not spread doom and gloom, saying that we will not be able to keep our scientists; I think just the opposite is true.

I would be happy to ask whether there is any evidence that we are losing scientists, and I will provide honourable senators with the answer.

Graduate Scholarships

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: The Canadian Federation of Students has raised concerns about graduate funding initiatives announced in the budget. They say these measures put women at a disadvantage. New graduate funding in the budget is targeted specifically at business-related fields, the makeup of which is 60 per cent male and 40 per cent female. This puts women graduate students at a major disadvantage in procuring funding.

Can the minister please tell us what the government is doing to remedy this gender imbalance to ensure that women have equitable access to graduate scholarships?

(1455)

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, I do not know whether the honourable senator is suggesting that women do not have the potential to become business people. As I pointed out yesterday, the current statistics are quite different from when Senator Milne and I entered the workforce.

Senator Milne: The percentage of women in my faculty has gone up from 1 per cent to 4 per cent.

Senator LeBreton: If Senator Milne were to look at our universities today and who is winning scholarships and the balance between young men and women graduating out of our universities in law, science and medicine, she would see that there is a pretty equal balance. As a matter of fact, Senator Keon could probably tell us this, but I do believe last year at the University of Ottawa, more women graduated out of the medical school than did men, and I believe that was also the case with regard to law.

Senator Jaffer, our government has increased funding for scholarships at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council by 50 per cent to $75.2 million. More scholarships are available to more graduate students in all areas of study. My granddaughters are both in university and, as far as I know, all areas of study are available to them. The stakeholders asked us to make more scholarships available to business students, and we have done that, and that is for both young men and young women. The Canada Graduate Scholarships program will continue to fund social sciences and humanities studies as well as business and finance. Yesterday, honourable senators heard me lament the fact that there were not enough women at the board of director level. Perhaps if we start encouraging women into business and finance, we will see more women in these positions.

In the past three budgets, we have increased annual funding for Canada's three granting councils by a total of $205 million, providing more opportunities for scientists and researchers across the country to do more research. In Budget 2009, the government is also investing $87.5 million in the Canada Graduate Scholarships program to help develop, attract and retain Canada's and the world's best researchers.

[Translation]

Delayed Answer to Oral Question

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table a delayed response to an oral question raised by Senator Segal on February 10, 2009, concerning foreign affairs in Zimbabwe, Canada's response to the current crisis.

Foreign Affairs

Zimbabwe—Government Action

(Response to question raised by Hon. Hugh Segal on February 10, 2009)

The Government shares Senator Segal's concerns about Zimbabwe. The ongoing crisis facing this once prosperous country remains a critical matter and one that demands our attention. Canada continues to take action on all fronts. We continue to provide humanitarian assistance and civil society support directly to the people of Zimbabwe; since 2007, Canada has provided over $15 million in humanitarian assistance. Most recently, in December 2008, Minister Oda approved $300,000 for the delivery of cholera medications and $5 million in food assistance.

The origins of Zimbabwe's crisis stem from an acute failure in leadership. While Canada will continue to support the victims of this crisis, we have also taken concrete measures to help resolve it. These include targeted sanctions against members of Zimbabwe's ruling elite; ongoing public statements by the Minister of Foreign Affairs signalling Canada's expectation of policy reforms; and sustained diplomatic pressure which underscores the need for genuine change of course in Harare and the release of imprisoned human rights activists. In light of recent political developments, Canada will be meeting with likeminded countries in March to discuss the most effective means by which Canada and others can continue to press for meaningful change from Zimbabwe's newly-formed Government of National Unity.

[English]

Speaker's Ruling

The Hon. the Speaker: Before calling Orders of the Day, honourable senators, I should like to give my ruling on points of orders that were raised on Senators' Statements and Question Period.

Honourable senators, on February 12, after Question Period, Senator Cordy rose on a point of order to challenge the propriety of a remark made by another senator during the previous sitting while she was participating in Senators' Statements. Later, on February 26, Senator Fraser rose on a point of order respecting comments by the Leader of the Government in the Senate during Question Period that day. This ruling addresses both points of order.

[Translation]

While the Speaker does have authority, under rule 18(1), to intervene to keep order, the tradition here is that senators themselves are to a great extent responsible for maintaining order. In practice, the Senate is largely self-regulating, and Speakers have been careful not to be too heavy-handed.

I have reviewed both incidents as they appear in the Debates. The words appear to be within the bounds of the give and take that occurs in any parliamentary body.

[English]

While the comments in themselves were not out of order, I do invite all honourable senators to show care in how they frame interventions so as to avoid any unnecessary offence. We must always be wary of allowing any disorder to seep into our proceedings.


(1500)

[Translation]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

National Finance

Committee Authorized to Meet During Adjournment of the Senate

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): pursuant to notice of March 10, 2009, moved:

That, pursuant to rule 95(3)(a), the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to sit from Monday, March 16, 2009, to Friday, March 20, 2009, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.

(Motion agreed to.)

Committee Authorized to Meet During Adjournment of the Senate and Sittings of the Senate

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): pursuant to notice of March 10, 2009, moved:

That, pursuant to rule 95(3)(a), the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to sit on Monday, March 23, 2009, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week;

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to sit from Tuesday, March 24, 2009 to Friday, March 27, 2009, even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that Rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.

(Motion agreed to.)

[English]

Canada Elections Act
Parliament of Canada Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Motion in Amendment—Order Stands

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moore, seconded by the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill S-224, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Parliament of Canada Act (vacancies);

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Segal, seconded by the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth, that Bill S-224 be not now read a second time but that the subject matter thereof be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs;

That the committee report back no later than September 22, 2009; and

That the Order to resume debate on the motion for the second reading of the bill not appear on the Order Paper and Notice Paper until the committee has tabled its report on the subject matter of the bill.

Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, I wish to say a few words with regard to Senator Segal's intervention last evening on Bill S-224. I do not want to deal with the substantive matter of his comments, but with the process. What I see here is a trend to stifle private senator's efforts.

The Minister of State for Democratic Reform came before our Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs last year and found this bill to be in order. I admit this bill has changed slightly, but the essence and intent are there. I thought to have it characterized as otherwise last evening was a bit cheeky. I wonder how that type of approach jibes with the intent to move our democracy forward.

My other comment is with regard to private senator's bills in particular. There are senators on each side of this chamber who are sponsoring private senator's bills. Do they not see that the same type of stalling tactic could happen to their bills?

I will leave it at that, but I will have more to say on this matter at a later date.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if it would be helpful, the house is prepared to accept the intervention by Senator Moore as an issue of order. He did say that he did not want to address the motion in amendment that is before us right now in relation to Bill S-224.

I am prepared to rule that all bills and questions before the house are in order. The honourable senator's bill is in order and the amendment made by Senator Segal is properly before the house. Therefore, the orderliness of our procedures are all there and are all open to enthusiastic and vigorous debate. The item stands.

(Order stands.)

National Philanthropy Day Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded by the Honourable Senator Hubley, for the second reading of Bill S-217, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day.

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, this bill is not new news to the Senate. It was introduced in November 2005 and has been on the Order Paper ever since. I hope that this year with the assent of all honourable senators, including the new senators, we can move this bill quickly to committee. It is not a complicated bill.

Under this bill, November 15 is established as a special day for philanthropic associations across the country. National Philanthropy Days are already held in every region of Canada involving thousands upon thousands of citizens every year. This day was initiated at the grassroots level and continues to grow, lead by individual charities and organizations such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Canada will lead the world if Parliament adopts this bill and recognizes National Philanthropy Day on November 15.

Parliament can have a tremendous influence on public behaviour. The creation of a day recognized by Parliament would send out a powerful message to all Canadians that charitable giving and volunteering are critical to our society and crucial to all aspects of Canadian life. Each and every senator in this chamber — and I have looked at the records of all senators — has been and is actively engaged in charitable organizations. That participation is part of our private and public lives. Therefore, we should understand this need better than most. This day will provide a formal forum for charities and volunteer organizations across the country, before the end of the year, to encourage us to give more and to gather together in our villages, towns and cities to share our stories and celebrate our successes, large and small.

Honourable senators, it is established fact that celebrating these stories and identifying the ongoing need for support is one of the most effective ways to inspire others to give of themselves, their resources and their wealth.

For instance, Terry Fox Day is now a powerful example of what one person's positive actions can have on the public's desire to support great and good causes. We have an example of that across the street from Parliament, the Terry Fox statue, which we walk by every day.

Forgive me, honourable senators, if I add a commercial here, but the Run for the Cure established by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, of which my wife was a key organizer, now raises millions of dollars every year for cancer research that is vitally needed. She was most recently also a co-organizer of the Walk for the Cure, which raised millions of dollars to attack that dreadful scourge on our lives — cancer.

Honourable senators, these are only a few examples of individuals coming forward with their committees, friends and families to join in these extremely important gestures of charitable giving.

Parliament's recognition should be given for a number of reasons, but I will describe only four. First, the recognition encourages giving. Support for the charitable sector must come from a variety of sources. Direct government funding remains a primary and essential source for many charitable organizations. However, in the year of shrinking budgets and expanding needs, philanthropy is becoming an ever-increasing part of the public solution. This year charities are under attack, the economic situation is growing dire and they are living under a greater challenge to meet even last year's objectives.

Second, recognition of philanthropy builds communities and civic society. Giving encourages greater civic responsibility and contributions. When people give, they invest a part of themselves in their community and create a stake in the future of our society, bringing people together, both young and old, who may not normally have anything to do with one another. Focusing on a common goal happens to bond not only families but also social organizations and civic society as a whole.

Third, recognition of this day will further strengthen the growing partnership between the federal government and the voluntary sector in every corner of this country. The federal government began a partnership in 2002 and provided $94 million to fund the jointly administered Voluntary Sector Initiative. The VSI resulted in a number of outcomes recommended jointly by the government and the sector itself, including the largest regulatory reform of the charitable sector in more than a generation.

The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, which I previously and so proudly chaired, examined this question. By the way, honourable senators, that is where this idea came from. It did not come from me; it came from the committee's hearings with charitable associations. That committee still has important work to do. I recommend to the new committee that they look at the whole question of charitable giving and the surveillance of charitable giving as a banking goal.

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Finally, recognition of National Philanthropy Day is a grassroots, non-partisan matter and is something the Canadian public has strongly and consistently supported through voice and deeds. Studies now report that 90 per cent of all Canadians believe that non-profit organizations are becoming increasingly important to all Canadians. However, 59 per cent of all Canadians believe that non-profits do not have enough money to do their essential work. Every day, non-profits serve on hundreds of issues facing our country from social services to health care, the environment, the arts and beyond.

Honourable senators, Canada remains a land of free choices. Canadians can commit their time and spend money in countless ways but, for volunteers and donors of philanthropy, it is not only another choice. For many, it is a statement of the meaning of their life. Already, more and more Canadians rely on programs and services provided by these non-profit organizations. The volunteer sector has had an indelible impact on all levels of Canadian society.

The words "charity" and "Canada" go together. More than 81,000 non-profits in Canada receive approximately $10 billion in contributions annually, according to Statistics Canada. However, that figure is out of date, honourable senators. I do not have the most recent figures but I am sure it is at least 20 per cent higher.

The impact of the volunteer sector goes beyond philanthropic programs and services. Recent studies indicate the non-profit sector employs more than 2 million people. These organizations draw over 2 billion volunteer hours each and every year. It is unbelievable. It is the equivalent of 1 million full-time jobs volunteered gratefully and freely each year. Each and every Canadian has been touched by the work of our volunteer sector in some way and, as I have pointed out, each honourable senator has been deeply involved in the volunteer sector in their regions, communities and with national organizations.

The non-profit sector has an impact on the financial basis of the economy. Non-profit economic contribution is larger than many industries in Canada. In 1999, the contribution amounted to 6.8 per cent of the gross domestic product of Canada. Since the turn of the century, that number has increased. The non-profit sector GDP is 11 times more than the auto industry and, for rural senators, it is more than four times that of agriculture.

The non-profits make a huge contribution to our society. National Philanthropy Day has the support of many volunteer organizations including Imagine Canada, Philanthropic Foundations Canada, Community Foundations of Canada, Voluntary Sector Forum, the Canadian Association of Gift Planners and the Canadian Bar Association. These associations represent thousands upon thousands of non-profit organizations. It also has the support of countless smaller charities and volunteer organizations across the country.

Again, setting aside a day is an easy thing to do. I urge honourable senators to formally recognize a special date, November 5, by adopting this bill. Should we not take one day out of our lives, each year, to honour the efforts of volunteers and those of all Canadians and organizations across Canada that support them?

Honourable senators, at the core of each faith is the eternal question: Is it more blessed to give than to receive? National Philanthropy Day is Parliament's answer to that question in the affirmative.

I urge honourable senators to pass this bill speedily; this magnificent parliamentary gesture to Canadians in the volunteer sector. This bill can be Parliament's donation to the work of the volunteer sector across Canada. I urge its speedy passage.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is there further debate?

(On motion of Senator Comeau for Senator Champagne, debate adjourned.)

Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Auditor General Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Banks, seconded by the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill S-216, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Auditor General Act (Involvement of Parliament).

Hon. Hector Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, I rise to speak to Bill S-216, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Auditor General Act (Involvement of Parliament).

I thank my honourable colleague for bringing the bill forward. On February 4, Senator Banks gave a good presentation and overview of Bill C-474 and the reason for its passage. He described the reason for the act, which authorized Parliament to monitor the federal government's progress in meeting the principles of sustainable development by requiring all the reports and updates by ministers of the Crown, as well as the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development on behalf of the Auditor General, be tabled in the House of Commons.

The honourable senator correctly pointed out that these reports and updates are not required to be tabled in the Senate under the present act. With the measure he has brought forward and if we pass this act, it will then require all reports and updates to be tabled in the Senate.

I think the bill is forthright, and I recommend to all honourable senators the speedy passage of this bill.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question!

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Bill read second time.)

The Hon. the Speaker: When shall this bill be read a third time?

Referred to Committee

(On motion of Senator Banks, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.)

[Translation]

Constitution Act, 1867

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Banks, seconded by the Honourable Senator Moore, for the second reading of Bill S-215, An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Property qualifications of Senators).—(Honourable Senator Comeau)

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I see that it is day 13. I understood that Senator Di Nino would be speaking tomorrow on this subject. We ask to adjourn the debate.

(On motion of Senator Comeau, for Senator Di Nino, debate adjourned.)

[English]

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Bill

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Elaine McCoy moved second reading of Bill S-206, An Act respecting the office of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

She said: Honourable senators, as you will recognize, this is a bill respecting the Office of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The purpose of this bill is to remove the commissioner from under the wing of the Auditor General and make the office a free standing one directly responsible to both houses of Parliament.

This bill is put forward to honour the principle of independent parliamentary officers reporting to both houses of Parliament. There are many wonderful things to say and I look forward to a lively debate around this bill. However, for the moment, I move the adjournment of the motion standing in my name.

(On motion of Senator McCoy, debate adjourned.)

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Drinking Water Sources Bill

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein moved second reading of Bill S-211, An Act to require the Minister of the Environment to establish, in co-operation with the provinces, an agency with the power to identify and protect Canada's watersheds that will constitute sources of drinking water in the future.

He said: Honourable senators, I intend to speak on this matter when we return after the break.

(On motion of Senator Grafstein, debate adjourned.)

Library of Parliament

First Report of Joint Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the first report of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament (mandate of the committee and quorum), presented in the Senate on March 10, 2009.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs moved adoption of the report.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Accessibility of Post-Secondary Education—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Callbeck, seconded by the Honourable Senator Corbin:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to examine and report on the accessibility of post-secondary education in Canada, including but not limited to:

(a) analysis of the current barriers in post-secondary education, such as geography, family income levels, means of financing for students, debt levels and challenges faced specifically by Aboriginal students;

(b) evaluation of the current mechanisms for students to fund post-secondary education, such as Canada Student Loans Program, Canada Student Grants Program, Canada Access Grants, funding for Aboriginal students, Canada Learning Bonds, and Registered Education Savings Plans;

(c) examination of the current federal/provincial transfer mechanism for post-secondary education;

(d) evaluation of the potential establishment of a dedicated transfer for post-secondary education; and

(e) any other matters related to the study; and

That the Committee submit its final report no later than December 31, 2010, and that the Committee retain until June 30, 2011, all powers necessary to publicize its findings.

Hon. Nicole Eaton: Honourable senators, I am pleased to respond to a tabled motion now before the Senate. Canadians believe in the value of post-secondary education. Who amongst us here would say differently?

Education facilitates career building, improves opportunities for our young people and helps them achieve what they want out of life. Our government recognizes this and has taken action to strongly support post-secondary education in Canada.

As a recent report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development suggests, Canadians remain the most educated people among the OECD member countries. In 2006, an average of 27 per cent of the population in OECD countries had obtained post-secondary education. In that same year, honourable senators, 47 per cent of Canadians had education beyond high school. Honourable senators, while this commitment to higher learning among Canadians is impressive, we cannot and do not take it for granted.

In times of economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever for Canadians to invest in post-secondary education. That is why, through the Economic Action Plan, our government reiterated its commitment to strengthen Canada's workforce by continuing to support student financial assistance. This government's record on post-secondary education speaks to the tremendous value and importance of helping Canada's students.

Indeed, our government has significantly increased annual transfers to the provinces and territories for post-secondary education. Transfers have been increased by 40 per cent, up by more than $1 billion since 2006. It is worth noting that the Canadian Federation of Students praised our 2007 investments, and said that our 2007 Budget represented ". . . the largest cash infusion for post-secondary education in recent memory, and good news for a university and college system that is still struggling after more than two decades of cuts . . ."

Our government is increasing funding for post-secondary education in fiscal 2008-09 through the Canada Social Transfer. Again, the Canadian Federation of Students praised our investments, stating that an increase for federal funding for post-secondary education is a positive step toward restoring the massive previous government's funding cuts from the late 1990s.

As Finance Minister Flaherty confirmed in the Economic Action Plan, this government will not cut transfers to the provinces for education. While we welcome an ongoing discussion about the value of post-secondary education, we believe the government is already strongly addressing many of the aspects raised in the motion. For that reason, I would like to review some of the government's recent actions to support higher learning.

Every year, more than 300,000 students take advantage of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada's Student Loans Program, and our government is pleased to continue supporting this program to help our young people succeed.

In Budget 2008, we introduced comprehensive new measures to make the Canada Student Loans Program more effective, transparent and predictable for students and families.

Our government has also introduced the new Canada Student Grant Program, which will improve access to post-secondary education for students from low- and middle-income families. To make this happen, the government is investing $350 million in 2009-10 for the grant program, a figure that will rise to $430 million in the years 2012-13.

Our government is also concerned about the debt load encumbering many students and how this may impact on their decision to pursue post-secondary education. Again, our government has listened to students and taken action. To respond to these concerns, Budget 2008 replaced the Interest Relief and Debt Reduction Program with the Innovative Repayment Assistance Plan. Under this new plan, students will pay no more than 20 per cent of their income toward their loans. What is more, the government will forgive any amounts beyond this affordable payment, either interest only in the first stage or principal and interest for those experiencing prolonged difficulties, to ensure that no debt remains at the end of 15 years.

This program will go a long way toward ensuring, for instance, that Canadian students are not forced down the damaging path of bankruptcy due to their student debt loads. This is a positive change that will help all Canadian students, one that makes such more sense than simply tinkering at the edges or increasing incentives for bankruptcy.

Over the past decade, to help Canadian families put money aside for their children's higher learning, our government has provided a 20 per cent grant on contributions made to a Registered Education Savings Plan on behalf of a child, to any amount up to $2,500 saved annually. In addition, our government provides the Canada Learning Bond to encourage modest-income families to start saving early for their children's post-secondary education. For a child who qualifies, the government makes a first payment of $500 and adds extra payments of $100 a year, up to a lifetime maximum of $2,000, directly into the child's RESP.

Our government is following through on its commitments to support higher learning and is making good progress in helping Canada's students with direct, effective assistance. We continue to look for ways to improve our programs.

Canada's Economic Action Plan introduced new measures to increase higher learning in Canada. We invested $87.5 million to expand the Canada Graduate Scholarship Program and invested $500 million over two years in the Strategic Training and Transition Fund.

The current economic crisis presents this government with an opportunity to invest in human capital. This government has a long-term vision for the Canadian economy and we are acting accordingly. Investments in human capital are investments that are made with an eye for the long term.

Honourable senators, it is evident that this government has acted and is continuing to act to provide students with the assistance they need to succeed. For all these reasons, we hope that if or when the committee undertakes the study as proposed by my honourable colleague, they will keep in mind the work that is already done and the work that this government is continuing to do to improve access and bring down the barriers for students in this country who are seeking to better themselves through the pursuit of higher learning.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Will the honourable senator accept a question?

Senator Eaton: Yes.

Senator Carstairs: It is true that some improvements have been made, but Aboriginal children still do not go on to post-secondary education in the same numbers as non-Aboriginal children. It is equally true that children from rural communities or children from lower socio-economic groups do not go on in the same numbers.

Therefore, is the honourable senator committed to supporting a study that has been outlined by Senator Callbeck, which would evaluate why those children are not progressing?

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Senator Eaton: Honourable senators, the government is working hard on the new programs that are in place. Aboriginal and rural children are in the government's sightline because the government is conscious of the fact that it is more difficult for Aboriginals and people from rural backgrounds to access higher education.

No, I do not support Senator Callbeck's demand for an inquiry. We should try to let the government do its job first.

Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Will the honourable senator take another question?

Senator Eaton: Yes.

Senator Goldstein: I do not know if the honourable senator is aware that the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce heard from students and from the student loan program last year and were told, which was not contradicted, that the program for student debt or interest relief was not working and was not accessible to the students.

Is the honourable senator aware of those remarks? Does she have any comments if she is aware of them?

Senator Eaton: No, senator, I am not familiar with that particular subject so I will not comment.

(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.)

The Honourable Marilyn Trenholme Counsell

Inquiry—Debate Concluded

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Tardif calling the attention of the Senate for the purposes of paying tribute to the Honourable Marilyn Trenholme Counsell in recognition of her outstanding career as a member of the Senate of Canada and for her many contributions and service to Canadians.

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I apologize for taking so long to honour our colleague, Marilyn Trenholme Counsell. She had a long distinguished career in public service culminating with her Senate appointment in 2003. Prior to becoming a senator, she was a nutritionist, a journalist, a physician, a provincial minister and then a Lieutenant-Governor. Throughout her life, no matter what professional hat she was wearing, she was always a champion for children.

In my opinion, it is on the issue of children that she leaves a most profound legacy in the Senate. Her commitment to the growth and nurturing of children has been a long life's journey and passion. She believes that development and education of young children is one of most important means by which individuals and society as a whole can rise to achieve their full potential. She has told us often that the children of Canada are our future. All that we can do for them during our lifetime will be reflected in their lives. All that we fail to do will also be reflected in the span of Canada's years.

As a senator, she has been a children's advocate. This role has given her an opportunity to address issues such as learning in Canadian schools, the importance of early childhood education, learning disabilities, and Aboriginal Head Start programs, to name a few. Today, I want to highlight her dedication to adult and children's literacy in this country. I am not sure if many honourable senators know that she has not retired fully from public service yet because she has taken on new challenges as the President of the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick. This new challenge is no surprise because her work on literacy has been long respected and immortalized with the Dr. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell Early Childhood Literacy Award. When Senator Marilyn Trenholme Counsell left this chamber, honourable senators lost one of Parliament Hill's largest voices and advocates for children. Her work here is far from finished, and I ask honourable senators not to forget that she has asked all honourable senators in this place to be champions for children.

It seems only fitting that I leave honourable senators with a quote from the beloved children's author, Dr. Seuss, to inspire future work in this chamber and to honour our dear friend and colleague. I quote from Dr. Seuss:

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!

Honourable senators, let us take up Honourable Marilyn Trenholme Counsell's legacy and make her proud.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: If no other senator wishes to speak to this inquiry, debate is concluded.

Constitution Act, 1867

Motion to Amend Real Property Provisions for Senators—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Banks, seconded by the Honourable Senator Callbeck:

That,

Whereas, in the 2nd Session of the 40th Parliament, a bill has been introduced in the Senate to amend the Constitution of Canada by repealing the provision that requires that a person, in order to qualify for appointment to the Senate and to maintain their place in the Senate after being appointed, own land with a net worth of at least four thousand dollars within the province for which he or she is appointed;

Whereas a related provision of the Constitution makes reference, in respect of the province of Quebec, to the real property qualification that is proposed to be repealed;

Whereas, in respect of a Senator who represents Quebec, the real property qualification must be had in the electoral division for which the Senator is appointed or the Senator must be resident in that division;

Whereas the division of Quebec into 24 electoral divisions, corresponding to the 24 seats in the former Legislative Council of Quebec, reflects the historic boundaries of Lower Canada and no longer reflects the full territorial limits of the province of Quebec;

And whereas section 43 of the Constitution Act, 1982 provides that an amendment to the Constitution of Canada may be made by proclamation issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada where so authorized by resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons and of the legislative assembly of each province to which the amendment applies;

Now, therefore, the Senate resolves that an amendment to the Constitution of Canada be authorized to be made by proclamation issued by Her Excellency the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada in accordance with the schedule hereto.

SCHEDULE

AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF CANADA

1. Section 22 of the Constitution Act, 1867 is amended by striking out the second paragraph of that section, beginning with "In the Case of Quebec" and ending with "the Consolidated Statutes of Canada.".

2. (1) Paragraph (5) of section 23 of the Act is replaced by the following:

(5) He shall be resident in the Province for which he is appointed.

(2) Paragraph (6) of section 23 of the Act is repealed.

Citation

3. This Amendment may be cited as the Constitution Amendment, [year of proclamation] (Quebec: electoral divisions and real property qualifications of Senators).

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I have made inquiries of the Government of Quebec in respect of this motion and they have been acknowledged. I will speak to the motion after I receive those replies.

(On motion of Senator Banks, debate adjourned.)

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly

Motion to Support Resolution on Mediterranean Free Trade Area—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein, pursuant to notice of January 28, 2009, moved:

That the Senate endorse the following Resolution, adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly at its 17th Annual Session, held at Astana, Kazakhstan, from June 29 to July 3, 2008:

RESOLUTION ON A MEDITERRANEAN FREE TRADE AREA

1. Reiterating the fundamental importance of the economic and environmental aspects of the OSCE concept of security,

2. Recognizing that without economic growth there can be no peace or stability,

3. Recalling the importance that the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly accords to the development of international trade, as underlined by the Assembly's fifth economic conference on the theme of Strengthening Stability and Co-operation through International Trade, which was held in Andorra, in May 2007,

4. Maintaining that creating a free trade area will, inter alia, contribute significantly to the efforts to achieve peace,

5. Recalling that the European Union itself was made possible by the establishment of free-trade areas, first the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and then the European Economic Community in 1957,

6. Recalling the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, in which OSCE participating States expressed their intention "to encourage with the non-participating Mediterranean States the development of mutually beneficial co-operation in the various fields of economic activity" and to "contribute to a diversified development of the economies of the non-participating Mediterranean countries",

7. Recalling the Helsinki Final Act, in which OSCE participating States recognized "the importance of bilateral and multilateral intergovernmental and other agreements for the long-term development of trade" and undertook "to reduce or progressively eliminate all kinds of obstacles to the development of trade",

8. Celebrating the decision made at the OSCE Summit in Budapest in 1994 to create a Contact Group with Mediterranean Partners for Cooperation,

9. Expressing support for the Barcelona Declaration of 1995 regarding the establishment of a free trade area between the members of the European Union and all Mediterranean states by 2010,

10. Saluting the American Middle East Free Trade Area Initiative (MEFTA) launched in 2003,

11. Concerned by the slow pace of economic development in the Middle East, especially in the agriculture sector and the knowledge-based economy, where two-thirds of the population is under the age of 35,

12. Considering the obstacles to economic growth posed by agricultural trade and tariff barriers, as discussed at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Rhodes in 2004,

13. Considering the lack of direct foreign investment in Middle Eastern Arab countries and the concentration of such investment in a small number of these countries,

14. Noting that despite the efforts made in the Middle East to stimulate free trade, economic growth in Mediterranean countries is markedly stronger in the Israel-Europe-North America axis than among countries in the region, and

15. Encouraged by the increased literacy rate and the increased participation of women in the domestic economies of countries in the Mediterranean basin,

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:

16. Recommends the creation of a Mediterranean Economic Commission whose objective would be to quickly reduce trade barriers and facilitate the transition to a knowledge-based economy in countries in the region;

17. Recommends the creation of a Mediterranean Agricultural Marketing Board whose objective would be to create jobs in the agriculture sector for young people in the region;

18. Invites OSCE participating countries and partner states for co-operation to intensify their efforts under the Barcelona Process and to more fully benefit from the MEFTA Initiative in order to expedite the establishment of a free-trade area among all Mediterranean countries.

He said: Honourable senators, I wish to wait until after Easter to enlighten the Senate on this important question.

(On motion of Senator Grafstein, debate adjourned.)

Motion to Support Resolution on Water Management in the OSCE Area—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein, pursuant to notice of January 28, 2009, moved:

That the Senate endorse the following Resolution, adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly at its 17th Annual Session, held at Astana, Kazakhstan, from June 29 to July 3, 2008:

RESOLUTION ON WATER MANAGEMENT IN THE OSCE AREA

1. Reiterating the fundamental importance of the environmental aspects of the OSCE concept of security,

2. Recognizing the link between natural resource problems and disputes or conflicts within and between states,

3. Noting the opportunities presented by resource management initiatives that address common environmental problems, including local ownership and sub-regional programmes and co-operation amongst governments, and which promote peace-building processes,

4. Recalling the OSCE's role in encouraging sustainable environmental policies that promote peace and stability, specifically the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, the 1990 Concluding Document of the CSCE Conference on Economic Co-operation in Europe (Bonn Document), the 1999 Charter for European Security adopted at the Istanbul Summit, the 2003 OSCE Strategy Document for the Economic and Environmental Dimension (Maastricht Strategy), other OSCE relevant documents and decisions regarding environmental issues, and the outcome of all previous Economic and Environmental Fora, which have established a basis for the OSCE's work in the area of environment and security,

5. Recognizing that water is of vital importance to human life and that it is an element of the human right to life and dignity,

6. Noting the severity of water management issues and the scarcity of water resources faced by many states in the OSCE region, affected in particular by unregulated social and economic activities, including urban development, industry, and agriculture,

7. Concerned by the impact of poor water management systems on human health, the environment, the sustainability of biodiversity and aquatic and land-based eco-systems, affecting political and socio-economic development,

8. Concerned by the more than 100 million people in the pan-European region who continue to lack access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation,

9. Concerned by those areas and people in the North American region of the OSCE space without access to safe drinking water and sanitation,

10. Concerned by the potential for water management issues to escalate if options to address and reverse the problem are not duly considered and implemented,

11. Recognizing the importance of good environmental governance and responsible water management for the governments of participating States,

12. Applauding the work of the Preparatory Seminar for the Tenth OSCE Economic Forum which took place in 2001 in Belgrade and which focused on water resource management and the promotion of regional environmental co-operation in South-Eastern Europe,

13. Applauding the work of the 15th OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum and its preparatory meetings, "Key challenges to ensure environmental security and sustainable development in the OSCE area: Water Management," held in Zaragoza, Spain,

14. Applauding the OSCE's Madrid Declaration on Environment and Security adopted at the 2007 Ministerial Council which draws attention to water management as an environmental risk which may have a substantial impact on security in the OSCE region and which might be more effectively addressed within the framework of multilateral co-operation,

15. Expressing support for the efforts made to date by several participating States of the OSCE to deal with the problem, including the workshop on water management organized by the OSCE Centre in Almaty in May 2007 for experts from Central Asia and the Caucasus,

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:

16. Calls on the OSCE participating States to undertake sound water management to support sustainable environmental policies;

17. Recommends that the OSCE participating States pursue and apply the measures necessary to implement the 2007 Madrid Declaration on Environment and Security;

18. Recommends that such water management and oversight activities include national, regional and local co-operative initiatives that share best practices and provide support and assistance amongst each other;

19. Recommends that the OSCE participating States adopt the multiple barrier approach to drinking water protection, with particular attention to water tables, in their national, regional and local regulations to ensure that people living throughout the OSCE space have access to safe drinking water;

20. Recommends that the OSCE participating States consider developing more effective national, sub-national and local results-based, action-oriented and differentiated approaches to sound water management policies;

21. Encourages the OSCE participating States to continue their work with other regional and international institutions and organizations with respect to water management solutions, providing for the establishment of supranational arbitral commissions with decision-making powers delegated by the States.

He said: Honourable senators, this item is another gem in the jewellery box. I intend to elucidate and polish this jewel after the holidays.

(On motion of Senator Grafstein, debate adjourned.)

Motion to Support Resolution on Combating Anti-Semitism—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein, pursuant to notice of January 28, 2009, moved:

That the Senate endorse the following Resolution, adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly at its 17th Annual Session, held at Astana, Kazakhstan, from June 29 to July 3, 2008:

RESOLUTION ON COMBATING ANTI-SEMITISM, ESPECIALLY ITS MANIFESTATIONS IN THE MEDIA AND IN ACADEMIA

1. Recalling the Parliamentary Assembly's leadership in increasing the focus and attention of the participating States since the 2002 Annual Session in Berlin on issues related to manifestations of anti-Semitism,

2. Reaffirming especially the 2002 Porto Ministerial Decision condemning "anti-Semitic incidents in the OSCE area, recognizing the role that the existence of anti-Semitism has played throughout history as a major threat to freedom",

3. Referring to the commitments made by the participating States in the previous OSCE conferences in Vienna (2003), Berlin (2004), Brussels (2004) and Cordoba (2005) regarding legal, political and educational efforts to fight anti-Semitism,

4. Welcoming all efforts of the parliaments of the OSCE participating States on combating anti-Semitism, especially the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry on anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom,

5. Noting with satisfaction all initiatives of the civil society organizations which are active in the field of combating anti-Semitism,

6. Acknowledging that incidents of anti-Semitism occur throughout the OSCE region and are not unique to any one country, which necessitates unwavering steadfastness by all participating States to erase this black mark on human history,

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly:

7. Appreciates the ongoing work undertaken by the OSCE and ODIHR through its Programme on Tolerance and Non-discrimination and supports the continued organisation of expert meetings on anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance aimed at enhancing the implementation of relevant OSCE commitments;

8. Appreciates the initiative by Mr John Mann MP (United Kingdom) to create a world-wide Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism and encourages the parliaments of the OSCE participating States to support this initiative;

9. Urges participating States to present written reports on their activities to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination at the 2009 Annual Session;

10. Reminds participating States to improve methods of monitoring and to report anti-Semitic incidents and other hate crimes to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in a timely manner;

11. Recognizes the importance of the ODIHR tools in improving the effectiveness of States' response to anti-Semitism, such as teaching materials on anti-Semitism, the OSCE/ODIHR Law Enforcement Officers Programme (LEOP), which helps police forces within participating States better to identify and combat incitement to anti-Semitism and other hate crimes, and civil society capacity-building to combat anti-Semitism and hate crimes, including through the development of networks and coalitions with Muslim, Roma, African descendent and other communities combating intolerance; and recommends that other States make use of these tools;

12. Expresses appreciation of the commitment by 10 countries — Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine — in co-developing with ODIHR and the Anne Frank House teaching materials on the history of Jews and anti-Semitism in Europe, and encourages all other OSCE participating States to adopt these teaching materials in their respective national languages and put them into practice;

13. Encourages participating States to adopt the guide for educators entitled Addressing Anti-Semitism — WHY and HOW, developed by ODIHR in co-operation with Yad Vashem, in their respective national languages and put them into practice;

14. Urges governments to create and employ curricula that go beyond Holocaust education in dealing with Jewish life, history and culture;

15. Condemns continued incidents of anti-Semitic stereotypes appearing in the media, including news reports, news commentaries, as well as published commentaries by readers;

16. Condemns the use of double standards in media coverage of Israel and its role in the Middle East conflict;

17. Calls upon the media to have discussions on the impact of language and imagery on Judaism, anti-Zionism and Israel and its consequences on the interaction between communities in the OSCE participating States;

18. Deplores the continued dissemination of anti-Semitic content via the Internet, including through websites, blogs and email;

19. Urges participating States to increase their efforts to counter the spread of anti-Semitic content, including its dissemination through the Internet, within the framework of their respective national legislation;

20. Urges editors to refrain from publishing anti-Semitic material and to develop a self-regulated code of ethics for dealing with anti-Semitism in media;

21. Calls upon participating States to prevent the distribution of television programmes and other media which promote anti-Semitic views and incite anti-Semitic crimes, including, but not limited to, satellite broadcasting;

22. Reminds participating States of measures to combat the dissemination of racist and anti-Semitic material via the Internet suggested at the 2004 OSCE Meeting on the Relationship between Racist, Xenophobic and Anti-Semitic Propaganda on the Internet and Hate Crimes, that include calls to:

- pursue complementary parallel strategies,

- train investigators and prosecutors on how to address bias-motivated crimes on the Internet,

- support the establishment of programmes to educate children about bias-motivated expression they may encounter on the Internet,

- promote industry codes of conduct,

- gather data on the full extent of the distribution of anti-Semitic hate messages on the Internet;

23. Deplores the continued intellectualization of anti-Semitism in academic spheres, particularly through publications and public events at universities;

24. Suggests the preparation of standards and guidelines on academic responsibility to ensure the protection of Jewish and other minority students from harassment, discrimination and abuse in the academic environment;

25. Urges all participants of the upcoming Durban Review Conference in Geneva to make sure that pressing issues of racism around the world will be properly assessed and that the conference will not be misused as a platform for promoting anti-Semitism;

26. Suggests that the delegations of the OSCE participating States hold a meeting on the eve of the Durban Review Conference to discuss and evaluate the Durban Review process.

He said: Honourable senators, this topic is another fascinating one that has been on the Order Paper for the better part of nine years, so it will wait a few more days.

(On motion of Senator Grafstein, debate adjourned.)

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Implementation of Guaranteed Annual Income System—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Hugh Segal, pursuant to notice of February 25, 2009, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to examine and report on the implementation of a guaranteed annual income system, including the negative income tax model, as a qualitative improvement in income security, with a view to reducing the number of Canadians now living under the poverty line;

That the Committee consider the best possible design of a negative income tax;

That the Committee submit its final report no later than December 31, 2009; and

That the Committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 90 days after the tabling of the final report.

(On motion of Senator Eaton, debate adjourned.)

(1540)

Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Committee Authorized to Engage Services on Study of Issues Related to Mandate

Hon. W. David Angus, pursuant to notice of March 5, 2009, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, March 3, 2009, to examine and report on emerging issues related to its mandate, be empowered to engage the services of counsel and technical, clerical, and other personnel as may be necessary for the purpose of such study.

(Motion agreed to.)

Aging

Special Committee Authorized to Engage Services

Hon. Sharon Carstairs, pursuant to notice of March 5, 2009, moved:

That the Special Committee on Aging, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, February 10, 2009, to examine and report upon the implications of an aging society in Canada, be empowered to engage the services of such counsel and technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary for the purpose of its study.

(Motion agreed to.)

The Senate

Motion to Urge Government to Encourage G20 and G8 Participants to Address Poverty—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Hugh Segal, pursuant to notice of March 10, 2009, moved:

That the Senate encourage the Government to do everything possible to ensure that participants at both the G20 London Summit scheduled for April 2nd in the United Kingdom and the G8 meeting scheduled for July 8 to 10 on La Maddalena island, Italy, address the core challenge of redressing the increased and enduring poverty that is prevalent in all member states, with a view to addressing its social and economic effects on individuals and nations and to recognizing that critical income security initiatives and social infrastructure investment protect human dignity, the common good, equality of opportunity and economic prosperity; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons requesting that House to unite with the Senate for the above purpose.

He said: I will briefly inform honourable senators that this motion has just passed unanimously in the House of Commons. It represents an all-party effort to make a recommendation to the Crown with respect to the importance of poverty and the impact of the present economic downturn on the poor and financially disenfranchised right across the world. This motion affords us a rare opportunity to have unanimity between both places in a time that is reasonably connected to send a coherent message that appears to have passed without any partisan division at all in the other place. I would urge that consideration upon all honourable senators with the greatest of humility.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I would like to lend my support to this motion by Senator Segal. As the world goes through a very tough economic time, those who will suffer the most are the poor. Although many countries have support systems in place, such as Canada, many countries of the world, including some in the Commonwealth, simply do not. It therefore behoves the G20, some of whose members do not necessarily have those support systems in place, to address the issue of poverty, particularly in light of the present circumstance. Frankly, this is an issue that should always be before them. Poverty will not go away, unfortunately, but it becomes exacerbated in situations like the one we are going through right now. I would very much like the support of honourable senators on behalf of this motion.

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I wish to adjourn debate in order to consult further with my colleagues on this motion.

(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)

(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, March 12, 2009, at 1:30 p.m.)