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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 19

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


THE SENATE

Thursday, March 12, 2009

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

Prayers.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of His Excellency, Howar Ziad, Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq. He is also Dean of the Council of Arab League Ambassadors to Canada. His Excellency is accompanied by his son, Jotiar Ziad, who is a student at Carleton University. They are guests of the Honourable Senator Prud'homme. On behalf of all honourable senators, Your Excellency, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.


SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Comments of the Prime Minister

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, an article in The Toronto Star yesterday and comments by Jane Taber of The Globe and Mail last night on Tom Clark's "Power Play" prompted me to make this statement.

Apparently, the Prime Minister has offended the tender ears of MP Maria Minna, a few Liberal MPs and Jane Taber of The Globe and Mail when he suggested, in support of our home renovation tax incentive, that if you own a home and have a wife you will probably be doing home renovations this year. According to Taber, he also offended these supersensitive types when he mentioned Warren Buffett's graphic quote "It's only when the tide goes out that you learn who's been swimming naked." Oh dear!

Let me get this straight. The comment was made in a week when: a Liberal senator and a member of Mr. Ignatieff's caucus advocated the formation of a Bloc-style separatist party for Newfoundland and Labrador; another Liberal senator and member of Mr. Ignatieff's caucus proposed to seriously harm the livelihood of a large number of Atlantic Canadians by ending a source of income so important to them and their families; a Liberal member of the House of Commons enthusiastically attended a rally of an identified terrorist organization, the Tamil Tigers, on Parliament Hill, and I quote what he said, "I'd like to let you know I'm helping you guys. I'm behind you because you are fighting for a right cause;" and Liberal members of the House of Commons, women no less, mimicked, mocked and generally denigrated the Minister of State for the Status of Women. Apparently, all of that is okay with the Liberals and Ms. Taber. Truly amazing.

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With regard to the comment on home renovation, in order to enlighten Ms. Taber and Ms. Minna, it is a known fact that women are the primary driving force behind decisions to renovate their homes and women, being smart, obviously see the benefit of the Home Renovation Tax Credit and the ecoENERGY Retrofit program.

Just for the record, honourable senators, I am a wife, and I have suggested to my husband that we get some needed work done in order to take advantage of these benefits. It never occurred to me that Ms. Taber and her Liberal friends would find this so disturbing. Get serious.

[Translation]

Women in the Armed Forces

Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, on March 8, the Saint-Malo Armoury in Quebec City was the site of a very special swearing-in ceremony. It was International Women's Day, and military women were in the spotlight.

During the ceremony, 35 recruits, seven of them women, took the oath that marked the beginning of their careers in the Canadian Forces. I attended the event together with the Honourable Josée Verner, Lieutenant-Colonel Jennie Carignan, commander of the 5 Combat Engineer Regiment and Major Marie Leclerc, commanding officer of the Quebec City recruitment centre.

By dedicating the swearing-in ceremony to women, the Forces focused attention on advances in the integration of women into Canada's military family. Times have indeed changed. One after the other, barriers are falling. It is now easier and more rewarding for women to choose a military career.

Women are going to the front lines to take part in the action. They are soldiers, officers and general officers. They serve in all trades, on all bases, in all squadrons, and on all ships and submarines.

Most recently, it was announced that Captain Karen Soria has become the first female rabbi in the Canadian Forces. Despite the fact that they are in a mostly masculine environment, the military women I have met seem well-adjusted, fulfilled and comfortable.

This is because appropriate measures have been taken to create a more consistently open and progressive army. Trainers have been given clear guidelines about diversity in the workplace.

Physical standards have been adjusted to take the differences between individuals into account. The members of Canada's Armed Forces, whether male or female, all undergo the same integrated training and meet the same academic standards.

Uniforms and equipment have been modified to ensure that women have the same level of protection and comfort as their male colleagues.

Policies now enable both women and men in uniform to achieve a balance between military service and family responsibilities. Naturally, there are still improvements to be made in this area.

We congratulate the military authorities on having created a solid foundation to facilitate the integration of women. I believe that in years to come, more and more women will take an interest in careers in the military.

[English]

Helicopter Crash off Coast of Newfoundland and Labrador

Hon. Fabian Manning: Honourable senators, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have made a living from the ocean for over 500 years. Many times we hear stories of tragedies that have happened at sea. Today, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are standing still once again, waiting to hear about an accident that happened just a few kilometres off our shore this morning.

Honourable senators, at a little after 9 a.m. this morning, a Cougar helicopter issued a mayday distress signal. The helicopter was ferrying 18 oil rig workers to the Hibernia oil rig when it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. A full-scale search and rescue effort has been taking place ever since.

Honourable senators, one of the survivors has been brought to the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's. Two lifeboats have been sighted in the water, but the rescue efforts have not reached them yet.

Honourable senators, as I said, a full-fledged search and rescue operation is taking place off the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador at the present time. Certainly, we realize it is a very dangerous place to work. It is a very dangerous place to try and make a living; but at the same time, people continue to do so.

The families are indeed going through a very tough time at present, waiting for word. A lot of young men and women participate in the oil industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. Many people have made their living there for many years.

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I ask all honourable senators to join with me today in keeping our thoughts and prayers for the families of the people involved in this tragedy this morning. Certainly, we hope for the best. As I said, the rescue efforts are continuing, and hopefully we will have received good word before the day is out.

In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers should go out to the families and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that have once again been touched by tragedy.

Hon. Joan Cook: Honourable senators, this morning just after 9 a.m., a mayday distress signal was picked up by Gander air traffic control, reporting that a Cougar helicopter carrying 18 passengers had gone down in the frigid waters 37 nautical miles east-southeast of St. John's.

The Canadian Coast Guard is now engaged in a major rescue effort. The passengers on the helicopter were oil rig workers on their way to the Hibernia and White Rose oil projects for a shift change.

Honourable senators, it is difficult to articulate one's feelings at this time. I, like my colleagues from Newfoundland and Labrador — and indeed all of us in this chamber and all Canadians — have been anxiously awaiting updates on this situation all morning.

Honourable senators, our thoughts and prayers go out to those involved in this terrible accident, to their families and to the industry that employs them. We pray for their safe return.

[Translation]

Canada-Arab World Parliamentary Association

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I would like to begin by thanking the Honourable Speaker for being so kind as to introduce His Excellency, Ambassador Ziad, the Dean of the Council of Arab League Ambassadors to Canada

Around noon today, we marked a special occasion when the Canada-Arab World Parliamentary Association held its elections. I am pleased to inform honourable senators that this association will run smoothly. It includes 10 members of the House of Commons, including four members from the Conservative Party, three from the Liberal Party, two from the Bloc Québécois and one from the NDP.

As for the Senate, five positions were filled by senators, including three from the Liberal Party and two from the Conservative Party, based on proportion.

I am also pleased to announce that, representing the Senate, the Honourable Dennis Dawson was elected co-chair and the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin and the Honourable Mobina Jaffer were elected vice-presidents. The Government Whip in the Senate, the Honourable Terry Stratton, will serve as a director — which will give the association added prestige — and the Honourable Rod Zimmer was elected secretary-treasurer.

All honourable senators are welcome to meet with His Excellency at any time to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

[English]

According to his biography, he graduated from a Jesuit school in Baghdad. He was a representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government in the UN Liaison Office. He is the senior adviser to Jalal Talabani, President of the Republic of Iraq, and he was extremely active in his student days in the Kurdish movement in Europe. He studied economics at the London School of Economics and he also studied at Oxford University. He has extensive international business and management experience.

I join with all honourable senators in welcoming Ambassador Ziad. I invite honourable senators who may have specific questions to not hesitate to ask; he asked me to relay that invitation. For honourable senators who wish to talk about the situation in his country and in other countries, he would be more than happy to facilitate a meeting so that we might receive better and more direct information.

I know that honourable senators have already given Ambassador Ziad a warm welcome, and I was pleased to have seen it done so beautifully.

Welcome again, ambassador.

Question Period

Hon. Bert Brown: Honourable senators, I rise today to support the recent comments of Senator Stephen Greene concerning the purpose and usefulness of the Senate Question Period.

I concur with Senator Greene that Question Period in this chamber appears to be of little value since all or the majority of all questions directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate take a form that can only be viewed as severely partisan and in opposition to present or past policies of the government in the other place. There are already three opposition parties in the other place that have the constitutional obligation to oppose the government in session. I cannot find any words in the Constitution that require the Senate to function as a fourth opposition party to the government.

I agree with Senator Greene that Question Period has no audience and, therefore, no real purpose beyond demonstrating partisanship. This partisanship takes a form by which we witness up to 58 senators opposite questioning the single Leader of the Government, not once, but again and again with supplementary questions already answered.

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I hope Senator Greene's comments will lead to some consideration of using Question Period for committee work, reports or debates on future legislation. It is worthy to note that since the recent appointment of 18 senators, an increased number of senators speak in the chamber and committee hearings for the interests of their home provinces. That is interesting because the Constitution states that senators shall represent the provinces.

Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

Hon. Nancy Greene Raine: Honourable senators, one year from today, Canada will open its arms to the world's Paralympians in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia. These extraordinary athletes will represent 40 countries from around the globe. As a British Columbian, I cannot wait to welcome them to my home province. As Canadians, we should be proud to host these games — a first for our country and another reason for the world and all Canadians to visit B.C. in 2010.

Canada's Paralympic athletes are indeed truly special, having overcome so much in their lives, even before rising to the top of their sport. I am pleased to raise the profile of these athletes and the games, and to share the countdown and excitement with honourable senators today.

I know some honourable senators are familiar with the Canadian Paralympians, but none more than Senator Joyce Fairbairn who has worked with them for the past decade as both a fundraiser and chair of the Canadian Paralympic Foundation. We all know how hard it is for athletes to raise money and I applaud Senator Fairbairn's efforts in supporting our Paralympians.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Raine: The athletes who are preparing for the Paralympic Winter Games are a remarkable group of Canadians and they are well-positioned to be on the medal podium next winter.

Our 2010 team will likely better its ninth place overall finish at the Torino games and add to its current collective total of 100 Paralympic medals. These athletes truly are contenders in all sports.

In the Alpine World Cup Finals yesterday in Whistler, for example, Lauren Woolstencroft, of Vancouver; Josh Duek, of Vernon, B.C.; and Vivian Forest, of Edmonton, Alberta — with her guide Lindsay Debout, of Whistler — all won gold medals. Lauren is truly dominating her sport this season with seven victories on the circuit.

Para-Nordic skiers are also having a great season. Brian McKeever and his guide, his brother Robin McKeever, are from Canmore, Alberta. Interestingly, Brian is also competing in the able-bodied Canadian Nordic series. Jodi Barber, from Smithers, B.C., and Collette Bourgonje, from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, have also won medals at past Paralympic Games.

Our wheelchair curling team is the best in the world and so is our sledge hockey team. A great thing about these teams is that they are inspiring participation at the local level across Canada. That is what these games are all about.

Our Paralympic curling team includes Jim Armstrong, Darryl Neighbour, Ina Forest and Sonia Gaudet, all from B.C., and Chris Sobkowicz, from Winnipeg.

Stars of the sledge hockey team include Adam Dixon, Bradley Bowden and Raymond Grassi, from Ontario. Their captain, Jean Labonté, is from Hull, Quebec.

These Paralympians are but a few of the contenders to watch for in the Paralympic Winter Games in Whistler next March.

Today, along with Minister Gary Lunn, we raised the Paralympic flag on Parliament Hill. It was cold out there, but our hearts were warm to see that flag raised to fly alongside the Olympic flag. When you go out this afternoon, take a look at the flag and think about what is coming in a year's time.

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Hervé Lord, veteran of the sledge hockey team, was in Ottawa today, along with Ina Forrest, to help promote the games, and their words really inspired those of us who were watching.

Please join me in extending our best wishes to the Canadian athletes as they begin their own countdown to Vancouver-Whistler 2010.

I would remind honourable senators that there are tickets still available. Plan a break next March to be out there in Vancouver cheering on our Paralympic athletes.

The Late Tom Hanson

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, it is with a very heavy heart that I rise today to speak about a wonderful man who has left us. Tom Hanson, a friend of mine, an award-winning photographer with Canadian Press, died two nights ago at the much-too-young age of 41.

Tom was one of those burly photographer types making their way around the Hill doing his or her job. You might not have noticed him, but you certainly would have noticed his photos. He had such an amazing talent — to capture a moment, a feeling, an energy in just one image, whether it was the half-shadowed face of a young Afghan fighter, a toddler patting the blue helmet of a peacekeeper, or former Prime Minister Chrétien on a scooter. One of his most recent photos was of Prime Minister Harper in New York City.

[Translation]

His photos moved us and made us laugh. They reminded us of some of the most important moments here in our country, and indeed around the world.

[English]

His photographs moved us, made us laugh, made us proud, as Senator Duffy would know, and made us remember. We will certainly always remember him.

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Tom's pictures will live forever.

Honourable senators, Canada has lost a great talent, one that can never be replaced or forgotten.

Tom Hanson, rest in peace. We honour you and we will miss you.

Budget 2009

Hon. Richard Neufeld: Honourable senators, there should be no doubt there is a global recession and that Canadians are concerned about the economy. I do not want to make light of the effects of this global recession on our communities, but thanks to the policies the government has followed — paying down debt, investing in infrastructure and training, and delivering tax relief — Canada is in a much stronger position than many other countries. That is exactly what the International Monetary Fund said about Budget 2009:

The IMF supports the strong fiscal package announced in January, which was large, timely, and well targeted, and it will buoy demand during the downturn.

Honourable senators, those words were in a statement issued by the IMF, which also said: "Canada entered the global financial turmoil on a solid footing," and "Canada has responded proactively to the worsening economic outlook."

Honourable senators, the IMF statements reiterate many of the things the government has been saying about Canada's position going into the global downturn. The statement's conclusion says: "Canada is better placed than many countries to weather the global financial turbulence and worldwide recession," thanks to sound policy management and proactive steps to maintain economic and financial stability.

Honourable senators, Canada will get through this global economic crisis, and we will emerge stronger than ever.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Study on Proposed Revision to User Fees, November 2008

Third 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:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

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

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred the document entitled "Proposed Revision to User Fees, November 2008," has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, January 28, 2009, examined certain proposed changes to existing user fees under, and, in accordance with section 5 of the User Fees Act, recommends that they be approved.

The 2004 User Fees Act of Parliament gives the power to examine the introduction or change to any user fee by any regulatory authority in Canada.

Your committee notes that this process provides important measures in transparency, accountability and value for money.

Under the legislative authority of the Explosives Act, the Minister of Natural Resources Canada has proposed a revised fee schedule and additional user fees for cost recovery related to Explosives Regulatory Division ("the Division") activities.

User fees for the Division were last set by regulations in 1993. The Division sought authority to increase its user fees through the User Fees Act and regulations in 2005 and 2008. In both cases, the Division was unsuccessful because federal elections were called before the amendments were approved or before the required 20 sitting days elapsed. Therefore, the user fees proposed represent the first regulatory increase in 16 years and as a result some of these fees have increased significantly.

Your committee heard from officials from Natural Resources Canada on Thursday, March 5, 2009 and questioned them extensively on the proposed user fee increases. In particular, your committee wanted to know details concerning consultations the Division had with stakeholders, as required by the User Fees Act. Your committee sought assurance that stakeholder concerns had been heard and addressed. Upon hearing testimony on this matter, your committee is satisfied that this had taken place. For example, a proposal for a cost recovery of 80 per cent for a particular item was reduced to 45 per cent after stakeholder feedback. Department officials stated that stakeholders gave written approval that they were satisfied with the approach taken for the cost recovery of that item.

Having had the opportunity to hear testimony on this matter and examine the proposed changes to user fees, your committee recommends that they be approved.

Respectfully submitted,

W. DAVID ANGUS
Chair

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

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

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Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

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

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

Thursday, March 12, 2009

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

FOURTH REPORT

Your Committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, March 3, 2009 to examine and report on emerging issues related to its mandate, respectfully requests that it be empowered to engage the services of such counsel and technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary for the purpose of its study.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that Committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

W. DAVID ANGUS
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix A, p. 299.)

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

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

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Third Report of Committee Presented

Hon. George J. Furey, Chair of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, presented the following report:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

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

THIRD REPORT

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

Energy, Environment and Natural Resources (Legislation)

Professional and Other Services    $ 1,500
Transportation and Communications    100
All Other Expenditures    900
TOTAL    $ 2,500

Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Legislation)

Professional and Other Services    $ 1,500
Transportation and Communications    100
All Other Expenditures    900
TOTAL    $ 2,500

Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration

Professional and Other Services    $ 1,000
Transportation and Communications    —
All Other Expenditures    —
TOTAL    $ 1,000

Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Legislation)

Professional and Other Services    $ 4,750
Transportation and Communications    —
All Other Expenditures    250
TOTAL    $ 5,000

Scrutiny of Regulations

Professional and Other Services    $ 300
Transportation and Communications    450
All Other Expenditures    375
TOTAL    $ 1,125

Respectfully submitted,

GEORGE J. FUREY
Chair

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

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

[Translation]

Aboriginal Peoples

Budget—Study on Federal Government's Responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples—Second Report of Committee Presented

The Hon. Gerry St. Germain, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, presented the following report:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples has the honour to present its

SECOND REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 to examine and report on the federal government's constitutional, treaty, political and legal responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples and on other matters generally relating to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

GERRY ST. GERMAIN
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix B, p. 305.)

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

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

Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Budget—Study on Provisions and Operation of the National Defence Act—Second Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Joan Fraser, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

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

SECOND REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, February 24, 2009, to examine and report on the provisions and operation of An Act to amend the National Defence Act (court martial), respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

JOAN FRASER
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix C, p. 311.)

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

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

[English]

Budget—Study on Provisions and Operation of DNA Identification Act—Third Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Joan Fraser, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

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

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Thursday, February 26, 2009, to examine and report on the provisions and operation of DNA Identification Act, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

JOAN FRASER
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix D, p. 316.)

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

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

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The Estimates, 2009-10

Main Estimates—Fourth Report of National Finance Committee Presented

Hon. Irving Gerstein, Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, presented the following report:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has the honour to present its

FOURTH REPORT

Your committee, to which were referred the 2009-2010 Estimates, has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Tuesday, March 3, 2009, examined the said Estimates and herewith presents its first interim report.

Respectfully submitted,

IRVING R. GERSTEIN
Deputy Chair

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix E, p. 321.)

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

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

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Budget—Study on Issues Related to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Generally—Second Report of Committee Presented

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

Thursday, March 12, 2009

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

SECOND REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, February 24, 2009, to examine such issues as may arise from time to time relating to foreign relations and international trade generally, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2009.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

CONSIGLIO DI NINO
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix F, p. 345.)

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 12, 2009

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

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, February 24, 2009, to examine and report on the rise of China, India and Russia in the global economy and the implications for Canadian policy, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2009.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

CONSIGLIO DI NINO
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix G, p. 353.)

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

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

[English]

Budget—Study on 2008 Legislative Review of Export Development Canada—Fourth Report of Committee Presented

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

Thursday, March 12, 2009

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

FOURTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, February 24, 2009, to review and report on the 2008 Legislative Review of Export Development Canada, tabled in the Senate on Tuesday, February 10, 2009, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2009.

Pursuant Chapter 3:06, to section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

CONSIGLIO DI NINO
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix H, p. 359.)

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

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

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Budget Implementation Bill, 2009

Notice of Motion to Refer Separate Elements of Subject Matter to Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee, the Human Rights Committee and the National Finance Committee

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(i), I give notice that, later this day, I shall move:

That, notwithstanding any rules or usual practices, and without affecting any consideration or progress made by the Senate with respect to Bill C-10, the Budget Implementation Act, 2009, the following committees be separately authorized to examine and report on the following elements contained in that bill:

(a) The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources: those elements dealing with the Navigable Waters Protection Act (Part 7);

(b) The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce: those elements dealing with the Competition Act (Part 12);

(c) The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights: those elements dealing with equitable compensation (Part 11); and

(d) The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance: all other elements of the bill, in particular those dealing with employment insurance; and

That each committee present its final report no later than June 11, 2009.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Foreign Affairs

Notice of Motion to Urge the Government of Canada to Facilitate Settlement in Canada of Afghan Nationals Who Helped Canada

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

That,

Whereas Canada's efforts in the diplomatic, military, political and economic reconstruction of Afghanistan have been assisted and served by Afghans who work alongside our military, who staff our embassy, and who work with Canadian firms and non-governmental organizations; and

Whereas there is no better way to express our gratitude to these individuals who are friends of Canada than to welcome them to settle in Canada;

That the Senate urge the Government of Canada to develop and implement a program to facilitate the settlement in Canada of Afghan nationals who have helped Canada during our engagement in Afghanistan; and

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

Fisheries and Oceans

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Issues Relating to Federal Government's Current and Evolving Policy Framework for Managing Fisheries and Oceans and Refer Papers and Evidence Since First Session of Thirty-ninth Parliament

Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), I give notice that later this day, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be authorized to examine and to report on issues relating to the federal government's current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans;

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

That the committee report from time to time to the Senate but no later than June 30, 2010, and that the Committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until December 31, 2010.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.


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QUESTION PERIOD

Public Safety

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, this question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. We all know that the RCMP does a great job on the front lines in fighting crime and we praise them for that, but there are equality problems in the organization. The presence of women in the senior ranks is one of those. Why is it that there are only 6 women out of 75 people in the top four ranks in the RCMP?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, that is a very good question. I am also curious to know the answer. Therefore, I would be happy to refer the honourable senator's question to the minister responsible, who can then turn our request for information over to the Commissioner of the RCMP.

Senator Munson: I thank the leader for that answer; I appreciate that.

Is the government taking any steps to encourage the RCMP to rectify this imbalance and inequality?

Senator LeBreton: I would certainly hope the government is and I am sure they are. However, in the event that this is not happening, I will urge that we do so. I will, by way of delayed answer, ask the minister responsible what measures are in place to address this obvious discrepancy in the balance of the senior levels of the RCMP.

Senator Munson: One other point of information concerns the imbalance in the entire force. Only 19.9 per cent of the members of the RCMP are women. I am not putting this in the form of a question; rather, it is a point of information in relation to the written answer that will follow.

Senator LeBreton: Obviously, much of this issue stems from recruitment. While I am at it, I will add to my inquiry the question of what the RCMP is doing at the recruiting level to attract women to the force.

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: I have a supplementary question, honourable senators.

While the leader is sourcing the information, could she possibly determine how this matter evolved during the period 1993 to 2006?

Senator LeBreton: I would certainly be happy to add that information to the request.

Senator Munson: I did not play politics with the question; you did.

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, when the leader asks about recruitment, would she also kindly ask questions about how minorities are being recruited into the RCMP?

Senator LeBreton: When I was privileged to be part of a previous government, considerable effort was made with regard to the RCMP including, as honourable senators will remember, the policy change of the government concerning the headdress of RCMP members. I will be happy to add Senator Jaffer's question to my request.

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, if my reading of the elements of pay equity compensation attached to the budget is correct, it appears as though the RCMP will be covered by that measure. Is my understanding correct?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the RCMP are part of the overall Canadian public service. In order not to mislead Senator Dyck, I believe that is the case, but I will seek clarification.

Senator Dyck: I did the reading and it is included. I believe it makes it more difficult for women to achieve equity because they will no longer be allowed to go outside of the proposed new board and will not be able to take the matter to human rights; is that correct?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, if a woman is recruited into the RCMP at whatever level or attains a certain level, I do believe the level of pay they receive is equitable to their male counterparts.

(1415)

Within the RCMP and their recruitment program, I expect that is not an issue. Police officers are paid on a certain standard, just as honourable senators are paid. We are paid at a certain rate under the Parliament of Canada Act. For men and women, the salary is the same.

I do not believe that we would ever face a situation in which a person recruited into the RCMP would not be paid exactly the same as anyone else.

Senator Dyck: I agree with the honourable senator, but it might be an issue of retention and promotion within the ranks.

Senator LeBreton: I believe that Senator Munson's question was on the issue of promotion into the senior ranks of the RCMP. When I receive a response from the minister responsible, it will become obvious whether there is a problem with people rising in the ranks. Let us wait to hear what the minister has to say.

Finance

Equalization Payments

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, Prime Minister Harper promised to do federalism differently by establishing an open, honest and respectful relationship with the provinces. How respectful is it, then, to announce unilaterally a cap on equalization payments during one of the worst economic storms in living memory? Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate confirm whether the government consulted with the provinces before delivering this ultimatum, or is this another of the Prime Minister's examples of my way or the highway?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): I vehemently disagree with Senator Hubley's description of the Prime Minister. I have answered this question before in this place.

On November 3, 2008, the Minister of Finance met with his counterparts from the provinces and territories so that they would be able to prepare their budgets properly through this acknowledged difficult economic downturn, which is no fault of the provinces or the federal government, and has come to be known as a worldwide synchronized economic downturn. We restored fiscal balance through long-term and fair transfer support to the provinces and territories.

The Minister of Finance so informed his counterparts of these intentions on November 3. When the Prime Minister met with the first ministers in early January, 2009, they talked about the economic conditions and were well aware of the government's intentions because the Minister of Finance had so advised them two months earlier.

Senator Hubley: I thank the honourable senator for the answer. Since she has indicated that both the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister informed the provinces of their financial situation on November 3, will the leader provide the information on how each province will be affected by this cap on equalization payments. Can she show us the numbers?

Senator LeBreton: Federal support to the provinces has reached historic levels at $54 billion, and will continue to grow. Even though we are in this economic downturn, we are protecting payments to the provinces, whereby health transfers will continue to grow by 6 per cent and social transfers by 3 per cent. Equalization has grown by 56 per cent since 2003-04, or about 15 per cent annually.

With regard to the current economic situation, I will ask the Department of Finance to provide figures in the context of the upcoming fiscal year.

(1420)

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: I am very interested in the words that the Leader of the Government in the Senate uses — "they met" and "they were informed." I think the question was, "Were they consulted?" There is a big difference between telling someone what you will do and having genuine consultations with them.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, if Senator Carstairs cared to check the record, she would see that there are very good reports on the meeting on November 3, between the Minister of Finance and his provincial and territorial counterparts. There was a degree of cooperation and unanimity at that meeting.

The Minister of Finance provided the provinces with information that he had at that time. Clearly, he consulted and met with them because of the financial crisis starting with the sub-prime mortgage issue in the United States, although no one could have foreseen such a downturn.

In addition, if the honourable senator is in attendance this afternoon when I reply to the Speech from the Throne, she will hear the list of consultations that took place during December and January, which led up to the tabling of the earliest ever budget. Obviously, we did this to try to meet the needs of the growing economic crisis and to live up to the commitments the Prime Minister made at the G20 meeting in Washington on November 15, 2008.

I am sorry that Senator Carstairs has difficulty with my choice of words, but I will convey to her very directly that the Minister of Finance is constantly consulting and conversing with his counterparts.

In addition, if the honourable senator checks the record, she will see that the meeting between the Prime Minister and first ministers was positive. I am sure we all realize that the provinces, territories and the federal government are in this together. We have to work hard to get Canada through this and everyone in the government, starting with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, is doing everything possible to assist the provinces.

There has been a great deal of cooperation between the provinces. The Premier of Ontario, the Premier of British Columbia, the Premier of Nova Scotia and the Premier of Manitoba, the honourable senator's province, all understand the situation we are in. I think everyone is working in a spirit of cooperation. I am sorry Senator Carstairs does not see it that way.

Senator Carstairs: With the greatest respect to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I do not think she understands the meaning of the word "consult." The dictionary definition is clear. It says "to engage in discussions." It does not say "to tell people what they will get." It does not say "to inform people what they will receive." It says "engage them in consultation; engage them in discussion."

Senator LeBreton: I know Senator Carstairs was a schoolteacher and God bless those students of hers, I am sure. In any event, I do know the meaning of the word "consult." In my answer, I explained to the honourable senator that, not only did the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister consult their counterparts, but they also consulted — if the honourable senator cares to wait around to hear my speech — many organizations. The government consulted widely before this budget was put together.

The government also received varied suggestions from many people and we tried to incorporate as much of the information derived from that process as possible in the budget. If that is not consultation, then I guess I had better buy a new dictionary.

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Human Resources and Skills Development

Funding

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, yesterday the Leader of the Government in the Senate said that women at the graduate studies level have received equality and there was equal funding for women at the graduate level. She further stated that there was no imbalance and it is not an issue anymore. I would say this is not the case. This is not the story the statistics tell us. Only 40 per cent of women are in business fields. Women have not reached equality in business fields of study and the government has targeted the bulk of new graduate funding to male-dominated business fields ensuring that female students do not receive their share.

I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate personally, as someone who I know has promoted women all her life, will she be instrumental in fixing this imbalance by targeting a percentage of this new funding specifically to women who dominate in humanities and science so they can get better access to funding to promote their careers?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, I was a little exasperated yesterday because women obviously tend to have greater representation in certain fields than in others.

Surely, Senator Jaffer is not suggesting we should not be trying to get women to go into other fields such as business and finance. I think if we did try to promote women in these fields, I would not be lamenting the fact that there are not enough women at the board of director level of Canadian corporations.

Surely, we should encourage women to go into these areas of study. I keep watching the graduate lists in mathematics at universities and there are many women on them. To assume that women, by nature of their DNA, are not capable of studying finance and business is puzzling to me.

We discussed yesterday that the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada welcomes the new investment in Canada's university infrastructure and the Canada Foundation for Innovation funding announced in the federal budget. These investments will boost the role of universities in efforts to stimulate the economy in these difficult times.

I certainly encourage my granddaughters who go to university to not restrict themselves to certain professions. I suggest they look at the whole gamut and go where the future and jobs are.

Senator Jaffer: I did not ask the minister what she and I would like to see happen in the business field. That is a different question; it is not in the budget. I am asking about what is set out in the budget that is not treating women equally. Women have been left out of the funding set out in the present budget.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, that is not true. We put the whole gender equity stipulation in Budget 2007. We have to consider all of these things.

I have at least six pages of data here on funding explicitly targeted to assist women. I will be happy to table it or to write Senator Jaffer a letter and explain to her all of the things in the budget that assist women.

An Hon. Senator: Read it out.

Senator LeBreton: Question Period is not long enough.

It is simply not true that this government is not assisting women. I do not think anyone believes that. Certainly, women like me would not participate in a government that discriminated against women. It is frustrating when honourable senators ask questions and then subliminally suggest that we are overlooking women, which we are not.

(1430)

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, yesterday on the front page of The Globe and Mail, renowned scientist Doug Crawford of York University said:

We are going headfirst into a cement wall. The very best scientists will leave.

Earlier in the article he is quoted as saying:

To suddenly see so much of that investment and so much of that work being set back like this really is both frightening and disturbing to us.

Why did Canada's scientific funding agencies have to cut their budgets? I refer to the three funding agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Why did they have to cut their budgets by 5 per cent this year when in the United States, Mr. Obama is putting an additional $10 billion into funding research?

We are no longer able to compete in terms of attracting and keeping the best science minds here. We may have put in the infrastructure, but we do not have people in the buildings to carry out the science. That is what these people are saying.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I read this gentleman's remarks. One could quote a source from the newspaper every day of a person who does not agree with the government. I could quote a person every day who does not agree with the opposition. It is a mug's game.

I have also seen the reports from the United States. We do not know the situation yet. The Globe and Mail is talking about situations that we are still not aware of. Much of this funding has not yet happened in the United States.

I will go through this information again. Our economic action plan includes $200 million for the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program to help small- and medium-sized businesses innovate. An article in The Globe and Mail several days ago indicated that Canada is not doing badly — not great, but moving up on the innovation chart.

As I have said, the National Research Council identified areas where funding can be used more efficiently. We are taking the advice of the National Research Council. Who is at the National Research Council? They are people involved in science. We are reinvesting, on their advice, that money into science and technology programs.

There are 287 more people working at the National Research Council this year than last. Two hundred eighty-seven people is a great deal of people to add in one year. That is more, not less, honourable senators. The NRC is looking at ways in which a few of its services can be delivered by the private sector, because, as Dr. Keon has said many times, there are many people in the private sector who can work with the different research bodies for the betterment of Canadians.

The Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information will remain a key part of the NRC. The NRC has a strong track record of starting new companies, having created or spun off 60 new technology firms in the past ten years. They do good work. Why does the honourable senator assume that they will not continue to do good work?

With regard to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada's health researchers have a great deal to offer the world. We know that. We know that from our history and from the many things that have been discovered in this country. We will continue to support their efforts.

Our government has continued to demonstrate strong support for research by increasing — and I do not have to ask Senator Carstairs to give you a dictionary definition of "increasing" — CIHR's budget by $34 million in 2008.

Today, CIHR's budget stands close to $1 billion. That is a significant amount of money, honourable senators. I can give honourable senators quotations of what one person says versus what another person says. One person could be involved in a program that the NRC perhaps decided to relocate some place else. I cannot answer for people within organizations who have been affected by decisions made within those organizations.

Senator Comeau: There you go.

Hon. Yoine Goldstein: A thriving and prosperous Canada and Canadian economy requires bridges and roads, but it also requires engineers to plan them, design them and build them.

(1435)

While the post-secondary funds announced in the budget are somewhat encouraging, experience teaches us that provincial governments do not always use federal funds for the purpose for which they are given.

Will this government present an accountability framework to assure us and to guarantee Canadians that the money it pays to the provinces for post-secondary education is used for post-secondary education?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, the federal government meets with its provincial counterparts concerning the transfer of funds toward education, et cetera. I am just not certain, Senator Goldstein, what measures have been put in place for each program and whether accountability measures for the programs differ from one to another. I will certainly be happy to find that information for the honourable senator.

I could not agree more. My colleagues will attest to the fact that I have advocated for many years about the necessity of this country to work not only with universities to turn out well-qualified university graduates but also with our trade schools and community colleges to turn out well-qualified tradespeople. Unfortunately, we have a shortage of good tradespeople. We had an example of this the other day at the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. We have a shortage of mechanics. This government is changing this situation.

We have gone into the apprenticeship program, allowing mechanics to claim their tools as expenses on their taxes. We are actually reaching out to all Canadians, including blue collar workers and tradespeople, to get their education. They are sorely needed. We need tradespeople to build the roads, fix the sewers, build the water treatment plants and fix our tanks and aircraft. We need people who are trained in these trades.

Honourable senators, this is an area about which I have strong personal views. I am extremely happy to be part of a government that recognizes the value of all Canadians.

Senator Goldstein: Honourable senators, I am pleased to hear that the minister will report back to us, if I understood the initial part of the answer correctly, about the mechanisms that will be put in place to ensure that provinces spend the money on post-secondary education in the manner envisaged in the budget. However, dealing with that and dealing with the second part of the question, the Leader of the Government has pointed out correctly that trades and colleges require support as well. Yet, the budget has dealt 70 per cent of the education commitment to universities and 30 per cent to colleges. What happens to the colleges that are insufficiently funded to be able to train young people who cannot or do not choose to go to universities?

The second part of that question is what happens to universities whose money is earmarked for science and technology projects and therefore do not have the money to refurbish the libraries which they so desperately need?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, we have been working with the universities and the provinces because there are some trade schools and community colleges that are directly connected to universities. The system regarding how the money is dispersed is very complicated.

With regard to libraries being required to be fixed up at these universities, that is part of our infrastructure plan. That is already part of our plan with regard to universities and post-secondary education.

[Translation]

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table two delayed responses to oral questions. The first was raised by Senator Segal on February 11, 2009, concerning recruitment for the Canadian Forces Reserve Force, and the second by Senator Atkins on February 11, 2009, concerning military recruitment.

National Defence

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan—Reserve Force

(Response to question raised by Hon. Hugh Segal on February 11, 2009)

Recruitment, training, and retention are key priorities for the Canadian Forces and are at the heart of this Government's Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS), which identifies personnel as one of the four pillars on which military capabilities are built. As part of the CFDS, the Government has committed to increase the size of the Forces to 70,000 Regular Force and 30,000 Reserve Force personnel. The Government has also committed to expanding the Canadian Rangers to 5,000. These increases will help the Canadian Forces achieve the Government's defence objectives in Canada, on the continent and internationally.

The Canadian Forces Reserve Force consists of a number of components, including:

  • the Primary Reserve, which augments, sustains and supports Regular Forces both domestically and abroad;
     
  • the Cadet Instructors Cadre, which works with, trains and supervises Cadet organizations across Canada;
     
  • the Canadian Rangers, which provide a military presence in remote, isolated and coastal communities of Canada; and
     
  • the Supplementary Reserve, which consists of former Regular or Reserve Force members willing or eligible to serve if called upon (they do no ongoing work nor do they receive payment).

The Primary Reserve Force consists of three classes: Class A members are employed part-time in Canada; Class B members are employed full-time in Canada; and Class C members are deployed on operations. Given the distinct roles of each class, not all Primary Reservists are working on any given day. As such, only the portion of the Primary Reserve that is active is counted and reported as the Primary Reserve Paid Strength (an annual average).

The average paid strength of the Primary Reserve Force is currently at approximately 26,000. The next wave of Primary Reserve Force expansion is scheduled for fiscal year 2011/12, with an expected goal to 27,000 personnel. The Canadian Forces plan to expand the Reserve Force to 28,000 by fiscal year 2014/15, to 29,000 by fiscal year 2019/ 20, and to 30,000 by 2027/28.

As of the end of 2008, there were approximately 4,300 Canadian Rangers active across Canada. The Canadian Forces is currently on track to meet its goal of expanding the number of Rangers to 4,600 in the 2009/10 fiscal year. They plan to have 4,800 Rangers by fiscal year 2010/11, and 5,000 by 2011/12.

Canada's Commitment in Afghanistan—Recruitment

(Response to question raised by Hon. Norman K. Atkins on February 11, 2009)

In recent months, the military has been invited to more job fairs in regions that are experiencing higher rates of unemployment, and recruiters have noticed an increase in applications, including moderately higher numbers of applications for stressed trades.

The Canadian Forces are always hiring and offer Canadians a challenging career and excellent training opportunities, as well as rewarding pay and benefits.

That being said, long-term planning is essential, which is why CF leadership recently developed a comprehensive Retention Strategy, which complements ongoing recruitment efforts.

Through this new Retention Strategy, CF members stand to benefit from greater flexibility in career choices, better career support, and a renewed commitment to military families.

These measures will enhance the culture of commitment within the Canadian Forces, and are expected to reduce attrition rates among new recruits and long-serving members.

By addressing both recruitment and retention challenges, the CF can continue to grow in line with the targets set out in this Government's Canada First Defence Strategy.


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ORDERS OF THE DAY

Energy Efficiency Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government) moved that Bill S-3, An Act to Amend the Energy Efficiency Act, be read the third time.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.)

[English]

National Cemetery of Canada Bill

Second Reading

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government) moved second reading of Bill C-17, An Act to recognize Beechwood Cemetery as the national cemetery of Canada.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Do you wish to speak, Senator Munson?

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, every once in a while something happens in Parliament that makes me very proud. Last week was one of those moments.

Last week, we saw four parties in the other place come together and unanimously consent to expedite passage of the proposed national cemetery of Canada act, which recognizes Beechwood Cemetery as a national cemetery.

I was there for the ceremony, honourable senators, and it was beautiful. Many of you are perhaps acquainted with this space — acres and acres of rolling land, forest, beautiful landscaping, views and monuments. It was built in 1873 on the outskirts of Ottawa. Now it is a haven in the heart of this great city; an oasis. Take a walk there sometime and you will find peace.

Take a walk there sometime and you will also find history. This cemetery, for more than a century, has become the final resting place for 75,000 Canadians, all of whom, in their own way, have contributed to the great project of nation building, many of whom you will have heard of. Politicians, social activists, soldiers, doctors, poets, scientists, industrialists — you will find them there: Tommy Douglas; Sir Robert Borden; James Creighton, considered the father of hockey; Ramon Hnatyshyn, former Governor General and a friend; inventor Sir Sanford Fleming; poet Archibald Lampman; and Nichola Goddard, Canada's first woman soldier to give her life in Afghanistan.

[Translation]

You will find a sacred space that pays tribute to this nation's tremendous ethnic and cultural diversity. This is a place that recognizes our two official languages.

[English]

As you walk through the cemetery, you will also visit the National Military Cemetery for the Canadian Forces, as well as the RCMP National Memorial Cemetery. You will see the graves of veterans and the graves of the fallen from the Commonwealth.

By creating this national cemetery, we are honouring the past and preparing for the future. We are ensuring that this sacred space will be there in perpetuity as a final resting place for prime ministers, governors general and recipients of the Victoria Cross who chose to be buried there.

[Translation]

As I said, this cemetery is a place of peace, and the legislation has travelled a relatively smooth, non-partisan path.

[English]

On the other side, the first bill to create this cemetery was introduced by the Member of Parliament for Ottawa—Vanier, Mauril Bélanger, who quickly found support from other Ottawa members of Parliament and from all parties. With such evident support, the bill went into the hands of Minister Prentice, Minister for the Environment, to become a government bill. It passed unanimously in one day.

Honourable senators, I hope that we can do the same in this chamber. I hope the spirit of collaboration will guide us so that we can pass this bill and make it law to create a place in the heart of this city, in the heart of this nation, where we pause to honour those who have come before us to serve, to innovate, to delight, to fight, to protect — in short, to live their lives as Canadians.

Beechwood Cemetery, the proposed national cemetery of Canada, will be the place for us to honour those extraordinary and ordinary people who have come before us. It is a beautiful place where we can find peace and find history for evermore.

Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: I would like to put a question to the honourable senator.

That cemetery sounds very much like the resting place for Anglo-Canadians, if I may say. I do not think there are very many francophones there.

There is one illustrious francophone who happens to be buried at the cemetery next door — namely, Notre Dame Cemetery. That illustrious Canadian is The Right Honourable Wilfrid Laurier.

If the Beechwood Cemetery is to become a truly national cemetery, will there be an opportunity for the transference of the remains of illustrious Canadians who happen to be resting in other localities across this broad land?

Senator Munson: This is a question, honourable senator, that I would bring to the attention of the board of directors — to the attention of the Honourable Mauril Bélanger, who is part of that board. I am sure that they would be sympathetic to that idea. If this would be the wish of the Laurier family and others, I am sure it would be granted.

Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, I think this is a wonderful project. I applaud the idea of a national cemetery, and I know that Beechwood is a beautiful spot. However, I do find it peculiar that the ceremony was held before the bill has passed. Does the honourable senator have any explanation for the government's rush in this regard?

Senator Munson: I cannot speak for the Government of Canada. One day I will.

Senator Cowan: One day you did.

Senator Munson: I can say that at one time I did.

Senator Cowan: Your time will come again.

Senator Munson: In the Senate, we can say, yes, we were; yes, I was.

Honourable senators, I cannot answer that question. I just know that MP Mauril Bélanger has been pushing this cause in a private member's bill for 10 years. When he saw an opening with the other parties, he grabbed the idea and he shared it. He did not take ownership of it; he shared the idea. The bill was passed by the House of Commons in the one day.

I would like to make clear as well that this is not an Arlington-type cemetery. It is a place for everyone.

(1450)

I think they wanted to have a nice ceremony last week to show the cooperation in the House of Commons, and perhaps we can urge the board of directors to have a similar ceremony when this chamber hopefully passes the bill.

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, I am not opposed to the idea of having a national cemetery, and I am not opposed to it being at Beechwood Cemetery here in Ottawa. It is a beautiful place.

I am concerned that a number of years ago a former member from Sarnia in the other place introduced a bill that worked its way through the House of Commons and was passed by the Senate. It provided that gravesites of former prime ministers were to be attended to by the Government of Canada, through Parks Canada. You can go to one or two graveyards in my province and visit the graves of former prime ministers, and draw the attention of local people to the dedication and contribution that they have made. Indeed, if you go across the river to Chelsea, you will find the burial site of a great Canadian Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson.

I am concerned that this will be the burial place for all prime ministers. Prime ministers come from all across this country. The current Prime Minister comes from Alberta, the previous one from Windsor, Ontario, and the prime minister before that from Shawinigan, Quebec. Given the history and dedication they brought to this country — and Mr. Harper is bringing from his province — it would be a shame if we were to concentrate that history in one location. It would be better to honour them in the place of their birth.

Is the intent of the bill that we will have a cemetery where perhaps all former prime ministers will be buried?

Senator Munson: That is not the intention, honourable senators. As I said in my speech, Beechwood Cemetery is a place for ordinary Canadians and extraordinary Canadians.

One must also recognize that in recent years — with the war in Afghanistan, and if you take a look at the RCMP who are buried there and who have fought on the front lines of crime — decisions have been made by families and organizations to have their loved ones buried in this cemetery. It is not the intention to have Beechwood as a resting place for prime ministers.

As has been suggested by Senator Corbin, if that interment can be done there, that would be for the board of directors and families involved.

At some point in our history, we must recognize that this is Ottawa. This is our national capital. There are national symbols here that people recognize. This bill is another step toward respecting and understanding our past, living today and moving toward the future.

Senator Mercer: When Americans talk about national cemeteries, they talk about Arlington, but if one travels through the United States, there are a number of national cemeteries all around. Many of their men and women who have fallen in foreign wars — and of course in their own Civil War — are buried in honour and flags adorn the graves of those Americans.

Does the honourable senator think it is the intent that in the future we could expand the concept of a national cemetery to include a program to honour Canadians who have given their lives for us both in war and peacetime, to have their graves taken care of and adorned with a Canadian flag? Unlike the Americans, many of our fallen soldiers are buried overseas. Americans traditionally have their fallen come home, and ours are coming home from the conflict in Afghanistan.

It seems to me that honouring people in this one burial ground is not enough. Some have given their lives this week in Afghanistan. When they come home and are put in their final resting places, we owe it to them to show generations to come how special they were and the special contribution they made. We must somehow recognize them at that point.

Senator Munson: I accept Senator Mercer's arguments. Senator Meighen and I are but two voices in this chamber today in support of what I have been talking about. However, the honourable senator has raised very interesting suggestions.

I honour my late Uncle Lloyd; my name is James Lloyd Munson. I honour him practically every day when I walk up the Hill. I go to the National Cenotaph on November 11. He was a tail gunner who flew over the Nicobar Islands in one of those old bombers and was shot down by the Japanese. I never forget my Uncle Lloyd. There is no burial ground for Uncle Lloyd. There is the Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore. There are hallowed grounds all over the world.

The best way we can honour the veterans of war who have passed away is to pause for a moment each and every day and be thankful that we are living in a free and democratic country.

Senator Corbin: I have a further question for the sponsor of this bill.

The proposed act, of course, is an act of recognition — to recognize the existence of Beechwood Cemetery as a national cemetery in Canada. It does not incorporate a body that will be charged with the responsibility of managing national aspects of the law. The bill comes without a Royal Recommendation.

Is there currently or is it proposed that there be federal funding to manage this operation, if I can use a broad term?

Senator Munson: I have two answers. On the first part of the question, a board of directors and a foundation manage the cemetery. Also, as Minister Prentice talked about, I think there will be some funding.

Perhaps Senator Meighen, who is part of the government, would be better placed to answer that question. To me, there is not a money value on this, but in a collaborative way we can all make a contribution to it.

As we sit in this chamber today, let us take a look around for a second. Let us look at all the images. Let us look at what the Speaker does most of the time when we have students and others who come to this room; we pause and reflect for a moment. Every time I speak to students in this place, I say, "Look around here. This is what our history is all about."

Honourable senators, we will have a national cemetery just down the road. If people choose to be buried in Beechwood Cemetery, that is where they will be buried.

To be totally candid, I do not have an answer to the funding part of the honourable senator's question. The intent of the bill is to respect not only military men and women and RCMP officers, but ordinary Canadians whose families choose to have their loved ones buried at the national cemetery; hopefully at Beechwood.

Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, I regret very much that I was not here for Senator Munson's remarks, but I heard enough at the end to know that he and I are ad idem on this matter. Indeed, there was a total degree of unanimity in the other place. Therefore, as Senator Munson said, this bill is about symbolism and national recognition.

I confess that, in response to Senator Corbin's query, I do not have a better answer than does Senator Munson. However, I will undertake to make further inquiries and get back to him.

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As Senator Munson says, this is a bill to establish a national cemetery. What that means in terms of financial recognition or support to those who choose to have their loved ones buried there is a question that I do not have an answer for but will get back to you on. I do want to make some remarks, some of which may parallel those of Senator Munson.

As honourable senators know, poll after poll tells us that we have reason for concern about the erosion of Canada's common memory and identity. Recent surveys of Canadians conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the Dominion Institute tell us that only one half of Canadians can name the first prime minister of this country; 66 per cent of Canadians have never even heard of Vimy Ridge; 44 per cent think that D-Day marks the bombing of Pearl Harbour; and fully 76 per cent believe we are too modest about our accomplishments. That is one statistic I think I agree with.

[Translation]

The irony is that Canadians could not be any prouder of the people, places and events that have shaped our history and defined our country. Bill C-17, An Act to recognize Beechwood Cemetery as the national cemetery of Canada, will help, in a simple but concrete manner, to commemorate the contributions of those who have come before us.

[English]

At the inaugural ceremony of the Beechwood National Memorial Centre in April 2008, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean stated:

Whenever I enter a cemetery, I feel as though I am opening a door to a library. Every tombstone is a book; every person at rest, a story.

Indeed, all cemeteries have stories to tell, but Beechwood in particular, with its 75,000 burials, relates the experiences of Canadians from all walks of life from a mosaic of cultures and from different religious perspectives.

At Beechwood Cemetery, we are inspired by the bravery of our soldiers in Afghanistan and by those who fought before them in Kapyong in 1951, on the beaches of Normandy in 1944 and at Vimy in 1917.

We are amazed at the vision of Sir Robert Borden in bringing Canada to the world scene as an autonomous nation in the field of international diplomacy.

We are enchanted by the writings of the poets Archibald Lampman, Arthur Bourinot, and William Wilfred Campbell.

We look back in awe at the eloquence and persuasive thinking behind Thomas Coltrin Keefer's influential role over Canada's railway-building era.

We hold in high regard the determination of this country's captains of industry, such as George Simpson, who dominated the fur trade in North America for almost 40 years.

We give thanks for the work of Tommy Douglas, the father of Canada's health care system, and we are grateful to James Aylwin Creighton, the father of organized ice hockey. We are indebted to social reformer and founder of the National Council of Women of Canada, Roberta Tilton.

Honourable senators, these are some of the people interred at Beechwood Cemetery and who shaped defining moments of our history. These are some of the stories and the histories that Beechwood Cemetery holds in trust for present and future generations.

[Translation]

The creation of a country does not rest on the shoulders of a few extraordinary people. Every citizen has a role to play in the formation of a country, and Canada is no exception to the rule. Beechwood Cemetery is a reflection of Canada's identity as a multicultural and multi-religious society, and it decided to reserve some sections of the cemetery for specific religious and ethno-cultural communities.

The new Beechwood National Memorial Centre responds to the needs of Canadians who wish to hold ceremonies and commemorations there. It consists of a Sacred Space and a Hall of Colours that features the laid-up colours of Canada's military regiments.

In addition, the cemetery respects the linguistic duality of Canada through its consistent and balanced approach to the use and display of Canada's two official languages.

[English]

Honourable senators, I spoke earlier of Canada's military achievements and of this country's contributions to the higher ideals of democracy and world peace. In 2001, Beechwood became the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces, and in 2004, the RCMP National Memorial Cemetery was established here. This country is indebted to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to allow us to live a life of freedom, and it is incumbent upon the Government of Canada to establish a national cemetery that encompasses these two cemeteries.

Ottawa, as Canada's capital, expresses our common identity; it is a place for national encounters, commemorations, celebrations and learning. It is a place for national encounters. The capital is home to the Valiants Memorial, the National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as well as the Monument to Peace and Remembrance, the Monument to Canadian Aid Workers, and the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights. It is only fitting that Beechwood should now join the ranks of these memorials.

The addition of Beechwood Cemetery to the list of national memorials will serve as an additional focal point for such events as Remembrance Day. It is an evocative location for the interment of those who earned the Victoria Cross, and for state funerals of Canada's governors general and prime ministers. Bill C-17 provides an important opportunity to address the imperative for constant improvement to Canada's symbols to ensure that they truly reflect the diversity of our country and the richness of our history.

Bill C-17 acknowledges this government's commitment to recognize and celebrate the contributions made by all those who come before us in shaping our remarkable and cherished country.

Honourable senators, I urge you to ensure this bill's speedy passage, with or without a short stay before committee, so that we can add Beechwood Cemetery to the list of important symbols and national sites. It is long overdue.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I ask that you encapsulate the noble thoughts that are in our minds as a result of what has been said by Senator Meighen and Senator Munson and put them aside because I do not want to sully them with the mundane thing that I will talk about just for a second. Please try to separate them.

I am referring to the event which apparently has happened about which Senator Milne raised a question. I want to call the attention of honourable senators to the fact that the House of Commons has passed a bill establishing Beechwood as a national cemetery. A ceremony was held on the strength of that event, and now the bill is here. That is an indication of one of the reasons for which, and one of the ways in which, we must constantly strive to protect the interests of one third of the Parliament of Canada, which is consistently disregarded by the other place.

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, it is truly an honour and a privilege for me to rise to speak on this bill. I commend Senator Munson, Senator Meighen and all those who have posed questions in the interests of this legislation. I hope what Senator Banks just said was not the intent — that is, to ignore this place. I sat in the other place, as did many honourable senators, and certain matters evolve and happen there. They are not done in a manner meant to minimize the importance of the entire process of Parliament. Sometimes they are reactionary. I would hope that is what happened in this particular case. It is possible that the sensitivity was not there, but I do not believe it was done in a manner that would diminish the importance of this place.

As I rise today to speak on Bill C-17, a bill that seeks to designate a national cemetery of Canada, much of what I will say will parallel what has already been said.

Our country has been blessed with a wide array of notable and high-achieving people who have called Canada their home. We are proud of these Canadians who, throughout the course of their lives, championed worthy causes to better this country. These folks are our leaders, thinkers, innovators and defenders. They have strived to achieve the best for what they believed in and, along the way, they shed light on the greatness of this country. These men and women have made significant contributions to what makes us who we are today as Canadians. For that, they are our patriots in their own right.

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Honourable senators, as great patriots of our country pass on, we must honour with distinction their contributions to the betterment of our country. Canada needs a nationally recognized venue to honour those who are now gone.

This is the intent of the government's Bill C-17, which seeks to designate Beechwood Cemetery as the national cemetery of Canada. To designate such a place of national recognition for our notables who have passed on is an example of the good work done by the government. This should have been acted on a long time ago. We should have acted on MP Mauril Bélanger's original presentation of this important issue. However, I am pleased to see what is happening now and that the wheels are in motion.

Should this bill receive the necessary support, those who lie buried at Beechwood Cemetery shall forever rest in a place where not only are their contributions recognized but where their lives are celebrated. Honouring the final resting place of those individuals who lived their lives in the service of our great country provides not only distinction to the deceased but also allows Canada to show its love and appreciation of the family that is left behind.

Designating a national cemetery allows Canadians and others to look further into our country's rich history. It preserves important aspects of Canada's history for the benefit of future generations through education and honouring lives lost. It helps our citizens recognize their identity and it instills a richer feeling of patriotism in our country, something we should build on as Canadians.

Beechwood Cemetery is a fitting venue for the national cemetery of Canada. There is no better place for Canadians to honour the lives of those who gave so much to this country than in our nation's capital, right here in Ottawa.

Some of the more recognized citizens now lying in rest at the cemetery were mentioned by Senators Munson and Meighen, such as Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden; Governor General Ramon Hnatyshyn, who some of us served with in the other place; and Captain Nichola Goddard, who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

Honourable senators, when we as parliamentarians work together, good things can come together quickly. With all-party support, the other place passed Bill C-17 in two days. I am asking all of us in this chamber to make honouring our country's fallen patriots a priority, and I encourage your full support of Bill C-17.

A man who is my hero lies in a cemetery in St. Boniface; Louis Riel, and there are many Canadians in other cemeteries as well, but that should not take away from recognizing Beechwood as a national cemetery.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise in support of yet another national institution because I believe in national symbols. I believe in a national portrait gallery here in Ottawa, for example.

I am pleased to support yet another national symbol for two reasons. First, I think it is important to designate a cemetery not just for those who have been mentioned in the speeches today, but for other Canadians, the so-called ordinary Canadians. I do not believe there is such a thing as an ordinary Canadian. I think there are extraordinary acts performed by Canadians each and every day. They may be simple acts of kindness; they may be reaching out to help one of their fellow citizens; and the fact that they, too, can be acknowledged in a national cemetery is a very good thing.

My second reason is, quite frankly, that Canadians today are so much more mobile. There are Canadians who have lived all their lives in one particular place, but that is becoming less and less common.

Many honourable senators will know that I was born and raised in Nova Scotia. I spent 12 years of my life living in Alberta. I then moved to Manitoba, and I spent four years of my life living in the United States. I do not have the same sense of roots, if you will, that my father had, who was born in Nova Scotia, lived in Nova Scotia, died in Nova Scotia and was buried in Nova Scotia.

Therefore, I believe that the presence of a national cemetery can be very important to families. I think particularly of the soldier who comes back from Afghanistan and we hold ceremonies that are tough on everyone. That family has to make a decision as to where their loved one will be buried, but they may not have deep roots in any part of the country. This national cemetery can become the resting place for that particular person who has given his or her life for all of us.

I want honourable senators to be clear that if we are to have a national cemetery, it must be a fully bilingual cemetery. It must recognize the bilingual nature of this country because those are fundamental roots for all of us.

Senator Meighen: Honourable senators, I move that Bill C-17 be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

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

Hon. Senators: Question!

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Comeau, seconded by the Honourable Senator LeBreton, that this bill be read the second time.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)

Referred to Committee

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

Some Hon. Senators: Now.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is there unanimous consent to read the bill the third time now?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Corbin seeks a clarification first.

Hon. Eymard Corbin: I thought Senator Meighen was rising to have the bill referred to committee. Did I hear correctly?

Hon. Michael A. Meighen: I was under the misapprehension that some senators wanted to have at least a short opportunity in committee to discuss the bill, but if everyone agrees that we can pass the bill here today, I am content.

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

Senator Corbin: May I speak on a point of clarification? I would like to speak at some point.

The Hon. the Speaker: I will ask the question, as I heard senators call for reading the bill the third time now. That requires unanimous consent.

(1520)

Honourable senators, is there unanimous consent that Bill C-17 be read the third time now?

Some Hon. Senators: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Hearing no objections, it is ordered. Call the bill the third time.

Senator Corbin: Honourable senators, I wished to speak at second reading.

The Hon. the Speaker: The house has adopted the motion at second reading. You can speak at third reading.

Senator Corbin: If I were to speak at third reading, my comments would be totally irrelevant. I need to speak at second reading.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is there unanimous agreement that we hold in abeyance the adoption of the motion so that Senator Corbin may intervene at second reading?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Corbin: Honourable senators, the dead cannot speak. I looked forward to Senator Meighen's motion, and I will tell you why. We have had, on occasion through the years, a number of motions or bills before this place to designate commemorative days for various reasons. These bills have always been referred to the committee process, which allows the public to be heard on the substance of a bill. This is why we have steps in the process of legislation. First reading allows the bill's printing. At second reading, we look at the principle of the bill, but that is not quite true. At third reading, committee study allows the participation of interested parties who happen not to belong to this place. In that way, the public has a say.

I think it would be a good thing to have the bill referred to committee. I will add that I am not opposed to this legislation, but the Senate has played a useful role in being the chamber of sober second thought in respect of proposed legislation. We ought to be faithful to that practice, which takes away from no one but ultimately enforces the objective that we seek to accomplish. I invite Senator Meighen to stand up once again and move that the bill be referred to committee.

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

Senator Meighen: Honourable senators, I move that the bill be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: On a point of order. Did I hear His Honour call third reading, and then the vote to which there was no objection? Was the bill not given third reading but we went back to second reading to give Senator Corbin an opportunity to speak?

I am not being confrontational; I simply ask the question from a procedural point of view. I heard the question for third reading, which means to me that it passed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I will clarify. The question on the motion at second reading was put and it was adopted. The house then proceeded with the question on the motion to refer the bill to committee or move to third reading now. Senator Corbin indicated that the chair had not seen him because he wanted to speak at second reading. I asked for and received house permission to return to second reading. Having heard then from Senator Corbin and the motion at second reading having been adopted it put us in a position to hear Senator Meighen's motion to refer to committee.

Senator Corbin: There is something missing. The honourable senator was listening but I was looking and heard Senator Meighen, perhaps a little too fast, suggest that the bill be referred to committee. However, we then did second reading and I wondered what happened to Senator Meighen's motion because I did not see him rise. That is why I asked to be recognized. It could well be that second reading was given but no opportunity was given to Senator Meighen to read his motion. There was confusion, I must say. Is the honourable senator not happy it will go to committee, come back and be approved?

Senator St. Germain: I am not being confrontational, and I do not want to ruin a good debate. I will sit down proudly and ensure that this bill passes as quickly as possible.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Meighen, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology)

[Earlier]

Visitors to the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, allow me to interrupt the proceedings because we have on the floor of the Senate, below the bar, some very special Canadians that I would like to introduce and welcome to the Senate. We have a number of Paralympic athletes joining us in the Senate today.

Hon. Senators: Here, here!

The Hon. the Speaker: I would like to introduce to honourable senators Hervé Lord, a Paralympic athlete in sledge hockey; Ina Forrest, an Paralympic athlete in curling; Sir Phillip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee; Carla Qualtrough, President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee; and John Furlong, Chief Executive Officer of the Vancouver Organizing Committee.

Obviously, with such a warm welcome by the honourable senators, you know you are welcome here in the Senate of Canada.

Budget Implementation Bill, 2009

Fifth Report of National Finance Committee Presented

Hon. Irving Gerstein, Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, presented the following report:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has the honour to present its

FIFTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-10, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and related fiscal measures, has, in obedience to its order of reference of March 5, 2009, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

IRVING R. GERSTEIN
Deputy Chair

Senator Angus: Very important stuff.

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

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I move that the bill be read the third time now, with leave.

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Agreed. On debate, third reading.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Normally debate would begin the next sitting day.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the report was tabled without amendment, therefore, the chair called for third reading of the bill. A motion is needed to move third reading of Bill C-10.

Third Reading

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino moved third reading of Bill C-10, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and related fiscal measures.

He said: Honourable senators, on behalf of all honourable senators and all Canadians, I extend my appreciation to the members of the National Finance Committee for their consideration of Bill C-10, the budget implementation bill.

Although there are differences of opinion on certain parts of this bill, I welcome the opportunity to listen to Canadians about their concerns on parts of this bill when we look at the recommendation made on the motion of Senator Tardif. However, we should acknowledge the thoughtful recognition of the need to pass this bill in order to expedite the expenditures contained in Bill C-10 that would lessen the negative impact on Canadians from this extraordinary economic situation that we find ourselves in.

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Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, before we received this bill in this house, we consulted with the government and we asked them when they needed to have this house deal with that bill. We were advised that dealing with the bill in this house by the end of the month would be satisfactory. That is the information provided to our colleagues in the other place, as well.

On the basis of that understanding, Senator Gerstein and Senator Day, the Deputy Chair and Chair, respectively, of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, worked out a plan to allow the committee to hold hearings so that Canadians concerned about the non-stimulus portion of the bill could be heard.

Honourable senators will recall that we received the bill last week. On day one, we gave it first reading. The next day, we gave it second reading and referred it to committee. On the third day that we had the bill, we heard from Minister Flaherty who appeared before the National Finance Committee.

It was only at that time, in response to questions from my friend, Senator Mitchell, that we determined there was an issue with respect to Employment Insurance benefits. It was only then, when the minister, prompted by his own officials, indicated that, in fact, there were benefits that would flow to Canadians, to the most vulnerable in our society — those who had lost their jobs as a result of this economic downturn. It was only then that the minister, prompted by his officials, said that there was an urgency to pass this bill before March 31.

Therefore, we all are faced with a situation where we have to ask ourselves whether we wanted to forego the work plan that was worked out by Senator Day and Senator Gerstein, and which was accepted by the National Finance Committee. That plan would have enabled some 40 hours of hearings to be held with witnesses coming in from across the country to express concerns, not about the stimulus portions of the bill, but of some 40 other pieces of legislation that may have some connection to the stimulus package, and which may need to be amended in some way to give full effect of the stimulus package. However, if that is so, it is not readily apparent in any of the explanations provided by any government official, either in the other place or before our National Finance Committee.

We are faced with a situation where we have to go back and revisit the plan we had adopted. We on this side have decided that we are not prepared to put at risk the most vulnerable of our citizens — those who have been most immediately affected by the economic downturn, those who have lost their jobs and who now might be prejudiced if the passage of this bill were delayed until such a time as we could complete the schedule that all of us were working towards and which our committee had been asked to consider, and to which it agreed.

When the government presented its budget on January 27, it announced that the benefit period for Employment Insurance would be extended by five weeks. In the budget brief, on page 11, it stated:

Increasing for two years all regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefit entitlements by five extra weeks and increasing the maximum benefit duration to 50 weeks from 45 weeks.

In the larger budget document, Canada's Economic Action Plan, on page 98, it said virtually the same thing:

. . . the government will increase all regular entitlements by five extra weeks to a maximum of 50 weeks for the next two years at an estimated cost of $1.15 billion.

The provisions of the budget are designed to come into effect for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which begins on April 1. Nowhere in Mr. Flaherty's speech or in the budget papers was it mentioned that the changes for EI recipients would take place sooner than the commencement of the fiscal year.

On Tuesday, in response to questioning from Senator Mitchell of Mr. Flaherty in the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, we were told by officials that extended benefits for EI could come into effect immediately. In fact, those increased benefits would come into effect retroactively from the date this bill received Royal Assent.

In response to a question by Senator Mitchell, Mr. Giroux, an official from the Department of Finance, replied as follows:

Senator, you mentioned that the 5 weeks would apply only at the end of 45 weeks. It would apply to all claims that are active as of the day of the budget implementation bill receiving Royal Assent. In fact, it would apply to all claims that are active a couple of days prior to the bill receiving Royal Assent. It would benefit all unemployed individuals depending on when the bill receives Royal Assent.

Honourable senators, even this was not the whole story. Though Mr. Giroux said that extra benefits would apply to EI claims that, in his words, would be active a couple of days prior to the bill receiving Royal Assent, we now learn that it is not a couple of days — it is actually two weeks.

Earlier in the meeting, Mr. Flaherty spoke about the extra five weeks of benefits. He made no mention of a two-week retroactive period. He said:

These are Canadians who have lost their jobs and who are entitled to another five weeks, according to this bill when it passes.

Honourable senators, all of us on both sides of this house have been working on the assumption that we had until the end of March to conclude our work. We now find that, if we follow that path, Canadians whose EI benefits have expired during the last two weeks will not be eligible for the last five weeks of benefits.

How many EI recipients will be affected? I cannot answer that. However, in the month of January, more than 100,000 Canadians lost their jobs. Undoubtedly, we are talking about a large number of workers and their families who, every day and in ever increasing numbers, are falling into dire financial straits.

What a terrible situation we find ourselves in. If we do our job to give careful consideration to legislation, which is at least supposed to receive some review in the other place, more and more families will suffer. As the depression deepens under Prime Minister Harper's watch, I am not prepared to add to the difficulties already faced by so many Canadians.

We, on this side, will not oppose the swift passage of Bill C-10 but our motivation should not be misunderstood by anyone. Our allowance of swift passage is not because we believe this budget constitutes a coherent and effective action plan for the country. However, unfortunately, even the confused half-measures it contains are preferable to doing nothing, which was Mr. Harper's initial instinct when we saw that horrible economic statement in November.

Many parts of this bill have no apparent connection to the stimulus package. We heard Senator Day repeat words regarding his observations of a similar bill last year, when the committee brought to the attention of this chamber the iniquitous practice of this government of bringing in, at the same time as a needed budget bill, all kinds of other bills. It is a dumpster approach to legislation.

As we found out last year, and once again this year, the problem is that there are unintended consequences that are realized after the fact, rather than being identified at the time. There is absolutely no reason why those other parts of this bill cannot be severed. We could have passed the stimulus package when it first came here. We could have turned it around immediately, and all these benefits could have begun to flow at that time.

Instead, the government stubbornly insisted that all these pieces of legislation were part of a package that had to be dealt with together, under threat of an election — an election that no Canadian wanted to have. If any problem has been visited upon Canadians, it is as a result of the direct and stubborn action and inaction of this government. This stimulus package could have been passed last fall. If Minister Flaherty and the Prime Minister had brought in a respectable economic statement at that time, we could have passed this stimulus package.

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Instead, they chose to put forward political gamesmanship and cheap political tricks, and they wanted to hide them in the economic statement. When that came to light, when they were exposed for what they were, what did they do? They promised that our elected colleagues would have an opportunity to vote on the statement and when they saw they could not win that vote, they ran to the Governor General and sought prorogation.

Instead of having Parliament in session to deal with the important and deteriorating worldwide economic situation, and particularly the economic situation in this country, they ran away and hid. Honourable senators, we were prevented from doing the job that we are here to do — to work on legislation. It is their fault and they have nobody to blame but themselves.

We will allow this budget to pass, imperfect as it is, and I am pleased to hear that the government will support the motion made on my behalf by my colleague, Senator Tardif, to refer the subject matter of this legislation to various committees of this house to allow us to give Canadians a voice. Until now, Canadians have been deprived of any opportunity to express their views.

I have no opinion at this point in time whether the objections regarding amendments proposed to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Competition Act or any of the other acts are correct or not. However, people deserve an opportunity to be heard. The motion that we have put before the house today will allow our committees to do what they do so well, that is to give Canadians an opportunity to be heard. I am pleased that my honourable friends opposite will support this motion. Those committees will do their job in a thorough and professional manner, and they will report back to this house by June 11.

Canadians can be sure that Liberals on this side of the Senate, and in the other place, will give careful consideration to the recommendations of those Senate committees. If it is necessary to introduce any legislative measures to undo wrongs that we see — we talk about pay equity and other problems already identified in this bill — as a result of the hearings to be held, then we will bring forth legislative measures to remedy those defects if we cannot persuade the government to remedy them. Be assured that we will do it because that is what Canadians expect.

Hon. George Baker: Honourable senators, I will not give a speech. I will refrain from doing that. I want to point out to fellow senators where I stand on this particular motion for third reading.

This is the second year in a row that we have had budgets that adversely impact on the revenues that flow to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador — the province that I represent; the province with the highest per capita debt in the country; the highest taxes in the country; the lowest-paid public servants in the country; and whose nurses are presently negotiating a contract and are the lowest paid in the country.

Honourable senators, we have encountered this problem with the federal government for the second year in a row. A year and a half ago, the Honourable John Crosby, a famous Progressive Conservative even came to Ottawa and crafted an amendment to this particular budget implementation bill that took away $800 million from the transfers to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

He crafted the amendment. I did not craft it. I put forward the amendment in the committee. Of course, I was a member of the committee at the time. I am not surprised I am not on the committee now because the government, for the second year, has decided to cut from the transfers, this time $1.6 billion.

Honourable senators, those two things are not, in and of themselves, sufficient for me to be outraged at these actions. It is possible that a federal government, in its economic ways and planning, could impose that kind of prejudice against a provincial government if they are acting in a certain financial manner. However, honourable senators, it is two years in a row now.

As honourable senators are aware, the practice is that the federal government informs the provincial ministers of finance of the possible implications of a federal budget well in advance of a federal budget. There is no other way Confederation can work. The federal government must notify the provinces of possible problems that will arise with plans for their March 31 budget. Ever since we joined Canada in 1949, the federal Department of Finance has telephoned the provincial Department of Finance in Newfoundland and Labrador and told them what the possible implications would be for the federal budget. This practice has been the case in all except for the past two years — huge cuts, no phone call.

Senator Banks: No surprise.

Senator Baker: And no surprise.

Is that any way to treat a provincial administration? No, it is not. It is not good enough. Amid all the unanimity in this chamber, I am announcing — as usual — that I cannot support this bill and I will vote against it on third reading.

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, with great reluctance, I will not say that I support this bill, but I will vote to allow it to pass.

I am frustrated by many features of this bill. I am particularly frustrated by the manipulation and the tricks that are inherent in this bill. I think the Conservative members here and in the other place should understand one fundamental message. They have structured this bill with clause after clause for which there is no urgency and for which there is no reason to include in this bill.

Do honourable senators know what message it sends? It says that the government cannot implement its agenda without playing tricks. There is no urgency on the pay equity matters. One official presenting to us yesterday said he has been working on pay equity for five years. Another said she has been working on it since 1995. Why can it not wait another month or two for us to properly assess it? That would allow Canadians to have some say into what bothers them about that legislation, and to explore the depths of their frustration in a public forum.

They did not need to include the Navigable Waters Protection Act. They said themselves that it had not been changed since 1867, so what is the rush? Will another week or two here or there be inordinate or unfortunate? I do not think so.

Why is the Competition Act included? Those amendments have profound risk for diminishing the ability of our companies to be competitive. Many sectors of Canadian business understand that this legislation raises large problems. Is it not appropriate to give those people a couple of weeks to say something about the amendments?

This government understands fundamentally the politics of this bill and their agenda. They know that Canadians do not want those pay equity changes. They know that people care much more about the environment than the government does. The only way that the government can have it passed through Parliament is with cheap, political, procedural tricks. That will remain an historical fact and it colours and characterizes this party to be exactly what it is.

(1550)

If that does not bother you enough, what bothers me even further is that Mr. Flaherty, the person you have entrusted with managing this economy in its desperate crisis circumstances, did not even know that this provision was in the bill. There are two clear indications. One is that he had to bring up an official to clarify that, in fact, the five weeks apply to anyone who is on EI now. He did not know that, but that is what occurred.

What is really telling, and this is new information, is that there is no money provided in the budget to fund these retroactive EI benefits until April 1. It is absolutely fundamentally true.

Maybe he is not actually the Finance Minister. Maybe the real Finance Minister is Mr. Harper, and Mr. Harper is just a bit too distracted and busy to figure out that if he is going to bring in something he had better have the money for it.

Their default position is to use it for cheap political ends, so immediately they begin to pound the Senate. What do they say? "The Senate is holding this up. Canadians will be hurt. These people who are without jobs and on EI and would be on it longer are going to be hurt because of Liberal senators."

You know what? You did not even have the money. Unless something can be done pretty dramatically, nobody will get this until it starts in April 1.

Let me take it one step further. If you are seriously concerned about Canadians who have lost their jobs and need longer benefits so they can feed their families, for example, why do you not go back to the fiscal response or the fiscal update in the fall when you should have got it right the first time, when you screwed it up? I am sorry to use that word in here, honourable senators, but the fact is that you screwed it up three months ago. Why do you not go back to that point when you should have done it right and when, presumably, those provisions would have been in it and then maybe you would have had the time to put the money in the budget to actually fund it?

If you are serious, get up and do it. Go back and do that.

The other thing that is disturbing to me is that Mr. Flaherty played politics with this particular provision, on the backs, as it were, of people who desperately need this funding.

It is as though there is no consideration for the human costs involved in this. It is also, however, not particularly surprising. If anybody had the time and the fortitude to read Mr. Harper's speech on the economy, people were not mentioned once. Not a single time did Mr. Harper mention a child, a family, a woman or a worker who was suffering because of this economy, not a single time.

Why would we be surprised that Mr. Flaherty would not consider the implications of this for people? Why would we be surprised that Mr. Flaherty would not have put the money in to fund this and why would we be surprised that Mr. Flaherty used this in his default position to play absolute immediate, cheap politics? That is the nature of Conservative politics.

I would like to point out, too, because a number of senators here, and certainly the leadership, forever wants to compress what the Senate does, what Senate committees do, trying to limit it and saying that somehow it is a waste of money.

What we proved this time is that Senate committees absolutely perform a function, and the Senate committees and this chamber should be respected and not diminished by the very people who get paid to work in here. It should not diminished by the people who should love this institution, who should build this institution and who should work hard for the people of Canada with the mechanisms and the resources of this institution.

Finally, I would like to say, because I want to support this motion, good for you for allowing us to refer it to the committee at least for further study, but what I will also say is that given the rush with which you have pressed this through and given what we already know about how inadequate it is, I fear in the depths of my heart what we will find to be wrong in this bill and what those implications will be for families, children, workers and people in general in this society when they need a Minister of Finance, a Prime Minister, a Parliament and a Senate that will defend and protect their interests and not play cheap political games like you have done so evidently in this bill.

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I cannot forebear to try to answer the question as to who the Minister of Finance is. I think we all know the Minister of record is the Honourable James Flaherty. However, Senator Mitchell should know what I thought everyone in town knew, which is that PMO and PCO on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are running the Department of Finance, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays are running the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Honourable senators, I did not deny, as any one honourable senator would have the right to do, the unanimous consent required to receive the report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance on this bill, and I did not deny the further unanimous consent that was required to proceed with third reading. I respect the fact that Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition have made a determination of what they believe their duty to be on this matter, and it would not have served any purpose whatever to delay them in the process.

That is not, of course, to say that I agree with what they are doing and what I suppose they are about to do for reasons that I do not think I have to elaborate at any great length.

Let me say, however, that it is never a happy day, still less an edifying day, when parliamentarians succumb to political blackmail. Parliamentarians who so succumb will find, as parliamentarians before them have found, that the appetite of the blackmailer is not only voracious, it is insatiable. There is no end to it. I very much fear that we are on a slippery slope leading to parliamentary irrelevance.

If I had a message to send to Michael Ignatieff, the message would be: Stephen Harper has your number.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, I assume that later this afternoon, the Senate will be debating the motion put forward earlier by the honourable Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the Investment Canada Act, the Competition Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and several other acts be studied by different Senate committees.

With all due respect, it is hard to take such a motion seriously. I can assure you that the government will not take it seriously. The government will look at it with the same disdainful attitude it always takes toward anything that comes out of the Senate.

[English]

I am sure that some of the people who are concerned about ramming through the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the amendments to the Competition Act, the amendments to the Investment Canada Act, the new Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act and so on, will come to be heard, but they will not be impressed and I do not think they will thank us for not doing what they know we could have done and should have done — namely, sever those bills from the omnibus legislation and send the stimulus package back to the House of Commons for Royal Assent.

By the way, what we would be sending back to the House of Commons would include the provisions relating to Employment Insurance, which were mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition and by the Honourable Senator Mitchell.

I was going to say a few words about the stimulus package because I had not commented on it before. I think it would have been a different package had there been a majority Conservative government. I am sure many people opposite would say, "Thank goodness there is not a majority government. God knows what they might have done."

(1600)

However, I think even a minority Harper government duly returned to office, as this government was, would have brought in a different budget had it not got into such political trouble by bungling the autumn economic statement, which forced them through a near-death experience. The budget they would have brought in might have been in deficit because of the economic recession and the consequent downward pressures on government revenue and upward pressures on EI and social expenditures, as well as a narrow margin of manoeuvre they left for themselves because of their program spending increases in the first two years for which they had responsibility. Their program spending was going up faster than the rate of inflation, faster than the growth of the gross domestic product and faster than the rate of increase in their revenues, a point made recently by the former Finance Minister and former Prime Minister, Mr. Martin.

However, had it not been for their political near-death experience, they would have brought in a less political budget; they would have spent less on stimulus measures; they would have targeted the stimulus measures they did propose to the longer term improvements in productivity; and they would have acknowledged more directly, as the November statement tried to do, that Canada must largely wait and hope for economic recovery in the United States, and, to some extent, in other large national economies that are the markets for our commodities.

Furthermore, they would have pointed out, as they did in the report they tabled the other day, that they were ahead of the curve when it came to stimulus — whether it was an anticipation of a recession or an anticipation of an election is irrelevant, it is beside the point. I think a responsible government would have come to the conclusion that, meanwhile, there was no point undermining our strength and our fiscal situation by unnecessary spending or on unnecessary tax reductions that can contribute only marginally to the recovery process.

As things turned out, however, the government had to bring in a highly political stimulus budget. I support the stimulus part of it because it is the only game in town. The criticism has been largely at the margins and not very substantive at that. However, I do not think the stimulus package itself will do any harm, not directly. When the time comes to restore a balanced budget, it should not be horrendously difficult to pull back much of the short-term stimulus spending. The spending increases in the present budget are not locked in, as new programs often are, and there is no reason why they should lead to structural deficits, a point made repeatedly by the government in recent weeks. I do say that about the stimulus measures.

Honourable senators, I return to the point that I have made several times, namely that we can pass these stimulus measures and send them over to the House of Commons this very day. The bill with the stimulus measures, which is so urgent, can receive Royal Assent this week. Meanwhile, we can delete the clauses relating, among other things, to the Investment Canada Act, the national securities regulator, the Competition Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the proposed public sector equitable compensation act.

I will have to read into the record the clauses that it will be necessary to delete in order to give effect to my purpose. Please bear with me; I will do this as quickly as I can.

Motion in Amendment

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I move, seconded by the Honourable Senator McCoy:

That Bill C-10 be not now read a third time but that it be amended:

(a) by deleting clause 317 on page 291;

(b) by deleting clause 318 on page 291;

(c) by deleting clause 319 on page 291;

(d) by deleting clause 320 on page 292;

(e) by deleting clause 321 on pages 292 to 294;

(f) by deleting clause 322 on pages 294 and 295;

(g) by deleting clause 323 on page 295;

(h) by deleting clause 324 on pages 295 and 296;

(i) by deleting clause 325 on page 296;

(j) by deleting clause 326 on pages 296 and 297;

(k) by deleting clause 327 on pages 297 and 298;

[Translation]

(l) by deleting clause 328 on pages 298 and 299;

(m) by deleting clause 329 on page 299;

(n) by deleting clause 330 on page 299;

(o) by deleting clause 331 on page 299;

(p) by deleting clause 332 on pages 299 and 300;

(q) by deleting clause 333 on page 300;

[English]

(r) by deleting clause 334 on pages 300 and 301;

(s) by deleting clause 335 on page 301;

(t) by deleting clause 336 on page 301;

(u) by deleting clause 337 on page 301;

(v) by deleting clause 338 on page 301;

(w) by deleting clause 339 on page 302;

(x) by deleting clause 340 on pages 302 to 306;

(y) by deleting clause 341 on page 306;

(z) by deleting clause 394 on pages 362 to 385;

(z.1) by deleting clause 395 on page 386;

(z.2) by deleting clause 396 on pages 386 and 387;

(z.3) by deleting clause 397 on pages 387 and 388;

(z.4) by deleting clause 398 on page 388;

(z.5) by deleting clause 399 on page 388;

(z.6) by deleting clause 400 on page 389;

(z.7) by deleting clause 401 on page 389;

(z.8) by deleting clause 402 on page 389;

(z.9) by deleting clause 403 on page 389;

(z.10) by deleting clause 404 on pages 389 and 390;

(z.11) by deleting clause 405 on page 390;

(z.12) by deleting clause 406 on page 390;

(z.13) by deleting clause 407 on page 390;

(z.14) by deleting clause 408 on page 390;

(z.15) by deleting clause 409 on pages 390 and 391;

(z.16) by deleting clause 410 on pages 391 to 393;

(z.17) by deleting clause 411 on page 393;

(z.18) by deleting clause 412 on page 394;

(z.19) by deleting clause 413 on page 394;

(z.20) by deleting clause 414 on page 394;

(z.21) by deleting clause 415 on page 394;

(z.22) by deleting clause 416 on page 394;

(z.23) by deleting clause 417 on page 395;

(z.24) by deleting clause 418 on page 395;

(z.25) by deleting clause 419 on pages 395 and 396;

(z.26) by deleting clause 420 on page 396;

(z.27) by deleting clause 421 on page 396;

(z.28) by deleting clause 422 on page 396;

(z.29) by deleting clause 423 on pages 396 and 397;

(z.30) by deleting clause 424 on pages 397 to 399;

(z.31) by deleting clause 425 on pages 399 to 401;

(z.32) by deleting clause 426 on pages 401 to 404;

(z.33) by deleting clause 427 on page 404;

(z.34) by deleting clause 428 on pages 404 and 405;

(z.35) by deleting clause 429 on pages 405 to 409;

(z.36) by deleting clause 430 on page 409;

(z.37) by deleting clause 431 on pages 410 and 411;

(z.38) by deleting clause 432 on page 411;

(z.39) by deleting clause 433 on page 411;

(z.40) by deleting clause 434 on page 411;

(z.41) by deleting clause 435 on pages 411 and 412;

(1610)

[Translation]

(z.42) by deleting clause 436 on pages 412 to 416;

(z.43) by deleting clause 437 on pages 416 to 418;

(z.44) by deleting clause 438 on page 418;

(z.45) by deleting clause 439 on pages 418 to 420;

(z.46) by deleting clause 440 on page 420;

(z.47) by deleting clause 441 on page 420;

(z.48) by deleting clause 442 on page 421;

[English]

(z.49) by deleting clause 443 on page 421;

(z.50) by deleting clause 444 on page 421;

(z.51) by deleting clause 445 on pages 421 and 422;

(z.52) by deleting clause 446 on page 422;

(z.53) by deleting clause 447 on pages 422 to 425;

(z.54) by deleting clause 448 on pages 425 and 426;

(z.55) by deleting clause 449 on page 426;

(z.56) by deleting clause 450 on page 426;

(z.57) by deleting clause 451 on page 427;

(z.58) by deleting clause 452 on pages 427 to 430;

(z.59) by deleting clause 453 on pages 430 to 434;

(z.60) by deleting clause 454 on pages 434 and 435;

(z.61) by deleting clause 455 on pages 436 and 437;

(z.62) by deleting clause 456 on page 437;

(z.63) by deleting clause 457 on pages 437 and 438;

(z.64) by deleting clause 458 on pages 438 and 439;

(z.65) by deleting clause 459 on page 439;

(z.66) by deleting clause 460 on pages 439 and 440;

(z.67) by deleting clause 461 on page 440;

(z.68) by deleting clause 462 on pages 440 to 442;

(z.69) by deleting clause 463 on page 442;

(z.70) by deleting clause 464 on page 442;

(z.71) by deleting clause 465 on page 442;

(z.72) by deleting clause 295 on page 281;

(z.73) by deleting clause 296 on page 281;

(z.74) by deleting clause 297 on pages 281 to 286;

(z.75) by deleting clause 298 on page 286; and

(z.76) by deleting clause 299 on page 286;

Honourable senators will know the effect of those amendments is to remove a number of acts from the omnibus bill and to retain only the stimulus measures that are in Bill C-10.

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Murray, seconded by the Honourable Senator McCoy, that Bill C-10 be not now read a third time but that it be amended — shall I dispense?

Hon. Senators: Dispense.

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

Hon. Tommy Banks: I am sorry we imposed this, honourable senators, but I cannot help thanking Senator Murray on behalf of all of us for aggregating the motions into one; otherwise, we would be here well into next week.

However, I will impose myself on honourable senators in order to assuage my guilt. I have said here on two occasions that I would certainly vote against this bill if it appeared before us in its present form. I do not think I am telling unforgivable tales out of school if I say I have said that in other places as well.

It is only a fool, however, who does not change his mind, and there have been intervening circumstances that have been discovered by Senator Mitchell and by the Senate committee which changed the landscape in which consideration has been given to this bill.

While I cannot bring myself to vote for it, neither will I vote against it, so I will abstain.

In saying that, I want to state that a victory will have been achieved here today and a defeat will have been sustained here today. It is not a victory by a political party or a sustainment of a defeat of a political party. It is a victory of the ministers of the Crown over Parliament. That is what is happening here today. It is not far removed from the question over which Charles I lost his head. It is not far removed from Runnymede in 1215. It is not hard to imagine John saying: "What is this all about? Do you not understand that I rule this place and that my ministers rule this place? What is this nonsense about me having to ask permission to collect money and determine how to spend it, all of this Parliament business to which you are subjecting me?"

We are back to that now. In this case, the ministers of the Crown have said to both houses of Parliament, "We are the Crown, we will decide what will happen and you will rubber stamp it in both houses. Do not ask any questions, do not study it and do not dare stick anything in our eye."

When we all vote in favour of this bill, which I guess will happen, except for a few of us — as I have said, I will abstain — that is what will happen here today. Parliament will have lost today, which I very much regret.

Hon. Elaine McCoy: Honourable senators, I rise to put my voice on the record in addition to that of my esteemed colleague Senator Murray. My esteemed colleague from Alberta, Senator Banks, I acknowledge, has expressed many of the sentiments that I would have.

I will say, however, that the motion in amendment before the chamber gives honourable senators a way out.

I was intrigued that, just by chance — I am sure this was not planned — a bill came before us today in regard to create a national cemetery. Indeed, Senator Banks rose and pointed out that the inauguration ceremony of that national cemetery here in Ottawa was performed before the bill even got to the Senate of Canada, on the assumption that it would pass and become the law of Canada. He said that this is the kind of disrespect the House of Commons has developed for the Senate of Canada. It is also the disrespect that the Government of Canada has developed for the Senate of Canada, the government being the Prime Minister and the cabinet.

Honourable senators, the reason they have lost respect is the Senate of Canada rolls over and plays dead. I believe in the sincerity of those of us who have spoken passionately today in committee meetings and in private meetings before now about the non-stimulus travesty that has been pushed forward in Bill C-10 to the detriment of Canadians. I believe honourable senators want to do the right thing. However, we are letting that opportunity pass by if we vote in favour of Bill C-10 today.

We talk about the need for national unity. What are we saying? We are saying that we cannot abandon people who are in line for Employment Insurance benefits. They are among the neediest of Canadians. I agree, but it does not mean that we have to penalize other people. How many women are there in the public sector? With respect to the pay equity legislation that will become law, unless we support this motion in amendment to sever the proposed public sector equitable compensation act from the stimulus provisions, do honourable senators know that the proposed statute bans the union from representing its members if they make a pay equity complaint?

(1620)

Do you realize, honourable senators, that you are emasculating a union? Do honourable senators realize they are standing behind a bill that eradicates one of the oldest collective rights for people to stand together to ensure that they are not victimized by a bullying executive?

Not only will we bury the respect that the Senate of Canada has at any time achieved in the new national cemetery today, but we will also eradicate one of the most prized Charter rights we have in Canada, which is the right of collective association. It also happens that elimination of that right is particularly aimed at women.

Another one of our most cherished myths is that we support the rights of minorities, the rights of regions. We will ignore the complaints or considerations raised by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Those things for which we say the Senate stands tall and proud — standing up for the regions, standing up for minorities, standing up for women and giving a voice to Canadians — are what is at risk today.

I support the motion to sever the non-stimulus portions of the bill and send the bill back to the House of Commons. Let them call for Royal Assent in that form, or send it back to the Senate immediately; but let it be on their heads, not on mine.

Honourable senators, rather than talking about the ends justifying the means, rather than not calling the bluff of the court jester, the Prime Minister of Canada, here is your opportunity to do the honourable thing on behalf of Canadians.

When the bill was introduced in third reading this afternoon, the Honourable Senator Di Nino said he thanked our Standing Senate Committee on National Finance on behalf of all Canadians. Let me tell you, one of the most eloquent emails I received came from a group called Women Elders in Action. They beseeched Senator Di Nino and every other senator in this chamber not to pass the non-stimulus portions of the bill, pointing out that passing these portions are an affront to women and also, in the case of the Navigable Waters Protection Act, a severe affront to some, perhaps, First Nation rights.

The bill could be an affront to our environmental rights. The Navigable Waters Protection Act purports to and will — if we do not stop the non-stimulus package today — delegate to a minister of the Crown all discretion over navigable rivers in our country.

As Senator Banks said, Charles I could have asked for no more. This bill is a complete reversion to court government. That is what is at stake in these proposed legislative changes. We need to be on record as to where we stand on these things.

I appreciate that we will take the time to study these matters at greater length in the Senate. I applaud that study. It was something I suggested two weeks ago; but I suggested we study them before they became statutes, not afterwards.

As the Honourable Senator Murray has pointed out, whatever we might say about them after they have passed into law will likely receive no consideration whatsoever from the Prime Minister and the cabinet, which is to say the government of this country, after we have rolled over and played dead.

Honourable senators, I invite you to join those two or three of us who have said we will support this motion, send the stimulus package back in short order to the House of Commons and let them roll that money out the door right away.

Hon. Norman K. Atkins: Honourable senators, I support the proposition that Senator Murray has made to this chamber.

I heard the proposition that the deputy chair made with regard to reviewing certain elements of this bill after it has been passed; and I heard what Senator McCoy said, that it is a good thing that these acts will be reviewed. However, does anyone believe that once this bill is passed, anyone will take seriously anything that comes out of committees after the review has taken place, and after June 11?

I do not believe it for a minute. I have been here for 23 years, and I have seen many propositions like this one pass. Nothing comes of them.

We are in a terrible situation. I agree with what Senator Banks, Senator McCoy and Senator Mitchell have said. With the new 18 members who are here, and the number of us who have been here for a long time, we have to think how important this place is, and consider whether we are being taken for granted. It does not really matter what happens in the other place; as long as it passes there and comes here, no one pays attention to what members of this place think. I think that situation is a dangerous proposition for members of the Senate, and this bill is only one more example.

I appreciate the difficulties that the Liberal opposition has in dealing with this situation, but I agree with Senator Murray: This is the time to be bold and take a chance.

I think the government is playing dare with us and with the Liberal opposition. The time will come when honourable senators will have to stand up and be counted. Therefore, I support Senator Murray's proposition, and I will abstain on the main vote.

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I agree with Senator Murray, but what we face here is an exercise in blackmail.

My problem has been that the victims are not we, in this chamber; the hostages in this exercise in blackmail are the most vulnerable of Canadians, who are now feeling and will increasingly feel as the months wear by, the bite of the worst economic straits we have faced in 70 years.

(1630)

Even before Senator Mitchell extracted the information that has so shaken us all — and I do congratulate him for that — I lay awake more nights than I would like to think worrying about the price that would be paid no matter what we did in this chamber.

Now we have learned about these incredible — almost hidden — clauses on Employment Insurance. I do not believe that my friends on the other side of this aisle were any more aware of those provisions on Employment Insurance than we were. I am sure it came as much as a surprise to them as it did to us.

I would love to be able to support Senator Murray's motion, because what he is proposing is — in all terms except those I have just described — what we should be doing, but I try to gauge the consequences of it. At the very least, we would be delaying to unemployed Canadians — and denying to some of them — those extended Employment Insurance benefits that they so desperately need. What we will be giving them is not enough, but it is better than what they have now. That is at the very best.

Assuming that a miracle occurred and the government suddenly decided to accept the severed bill with a few days' delay, taking us past one more Sunday; but the government has said it would not accept a severed bill, even if all the opposition parties joined to pass it. In order to avoid accepting the severed bill, it would have to go to the people. That would mean a delay of months before any stimulus was available.

I do not know much about Stephen Harper. I am not privileged to be — I will use that word ironically — in his inner circle, but one thing I have observed so far about Mr. Harper is that when he says he will do something, no matter how ill advised that thing may be, he usually does it. He gives new meaning to the definition of stubbornness. I, for one, am not willing to play that game of chicken at the very likely price of help for those Canadians who need it most.

There are many things in this bill that we know are objectionable, and I suspect that in a truly non-partisan way, the committees that study the subject matter will find other things that need correction, because that is what committees do. In a 500-page bill, it is not possible that there should be no flaws at all. Some of the things can be corrected. Pay equity, for example, can be corrected in a new parliament by simply revoking this iniquitous — in my view — bill.

In the meantime, I have concluded that I owe my vote to the most vulnerable. I shall abstain on Senator Murray's motion and I shall — as Senator Mitchell put it — not vote for this budget, but vote to allow this budget to pass.

Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, I had not intended to rise to speak to this issue, and I do so only because I want to emphasize that the issue today is not so much the budget as it is whether the Canadian people are or are not entitled to a parliamentary process. What is happening is not that a budget or a stimulus bill is being passed because, indeed, it will be passed. What is happening is we will be encouraging this government to tread on the absolute democratic rights of Canadians to have all legislation heard, considered, vetted and given the appropriate thought. Canadians have a right to demand this of us.

In that respect, I am thoroughly sympathetic to the proposed amendment. I wish I could vote for it. I regrettably cannot because — as the senator who preceded me, Senator Fraser, so eloquently put it — we have an obligation to the Canadian people. We have been put in the invidious position on purpose by this government of either punishing the Canadian people or finding ourselves in a position where we are compelled to deny the absolute rights of Parliament to deal with legislation. This is a right which goes back thousands of years.

Honourable senators, we have seen this before. There was another equally invidious piece in Bill C-10 — a different Bill C-10 — a year and a half ago when this government attempted — fortunately unsuccessfully — to impose a horrifying piece of censorship on the Canadian people.

One of your committees determined that it would not permit that to happen. Therefore, that piece of legislation fortunately died with the calling of the election.

I will vote for this piece of legislation because in the final analysis, my responsibility is to the Canadian people. I must be honest with the reality that Canadian people are suffering terribly and that we owe them to do the best we can to alleviate or minimize that suffering.

I would like my colleagues to consider, however, why this government continues to bury bad pieces of law into potentially good pieces of law and prevent the Canadian people from having access to the parliamentary-rich system which they so thoroughly deserve.

Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, there are good measures and bad measures in this budget. Even more so, there are measures in here that cry out for more study, more time and attention, because of the very thing that Senator Mitchell uncovered in his question, of which the minister himself was not aware. He had to call upon an official to answer the question. It turns out to be a fundamental part of this budget and a fundamental part of the support for Canadians.

If that is one thing that has been uncovered, what else is in there?

One of the things I questioned was the urgency behind these pay-equity provisions, which cause a number of us considerable concern. The official who came said that the provisions will not take effect for three years. What is the rush? Why is it in this budget now? Why must it be passed now — with great urgency — with a stimulus package, when it does not take effect for three years?

Why will it not take effect for three years? There is a restraint measure in the previous clause of the same budget. The restraint measure calls for a 1.5 per cent pay restriction over three years. I asked if this would not affect pay equity. I was told that the pay equity will come later, after the three years is over. They can prepare for it, and meanwhile the current provisions of the Human Rights Act will apply.

Why is it necessary to find these things out while being rushed and pushed? Mr. Flaherty said to us on Tuesday to pass it now. Do not go on vacation. Pass it right here and now. We need it now.

(1640)

We all know we need the stimulus package now. However, the government did not know it last fall. They came in with their economic statement that was completely disconnected from the reality of the time. The G20 had already been talking about stimulus packages. Governments were talking about it extensively everywhere else but not here. There was nothing in that financial update in November. Of course, because there was nothing, the opposition was outraged to the degree that it threatened the government's survival, so what did the government do? The government prorogued, of course, and then they come through with a stimulus package.

Honourable senators, we want the stimulus package. We want it to work. I am not sure it has the right focus. I do not think it does enough in terms of Employment Insurance, for example, and there are provisions like the Working Income Tax Benefit that are not in this bill. They do not come until the next budget bill. There are still provisions that people need in this country in terms of stimulus that the government has not seen fit to put forward in this bill. Here are the provisions, 500 pages, most of which have little to do with stimulus, most of which need an awful lot more time and attention.

As a member of the National Finance Committee, I am disappointed in how the government has processed this bill. I am not terribly surprised but I am disappointed. Yes, most of us will support it on the basis of the good parts outweighing the bad parts, and particularly providing something to Canadians because, first and foremost — the bill is to help Canadians in this time of economic downturn. That is why we want to pass the stimulus at this time.

Hon. Mac Harb: Honourable senators, I like what Senator Murray has proposed. It would be a historic moment for this Parliament, for this house, to stand up for what it should be, a place where we can have true debate and true discussion.

It is my hope, however, that if Senator Murray cannot pass his motion all in bulk, he will divide it into specific motions so we can have the debate we have been asking for on each and every one of those amendments dealing with each and every one of those clauses. Only by having this debate can we send the government the necessary message that it needs and that it deserves to hear, which is respect for democracy and what democracy is all about.

I am no longer a member of the Senate Finance Committee. I know already though, from communications that have come to my office, that provisions in this implementation bill give exclusive authority to ministers, without going to Parliament, to make executive decisions on their own when those things should go to Parliament each and every time those situations come up.

My suggestion for this Parliament, for this house, for this Senate, is not to be explicitly complicit in this. It is not a precedent; a number of times this government has bullied not only the House of Commons but the Senate as well. This bullying is ultimately a shameful thing and a shameful precedent in the history of this Parliament — in the history of this Senate.

Honourable senators, we were appointed to the Senate of Canada to speak out on issues that are not popular, on issues that are controversial, on issues that the House of Commons may or may not wish to debate properly. We were put in this Parliament, in this Senate, to debate important issues that are controversial, not to duck away every time pressure comes from the other side. No, honourable senators, this is your moment as senators.

I served in the House of Commons for 16 years and a reporter once asked me: What is the difference between being on the government side and being on the opposition side? Without even thinking, I said: On the government side they do not have to think because the government does all of the thinking for them; On the opposition side they have to think.

Honourable senators, please think. Think because you are independent here as members of this chamber. They cannot remove you until the age of 75. Speak out. Do you hear me? Speak out for what is right and for what is correct, over and over again, as Senator Murray has said, as Senator McCoy has said, as my colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador said, as Senator Banks has said and as Senator Atkins has. I will vote with these honourable senators in solidarity. Lack of respect for this Parliament must be stopped. We have to stand up for what is right.

I am not convinced by what this official said to the committee — that the government cannot pay unemployed people. I want proof. It is my hope that we will do everything we can not to allow this bill to pass tonight, but to delay the bill until we receive the exclusive and explicit proof that, if we do not do what Senator Murray suggests, then the whole country will fall apart, we will have a civil revolution and thousands of people will come to Parliament Hill demanding the passage of Bill C-10.

We must allow debate to take place. Frankly, the bone the government is throwing to the opposition side that we will debate the issues after the passage of Bill C-10 is like giving a dog a rotten bone. It is no bone at all. We cannot even chew on it. It is an absolute waste of time for the Senate. That treatment is unacceptable and should not be accepted.

I can hear Senator Manning. I know the honourable senator does not care, because if he did, he would stand up for the people he represents, not like a trained seal but like a senator appointed to represent their interests.

The Hon. the Speaker: Order, order.

Senator Harb: I have a taste for debating politically controversial issues, honourable senators, for example, banning commercial seal hunting. Not one single soul in this whole chamber has the courage, the backbone or the ability to stand up and allow the debate. I could have paid back some of my colleagues today when —

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I have a question of privilege.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Prud'homme on a point of order?

Senator Prud'homme: I have a great deal of respect for Senator Mac Harb, but I object strongly to the statement that not one senator has the courage to stand up to support his bill. I take strong objection to that, and I am sure that is not his intention and that he will revise what he is saying about those who may not see eye to eye with him.

I, at the Council of Europe, and Senator Goldstein passionately defended the rights of people to hunt seals, to the tears of Senator Sibbeston, who could not believe that urban people like Senator Goldstein and I could talk passionately to the members of the Council of Europe. I think there is a difference between not sharing his opinion and not having courage. He is a friend.

Senator Harb: I withdraw the word "courage." The honourable senator is correct. I totally agree, and he is right. That was not my intention at all; it was the opposite. I believe it is an important debate and should have taken place. The Honourable Senator Prud'homme is absolutely correct, and I offer my apologies.

However, honourable senators, when my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee stood up and asked whether we would give unanimous consent, I would have said no and therefore the report would not have been tabled at the moment it was tabled. I saw it as a courtesy that I should allow him to table it.

(1650)

It is my hope, however, that we will debate the motion proposed by Senator Murray either as a whole or, if the Senate will not adopt it as a whole, point by point. Perhaps Senator Murray would consider a friendly amendment to his motion, which deals with clauses being split, because he introduced a motion that encompassed all of those. I believe the honourable senator has the ability to divide the motion into more than one motion, should he choose to do so.

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, I have quite a few points to make, and I hope my colleagues will bear with me. I am a member of the National Finance Committee. I have been a member of that committee for a few years.

I have the greatest respect for Senators Murray, McCoy and Atkins and for the words they have just spoken to us. However, I am from Atlantic Canada, and for the last three years, particularly in New Brunswick, we have been losing jobs by the thousands. A thousand jobs in New Brunswick, on a per capita basis, translates to a hundred thousand jobs in Ontario.

For the last three years, I have been constantly fighting for New Brunswickers who were losing jobs and not receiving any help from this government. That is the reality, and I must fight for the people back home who need me to support them as they try to get through this situation. I hope honourable senators will understand that I cannot wholeheartedly support the motion.

Honourable senators, Bill C-10 is an omnibus bill. This is not the budget, for two reasons. There are items in the bill that are not contained in the budget book, and there are items announced in the budget book that are not contained in the bill. Allow me to list a few of them.

The government is buying publicity on TV, stating that there are certain credits for Canadians in the new stimulus plan. Can any honourable senator identify where in Bill C-10 one can find the Home Renovation Tax Credit? The federal Harper government is spinning and spending millions of dollars on TV and radio ads for something that does not exist; the Home Renovation Tax Credit does not exist in Bill C-10.

Another item that does not exist in Bill C-10 is the First-Time Home Buyers' Credit. This credit is not contained in Bill C-10, but it was spun in this chamber.

Another item that was spun in this place and repeatedly raised by the Leader of the Government in the Senate when asked questions about the situation of the economy, and yet not contained in Bill C-10, is an expansion of the Working Income Tax Benefit.

The fourth item that was spun in the budget plan but is not contained in the omnibus bill is the money for rural broadband.

I am here to work on behalf of Canadians and I am trying to do the best I can. When we have this kind of attitude, of repeatedly saying one thing and doing another, we have no choice but to question almost every word. How can we not question all of Bill C-10?

Well, I questioned. I asked the witness from Transport Canada if he could inform the members of the National Finance Committee as to the amount of infrastructure funds that were spent over the last three years, on what kind of project and where. I asked that question February 24, three and a half weeks ago, and we still do not have the information. However, the information that I have with regard to infrastructure is that only 4 per cent of the new funding pledged by the Conservative government initiative in 2007 was disbursed to Canadians.

We have a major problem with regard to ensuring that what this government says and does, and what it spins, is accurate. That is, from my perspective, one of the first matters to address with regard to infrastructure. Investment in Canada and the national securities commission need to be deeply studied. I have great grave reservations there.

Another issue with regard to economic stimulus is that we have been hearing, for the last three months, over and over again — on TV, in reports and documentaries, in the U.S. and in Canada — the news that consumers are worried and that we must ensure they regain their confidence and have the money to spend in the marketplace. Here comes the cycle.

Honourable senators, can you believe that, as an economic stimulus plan, the current government is imposing wage restraints on public service employees, on the RCMP, on Crown corporation employees and, last but not least, our army personnel? One day we hear that the army is in dire need of recruitment, and I believed that. One recruiting tool is wages, the decent pay that we provide to members of our Armed Forces. However, in order for them to receive decent pay, to receive the premium, they need to go and fight in Afghanistan.

Speaking about premiums, nowhere in Bill C-10 is there mention of removing the very nice bonus that those higher in the hierarchy receive on a yearly basis, which amounts to millions of dollars. There is no restraint or cutback on that. Why do we cut the people who are the lowest paid on the scale but some keep their bonuses? This government is sounding more and more like our Canadian banks.

We have issues concerning Crown assets that will be sold at some time in the next 12 months, although no one knows which particular assets the government intends to sell. They will be sold during a depressed market. Give me a break. Canadians worked hard to pay for those assets, and now the government wants to sell them at a fire sale. Give me a break.

(1700)

A 5 per cent cut is proposed to the Public Service Commission. The government is in desperate need of hiring people to replace the public service employees who will retire. We need to increase staffing by 20 per cent, and yet this budget proposes cuts to the very agency responsible for recruiting. Bill C-10 contains proposals that simply do not make sense.

One issue that I find very odd is that while we are losing 100,000 jobs per month in this country, this government is spinning that it will provide more training. It proposes to provide 10,000 training positions for EI recipients. That amounts to 10 per cent of the people who are being fired on a monthly basis. Certainly that will help our people a great deal.

I would like to direct honourable senators' attention to a few issues in the Main Estimates 2009-2010. One issue is cuts to workplace skills training. There is nothing in the Main Estimates for the upcoming year compared to $229 million for it in last year's Main Estimates. Another issue is the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant, which was $99 million last year and is $62 million this year. A third issue affects grants to voluntary sector organizations for adult literacy and essential skills. Last year, the budget was $24.8 million and this year it is $20.7 million. A fourth issue is cuts to funding for training for the labour market from $528 million last year to $505 million this year. Recognition of skills received $77 million in the budget last year and will receive only $49 million this upcoming year. The downsizing amounts to $2 billion.

I refer honourable senators to the transfer payments program that, in Budget 2006-2007, was cut from this government. The social transfer includes social programs and post-secondary education. Between 2006 and 2013, my province of New Brunswick was supposed to receive, for training purposes included, $2,183,000,000. With the revised formula from this government, my province will receive $237 million less. Yet, this government says it will provide training and help people.

With respect to the Employment and Insurance program, for the past year parliamentarians in this place and in the other place have been complaining about delays in servicing those who apply for EI benefit. Some delays are as long as 90 days. We have complained regularly about that because people need the service. We should provide that guarantee to people but how will we do that? In the Main Estimates 2009-2010, the operating expenditures last year for the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development were $606 million and this year it is only $586 million.

The Hon. the Speaker: I regret to interrupt the honourable senator, but her 15 minutes has expired.

Senator Ringuette: May I have five more minutes?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Ringuette: I do not need to have a written speech because I care as much as I can in order to better serve the people of New Brunswick. I assure honourable senators that if the government is allowed to reduce the current operating budget of Human Resource and Skills Development Canada, it will take even more time to provide the services to EI recipients.

Honourable senators, I have been talking about Bill C-10 and the estimates. Yesterday in the Finance Committee, there was suddenly a glimmer of hope that we might be able to provide help to the most needy because we can deal with the issues surrounding pay equity and navigable waters and make the necessary changes. With respect to navigable waters, the official who appeared before the Finance Committee said that it would take at least six weeks before they have any guidelines. Parliament has the power to interfere on those issues.

For all the unemployed fathers, mothers and young people, we desperately need to pass this bill as it stands. Then, we will have done our job for the needy.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, this is not a good day for the Senate of Canada and not a particularly good day for this senator because of feeling pulled in many directions over Bill C-10. It would be easy to side with the amendment that has been introduced by the Honourable Senator Murray, which would remove the sections that need much more work and retain all of the sections that honourable senators support. Let us do the quick fix.

However, what would be the effect of that amendment? The bill would be sent back to the other place, where it would be rejected and sent back to this place. We could insist on the amendment in this place and send it back again to the other place, where it would be rejected and sent here once more. Meanwhile, time passes.

It is not that Senator Murray is not right in what he wants to do because he is right in what he wants to do. However, is he being practical in what he wants to do? I say "practical" in terms of the people of this country who need the stimulus package.

Honourable senators, this is a money bill, and we in the Senate do not have the same rights and opportunities as they have in the other place. We did not receive the budget documents in this place to vote up or down. Rather, we simply received Bill C-10.

(1710)

It is quite correct that we can delete from Bill C-10. We can also add budgetary amounts to Bill C-10, but we could delete from Bill C-10. Technically speaking, we have that constitutional right.

However, we have to put our priorities in the proper place. For me, the priority is to get this money out. I could not agree more with Senator Eggleton that it is probably not enough and it will probably not accomplish all that needs to be accomplished. However, it is better than nothing. I need to get that money into my community as honourable senators need to get it into their communities to do what can be done to stimulate the economy.

We could send the bill back, as Senator Fraser said, and we could have the Prime Minister call an election. Canadians do not want an election. Canadians want 105 senators and 308 Members of Parliament to do their utmost to help them out of the greatest recession that most of them have ever experienced. There are some who have experienced the Great Depression, but many of us do not remember a recession like this one.

Honourable senators, we sit in this chamber and collect our salaries. We have job protection. Yes, I am sure our investments have gone down, but we sit in a pretty comfortable pew. The vast majority of Canadians do not. When I struggle to do what I need to do today, tomorrow or when I will do it, I have to say, "All right — what are the better goods — not what are the evils — but what are the better goods?"

For me, the "better goods" are to ensure that those who need our help, particularly the unemployed, receive that help.

Honourable senators, this has got to stop. We cannot continue to make budget implementation bills into catch-alls for everything. It is wrong. It is not the first time and it is not only this government that has done it. Let us be honest. This process has crept up on us through the years. We will put a little item in a bill and then another one. I will say that Bill C-10 has done it in a bigger style than any bill ever before, but that practice did not originate here. It has been coming; moving along over the years. It is particularly detrimental to us because of our role as senators and our constitutional limitations.

Honourable senators, let me conclude with this: It is very clear to me that the Prime Minister of this country, despite the appointments of 18 very fine people, has no respect for the Senate of Canada. He has none.

Senator LeBreton: That is not true.

Senator Carstairs: If he had his preferred option, I believe he would abolish it.

Senator LeBreton: That is not true, either.

Senator Carstairs: However, I do not want to give the Prime Minister any more ammunition with which to criticize this chamber — not one more piece of ammunition. I believe that if we reject a budget bill, that is exactly what he will do, and I will not give him that satisfaction.

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, I listened very carefully to all the speeches in the chamber, and I want to address Senator Murray's motion.

Up until this morning, I was convinced that was the way to go. I think every one of us sitting in the chamber has wrestled with this budget bill within ourselves, trying to decide the right thing to do. That is why we were appointed to this chamber. There are things in this bill that we accept and there are things that we do not. The Prime Minister has very cleverly put us in this lose-lose situation. No matter what we do on this side, it will be seen as the wrong thing to do.

I originally thought we had to stand up because it was an empty threat, but I no longer think that is true. The Prime Minister is blaming us for what he has put in this bill. He will say it is the Senate's fault that pay equity will suffer. It is not our fault. If we vote against Bill C-10, as Honourable Senator Carstairs just said, we lose; if we vote for it, we lose. It is a terrible situation.

This bill is not bullying the Senate so much as it is disrespecting the citizens of this country — the voters of this country. The government is trying to remove, I believe, fundamental rights from women. Rather than come right out and do it in an open fashion, the Prime Minister snuck it into this bill and he will blame us no matter what we do.

Somehow we have to tell the voters that this is the case; it is all a big trick; it is a masterful strategy and we keep falling for it. We have to keep telling people that this is a trick and he is using us, the Senate, as a big part of that trick. However, what he is really after are Canadians' fundamental rights as human beings, as citizens of this country.

Therefore, I support the Liberal leadership in this bill and will not support Senator Murray's motion in amendment.

[Translation]

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I will first thank Senator Comeau, who graciously sought the unanimous consent, not only of the two parties, but of the senators aligned or not with a party. For that reason I said yes, out of a sense of duty.

[English]

Allow me to say a few words, especially to those new senators whom I would like to call friends for life, whose company I find highly agreeable. I have had a chance to meet most of them on a personal basis, and I repeat again that I am very happy.

I would like us to relax because while I was in the other chamber, I witnessed the acrimonious debate in the Senate over the GST. It almost destroyed the Senate. I was not happy. I have a great deal of respect for this institution.

Senator Stollery: Erik Nielsen — the bells rang for two weeks to split a bill.

Senator Prud'homme: Let me finish my speech. The abuse of one does not absolve the abuse of others.

I know about the "belly-dance" because I replaced Her Honour all night in the chair — from 11 o'clock at night to 7 o'clock in the morning. I still regret not having stopped the bells in order to almost save Parliament from being burned down because of the electrical system. I remember that occasion.

May I say to my new colleagues that I sat in four minority governments — in 1964-65, in 1972 and in 1979. Those were great lessons for me.

(1720)

I do not want people to think I will be partisan. I could be. I have been known to be passionately partisan, but I do not have the energy any longer.

I remember when we were elected in 1963. I was here for the minority governments of 1964-65 and 1972. The governments of the day acted as minority governments and did not push their lot further, knowing that they were minority governments. They produced fabulous legislation — no doubt.

I sat in another minority government: by then, I had sat in five minority governments. I was there in 1979 when there was a minority government. You all know what happened. The Prime Minister of the day — a fine gentleman — thought he could run Parliament as a majority government. He was defeated in December 1979.

When I arrived in the Senate, the first thing I saw was the many Latin inscriptions over the doors of the Speaker's Chamber. One of them translates as "nothing that rushes headlong and is hurried is well ordered." This inscription was good motivation for my life. It means to stay calm and we will do what we can do.

I was touched by the speeches of Senator McCoy, Senator Atkins and Senator Murray. I see now that I have also to exercise my intelligence in knowing what this debate is all about today. I will not support Senator Murray's amendment; I will abstain.

I was chair of a special committee in the House of Commons 25 years ago. The committee produced a report by Rosalie Abella, who is now a judge of the Supreme Court, on a bill pertaining to equity and matters of employment. I am sensitive to matters of employment and equality. Honourable senators know it is my wish for the Prime Minister to appoint 52 women to the Senate because the Prime Minister has the option. Older senators know that once there is that critical mass, there will be greater possibility to find women and elect them to the House of Commons. Now, it is difficult. We all know that. I will not change my views as I become older.

I was touched by the words of Senator McCoy. I listened attentively. I recall a debate in the Senate where we confronted the other place and, again, the issue related to Newfoundland.

We all know that when Newfoundland joined Canada, there were conditions. One of the top conditions of joining was that Newfoundland would keep their school system.

For ambition or otherwise, someone in the other place decided to prepare a bill to eliminate a condition for Newfoundland joining the confederation.

Senator Segal: Unfair.

Senator Prud'homme: I do not apologize for having started the debate with Senator Doody and others. I went to Newfoundland and we did what the law allowed us to do and held up the bill for six months. When Mr. Trudeau amended the Constitution in 1982, he was afraid of the Senate presenting amendments to the Constitution. He told us we could not do anything.

I stand to be corrected by Senator Murray who was there and who knows these matters better than me. A matter pertaining to the Constitution cannot be held longer than six months by the Senate. We took our six months and gave the people of Newfoundland a chance to react to the bill.

Honourable senators, I do not have the privilege of sitting in a caucus any longer. because I am writing my memoir now slowly and painfully, excluding a bad chapter. I think the Senate has a role to play.

I was appointed to the Senate by the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney. Sometimes, new senators are inclined to be loyal to the Prime Minister who appoints them to the Senate. I speak openly. I have no hesitation in saying that. However, friendship, loyalty and devotion to someone who put us here also gave us leeway and permission to talk to the ones who may push too much in the Senate.

I believe in the Senate. I believe that we can amend the Senate in many ways. However, in a federation like Canada, I think we need a two-chamber Parliament. I do not believe that one house should be elected over the other one because we will eat the House of Commons within a week. I believe the House of Commons needs reform more than the Senate. Let us start with the House of Commons; study what happens there. The House of Commons is in great need of reform, long before the Senate is reformed, providing the Senate accepts modernization in certain ways.

Honourable senators, one way to modernize ourselves is to exercise our authority once in a while, to send a messenger to the other chamber to say that we are not here to be stampeded. We are here to do a job.

Some day, new senators will see that it may affect them. I do not know where they will sit eventually. I hope I will not be kicked to the other end, as someone once did to me because he did not like my speech and had the authority to do so.

However, I think the Senate has something to offer to Canadians. We do not talk to Canadians enough to tell them what is happening. I went on French television two weeks ago. With permission, I did the show here. I received letters from top separatists, sovereignists and nationalists — call them what you want — but at the same time, I had comments from well-known federalists. I was confused, but then I am always confused. That is why I sit as an independent.

I told the press that we are responsible. I think honourable senators collectively have greater contacts than me. Some honourable senators have great contacts. I will not name names, but for some their contacts are with the financiers of Canada; for others it is scholars; and for others it is with the populous, the people on the street. Tell them what the Senate can do for them.

I like Senator Mac Harb. That is why I intervened right away; I could not stay silent. I am glad the Senate immediately saw that he was too passionate and had used a word he should not have used. He did not need to apologize, but to say simply, "I withdraw," but I accept both.

Honourable senators, especially our new colleagues, we will need to come to decisions some day as to what we can do. We need a couple of love stories with Canadians. We do not need love stories every day.

On one major item some day, we may like to choose to say "no" to being stampeded and pushed around, simply to show the House of Commons that the system functions. I am not talking about the future system, which will be different. Canada has the Crown. I am a monarchist. Can honourable senators imagine saying that in French? Yes, I pledged allegiance to Her Majesty 22 times; once was not enough because that is the system. That does not stop me from trying to convince Canadians eventually to change the system. I am loyal. I defend the system. I believe in two chambers and I believe we have a role to play.

(1730)

I will abstain in order to send this nice message, knowing that the bill will pass. Otherwise, reluctantly, I would have voted for the bill. I always say there is nothing I would prefer better, when my cardiologist is there, than to die trying to convince you standing on my feet, giving you my profound conviction of what Canada is all about, than to stupidly die alone, as I almost did, in my bed.

How much more passion can I give to my belief that the Senate has a role to play? The Senate should not accept being stampeded. It should not accept the insults of the Commoners from the other chamber, not today, because of speeches made by some prominent persons. I listened to the speeches of Senator Cowan, Senator Fraser and others.

Honourable senators, we have to face our responsibility, so the bill will pass, but let us see if we cannot find, some day, a bill that we could feel in our conscience is not in the best interests of Canada and send a message to the other chamber. If they want to face public opinion, all they have to do is pass the bill again and we will bow to their wishes, expressed twice.

Today's bill may not be the best example to choose, but I do not think I will see one before I leave the Senate. If need be, I will try to have enough health and energy, with a good cardiologist, to find a seat in the other chamber and run for office so that I can repeat what I just said here.

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: We may just have heard the first campaign speech from Senator Prud'homme when he runs for Parliament again after leaving this place.

I want to be perfectly clear that the government side should realize that it was not me who gave you the worst insult of all today; it was Senator Ringuette. She said you were like bankers. My God!

I would love to support the amendments proposed by Senator Murray and Senator McCoy to this bill and then vote against the budget entirely. However, Saturday morning I will get on a plane and go home. When I get off that plane, I know that the likelihood of me bumping into someone in the Robert L. Stanfield International Airport in Halifax who is unemployed is very high because of the number of layoffs there have been in my home province in the last little while: 300 people in Liverpool, 100 people in Hanstsport, layoffs at Michelin Tire. The forestry industry is in shambles. I want to look those people in the eye and say that I did what I could today to ensure there is money to provide jobs through the stimulus package or, if you are on EI, that at least you will get those extra five weeks, and God knows it is not enough.

I want to be able to look those people in the eye and say that I have done that, so I cannot support the amendments of Senator Murray and Senator McCoy.

I want to talk about several words we have heard around the chamber today. We heard the words "blackmail," "bully" and "complicit." I believe we have been blackmailed by a bully. I believe that the bully who runs this government has put us in the box we are in today.

Senator Prud'homme is absolutely right. There will come a day when we will draw that line and we will send a bill back to the House of Commons. Hopefully that day will not come because there will soon be an election, the government will change and good people will finally be running this place.

Senator Comeau: Dream on.

Senator Mercer: However, there is another group of people that I think are complicit in all of this. Someone could say that 413 parliamentarians — 308 there and 105 here — are complicit in what is going on here.

I am sorry that our friend from Maclean's magazine has left the press gallery. She was here earlier this afternoon. The people who are complicit in this are the media in this country.

Some very eminent former members of the media now sit in this chamber — Senators Munson, Duffy, Corbin, Fraser and Wallin. I have not looked at everyone's resumé to know if he or she has worked previously as a journalist.

The media are complicit because they have not taken the time to examine the bill in detail. They have not spent time at the Senate Finance Committee and watched the work done by Senator Mitchell. The fact that an appointed Liberal senator from Alberta has found out Mr. Harper's game is quite wonderful.

The media in this country are complicit because they are not doing their job. They are not being the investigative journalists that we used to have in this country. They are not digging into this bill. They are not finding these things out.

Senator Munson: We are in the Senate.

Senator Mercer: That may be true.

Senator Ringuette: The good ones are all here.

Senator Mercer: I would not say that. I would not say all the ones in here are good.

Along with the problems that Mr. Harper and his cronies have brought to this place, there is another complicit group, and the media need to be called to task. They need to know that they are doing a disservice to the Canadian public by taking as gospel the press releases sent from Langevin Block. It is their job and profession to dig deeper.

The School of Journalism at Carleton University and the University of King's College in Halifax produce good people, but somewhere between there and here they have lost that drive to do the work that they were trained to do as investigative journalists. It is important that someone in this place draw that fact to their attention.

Honourable senators, I will be voting against the amendments of Senator Murray and Senator McCoy, unfortunately, but I will be supporting this bill. I cannot say that I am supporting the budget. I am supporting the bill because I do want to ensure that the unemployed people of my province have the opportunity to get the extra five weeks of EI. That is the only reason I am voting in favour of Bill C-10.

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I want to put on the record a clarification on a point that the Honourable Senator Cowan raised earlier regarding the increase in the maximum number of weeks a Canadian can receive Employment Insurance from 45 weeks to 50 weeks and the timing of that budget provision.

When I spoke on this item, I thought I was clear; I probably was not. I said: Until this bill is passed, these unemployed Canadians will not receive the help they need to support their families.

More important, after Minister Flaherty made his comments, the first questioner was Senator Mitchell, who said:

I am struck by how the first comment or so by this minister is fundamentally misleading and yet is the basis of one of his arguments for this bill.

Then Senator Mitchell said:

He says we have to get these EI provisions right away because of the five additional weeks, which will help people now.

Senator LeBreton: That is right.

Senator Mitchell: I said I was quoting.

Senator Di Nino: The honourable senator was quoting Mr. Flaherty, that Mr. Flaherty says that the provisions would help people now, not in April.

Then Senator Mitchell also said, "No, it will not." Shortly after, Minister Flaherty then asked Mr. Giroux to clarify the position, which he did.

Senator Baker: What did he say? What is the clarification?

Senator Di Nino: I am reading from the blues.

Senator Tkachuk: Mr. Giroux backed up the minister.

(1740)

Senator Di Nino: I just read both of Senator Mitchell's comments from the blues.

Senator Oliver: Yes, put it on the record.

Senator Di Nino: Mr. Giroux, Director of Social Policy, Finance Canada, said in response to Senator Mitchell:

Senator, you mentioned that the 5 weeks would apply only at the end after 45 weeks. I would like to clarify that it would not be the case. It would apply to all claims that are active as of the day of the budget implementation bill receiving Royal Assent.

Senator Oliver: The same thing the minister said.

Senator Di Nino: He went on to state:

In fact, it would apply to all these claims that would be active a couple of days prior to the bill receiving Royal Assent. It would apply. It would benefit individuals who are unemployed, probably now, depending on when the bill receives Royal Assent.

Senator LeBreton: Mr. Flaherty said it. You confirmed it.

Senator Mitchell: That is the point.

The Hon. the Speaker: Order!

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I want to say a few words with respect to Senator Murray's amendment. All of us on this side of the house applaud the intent behind his amendment. That is exactly what we have been pressing for from the very beginning. The government could have saved itself all this grief had they simply proposed a budget with a stimulus package and asked for consent from Parliament. Instead, they chose to load, in what has been described as a dumpster approach to legislative practice, a whole lot of things.

We have talked at length today about EI. Undoubtedly, as our Senate committees proceed with their studies, other things will emerge. Some of them will be good; some will be bad. The point is that no one, to this point, has had a fair opportunity to examine them the way they should have done in the other place and the way that we should do here today. No one disagrees with that point of view.

Senator Murray said that, based on his experience, he has no confidence that this government will listen to the results of that study. That may well be, but I can assure Senator Murray that the next government, the Ignatieff Liberal government, will listen to what has to be said.

My colleague Senator Fraser spoke about blackmail.

Senator Segal: Are you saying that Mr. Ignatieff wants to pass this bill quickly?

Senator Cowan: You will have an opportunity to speak afterwards, Senator Segal.

Senator Fraser said an important thing. It is not the people in this chamber or the people in the other chamber that are being blackmailed. It is the people of Canada. It is not just the ordinary people in Canada but the most vulnerable people in Canada. They are the people who are being blackmailed and bullied by this government.

The choice that we have — and I think my colleague Senator Carstairs outlined the legislative process that would be followed — includes doing exactly what Senator Murray has said. We could sever certain sections of the bill and send it back to the other side. The other side would disagree with our recommendations and they would then send it back here, and so the Ping-Pong match would go on. In the meantime, as a result to some extent of the inaction and incompetence of this government, thousands and thousands of Canadians would be losing their jobs. The eligibility that those Canadians would have to receive these EI benefits would be lost. For the reasons that Senator Fraser has put before us, we cannot allow that to happen. Despite the despicable legislative tactics of this government, we have no choice.

For my part, at least, while I applaud the intent of Senator Murray and Senator McCoy, I will abstain from the vote on their motion and will encourage my colleagues to do the same.

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

Hon. Senators: Question!

The Hon. the Speaker: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Murray, seconded by the Honourable Senator McCoy, in amendment, that Bill C-10 be not now read a third time but that it be amended —

Hon. Senators: Dispense.

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

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker: All those in favour of the motion in amendment please say "yea."

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker: All those opposed to the motion in amendment please say "nay."

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

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

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker: Call in the senators.

Do the whips have advice as to time?

Hon. Terry Stratton: Due to the remoteness of the Victoria Building and senators being in their offices over there, I suggest that the first bell be 30 minutes and thereafter the bells shall be rung for 15 minutes. Would you agree, sir?

Hon. Jim Munson: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: The vote will take place at 6:15 p.m. The bells are to ring until then.

Do I have permission to leave the chair?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(1810)

Motion in amendment negatived on the following division:

YEAS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Atkins    McCoy
Baker    Murray—5
Harb    

NAYS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Andreychuk    LeBreton
Brazeau    MacDonald
Brown    Manning
Comeau    Martin
Di Nino    Meighen
Dickson    Mockler
Duffy    Nancy Ruth
Eaton    Neufeld
Eyton    Nolin
Fortin-Duplessis    Oliver
Gerstein    Raine
Greene    Segal
Housakos    St. Germain
Johnson    Stratton
Keon    Tkachuk
Kinsella    Wallace—33
Lang    

ABSTENTIONS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Adams    Lovelace Nicholas
Carstairs    Mercer
Cook    Mitchell
Corbin    Munson
Cowan    Peterson
De Bané    Prud'homme
Dyck    Ringuette
Eggleton    Stollery
Fraser    Tardif
Hubley    Zimmer—21
Jaffer    

The Hon. the Speaker: The motion is defeated. We are continuing debate at third reading.

An Hon. Senator: Question!

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

It was moved by the Honourable Senator Di Nino, seconded by the Honourable Senator Stratton, that this bill be read a third time. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the "yeas" have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker: Is there agreement from the whips?

Senator Stratton: Let the vote be in 15 minutes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, the bells will ring and the vote will be taken in 15 minutes, at twenty minutes to seven.

Do I have permission to leave the chair? Thank you, honourable senators.

(1840)

Motion adopted on the following division, and bill read third time and passed:

YEAS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Andreychuk    Lang
Brazeau    LeBreton
Brown    Lovelace Nicholas
Carstairs    MacDonald
Comeau    Manning
Corbin    Martin
Cowan    Meighen
De Bané    Mercer
Di Nino    Mitchell
Dickson    Mockler
Duffy    Munson
Dyck    Nancy Ruth
Eaton    Neufeld
Eggleton    Nolin
Eyton    Oliver
Fortin-Duplessis    Peterson
Fraser    Raine
Gerstein    Ringuette
Greene    Segal
Housakos    St. Germain
Hubley    Stratton
Jaffer    Tardif
Johnson    Tkachuk
Keon    Wallace
Kinsella    Zimmer—50

NAYS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Baker    Harb
Cook    Stollery—4

ABSTENTIONS
THE HONOURABLE SENATORS

Adams    Murray
Atkins    Prud'homme—5
McCoy    

Business of the Senate

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Your Honour, I think if you were to seek the consensus of this chamber, you might find there is agreement to stand all remaining items on the Order Paper and Notice Paper, except the two motions for which leave was given today; and that all stood items retain their place and the sitting may be suspended while the table officers seek Her Excellency's approval of Bill C-10, with a 15-minute bell to call in the senators when the sitting resumes.

Hon. Mac Harb: I have an item on the agenda that I would like to debate tonight, if possible.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if I ask that unanimous consent be given me not to proceed step by step through the Order Paper but to go immediately here as suggested, it requires the unanimous consent of the house. Should I put that question?

Senator Harb: I will give consent, providing my item will be discussed later.

Senator Comeau: The answer is no.

The Hon. the Speaker: I take it that I have to then go through the Order Paper. Is that correct?

Senator Comeau: The honourable senator seems to be giving a provision that his item be brought forth. I suggest that since we are waiting anyway, we deal with his item and then come back to what we had suggested here, that we leave all items stand in their place. I would add on his item; I am not sure which one that is.

The answer is no?

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): I am confused here, honourable senators. Is the honourable senator asking to speak to a specific item?

Senator Harb: Yes.

Senator Cowan: Which one?

Senator Harb: Item No. 9 on the Notice Paper.

Senator Cowan: Would a seconder be required for his inquiry?

Senator Tardif: No.

Senator Eggleton: It is an inquiry.

Senator Cowan: Is he asking to speak for 15 minutes?

Senator Comeau: Inquiries are 15 minutes.

Senator Prud'homme: Forty-five minutes is for a bill.

Senator Cowan: Then we deal with the two other items?

Senator Tardif: No, the other way around.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Senator Harb perhaps could clarify: Is the item to which he is speaking the item on the Notice Paper under Inquiries, which is Item No. 9?

Senator Harb: Correct.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is there unanimous consent of the house that we will deal with three items: Senator Harb's Item No. 9 under Inquiries, and then the notices given earlier by Senator Tardif and by Senator Rompkey?

Senator Comeau: I suggest we deal with Item No. 9 right now. Is it the other way around?

Senator Cowan: Deal with the motions first and then the speech.

The Hon. the Speaker: It seems to me that I see unanimous consent that we will deal with these three items. Therefore, I call Item No. 9 because it is on the Notice Paper.

Commercial Seal Hunt

Inquiry—Debate Concluded

Hon. Mac Harb rose pursuant to notice of March 10, 2009:

That he will call the attention of the Senate to the commercial seal hunt in Canada, especially matters concerning its negative and detrimental impact on Canada's reputation on the international scene.

He said: Honourable senators, I rise to bring to honourable senators' attention in particular the fact that the annual commercial seal hunt is complicating and damaging our reputation around the world. Like many honourable senators, I had the honour of travelling on behalf of our country to many countries around the world. Like many honourable senators, I have heard over and over again concern about the continuing existence of this outdated hunt.

International bans and seafood and tourism boycotts in reaction to the commercial seal hunt are hurting the $1 billion east coast fisheries, as well as causing significant damage to tourism and trade relations, costing the Canadian economy millions in lost revenue every year — all this at a time when we are struggling in the midst of a serious global economic crisis.

(1850)

Honourable senators, we can debate the sustainability or the humaneness of the commercial seal hunt in Canada until we are out of breath. We may never agree. However, we can agree that the majority of people in government around the world do not support — and in fact are strongly opposed — to the continuation of the commercial seal hunt.

A poll conducted in 2002 in Germany, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom revealed that 80 per cent of people who know about the seal hunt opposed it, with the majority feeling that the hunt harms Canada's reputation. Thirty-six per cent of those surveyed, representing about 59 million people, say they will avoid buying Canadian products specifically because of the hunt. Twenty-three per cent said they would avoid vacationing in Canada.

That same year, a poll in the United States showed that 79 per cent of American voters opposed the hunt for seals for fur and 65 per cent will avoid vacationing in Canada if their tourist dollars might contribute to this industry.

This antipathy to the hunt is showing up in the marketplace.

[Translation]

In fact, honourable senators, markets the world over are closing their doors to seal products. Pelt prices fell from $62 in 2007 to $31 in 2008 and will fall even further in 2009 given the lack of demand. Pelts are piling up in storage — 50,000 in Newfoundland, 140,000 in Greenland. No seal furs were sold at either the 2008 international fur auction in Copenhagen or the January 2009 seal pelt auction in North Bay, Ontario.

The European Union will soon be voting on a proposal to ban seal products there.

[English]

Already close to 630 million people and their governments from around the world are calling for the end of the commercial seal hunt in Canada. Canada's trading partners are letting us know that they are fed up with the commercial seal hunt. In fact, our two largest trading partners have been steadily, consistently and effectively voicing their concerns for the case.

The commercial hunting of infant harp seals — whitecoats — and infant hooded seals — bluebacks — was banned in Canada in 1987 as a result of pressure from animal rights groups beyond our borders. In 2005, Mexico's Chamber of Senators officially condemned the Canadian seal hunt. A widespread U.S-led seafood boycott has been targeting the Atlantic seafood industry, impacting negatively on Canada's snow crab and lobster fisheries.

In 2003, and again in 2005, 23 U.S. senators co-sponsored a resolution asking Canada to end the seal hunt. This resolution was forwarded to the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade for study.

American Senator Robert Menendez put it this way:

I am proud that the United States has barred the import of seal products for more than three decades, but it is time to call upon our neighbors to stop the cruel and unnecessary commercial seal hunt in their waters.

Then in 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a unanimous resolution calling upon the Canadian government to end the commercial seal hunt. In the next few days, honourable senators, U.S. senators will table yet another resolution calling on the Canadian government to end the commercial seal hunt, and it will support the European Union prohibitions on trade in seal products.

Honourable senators, let me remind you that in 2008, total trade between Canada and the United States exceeded $650 billion. Significantly, Canada exports nearly two thirds of its seafood products to the United States, producing $2.5 billion for the Canadian economy. According to Industry Canada, the total value of sealskin exports from Newfoundland and Labrador in 2007 was just over $8 million.

The European Union is Canada's second biggest trading partner. Just this January, Canada's Minister of International Trade and his entourage went to Prague to seek support for a closer Canada-EU economic relationship and to explore new opportunities for commercial cooperation. Let me quote from the minister's press release of January 16, 2009:

The Canada-EU commercial relationship has enormous potential. The EU is Canada's second most important partner for trade and investment, with two-way trade totalling $109.4 billion in 2007. There is no doubt that a closer economic partnership with the EU will help Canadian businesses thrive in this market, providing jobs at home and lowering the cost of consumer products imported from the EU.

I'm in Prague to lay the groundwork for this revitalized and strengthened economic partnership. I am confident that we will be in a position to launch negotiations this spring.

However, while Minister Day was trying to build bridges with this important trading partner, another delegation was in Brussels lobbying for the commercial seal hunt and threatening to go to the WTO for a challenge against the EU. Just as Minister Day goes to launch negotiations this spring, the commercial seal hunt will open, observers will flock to the ice floes and the EU will vote on its ban on trade of seal products.

There is strong support for a ban on commercial seal hunt products in the EU. In the words of one United Kingdom member of the European Parliament:

The people of Europe and the European Parliament will accept nothing less than a total ban. We intend to close our borders to seal products completely to ensure the EU plays no role in perpetuating the cruelty of commercial seal hunts.

Neil Parish, U.K. Conservative, Member of the European Parliament.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, every year people from around the world go to the east coast of Canada, not to take advantage of the legendary hospitality, the astounding landscape of the Atlantic or the ecotourism possibilities of seeing whales and seals. No, they go out onto the ice floes and send stories back to their countries, searing the image of seal hunting into the minds of people around the world. Federal, provincial and territorial authorities dedicate millions to promoting our tourism sector overseas, and a few amateur videos make that money go up in smoke.

[English]

Allow me to quote from a few of the almost 26,000 emails that my office has received over the past several days from people around the world. Perhaps honourable senators have received some as well.

It is absolutely disgusting, a country as gorgeous and progressive as Canada is behind even Russia in passing a ban. I am an American and live in Seattle. My family purposely avoids trips to Canada and the future Olympics due to the seal slaughter.

That is from Mark B.

Karen from Britain writes:

I and many other worldwide are boycotting Canada and its produce. I have family there that I would dearly love to visit, but they understand and are also outraged and embarrassed at Canada's stance . . .

Aaron calls the commercial seal hunt:

. . . stain on Canada's international image.

Shawn from the U.S. writes:

While not a Canadian citizen, I actively boycott Canadian products and refuse to even consider vacationing or travelling to Canada . . .

James writes:

. . . about six years ago, I took a vow to not travel to Canada, purchase any Canadian made product, and not to support the Canadian government or people in all world affairs . . .

Another quote from someone who is an Australian and New Zealand citizen:

I am both an Australian and New Zealand citizen . . . I am more disgusted that a civilized race such as yours allows this unforgivable slaughter to continue. . . As long as your seal hunt continues I will find other places to spend my tourist dollars. I make a point of informing everyone I meet about Canada's barbaric and cruel . . .

(1900)

Honourable senators, it goes on. A grade 3 class in Syracuse, New York, formed a "Seal Savers" committee at their school when they heard about the Canadian commercial seal hunt. This kind of action is taking place all around the world.

Now Canada's much-anticipated 2010 Winter Olympics are being targeted by animal rights groups as a platform to fight the commercial seal hunt. Boycotts and photo ops will certainly bring the attention of the world once again to the commercial seal hunt, tarnishing Canada's reputation one more time.

Honourable senators, it is clear that continuing the seal hunt is simply not worth the risk to our economy and to Canada's international reputation. The end of the hunt is in sight.

Honourable senators, we can choose to lead by responding to public demands and put an end to the commercial seal hunt. To do nothing, to refuse to even debate this issue, is quite frankly no longer an option.

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: I intend to speak further on these matters when the time comes, but I disagree with my colleague.

Hon. George Baker: Honourable senators, on the same point of order, I do not agree with a thing Senator Harb has just said, and I too will be taking a position against him at the next sitting.

The Hon. the Speaker: Continuing debate?

If no other senator wishes to speak, this inquiry is considered debated.

Budget Implementation Bill, 2009

Motion to Refer Separate Elements of Subject Matter to Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, the Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee, the Human Rights Committee and the National Finance Committee Adopted

Hon. James Cowan (Leader of the Opposition), for Senator Tardif, pursuant to notice of earlier this day, moved:

That, notwithstanding any rules or usual practices, and without affecting any consideration or progress made by the Senate with respect to Bill C-10, the Budget Implementation Act, 2009, the following committees be separately authorized to examine and report on the following elements contained in that bill:

(a) The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment, and Natural Resources: those elements dealing with the Navigable Waters Protection Act (Part 7);

(b) The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce: those elements dealing with the Competition Act (Part 12);

(c) The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights: those elements dealing with equitable compensation (Part 11); and

(d) The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance: all other elements of the bill, in particular those dealing with employment insurance; and

That each committee present its final report no later than June 11, 2009.

He said: Honourable senators, I have spoken at least twice today on issues relating to the budget implementation bill. We disagree profoundly with the approach that the government has taken. We suspect that as a result of the studies that will be undertaken by the committees if this motion is approved, as I hope it will be, there will be many other issues that will arise which will be unintended by the government, some of which will be good and some of which will be bad.

My intervention tonight will simply be to urge honourable senators to support this reference. We believe that the committees are the proper place to conduct these studies. In a perfect world these studies would have been conducted before the bill was considered, but this is not a perfect world. We have done what we have done with regret and we look forward to the studies of these committees.

We look forward to the opportunities that the committees will afford to Canadians from coast to coast to coast to come and present their views on various aspects of the budget implementation bill that were not considered either in the House of Commons or here in the Senate. I look forward to the results of their deliberations.

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

(Motion agreed to.)

Fisheries and Oceans

Committee Authorized to Study Issues Relating to Federal Government's Current and Evolving Policy Framework for Managing Fisheries and Oceans and Refer Papers and Evidence Since First Session of Thirty-ninth Parliament

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to notice of March 12, 2009, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be authorized to examine and to report on issues relating to the federal government's current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans;

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

That the committee report from time to time to the Senate but no later than June 30, 2010, and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until December 31, 2010.

(Motion agreed to.)

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, shall we suspend upon the return from Rideau Hall of the clerks? Shall it be five minutes and then a bell?

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Providing, honourable senators, that all remaining items on the Order Paper and Notice Paper stand in their place.

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed that we suspend to the call of the chair and have a five-minute bell.

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: We now stand suspended. Do I have permission to leave the chair?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(The Senate adjourned during pleasure.)

(1940)

(The sitting of the Senate was resumed.)

[Translation]

Royal Assent

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

RIDEAU HALL

March 12, 2009

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 12th day of March at 7:20 p.m.

Yours Sincerely,

Sheila-Marie Cook
The Secretary to the Governor General

The Honourable
    The Speaker of the Senate
        Ottawa

Bill assented to on Thursday, March 12, 2009:

An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and related fiscal measures (Bill C-10, Chapter 2, 2009)

Adjournment

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

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

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

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned to Tuesday, March 24, 2009, at 2 p.m.)