The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore informed the Senate that the
following communication had been received:
April 28, 2009
I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Thomas Cromwell, Puisne
Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy of the
Governor General, signified royal assent by written declaration to the bill
listed in the Schedule to this letter on the 28th day of April, 2009, at 4:59
For the Secretary to the Governor General
The Speaker of the House of Commons
Bill assented to Tuesday, April 28, 2009:
An Act to implement the Free Trade Agreement between Canada and the States
of the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway,
Switzerland), the Agreement on Agriculture between Canada and the Republic of
Iceland, the Agreement on Agriculture between Canada and the Kingdom of Norway
and the Agreement on Agriculture between Canada and the Swiss Confederation (Bill
C-2, Chapter 6, 2009)
Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today to
recognize one of our colleagues, Sharon Carstairs. Last week, in her capacity as
the chair of the Special Senate Committee on Aging, she tabled a formidable
report on the implications of Canada's aging society.
She saw a need for the Senate to address this issue and she has worked hard
to ensure that the needs of Canadian seniors are met. Her stellar work on this
subject matter is no surprise, as her work on palliative care in Canada is
Today's tribute is in the honour of the anniversary of a spectacular career
achievement. Honourable senators, it was 25 years ago that Senator Carstairs
stepped into her first leadership role as the leader of the Manitoba Liberal
Party. Sharon became leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party when it held no seats
in the legislature, and would serve in this role unelected for two years before
being elected for the constituency of River Heights in 1986. That year she was
the only Liberal elected to the legislature.
Honourable senators, many would have given up; but two years later, Sharon
Carstairs would reinvigorate the Manitoba Liberal Party and lead it to an
unprecedented electoral success, the likes of which it has not seen since. The
Liberal Party achieved official opposition status, with 20 of the 57 seats in
the provincial legislature. In that moment, she shattered a huge glass ceiling
for women as she stepped into her role as the first woman leader of the official
opposition in a Canadian legislature.
During her time as leader of the Manitoba Liberals, I recall how selflessly
she gave her time to help the British Columbia Liberal Party, then under the
leadership of Gordon Wilson. At the time, I was working alongside him and recall
being in awe of Sharon as she worked tirelessly for us. A friendship emerged
right away, an enduring one that has brought me a great deal of comfort and
counsel over the years as I have worked to build my political career.
When I was appointed to the Senate in 2001, I felt her kind and generous hand
of mentorship. At the time, she was the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
She personally chose my office, a comfortable fit for me right away. Sharon has
stood by me through some of the toughest times in my life and I know she is a
My friend, Sharon, given all that you have achieved in your life, by now most
people would be sitting on their laurels, but not you. You are now travelling
all over the world to help free parliamentarians unjustly imprisoned by their
governments. Some are alive today because of your work in this area.
Sharon, on your twenty-fifth anniversary of this career milestone, we salute
you for the service you have given to Canada and Canadians.
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, last week, the
Conservative government announced the results of phase 1 of the first Canada
Excellence Research Chairs competition. The goal of the program is to support
the development of innovative ideas and cutting-edge research in Canada.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper recognizes the important role that research
excellence plays in furthering innovation and competitiveness in Canada. With
these exceptional proposals, Canada will play a lead role in developing
innovative ideas that will address environmental, health, and other social
challenges, while also improving Canada's economic competitiveness
The 40 proposals chosen, which had been submitted by 17 universities, were
selected based on the highest standards of research excellence. The universities
are now invited to nominate world-class researchers in phase 2 of the
competition. The program funds up to 20 chairs that each receive up to $10
million over 7 years, for a total investment of $200 million.
The Canada Excellence Research Chairs program helps universities attract and
retain the world's most accomplished and promising researchers working in the
priority research areas of environmental sciences and technologies, natural
resources and energy, health and related life sciences and technologies, and
information and communication technologies.
This program once again underscores the Conservative government's
determination and commitment to support Canadian research.
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, the Trenton Military Family
Resource Centre will hold its 5th Invisible Ribbon Gala on Saturday, May 2. The
event will feature a gourmet dinner, live and silent auctions and entertainment.
The Resource Centre's goals in holding the gala are to create awareness and
broaden the base of support for military families within the community and to
raise the necessary funds to continue delivering quality programs that help
military families in Trenton.
I congratulate the staff of the Resource Centre, who work very hard every
year to make this event a success.
This is an excellent opportunity for the people of Trenton to come together
to celebrate the military family and show their appreciation to the men, women
and children who wear the invisible uniform.
Honourable senators, I invite you to support this event. We know that the
success of our soldiers' mission depends in large measure on how well their
families are supported. This sort of event is a unique opportunity to show the
partners or spouses and the children of our soldiers that we are aware of the
role they play and the many sacrifices they are called on to make.
Honourable senators, I have raised this issue more than once in this forum:
Support for the families of our brave military personnel can be shown in a
number of ways. If you meet military spouses, please shake their hands and say
how much you admire and respect the way they are coping.
The uniform worn by military spouses and their families is invisible, but
they are on duty just the same — standing tall, uncomplaining, proud and
They work hard and assume their responsibilities with passion, which allows
their military spouses to perform their own jobs well within the Canadian
I am delighted to once again have the opportunity to tell them just how much
we appreciate them and the important contribution they make.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I rise today to call your
attention to the twenty-third anniversary of a landmark event in Canadian
history. It was on May 1, 1986, that Noëlla Leclair, a resident of Orléans,
Ontario, became Canada's first artificial heart recipient.
A team of surgeons, led by our own colleague, the Honourable Dr. Wilbert J.
Keon, performed a three-and-a-half hour operation on Ms. Leclair, who had
suffered three heart attacks in the span of four days in 1984. Senator Keon
transplanted an artificial heart called a Jarvik 7-70 into Ms. Leclair's chest.
The artificial device kept her alive for seven days until a donor's heart was
available. One week later, Ms. Leclair received the heart of a 44-year-old man
from Montreal, extending her life for another 20 years, until November 2006.
Thanks to Honourable Senator Keon and his team of surgeons, Noëlla Leclair
lived until she was 61 — more than 20 years after that pioneering surgery.
Born in Sheenboro, Quebec, Senator Keon graduated from the University of
Ottawa's medical school in 1961, and undertook postgraduate studies at the
Montreal General Hospital. After working at the Toronto General Hospital and the
Hospital for Sick Children, he spent a year at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital
and Harvard Medical Centre as a research and clinical associate. In 1969, he
returned to Ottawa to join the cardiothoracic surgeon division of the Ottawa
Civic Hospital, where he was asked to establish a heart institute.
His dream of building a cardiovascular institute became a reality in May 1976
when the University of Ottawa Heart Institute opened its doors, with half its
space dedicated to research.
Today, the institute offers a complete spectrum of cardiac care, from initial
referral to admission, treatment, recovery, rehabilitation, discharge and
follow-up. In September 2003, the Heart Institute building was named in honour
of Senator Keon.
More than 30 years after its foundation, the Heart Institute has developed
into a world leader in the prevention and care of cardiovascular disease.
In 2007, Senator Keon was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in
the "builder" category for his work with the foundation of the Heart Institute.
He was also awarded the Canadian Medical Association's highest honour in 2007,
the Starr Award. The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame said:
Dr. Wilbert J. Keon is an exemplary Canadian and a world revered cardiac
surgeon. He is regarded by colleagues as an icon and by patients as the
essence of the caring spirit in medicine.
Honourable senators, I ask you to join me in congratulating Senator Keon on
the twenty-third anniversary of his landmark heart transplant and for his
countless contributions to the prevention and care of cardiovascular disease.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, National Hospice
Palliative Care Week 2009 takes place from May 3 to May 9 and is a time to
celebrate, recognize and share the achievements of hospice palliative care
throughout the nation and to raise awareness of hospice palliative care.
The national Hike for Hospice will kick off the week on Sunday with hikes
occurring across the country. This year's theme is "Hospice palliative care: a
human right." It recognizes that all Canadians should have access to quality
It is estimated that 37 per cent of Canadians now have access to hospice
palliative care, a marked improvement since 1995 when the Senate learned through
its study on euthanasia and assisted suicide that only 5 per cent of Canadians
had access to integrated quality end-of-life care. That is the good news.
The bad news is that 63 per cent of Canadians still do not have access to
quality end-of-life care.
We must use opportunities such as Palliative Care Week to continue to promote
hospice palliative care so that all Canadians can have access to it.
Recently, the Special Senate Committee on Aging reported that it is important
to allow people to age in the place of their choice. It is also important to
provide the right services to allow people to die in the place of their choice.
Palliative care services are a key component of providing the care that is
needed, at the time and place that it is needed. Palliative care also means
ensuring that the compassionate care benefit under Employment Insurance makes it
possible for Canadians to be with their gravely ill and dying family members for
a sufficient number of weeks to provide the care that is required. It should be
the right of every Canadian.
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, it is a pleasure to share a
story of community spirit in my home province of Saskatchewan. It is a story of
the perseverance and generosity of the local citizens of Humboldt.
Tomorrow, April 30, there will be an official announcement regarding the
Humboldt telegraph station's original historic site. The local citizens of
Humboldt have raised all the funds to buy back the original site and they are
now presenting this site, this piece of land, as a gift to the city. Every
single cent was raised by the community through private donations.
This site was built in 1878 by George and Catherine Weldon as part of the
original Dominion Telegraph Line. The Humboldt station played a pivotal role as
a Canadian communications link.
Catherine Weldon was also one of the first female telegraph operators in
Western Canada; she was a true western pioneer. The significance of this site
will never be forgotten because of the initiative of the Humboldt community. It
is an inspiring reminder and example of the power of people and communities
Great job, Reverend Alvin Hingley, former mayor Dennis Korte and Ed
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
pursuant to section 38 of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, I have
the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2008-09 Annual Report of
the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary
delegation of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association to the Visit of the
Political Committee Sub-committee on Transatlantic Relations, held in Warsaw,
Poland, from September 17 to 19, 2008.
Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I have the honour to
table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary
delegation of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association to the Visit to the
United States by the Defence and Security Committee, held in United States of
America, from January 26 to 30, 2009.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I give notice that,
two days hence:
I will call the attention of the Senate to the following Declaration on
Strengthening the Financial System, adopted by the G20 on April 2, 2009, at
the London Summit:
DECLARATION ON STRENGTHENING THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM-LONDON
SUMMIT, 2 APRIL 2009
We, the Leaders of the G20, have taken, and will continue to take, action
to strengthen regulation and supervision in line with the commitments we made
in Washington to reform the regulation of the financial sector. Our principles
are strengthening transparency and accountability, enhancing sound regulation,
promoting integrity in financial markets and reinforcing international
cooperation. The material in this declaration expands and provides further
detail on the commitments in our statement. We published today a full progress
report against each of the 47 actions set out in the Washington Action Plan.
In particular, we have agreed the following major reforms.
Financial Stability Board
We have agreed that the Financial Stability Forum should be expanded, given
a broadened mandate to promote financial stability, and re-established with a
stronger institutional basis and enhanced capacity as the Financial Stability
Board (FSB). The FSB will:
assess vulnerabilities affecting the financial system, identify and
oversee action needed to address them;
promote co-ordination and information exchange among authorities
responsible for financial stability;
monitor and advise on market developments and their implications for
advise on and monitor best practice in meeting regulatory standards;
undertake joint strategic reviews of the policy development work of the
international Standard Setting Bodies to ensure their work is timely,
coordinated, focused on priorities, and addressing gaps;
set guidelines for, and support the establishment, functioning of, and
participation in, supervisory colleges, including through ongoing
identification of the most systemically important cross-border firms;
support contingency planning for cross-border crisis management,
particularly with respect to systemically important firms; and
collaborate with the IMF to conduct Early Warning Exercises to identify
and report to the IMFC and the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank
Governors on the build up of macroeconomic and financial risks and the
actions needed to address them.
Members of the FSB commit to pursue the maintenance of financial stability,
enhance the openness and transparency of the financial sector, and implement
international financial standards (including the 12 key International
Standards and Codes), and agree to undergo periodic peer reviews, using among
other evidence IMF / World Bank public Financial Sector Assessment Program
reports. The FSB will elaborate and report on these commitments and the
We welcome the FSB's and IMF's commitment to intensify their collaboration,
each complementing the other's role and mandate.
To strengthen international cooperation we have agreed:
to establish the remaining supervisory colleges for significant
cross-border firms by June 2009, building on the 28 already in place;
to implement the FSF principles for cross-border crisis management
immediately, and that home authorities of each major international financial
institution should ensure that the group of authorities with a common
interest in that financial institution meet at least annually;
to support continued efforts by the IMF, FSB, World Bank, and BCBS to
develop an international framework for cross-border bank resolution
the importance of further work and international cooperation on the
subject of exit strategies;
that the IMF and FSB should together launch an Early Warning Exercise at
the 2009 Spring Meetings.
We have agreed to strengthen international frameworks for prudential
until recovery is assured the international standard for the minimum
level of capital should remained unchanged;
where appropriate, capital buffers above the required minima should be
allowed to decline to facilitate lending in deteriorating economic
once recovery is assured, prudential regulatory standards should be
strengthened. Buffers above regulatory minima should be increased and the
quality of capital should be enhanced. Guidelines for harmonisation of the
definition of capital should be produced by end 2009. The BCBS should review
minimum levels of capital and develop recommendations in 2010;
the FSB, BCBS, and CGFS, working with accounting standard setters,
should take forward, with a deadline of end 2009, implementation of the
recommendations published today to mitigate procyclicality, including a
requirement for banks to build buffers of resources in good times that they
can draw down when conditions deteriorate;
risk-based capital requirements should be supplemented with a simple,
transparent, non-risk based measure which is internationally comparable,
properly takes into account off-balance sheet exposures, and can help
contain the build-up of leverage in the banking system;
the BCBS and authorities should take forward work on improving
incentives for risk management of securitisation, including considering due
diligence and quantitative retention requirements, by 2010;
all G20 countries should progressively adopt the Basel II capital
the BCBS and national authorities should develop and agree by 2010 a
global framework for promoting stronger liquidity buffers at financial
institutions, including cross-border institutions.
The scope of regulation
We have agreed that all systemically important financial institutions,
markets, and instruments should be subject to an appropriate degree of
regulation and oversight. In particular:
we will amend our regulatory systems to ensure authorities are able to
identify and take account of macro-prudential risks across the financial
system including in the case of regulated banks, shadow banks, and private
pools of capital to limit the build up of systemic risk. We call on the FSB
to work with the BIS and international standard setters to develop
macro-prudential tools and provide a report by autumn 2009;
large and complex financial institutions require particularly careful
oversight given their systemic importance;
we will ensure that our national regulators possess the powers for
gathering relevant information on all material financial institutions,
markets, and instruments in order to assess the potential for their failure
or severe stress to contribute to systemic risk. This will be done in close
coordination at international level in order to achieve as much consistency
as possible across jurisdictions;
in order to prevent regulatory arbitrage, the IMF and the FSB will
produce guidelines for national authorities to assess whether a financial
institution, market, or an instrument is systemically important by the next
meeting of our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. These
guidelines should focus on what institutions do rather than their legal
hedge funds or their managers will be registered and will be required to
disclose appropriate information on an ongoing basis to supervisors or
regulators, including on their leverage, necessary for assessment of the
systemic risks that they pose individually or collectively. Where
appropriate, registration should be subject to a minimum size. They will be
subject to oversight to ensure that they have adequate risk management. We
ask the FSB to develop mechanisms for cooperation and information sharing
between relevant authorities in order to ensure that effective oversight is
maintained where a fund is located in a different jurisdiction from the
manager. We will, cooperating through the FSB, develop measures that
implement these principles by the end of 2009. We call on the FSB to report
to the next meeting of our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors;
supervisors should require that institutions which have hedge funds as
their counterparties have effective risk management. This should include
mechanisms to monitor the funds' leverage and set limits for single
we will promote the standardisation and resilience of credit derivatives
markets, in particular through the establishment of central clearing
counterparties subject to effective regulation and supervision. We call on
the industry to develop an action plan on standardisation by autumn 2009;
we will each review and adapt the boundaries of the regulatory framework
regularly to keep pace with developments in the financial system and promote
good practices and consistent approaches at the international level.
We have endorsed the principles on pay and compensation in significant
financial institutions developed by the FSF to ensure compensation structures
are consistent with firms' long-term goals and prudent risk taking. We have
agreed that our national supervisors should ensure significant progress in the
implementation of these principles by the 2009 remuneration round. The BCBS
should integrate these principles into their risk management guidance by
autumn 2009. The principles, which have today been published, require:
firms' boards of directors to play an active role in the design,
operation, and evaluation of compensation schemes;
compensation arrangements, including bonuses, to properly reflect risk
and the timing and composition of payments to be sensitive to the time
horizon of risks. Payments should not be finalised over short periods where
risks are realised over long periods; and
firms to publicly disclose clear, comprehensive, and timely information
about compensation. Stakeholders, including shareholders, should be
adequately informed on a timely basis on compensation policies to exercise
Supervisors will assess firms' compensation policies as part of their
overall assessment of their soundness. Where necessary they will intervene
with responses that can include increased capital requirements.
Tax havens and non-cooperative jurisdictions
It is essential to protect public finances and international standards
against the risks posed by non-cooperative jurisdictions. We call on all
jurisdictions to adhere to the international standards in the prudential, tax,
and AML/ CFT areas. To this end, we call on the appropriate bodies to conduct
and strengthen objective peer reviews, based on existing processes, including
through the FSAP process.
We call on countries to adopt the international standard for information
exchange endorsed by the G20 in 2004 and reflected in the UN Model Tax
Convention. We note that the OECD has today published a list of countries
assessed by the Global Forum against the international standard for exchange
of information. We welcome the new commitments made by a number of
jurisdictions and encourage them to proceed swiftly with implementation.
We stand ready to take agreed action against those jurisdictions which do
not meet international standards in relation to tax transparency. To this end
we have agreed to develop a toolbox of effective counter measures for
countries to consider, such as:
increased disclosure requirements on the part of taxpayers and financial
institutions to report transactions involving non-cooperative jurisdictions;
withholding taxes in respect of a wide variety of payments;
denying deductions in respect of expense payments to payees resident in
a non-cooperative jurisdiction;
reviewing tax treaty policy;
asking international institutions and regional development banks to
review their investment policies; and,
giving extra weight to the principles of tax transparency and
information exchange when designing bilateral aid programs.
We also agreed that consideration should be given to further options
relating to financial relations with these jurisdictions.
We are committed to developing proposals, by end 2009, to make it easier
for developing countries to secure the benefits of a new cooperative tax
We are also committed to strengthened adherence to international prudential
regulatory and supervisory standards. The IMF and the FSB in cooperation with
international standard-setters will provide an assessment of implementation by
relevant jurisdictions, building on existing FSAPs where they exist. We call
on the FSB to develop a toolbox of measures to promote adherence to prudential
standards and cooperation with jurisdictions.
We agreed that the FATF should revise and reinvigorate the review process
for assessing compliance by jurisdictions with AML/CFT standards, using agreed
evaluation reports where available.
We call upon the FSB and the FATF to report to the next G20 Finance
Ministers and Central Bank Governors' meeting on adoption and implementation
We have agreed that the accounting standard setters should improve
standards for the valuation of financial instruments based on their liquidity
and investors' holding horizons, while reaffirming the framework of fair value
We also welcome the FSF recommendations on procyclicality that address
accounting issues. We have agreed that accounting standard setters should take
action by the end of 2009 to:
reduce the complexity of accounting standards for financial instruments;
strengthen accounting recognition of loan-loss provisions by
incorporating a broader range of credit information;
improve accounting standards for provisioning, off-balance sheet
exposures and valuation uncertainty;
achieve clarity and consistency in the application of valuation
standards internationally, working with supervisors;
make significant progress towards a single set of high quality global
accounting standards; and,
within the framework of the independent accounting standard setting
process, improve involvement of stakeholders, including prudential
regulators and emerging markets, through the IASB's constitutional review.
Credit Rating Agencies
We have agreed on more effective oversight of the activities of Credit
Rating Agencies, as they are essential market participants. In particular, we
have agreed that:
all Credit Rating Agencies whose ratings are used for regulatory
purposes should be subject to a regulatory oversight regime that includes
registration. The regulatory oversight regime should be established by end
2009 and should be consistent with the IOSCO Code of Conduct Fundamentals.
IOSCO should coordinate full compliance;
national authorities will enforce compliance and require changes to a
rating agency's practices and procedures for managing conflicts of interest
and assuring the transparency and quality of the rating process. In
particular, Credit Rating Agencies should differentiate ratings for
structured products and provide full disclosure of their ratings track
record and the information and assumptions that underpin the ratings
process. The oversight framework should be consistent across jurisdictions
with appropriate sharing of information between national authorities,
including through IOSCO; and,
the Basel Committee should take forward its review on the role of
external ratings in prudential regulation and determine whether there are
any adverse incentives that need to be addressed.
We instruct our Finance Ministers to complete the implementation of these
decisions and the attached action plan. We have asked the FSB and the IMF to
monitor progress, working with the FATF and the Global Forum, and to provide a
report to the next meeting of our Finance Ministers and Central Bank
Hon. Mac Harb: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present a
petition signed by residents in British Columbia requesting that the Government
of Canada amend the Fisheries Act to end Canada's commercial seal hunt.
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of
the Government in the Senate. Trooper Kyle Ricketts, a Canadian soldier from
Newfoundland and Labrador, was critically injured by a roadside bomb on March 8
in Afghanistan. He has gone through a dozen or more reconstructive surgeries. Of
course, his parents wanted to be with their son, as any parent would, while he
went through the operations.
Mr. and Ms. Ricketts are seasonal workers and they were told that if they
came to Ottawa to be with their son, they would be stripped of all their
Employment Insurance benefits. Only one of the parents would be entitled
compassionate leave, while the other would lose his or her benefits.
Minister Finley personally intervened. She assured the family that indeed,
this would not happen and that they would both be able to be with their son and
continue to receive benefits. Minister Finley's commitment was the following:
. . . the Ricketts' case has been resolved and they would get their
Then she added:
. . . it is obvious that Canadian soldiers and their loved ones deserve the
best possible care and support when they need it, and this situation is no
The military did fly Sadie and Maurice Ricketts to Ottawa to be with their
son. Can the leader update us on what has happened since Minister Finley made
her commitment to the Ricketts family?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I will ask for an update on this matter and
report to the Senate. I will request an immediate reply. Hopefully, I will have
a detailed response for my honourable friend when we reconvene on Tuesday.
Senator Cordy: There was an update in the Ottawa Citizen, and
the reality is that Minister Finley made a commitment to this family. I have
also heard that Mr. and Ms. Ricketts were told in a phone call by Senator
Wallin, who spoke on behalf of the government, that they will only receive one
week of benefits. Trooper Ricketts' parents, who spent several weeks with him in
Ottawa and who were told by the minister that they would get their benefits, are
now being told that they will receive only one week. The family has also been
told that they will have to repay benefits that were paid beyond one week. They
will be forced to pay the money back.
Is this how we are going to treat the families of injured soldiers, and can
Canadians not believe the promises made by the minister?
Senator LeBreton: I must confess, in all honesty, that I was not aware
of this particular matter. It is obviously very serious. We are dealing with a
family that has endured a significant amount of personal suffering.
I hear Senator Mercer. I do not think it is a matter that deserves
I will do what I promised to do in my first answer. I will obtain as much
information and explanation as possible. I will ask my cabinet colleague to
provide this information as soon as possible, and I hope to have it when we
return next week.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Yesterday, honourable senators, I specifically
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate if she would speak to the
minister responsible for EI about enlarging Compassionate Care Benefits to
include gravely ill as well as dying Canadians. My understanding is that the
Ricketts have been refused the compassionate care benefit because their son is
not dying; he is just gravely ill.
On the basis of that assessment, will the minister now commit to raising this
matter with the Minister of HRSD? Not only our report but many other reports
have recommended that we have to change this benefit so that it includes not
just dying Canadians but gravely ill Canadians.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, as I just said to Senator Cordy, I am
personally not familiar with this particular case. Obviously, this family is
facing a great deal of stress. I want to ensure that all of the information has
been properly reported, and I want to give my cabinet colleague the opportunity
to respond to this serious matter in an appropriate way, without in any way
creating more concern. I will be happy to make my colleague, the Honourable
Diane Finley, aware of the representations made by Senator Carstairs on this
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, finally we get an answer on
how much the Prime Minister has spent on American media consultants. However,
quite contrary to what one would expect, we did not get that answer from the
Prime Minister, from the Prime Minister's Office, or from Canada. The Canadian
people got it through public disclosure mechanisms in the United States.
Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us what part of
transparency, accountability and openness this government does not understand
when Canadians are forced to get information from a foreign country on what is a
basic, easy question?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, the fact that the Prime Minister and the
government uses the services of people to promote Canada's interests in the
United States, or in fact in any other jurisdiction, is not a new practice. It
has been done by many governments.
Senator Duffy: Prime Minister Pearson.
Senator LeBreton: That is right. I thank Senator Duffy for reminding
We had the example of Howard Dean speaking in Canada to members of the party
opposite. The fact is that this practice has been carried on by other
governments — a practice we have used to establish this relationship to promote
Canada's interests in the United States — and it is something we will continue
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, this is the first time we have
had a straight answer in Question Period and it came from Mike Duffy. I am
Could the leader tell us whether she and the Prime Minister will beat the
Americans in releasing the amount of money the Prime Minister has spent on U.S.
consultants to deal with the "Buy American" clause?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I understand that the
information about Mr. Fleischer was based on regular reporting. I am not even
sure there have been any specific, formal requests to the Prime Minister's
Office. This is not something from which we are hiding. Ari Fleischer did some
work for the Prime Minister; so did Mike McCurry. There are all kinds of
examples in the past and there will be in the future.
I point out, as I did the other day in the Senate, that after the visit to
Canada in February of President Obama, John Manley strongly urged the government
to step up its activities in the United States in terms of promoting Canadian
interests there, and that is simply what we are doing. This is not an unusual
I do not even see what the issue is here. We are using two very prominent
individuals in the United States to promote the interests of Canada at a time in
this global economic downturn when our interests, especially with our largest
trading partner, are so crucial. I cannot imagine why anyone would have a
problem with that.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, the broader question here is
the cover-up and the reluctance of the government, of the leader, to give us an
answer. They are stonewalling. For what possible reason would she and Mr. Harper
be afraid of releasing this information? It is not all that condemning of what
they did or what they spent. Why do they not have the courage to release the
information? Give us a straight answer.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, there was no cover-up. We are
not afraid of this information. I was asked a question and I did not have the
material at hand. I will have to check the record. I will take the question as
notice. We would have replied to the honourable senator's question. There is no
cover-up; we are not afraid of anything.
Senator Comeau: Unlike the other guys.
Senator LeBreton: There is no big secret here. Obviously, by engaging
these two high-profile public figures in Washington, there is absolutely no
question of a cover-up or something we are trying to hide. When the senator
asked me the question last week, I was not avoiding the question; I simply did
not have the information, and I believe I took it upon myself to provide the
Senator Comeau: That is not good enough for him.
Senator LeBreton: There was a process in the United States where one
of the individuals has filed this information. This is not a great secret, and I
do not know what the big fuss is about.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
in the interests of openness, transparency and that kind of thing, when the
leader makes her inquiries, can she obtain a copy of the contract and see
whether it was a one-off consultancy contract or a continuing retainer?
I think many of us in this room have had experience with lobbyists and
retaining people. Sometimes the contract is a single retainer, but more often it
is a retainer over a period of time. I am interested to know whether this
contract was a single payment or what might be a continuing series of payments.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, in this particular case, these
services were provided for the profile of Canada in the United States, but I
think it is also on the public record that the Director of Communications in the
Prime Minister's Office stated publicly that we would use the services of people
like this in the future.
With regard to the specific work undertaken by Mr. McCurry and Mr. Fleischer
prior to the G20 meeting in London, honourable senators will remember this work
was with regard to the Prime Minister going to Washington in advance of the G20
to promote Canada's interests, which I am sure we would all want the Prime
Minister to do. I will obtain an answer to that question.
Senator Cowan must understand the Director of Communications is already on
record as saying that in the future we will continue our endeavours, perhaps
with these two gentlemen and others, to promote Canada's interests in the United
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, on Monday in the other place,
Minister Clement answered a question regarding the Conservative government's
commitment to Canada's auto sector by stating:
Just before September 2008, this government made an announcement that it
was working with Ford Canada on precisely the auto innovation fund. We are
having continuing discussions with other automakers and those discussions are
The Automotive Innovation Fund was announced in Budget 2008, 15 months ago,
so I sincerely hope that the Leader of the Government in the Senate can tell
honourable senators that more than one announcement has been made under that
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): As honourable senators would know, the whole question of the
auto industry has evolved considerably with specific issues regarding Chrysler
and General Motors. Ford Motor Company has not participated in this.
The Automotive Innovation Fund was established in Budget 2008, and $250
million was provided over five years. Last fall, the first investment was
announced at Ford's engine plant in Windsor, and that was a figure of $80
million in support of a $730 million Ford project.
The discussions with Chrysler and General Motors are ongoing. I think the
Automotive Innovation Fund is very much part of this discussion. As honourable
senators may know, the deadline for Chrysler is tomorrow, April 30, and for
General Motors, the end of May.
I am sure the monies from the Automotive Innovation Fund will be involved in
any future decisions that the Government of Canada makes. Of course, as I
mentioned earlier, Minister Clement has worked closely with the Government of
Ontario and the U.S. government as we work to keep Canada's share of the
automotive industry at around the 20 per cent level, and the Automotive
Innovation Fund is a part of our overall plans for not only the auto industry
but also the parts manufacturers.
Senator Milne: Honourable senators, I thank the Leader of the
Government in the Senate for that answer, but as we all know, thousands of auto
worker jobs are presently at risk. In direct response to a question, the
minister pointed out one loan announcement made six months ago. My question
addresses the $80 million she spoke of from the $250 million fund over five
years. Has any of the $80 million gone out the door to Ford?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, when we make announcements, the
money is there. We are working with the auto industry. An announcement was made,
and I believe that Ford has accessed those funds. However, to be absolutely
sure, I will ask my colleague, the Minister of Industry, the Honourable Tony
Clement, to provide me with more details on all the government's plans for the
Automotive Innovation Fund.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, the Leader of the
Government in the Senate will recall that some months ago I raised the question
of protectionism in the stimulus package in the United States and that, as a
result of the package and the identification in the auto provisions, money in
the United States will go only to cars made in the United States, not North
I have another important question for the Leader of the Government in the
Senate due to her response to Senator Milne. We have heard in recent days that
General Motors intends to chop its workforce in Canada materially from about a
quarter of a million to around 40,000. I am not entirely clear on these figures,
but the reduction is substantial. The same is true for Chrysler; I am not sure
what the numbers are for Ford.
My question is not complicated. As a result of the provisions in the American
stimulus package directed to auto making in America and the apparent restriction
in the preamble that refers to cars made in the U.S., is Canada being penalized,
in effect? Are Canadian subsidiaries of those two American companies being
penalized so that a greater proportion of the job loss takes place in Canada
rather than in the United States relative to our share of the North American
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I do not believe there is any evidence of
that. We can respond every day of the week to various reports and rumours.
Minister Clement and members of the government are working closely with Chrysler
Canada and General Motors and on a daily basis with Minister Clement's
counterparts in the United States and the Province of Ontario. As I have said
from the beginning, the goal is to secure and maintain Canada's 20-per-cent
share of the auto industry, whatever that may be.
I do not think anyone watching the events occurring would delude themselves
into thinking that we will somehow have the same auto industry. That will not be
Regardless of what the auto industry will look like after the restructuring
and the work the Canadian government and the Ontario government have been trying
to accomplish, we are working to maintain our 20 per cent share of the auto
industry. I believe the work is meeting with good success, bearing in mind that
the Canadian marketplace does not, in any way, buy 20 per cent of our products;
most of the products go to the United States.
The other important factor in the auto sector is the auto parts
manufacturers, many of which are located in Canada. The auto parts industry is
vital to the long-term survival of the whole auto industry, whether it be Ford,
Honda or Toyota, even though we are dealing with Chrysler and General Motors,
because those parts manufacturers also manufacture parts for all of the auto
industry. Therefore, it is in no one's interest not to have the whole auto
industry, including Chrysler and General Motors, survive all of this
restructuring so that the industry, as a whole, emerges in a renewed way.
The auto industry will not look anything like it did in the past; the auto
sector has changed dramatically. However, the aim of the government is to
maintain that important 20-per-cent-share of the auto industry for Canada and
Canadians. I am confident of the efforts of my colleague, Minister Clement, and
his counterpart in Ontario.
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader
of the Government in the Senate, and relates to the 2010 Vancouver Winter
Olympic Games and respect for both official languages.
Most of the stakeholders and officials involved have the best possible
intentions. That is certain. They are mindful of the Official Languages Act and
want to respect it. The problem lies in the fact that no one seems to have the
definitive authority needed to reach a decision, or actively move forward on a
given issue, or be willing to come up with solutions to problems.
For instance, Industry Canada still has not delivered the money needed for
one of the projects linked to the Games. The transfer is supposed to happen
through the new infrastructure program, but it appears that there are new
criteria. Apart from the minister responsible for Industry Canada, no one can
actively make it happen.
Can the minister tell Prime Minister Harper that urgent action is needed to
determine who will assume responsibility and then give that individual the
authority to make definitive decisions? I can assure all honourable senators
that, if this were the case, there would be far fewer problems.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, of course, the Commissioner of Official
Languages has recently been in the news, drawing to the attention of the
government and Canadians the necessity of Canada's official languages policy
being absolutely respected and utilized in all forms at the Olympics.
The suggestion is a good one, honourable senator, to have one individual
person, be it a "him" or "her" — I was glad the honourable senator added "her" —
be the go-to person to ensure that this respect for official languages happens.
I will be happy to pass that suggestion on to the Prime Minister.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is
directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Members of the Atlantic
Canada Airports Association were on Parliament Hill on Monday talking to
parliamentarians about the importance of airports in our area. They said they
had submitted 22 shovel-ready projects for consideration of funding in Budget
2009. However, the budget mentions virtually every type of transportation
infrastructure except airports. Why were airports not mentioned? Can the leader
assure us that they are, in fact, eligible for infrastructure funding?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, I am not familiar with the projects
mentioned by my honourable friend that were apparently submitted. I cannot
imagine that any infrastructure project meeting the criteria would be excluded.
I will refer the question to the minister responsible for infrastructure, the
Minister of Transport, the Honourable John Baird, for a written response.
Senator Callbeck: I am glad that the leader will speak to the
minister. I hope she will impress upon him the importance of the issue to
Airports are vital to our regional transportation system and are essential to
a high standard of living in Atlantic Canada. The 22 projects submitted are
valued at $182 million, which would mean many jobs for the area, economic
development and investment in the sustainability of our transportation system.
When the leader is asking the minister about eligibility — and let us assume
they are eligible — would she also inquire as to how quickly the airports might
expect the infrastructure funding to flow?
Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I realize we are coming to the
end of Question Period. I will put two questions into one.
In September 2007, this government voted against the United Nations
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This week, our Human Rights
Committee heard witnesses describe the human rights violations taking place in
Aboriginal communities across this country, particularly violations against
Aboriginal women. What is the government doing to protect the human rights of
Aboriginal women, children and men?
In this process of consultation and cooperation, we also heard a sincere call
for real collaboration and consultation in dealing with Universal Periodic
Review of the UN Human Rights Council. The witnesses left this environment
feeling that Aboriginal groups and non-governmental organizations are window
dressing and that they are not legitimate and serious stakeholders with
important views to hear. What is the government doing to ensure real and sincere
collaboration and consultation with Aboriginal groups and NGOs?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, with regard to the United Nations, I have
said in this chamber before that we take our international commitments very
seriously. Human rights are at the top of the agenda in all of our work
With regard to the signing of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples, as I have said before, we were not prepared to sign this document, nor
was the previous government, because it was inconsistent with the Constitution
of this country, the rulings of the Supreme Court, the National Defence Act and
policies under which we negotiate treaties. The declaration does not balance the
rights of all Canadians.
The honourable senator also asked what this government has done in the area
of human rights for our Aboriginal people. We have made many strides in this
very area, including re-introducing legislation on the matrimonial rights of
Aboriginal women. To list a few items where government action has resulted in
significant benefit to Aboriginals, we are investing $330 million in the First
Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan. It builds on our March 2006 plan that
cut the number of high-risk systems by two thirds.
We have invested more than $1 billion in housing in the North and on- and
off-reserve. We are investing $300 million in the First Nations Market Housing
Fund, which opened for business in May 2008. We greatly enhanced the Aboriginal
Skills and Employment Partnership program. We are working with Aboriginal groups
and others in developing a new Aboriginal economic development framework.
Budgets 2008 and 2009 made significant investments to strengthen First Nations
and Inuit health programs and First Nations child and family services. We worked
on education agreements with British Columbia and New Brunswick, and we are
making investments in new schools. Recently, we announced two new programs that
will help to reform and improve the success of First Nations education. We
passed Bill C-30 to speed up specific claims and settle long-standing issues. In
terms of basic human rights, we issued an apology to former students of
residential schools, which no other level of government had ever done before
this government. We made that apology on June 11, 2008.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I have the honour to table a delayed answer to the oral question
raised by Senator Munson on March 26, 2009, concerning Indian Affairs and
Northern Development, literacy and essential skills.
(Response to question raised by Hon. Jim Munson on March 26, 2009)
In Canada's federation, provinces and territories have the primary
responsibility for education and training, including delivery of literacy
programming. This is particularly the case at the K-12 level. Students in
Nunavik are under the Quebec provincial system and, therefore, school-level
literacy efforts are led by the province and the Kativik School Board.
Nevertheless, the Government of Canada recognizes that literacy skills are
the foundation for learning — and for participation — in a knowledge-based
economy and society. As a result, the federal government provides a wide range
of programs in Nunavik that community recipients can use for literacy
For example, resources can be accessed from the First Nations and Inuit
Child Care Initiative (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC)),
Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities Program (Public Health
Agency of Canada), the Youth Employment Strategy (HRSDC), and the Aboriginal
Human Resources Development Strategy (HRSDC).
In addition to these existing programs, Minister Strahl — on behalf of the
Government of Canada — signed the historic Inuit Education Accord in Iqaluit
on April 2nd along with Mary Simon, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
(Canada's national Inuit organization). The Accord is a 13 party agreement
between Inuit of Canada, as represented by the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, and
their partner organizations and governments, to establish a National Committee
on Inuit Education.
The Committee will work together over a one-year period to develop a
national strategy for improving educational opportunities and outcomes for
Inuit learners. As part of this process, the Committee will be examining ways
to improve literacy in Nunavik and in the other Inuit regions in Canada.
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, I ask leave to proceed to
Motions, Item No. 61.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
is leave granted?
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, before I agree to grant
leave to proceed to this motion, I would like to know the reason for the
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will Senator Wallin
provide an explanation?
Senator Wallin: Honourable senators, there is an urgency to adopt this
motion. The Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs of the National Security and
Defence Committee needs the order of reference adopted by the chamber and then
delegated to the subcommittee by the main committee at Monday's meeting.
Otherwise, we will not be able to hold a meeting of Veterans Affairs next
Wednesday. Given that the house will not sit tomorrow and no other time is
available, we have asked leave to proceed to the motion now.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators,
is leave granted?
Hon. Pamela Wallin, for Senator Kenny, pursuant to notice of April 28,
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence be
authorized to study:
(a) services and benefits provided to members of the Canadian
Forces; to veterans who have served honourably in Her Majesty's Canadian
Armed Forces in the past; to members and former members of the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police and its antecedents; and all of their families; and
(b) commemorative activities undertaken by the Department of
Veterans Affairs Canada, to keep alive for all Canadians, the memory of
Canadian veterans' achievements and sacrifices; and
(c) continuing implementation of the New Veterans Charter; and
That the committee report to the Senate no later than June 15, 2010 and
that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until
90 days after the tabling of the final report.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Baker, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-211,
An Act to require the Minister of the Environment to establish, in
co-operation with the provinces, an agency with the power to identify and
protect Canada's watersheds that will constitute sources of drinking water in
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, Bill S-211 is an act
to require the Minister of the Environment to establish, with the cooperation of
the provinces, an agency with the power to identify and protect Canada's
watersheds — water sources that will constitute sources of drinking water in the
future. Let me quote from the preamble in the bill:
Whereas Canada's drinking water sources are threatened by land use and
development that may have an impact on the quality of the water and its
suitability as drinking water;
Whereas the need for clean, safe drinking water is increasing in all
regions of Canada;
Whereas the legislative powers that relate to the protection of watershed
areas are under both federal and provincial jurisdiction;
And whereas there is urgent need for federal and provincial governments to
protect Canada's drinking water sources for the future;
Essentially, honourable senators, I will not try your patience unduly. Many
of you have heard some of these arguments before, and therefore I will try to
summarize where we stand as briefly as I can.
Bill S-211 has had a history in the Senate. It has been before the Senate for
almost four years. It was introduced in session after session. In the last
session, honourable senators will recall that we had a spirited discussion about
the bill before it was turned over to committee. We agreed to pass the subject
matter of the bill to the committee when we went to second reading.
Honourable senators will recall that Senator Nolin was concerned about
certain constitutional aspects of the bill. I suggested we sort out those
aspects in committee, as well as deal with other questions that he or other
senators might have — including an adjacent or previous bill that might have
overlapped this particular bill.
Two issues were addressed in committee. Honourable senators will recall that
the bill was given a thorough examination, under the able chairmanship of
Senator Banks, in the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and
Natural Resources. We had extensive hearings on November 22, November 27 and
December 4, 2007.
I believe, on careful reading of that transcript, that all the concerns were
addressed. Some senators were not totally satisfied, but at least there was a
rational response to each concern that had been raised in the Senate and by
I remind honourable senators, briefly, about the background and the rationale
for this bill. This bill was to require the Minister of the Environment to
establish, in cooperation with the provinces, an agency with power to identify,
first of all, and then to protect, Canada's watersheds that will constitute
sources of drinking water in the future.
Honourable senators will know of my other bill to amend the Food and Drugs
Act — now Bill S-208 — to provide clean drinking water at the tap. Bill S-211,
which we are discussing now, is an upstream bill; in effect, it is a companion
piece to the clean drinking water bill.
The rationale did not come from me. It came from discussions and debates
around the bill to amend the Food and Drugs Act from experts who said if we
wanted to deal with clean drinking water, we must be holistic. We must not only
deal with the downstream source when it comes out of the tap, but also with
Even though this bill is a companion bill, the two bills each stand on their
own feet; in other words, delaying the passage of one does not affect the
passage of the other. The two bills are completely separate and mutually
exclusive. I do not want any senator to believe that the two are connected in
the way or that one is tied to the other. They are not connected except with
respect to overall process and policy.
Honourable senators, in article after article and in television programs in
the last two or three years, water clearly has become, as the media experts say,
"the new oil." Water is now as precious in a way as oil, and the cost of keeping
water clean is increasing.
It is interesting to note that in October 2007, when the committee of the
Senate was seized with the subject matter of this bill, Cirque du Soleil founder
and one of Canada's outstanding Canadians, Guy Laliberté, pledged $100 million
over the next 25 years to a new foundation that he called the One Drop
When I read the newspaper clipping, I also spoke to the executive director of
the foundation, Michel Lamoureux, whom I happened to run into a few days before
the hearings in 2007. He is well known in this chamber; I believe he previously
worked for Senator Poulin as her assistant.
The press release from that foundation is clear. It says that Mr. Laliberté
has dedicated $100 million over the next 25 years to the One Drop Foundation,
and he gave the following rationale:
No one can remain indifferent when we know that at least every eight
seconds, a child dies from a disease caused by drinking contaminated water.
He was not referring to Canada; he was referring to global drinking water.
This foundation will rebuild water wells and provide drinking water to poor
When I brought the background of my bill to Mr. Lamoureux's attention, he was
interested. In no way, shape or form do I want to appear to be a critic of Mr.
Laliberté, his generosity or his efforts, because I think he is doing an
astounding thing for the world. However, it strikes me as ironic that while we
in Canada can support with our tax dollars a foundation for clean drinking water
overseas, we do not have clean drinking water in some of our poorest and
not-so-poor regions of Canada.
I hope to achieve common cause and to join forces with this foundation; to
persuade them to assist us here in Canada with respect to these measures
affecting water that we have before the Senate.
Let us take a quick look back. Canada is a blessed country. It is blessed
because we are sovereign in terms of our resources, not only oil, but minerals,
semi-precious and precious gems and other resources.
We also are sovereign over 7 per cent of the world's land mass. Canada has,
within its borders, 9 per cent of the world's so-called renewable fresh water. I
say "so-called" because until a few years ago, we believed that our fresh water
was renewable; but it now appears that some of it may not be renewable.
Our water supply is not increasing or staying at the same level. Most experts
say it is decreasing. It is decreasing because of pollution and chemicals; and,
more important, leakage and, of course, the environment. This leakage, seepage
or environmental reasons cause deep seepage in our fresh water system.
Look at the Great Lakes. This finding is anecdotal, but it is confirmed by a
number of associations. I have had the honour of
addressing the Great Lakes Water Association in Chicago and in Toronto. When
people go to these meetings, honourable senators, they discover that the water
level of the Great Lakes has dropped about 18 inches in the last few years.
In many resorts along the Great Lakes this summer, one will find that the
facilities in the marinas are marooned because the water level is now 18 inches
lower. That level varies up and down, but essentially it is lower. We now have a
serious seepage and leakage problem from pollution, the environment and other
reasons. Also, we all know the efforts by some Canadians to put provisions in
our law to ensure that bulk attacks or bulk expropriation of our fresh water is
not undertaken by the United States.
The purpose of this bill is at least to find out what is happening, to find
out the facts. The purpose of the bill is not complicated. The purpose is to map
the watersheds, these water sources of clean drinking water across the country.
Believe it or not, honourable senators, we do not have, to this day — despite
legislation and despite protestation by governments and ministers — an inventory
of those watersheds.
Canada's population is less than half of 1 per cent of the world's
population, so we have the greatest per capita allocation of fresh water in the
world. This abundance of fresh water, in my view, is both a blessing and a
curse. The blessings are clear: Water is an essential part of our life on this
planet. The Department of Health tells us we need to drink eight glasses of
clean drinking water each and every day to keep healthy.
The curse, honourable senators, is overabundance. We have become complacent
with this vast resource. There is a myth that we help promulgate in our schools,
and here, that we have limitless water. That is a myth. That is no longer the
case. We are living by this previous myth. We have become too compliant and too
complacent. We take this valuable resource for granted — and that resource is
Why is there not a vocal lobby to preserve this precious national asset? In
the last several years we have heard voices in the media. Article after article
says the new oil is water. We have seen the media. We have heard
environmentalists around the world talking about this. Why is it that we do not
have a powerful lobby that knocks on our door, as many other lobbies do, day
after day, to protect our water? We do have the Seven Sisters, or the so-called
offspring of the Seven Sisters, the great oil companies. They are here. We have
the big banks. They are here. We have the unions. They are here. We have ethnic
groups. They are here in abundance. However, we do not have a fine, articulate,
intelligent daily vocal lobby for water.
We do have the Sierra Club. We do have environmental groups and watershed
groups, but they are not visible and powerful because they are underfunded.
There is a vested interest to protect and maintain oil in this country — we
know about that — and drawing it out of the surface; yet, we do not have the
Seven Sisters that will protect the water in this country. Why is that so? With
rising economic, industrial and agricultural growth and increased housing added
to the utilization of our water, as well as resources for recreation, all
experts warn — and I repeat, honourable senators, all experts warn, and no one
in the country speaks to the contrary — that it is time for Canada to take a
fuller account of its water, to take inventory of its own water that is fast
becoming a diminishing or at least questionable resource.
Honourable senators, I speak here for 100 per cent of the experts. I have not
heard any expert, not one, disagree with this contention.
The Great Lakes, the single largest source of fresh water in the world,
contained — I say "contained" because we do not know this anymore — 18 per cent
of the world's total fresh water at least four or five years ago, but much of it
I discovered 20 years ago when in Chicago at a meeting of Great Lakes mayors
that there were 36 heavily polluted hot spots along the Great Lakes. Canada and
the United States entered into an agreement, a treaty with the provinces, a
contractual relationship, a treaty relationship, a political relationship — I
will not get into the fine details — and guess where we are today, some 20 years
later? Of the 36 centres of pollution, the last count I had was that 12 had been
addressed. Canada did some of them, as did the Americans.
Several years ago the United States was preparing a water restoration bill to
required $20 billion of appropriations from the U.S. Congress. That bill was led
by Rahm Emanuel, who is now Chief of Staff to President Obama. That bill has
gone nowhere because the $20 billion was never appropriated. Hopefully, some of
the American stimulus package might be allocated, but we do not know if that is
the case. In any event, we are where we are.
It is not safe to make the calculation any longer that the Great Lakes
contain 18 per cent of the world's fresh water in terms of volume. One per cent
is currently not renewable, according to the most recent scientific sources. We
can no longer take for granted the sustainability of the Great Lakes for each
and every citizen in the Great Lakes Basin — the jewel of our country — and
Given this diminishing resource, economic measurements should start to come
into play. How should groundwater, aquifers and watersheds, which are now
paramount sources, be shared? With a limitless resource, we do not have to worry
about sharing. Everyone can have a fair share. However, when the resource is
diminishing, in comes government and in comes policy because in a democratic
society we have to decide how we share a diminishing resource.
In Alberta, there is a huge water crisis. For every barrel of oil, four
barrels of water are needed in order to bring the oil out of the oil sands. Some
say twelve barrels, others say six, others say eight; let us just say four. It
may be more, but at least four barrels of water are required for every barrel of
Among the agriculture, oil and health communities, how do we share this
diminishing, precious resource called water? How can we hope to share it if we
do not know how much we have or where it is?
The idea of this bill, very simply, is to get the facts: facts before policy.
I was always taught by my great mentor, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, to find out the
facts first and then come up with a solution. Facts first. We do not know.
Genius, I was told, is a glimpse into the obvious. One does not have to be a
genius to first get the facts. How do we find out how much and where and what?
For a moment, let us share models of allocation between farmers and settlers,
between industry and recreation, and between oil and minerals and others as our
water abundance decreases; but we cannot do that without knowing how much we
Honourable senators, recent public opinion polls have demonstrated, and I
urge all members of the house on both sides who are indifferent to this bill —
and there are many of my bills that senators are indifferent to — hallelujah!
Senator Segal: Say it is not so!
Senator Grafstein: The honourable senator is talking like my wife. She
I urge senators on both sides to look at the polls. We are not moved by our
conscience any longer in this chamber. We are moved by the polls, so let us look
at the polls. What do the polls say? They say the same thing — that water is
emerging as almost the number one issue in Canada. Just this year we have heard
that some cities are thinking of banning bottled water. That is not a bad idea.
However, if we ban it, what will we be left with when we cannot guarantee the
cleanliness of the water from the end of the tap? We ban bottled water, but we
cannot guarantee to each and every Canadian that clean drinking water will flow
out of the tap. How ironic is that?
We started this long crusade — I do not like using the word "crusade," as it
has some undesirable aspects in some corners — it is a mission. When we started
this mission, water was in the mud. Water has now come out of the mud.
We have heard an astounding and supportive hallelujah to Senator Keon, with
which I agree, but he will be surprised to find out that water now rivals
medicare in this country because people are becoming concerned about this
compelling problem. This is in no way, shape or form meant to diminish the
honourable senator's outstanding acts of leadership in the field of medicine.
As parliamentarians and politicians, we value public opinion. We should take
this rising phenomenon into account to justify in some measure this Senate. We
heard from Senator Segal that it is important to justify and legitimize our work
here, so would it not be nice if we took a rising issue that concerns the public
and encapsulate it in a bill, when the other place refuses to act? Would that
not be a pleasing result specifically for new senators so they can go home and
tell their wives how hard they are working in the Senate?
Senator LeBreton: And husbands.
Senator Grafstein: Yes — spouses, friends, countrymen, relationships,
wives, alternates. I want to be politically correct.
Water is near the top of the polls in terms of concern for each and every
Bill S-211 is designed to allow the Minister of the Environment, in
conjunction with provincial counterparts, to map out water aquifers across the
country. This bill is a cost-effective and cooperative way to map, measure and
create a national inventory of our most precious resource. Once completed, this
inventory, open and transparent, will ensure that water resources are developed
in a fair, equitable and careful way, to be shared by all sectors of our society
based on their paramount needs.
Let me relate an extraordinary story from my home province of Ontario. It is
well known that one of the major watersheds in the Greater Toronto Area is the
Oak Ridges Moraine. This moraine services much of the clean drinking water in
Toronto. It was also discovered, as Senator Di Nino knows, that several
developers in Toronto had acquired sites there and were starting to build on
that moraine. The Province of Ontario woke up and discovered that the moraine
was targeted for development. The Liberals in Ontario woke up, and the Province
of Ontario decided that the situation was a crisis. They passed emergency
legislation to prohibit building on that moraine. It struck me as rather curious
that building would occur on this precious resource when there is ample place to
build elsewhere in the province and in the GTA. Furthermore, the construction
would affect the rights of every resident of Ontario, particularly each and
every resident of Toronto, who would be denied access to this precious resource.
Water is a problem wherever we go. However, the problem is no longer local.
Water is now a national problem because it affects the entire country. Water has
emerged as a national macroeconomic as well as a microeconomic problem. If we do
not manage this resource, honourable senators, and take steps to enhance the
sustainability, we will unconsciously compromise the future of Canadians. I urge
honourable senators to adopt this measure in second reading before Canada's
fresh water resources are diminished beyond renovation and sustainability.
If we address the situation now, we can save a precious resource from
atrophy, benign neglect and deterioration. Canada's water supply will not run
dry if we are careful and transparent, and if we protect its sustainability for
I have been told that the subject matter of this bill is under study by the
government. That news is good, but it is not new news because three previous
governments and now this government have all told me the same thing; namely,
that they are studying this particular matter. Good for them. We are told that
the government will continue to study this matter, and I believe they will
continue to do so until the water is too low to do anything about.
This bill is not a question for further study; this bill is a question for
When I spoke in conjunction with the clean drinking water bill, the act to
amend the Food and Drugs Act to provide clean drinking water, the Gordon Water
Group of Concerned Scientists and Citizens brought their most recent study to my
office. I read that 55-page document, and I quoted it before in my previous
address on second reading of the amendment to the Food and Drugs Act to provide
clean drinking water. The study is called Changing the Flow: A Blueprint for
Federal Action on Freshwater, and I urge honourable senators to read it in
conjunction with this bill. The study involved every major environmental group
and scientist with respect to their interest and studies in the water system.
The document is a prestigious and impressive report, and I will give you brief
quotations from it.
On page iii, part of the preface is called "Thinking Like a Watershed," and
Because watershed boundaries seldom coincide with political boundaries, we
need to take better account of watersheds in our decision-making.
Watershed-based management requires an appreciation of the complex
interactions that occur between the natural hydrological system and human
The paragraph continues:
. . . urban development, commercial and agricultural operations all impact
the quantity and quality of both surface and groundwater.
The complexity of these interactions means that our future management
approaches need to be more integrated, precautionary and adaptive than they
have tended to be in the past.
On page 12, under the headline, "The Economic Importance of Fresh Water," the
The measurable contribution of water to Canada's economy is estimated
between $7.5 and $23 billion annually, values comparable to agricultural
production and other major economic sectors
I point to those who are experts in this chamber. Water outstrips agriculture
and other industrial sectors.
The paragraph continues:
A prime example of the importance of freshwater to Canada's economy is the
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River region.
This region supports 45 per cent of Canada's industrial capacity and 25 per
cent of its agricultural capacity, and contributes $180 billion to Canada-U.S.
trade annually. The lakes sustain a $100 million commercial fishing industry
and a $350 million recreational fishing industry and every year 1.5 million
recreational boats enjoy the Great Lakes.
The report goes on to deal with one more important topic, and the heading is
interesting. The topic is right up Senator Nolin's alley because he brought the
provincial aspect of this subject matter to the attention of the Senate, and I
thank him for that. The quote is found on page 21 and states: What happened to
the federal water policy of 1987?
Ralph Pentland, who assisted me and encouraged me to draft this particular
bill, is one of Canada's outstanding experts who has appeared before our
committee in the past. Formerly a senior bureaucrat involved with water in the
federal bureaucracy, he co-authored this blueprint and was a member of the
Gordon Water Group. He was responsible for drafting the federal water policy in
Ralph Pentland describes the policy rise and fall in this way: In early 1984,
federal environment minister, the late and revered Charles Caccia — I say
"revered" because he was a good friend of ours — recognized that many of the
water issues that would confront Canadians over the next several decades could
not possibly be addressed without effective federal leadership. That was in
1987, 20 years ago.
Accordingly, he appointed a three-person inquiry on federal water policy, and
the inquiry was instructed to consult widely and report back in 18 months. The
Pearse inquiry submitted its final report, Currents of Change, in
September of 1985. That was 22 years ago. The study states:
Over the following years, I chaired an Inter-departmental Task Force, which
carefully considered the inquiry's recommendations, and developed a Federal
Water Policy which then Environment Minister Tom McMillan tabled in the House
of Commons in November 1987.
We have gone from a Liberal minister to a Conservative minister, and, of
course, now we are back to a Conservative minister from a Liberal minister.
Shortly thereafter, the Canada Water Preservation Bill was tabled in the
house, promising to prohibit water exports, and the government's green plan
promised billions of dollars — that was back in 1987 — which I do not think were
ever allocated or spent. We made the promise and we heightened the expectations
that the problem was solved, but we did not put our money where our mouth was.
By the way, I am not critical of this government only; I am critical of this
government and previous governments. They have all said the same thing — We are
with you — but they did not put their money where their mouth is, or show action
Canadians' hopes were raised when the government said, at that time, that
they would finally address a number of serious water and environmental problems.
However, their hopes were dashed. In 1987, the federal water policy included
over 100 well thought out amendments and commitments. I point out to honourable
senators opposite that few of those commitments were ever met in any meaningful
way. Again, I cast no aspersions. It was non-partisan. Both sides were benignly
negligent in not dealing with this matter.
At that time, the water export bill was never passed. Most of the planned
green plan dollars evaporated — a nice word — and through the 1990s Canada
plummeted from the middle of the pack of countries in the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development in terms of per capita environmental
expenditures to somewhere near the bottom.
I will conclude with the rest of the quote from this section:
Since the National Energy Program fiasco in the 1980s —
We all remember that quite well, honourable senators. Take a look at the
— the federal government has been particularly gun-shy about treading on
provincial toes regarding resource matters.
That is indeed a great tragedy because water is not just a provincial
resource; it is both a key ecological integrator across many jurisdictional
— as I have tried to point out painstakingly in these comments —
— and a critically important, strategic national resource.
A constructive way to look at the turf war question is to start from the
assumption that neither the federal nor provincial governments have the total
"powers" per se. What they do have is frequently overlapping
constitutionally-defined "responsibilities" to the same citizens, many of
which are not being met.
We have a crisis, honourable senators — a stasis. It is not working. We do
not have a water policy in Canada. We have partial legislation on the books, but
it is not enforced.
Again, I thank every member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee
under the leadership of Senator Banks. The committee has followed this issue as
assiduously as anyone in this country.
Senator Banks' responsibilities have been turned over to my great friend
Senator Angus. I would hope that he, known for his missionary zeal in many
areas, might take on this mission, as Senator Banks did, to do things in the
Honourable senators, this matter then went to committee. As I pointed out, a
major issue was raised by my good colleague and friend, now the constitutional
watchdog from the province of Quebec, Senator Nolin. By the way, I do not
quarrel with his responsibilities to be a constitutional watchdog, as some of us
are, but he has been assiduous. Therefore, he raised the question of
constitutionality, and we agreed in good, non-partisan spirit that we would not
pass the principle of the bill but would pass the subject matter of the bill to
I will quote from the committee proceedings of November 27, 2007. Senators
will recall we had a very spirited discussion just a few days ago about
constitutional opinions. I quote from the government, on page 1850 of the
committee hearings of the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee
chaired by my colleague Senator Banks. The government official was Henry
Schultz, Senior Counsel, Legal Services, Department of Justice. He said:
First, as regards its constitutionality, we reviewed this bill from the
perspective of division of legislative jurisdiction between the federal and
provincial governments. We have not identified any objection to this bill on
Therefore, the question of constitutionality is gone. We now have an opinion
by the law officers of the Crown, which we did not have before, that it is
constitutional. The major objection raised by Senator Nolin was answered in
Honourable senators, I have some startling news, hot from the committee two
years ago. We have learned that the government had been mapping the aquifers. We
discovered in the learned evidence before Senator Banks' committee that it is
believed that 30 aquifers or watersheds are the sources of clean drinking water
across the country. That is very good news. We now know there are at least 30.
By the way, this was discovered some years ago.
What is the bad news? As of the committee hearing in 2007, we discovered that
the government was committed with zeal to finish the mission of mapping these
aquifers. When will that mapping be completed? That would be in 2030. I am not
sure how many senators will be in this chamber in 2030, and I do not know where
I will be in 2030, but I certainly will not be here. Perhaps Senator Brazeau
will be here, but I cannot think of anyone else. Will Senator Ringuette be here?
Good. Perhaps two vestigial remains will be here, but our job, honourable
senators, is to do something in our time.
Senator Segal: I will be here until 2021.
Senator Grafstein: Senator Segal will be out of luck, too. He will not
be here to see the culmination of the zeal of the federal government to map the
Finally, honourable senators, I do not want to make light of this, but we
have another problem that came to our attention in the very good
cross-examination of officials. We also discovered that under an overlapping
bill, which I believe is functus and many officials agreed with me — certainly
Ralph Pentland who, in effect, was the author and the administrator of the
previous bill, the Canada Water Act — it needed fresh impetus and fresh
political will. He told us that under that act the bureaucracy was mandated
every year to receive a progress report so we would know what they were doing —
by the way, we will have a stimulus package, we will have accountability and we
are going to find out. In the bill, there is a mandate for the department to
issue a report every year. When was the last report, Senator Banks?
Senator Banks: Never.
Senator Grafstein: The last report was in 2003. The mandate of having
an up-to-date report to find out where the precious asset of water was going,
and the progress, was never completed. What did the Auditor General say about
that? Well, she is too busy looking at other things. However, I think this is a
pretty important issue.
By the way, the Auditor General did look at the question of clean drinking
water and came to the conclusion that the responsible department was not
fulfilling its mandate to keep the guidelines up to date — not the regulations —
for clean drinking water. Therefore, we do not have a water policy. It is time
that we had a water policy. This is not a costly bill.
I would like to pass along one last anecdote, having heard laborious
testimony from these honest and forthright bureaucrats, who are strapped for
money and tell us that until the year 2030 they will not be able to complete
their work. This summer I was in Washington, D.C., at a meeting of American
governors, and I attended a workshop on the question of water and environmental
issues. We heard testimony from a group in the United States that had decided to
use modern technology to map America. Senator Moore recalls that I was astounded
to hear this. I spoke to the experts there, and then I spoke to Martin O'Malley,
the outstanding Governor of Maryland. We will hear great things from Governor
O'Malley. He is a comer in the American establishment.
I spoke to Governor O'Malley and I listened at that workshop because there is
much to learn from our American colleagues. I discovered to my amazement that he
had a presentation, and the presentation was a map of Maryland. On the map,
which was done by satellite in the most recent radar technology, they had mapped
the water, the green areas, the forests; every inch of Maryland was mapped on a
colour-coded map, including water sources. Governor Edward Rendell of
Pennsylvania was consulting with Governor O'Malley to see if he could do that
Honourable senators, the technology is here. The good news is that we do not
have to wait until we leave the Senate. We can do something in the next year or
so to get this done. The way to get this done is to move this bill to committee,
call back the officials, and let them rebut everything I say. I will rebut
everything they say and honourable senators can decide whether they really
believe that Canada has a future in preserving its water.
I believe water is our most precious possession aside from our liberty.
Liberty first, water second. Please support this bill.
Hon. Hector Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, I want to express my
appreciation to Senator Grafstein. I can see the honourable senator is very
passionate about and believes very strongly in the issue he has brought before
the house. I appreciate the information Senator Grafstein has brought forward
because, when I am in a position to debate this bill, it will help me to bring
forward the position from this side of the house.
Therefore, I ask the honourable senator opposite if it is okay for me to
adjourn the debate and continue the debate in the very near future.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Watt, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Eggleton, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-227,
An Act to amend the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act (tax relief for
Hon. Richard Neufeld: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak today
on Bill S-227, tax relief for Nunavik. The bill proposes preferential tax
treatment to residents of Nunavik through the personal, sales and excise tax
Personal income tax relief would be provided by establishing Nunavik as a
special zone under the Northern Residents Deduction and providing up to a $70
daily deduction for Nunavik residents in addition to existing deductions. The
bill would apply a zero per cent GST rate on the supply of goods and services
and would also exempt petroleum fuels purchased in Nunavik from federal excise
In discussing this bill, there are a number of important points to keep in
mind. First, considerable tax relief is already available to residents of
Nunavik through the Northern Residents Deduction and through current provisions
of the Excise Tax Act. Second, providing further tax relief to Nunavik
residents, but nothing to Canadians in other similar regions, raises fairness
issues. Third, this bill would impose a significant fiscal shift at a time of
great economic uncertainty. Fourth, the Government of Canada already provides
significant support to all provinces and territories. Finally, actions recently
announced by the government in the Economic Action Plan, including the
significant tax relief introduced by this government, will boost confidence and
economic growth, and support Canadians in all regions.
Honourable senators, let me deal with each of these issues in turn, starting
with an overview of the tax assistance that is already available to residents of
Nunavik and other Canadians living in northern and isolated regions.
The Northern Residents Deduction provides a daily residency deduction that
recognizes the higher costs of living in the North. This deduction aims at
drawing skilled labour to northern and isolated communities by significantly
reducing the tax burden of northern residents. The Northern Residents Deduction
is based on a zonal system: Residents who live in the prescribed northern zone
qualify for the full amounts of the deduction, while those living in the
intermediate zone qualify for one-half the amount.
Nunavik is part of the northern zone and its residents are eligible for the
full amounts of the Northern Residents Deduction. As part of the government's
comprehensive northern strategy, Budget 2008 proposed a 10 per cent increase in
the residency component of the Northern Residents Deduction. In particular, the
maximum daily residency deduction was increased from $15 to $16.50. This
increase brought the maximum annual amount of the residency deduction to $6,022
from $5,475 for residents of the northern zone, including those residents living
At the time, Yellowknife mayor, Gord Van Tighem, strongly congratulated our
government for this tremendous initiative, remarking, "That's something we've
been asking for a significant period of time. The move will mean more spending
into local economies and further reduce the cost of living."
In addition, the Northern Residents Deduction provides a deduction for two
employer-provided vacation trips per year, as well as unlimited
employer-provided medical travel. Budget 2008 increases in the Northern
Residents Deduction represents about $10 million in additional tax relief in the
2009-10 and subsequent taxation years.
Over all, for 2009-10, the Northern Residents Deduction will provide about
$155 million in total tax relief to individuals living in the entire designated
region. Certain provisions of the Excise Tax Act also already provide
significant tax relief in favour of commercial transportation and remote
For example, diesel fuel and aviation fuel are subject to a reduced rate of
federal excise tax of four cents per litre, as opposed to 10 cents per litre for
gasoline. This reduced rate of excise tax on diesel fuel and aviation fuel
recognizes the importance of these fuels for businesses. This is especially
important in rural and remote regions of Canada where it is necessary to
transport goods, equipment and people over vast distances.
As well, federal excise tax is fully relieved for diesel fuel that is used
either as heating oil or to generate electricity. Again, this relief is
important in remote and rural regions of Canada where diesel fuel may be used
for home heating and where it is necessary to use diesel generators to provide
This brings me to my second consideration: Whether it is fair to provide
significant tax relief to residents of Nunavik alone and not to other northern
residents, or all Canadians.
Allow me to explain, starting with the proposal for the Northern Residents
Deduction as set out in this bill. The residency deduction component for
residents of Nunavik would rise about five times. An increase in the deduction
of this size would certainly be a source of inequity, not only between Nunavik
residents and those who live in the south, but also between Nunavik and the
other parts of the North. Why is this so? As I mentioned a moment ago, the
proposal is to target this increase to Nunavik residents only.
For example, the proposed increase would allow someone in Nunavik to earn
close to $43,000 without paying taxes, while someone living elsewhere in the
North — say, Nunavut — would only be allowed to earn about $17,400 tax-free.
As anyone can see, this would be unfair to other residents of the North as
well as to other taxpayers in general who would not have access to such a
generous deduction. The same is true with respect to the GST and excise tax
proposals included in this bill.
Let us recall that this bill proposes a zero per cent GST rate on the supply
of goods and services in Nunavik. It also proposes a federal excise tax
exemption on petroleum and fuels sold or purchased in Nunavik.
How could the government justify a measure that would create this scale of
inequity in the tax system?
Honourable senators, this brings me to my third concern with the bill: The
fiscal costs, which go well beyond Bill S-227. The direct cost of the personal
income tax changes proposed in Bill S-227 would be $15 million annually. That
being said, it would be very hard to imagine targeting such generous tax relief
only to the residents of Nunavik and not having to extend it to all of those
currently eligible for the Northern Residents Deduction. However, extending it
would increase the total to over $300 million annually.
On my fourth point, I would like to review the many other ways by which this
government supports the residents of Nunavik. For instance, in January of 2008,
the government announced $9.7 million in funding for health projects to improve
the health of Canada's Inuit, as well as supporting an Inuit-specific mental
wellness team and an Office of Inuit Health. These initiatives will help
approximately 48,000 Inuit living in Canada.
My fifth and last point is that given the effects of the global recession
Canadians are concerned about their businesses, their jobs and their savings.
The government has listened to these concerns and will do what it takes to keep
our economy moving and to help Canadians in this time of extraordinary
One important element of the government's Economic Action Plan is its agenda
of tax relief aimed at creating a tax system that rewards Canadians for
realizing their full potential and improving their standard of living.
Budget 2009 proposes significant new personal income tax relief that will
provide immediate benefits such as: increasing the basic personal amount — the
amount all Canadians can earn without paying federal income tax; increasing the
upper limit of the two lowest personal income tax brackets so that Canadians can
earn more before paying higher taxes; effectively doubling the total tax relief
provided by the Working Income Tax Benefit by providing an additional $580
million for the 2009 and subsequent taxation years; providing further tax relief
to seniors by increasing the Age Credit amount by $1,000 for 2009 and subsequent
taxation years; and providing tax measures to help Canadians purchase and
improve their homes.
Nunavik residents, along with other Canadians, also benefit from the
significant tax relief provided by this government and the economy will benefit
As the Retail Council of Canada recently stated, Budget 2009 "tax changes
will put money back in the pockets of Canadians, boosting confidence and
encouraging spending, which is critical to the retail sector and Canada's
overall economic recovery."
Indeed, since coming into office, the government has taken action that will
provide huge tax relief to Canadians over 2008-09 and the following five fiscal
years, including $20 billion in personal income tax relief in Budget 2009.
Honourable senators, this government certainly agrees that residents of
Nunavik deserve tax relief, as do all Canadians. That is why it has cut taxes in
every way it collects them.
However, tax relief needs to be responsible and fair, which the measures
proposed under Bill S-227 clearly are not. Bill S-227 is unsustainable and
unjust. How could this government justify providing special tax preferences to
Nunavik residents and denying them to other northern residents living in similar
situations? Bill S-227 is unaffordable during this period of economic
uncertainty. Its direct and indirect total impact could easily exceed $300
It is for these reasons, honourable senators, that I am unable to support
Bill S-227. I trust that my colleagues will agree with the points I have raised
today and will oppose the bill.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-208,
An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (clean drinking water).
Hon. John D. Wallace: Honourable senators, I commend Senator Grafstein
for his unwavering commitment to addressing the issue of safe drinking water,
clearly an issue of importance to all Canadians. We have an important role to
play in addressing matters that impact the health, economy and environment of
Canadians. With this role comes a responsibility to ensure we advance positions
that will clearly lead to improvements to the status quo and that are based on a
sound understanding of the associated costs and benefits.
On the matter of today's debate on Bill S-208, we must also consider the
position of provinces and territories that manage drinking water in our process
for formulating recommendations and calls for change. Let me outline two key
questions that should be considered, the answers to which ought to call for
sober second thought on how we may wish to proceed.
First, how safe is Canada's drinking water now and are there regulations and
enforcement regimes in place to protect the health of Canadians? Second, would a
federally regulated system be more effective or merely add another layer of
bureaucracy and impose significant costs while harming
federal-provincial-territorial collaboration and relations?
Have we, in fact, conducted a thorough and rigorous analysis of these points
and reached conclusions that allow us to make a responsible decision? I do not
believe this to be the case. Rather, we were focusing on a hot-button issue and
are proposing a solution that is not grounded in fact, one that will lead to no
improvement in protecting the health and safety of Canadians.
How safe is Canada's drinking water? This is really the crux of the issue. My
honourable colleague Senator Grafstein originally brought this same bill forward
in 2001, shortly after the Walkerton tragedy. In the last six years, the bill
has not changed, nor have the arguments put forward by Senator Grafstein in
sponsoring the bill. In reality, Walkerton was a wake-up call and all
governments across Canada have made significant changes to their drinking water
management regimes to strengthen regulations and better protect the quality of
Let me clear up what appears to be a misconception that we only have
voluntary guidelines in place. All provinces and territories use the Guidelines
for Canadian Drinking Water Quality as the basis for their own enforceable
regulatory regimes, effectively applying common national standards that are
implemented according to each jurisdiction's priorities and needs as it pertains
to protecting the health of its citizens. The guidelines, therefore, are
developed nationally but are applied provincially and locally as enforceable
standards through regulation or through licensing of treatment plants.
Is the system perfect or do we have outstanding challenges? Quite simply, it
is not perfect and we do have challenges to address.
A premise of Bill S-208 is that by having federal regulations, we could
provide equal access for all Canadians to clean drinking water. Although adverse
drinking water events can occur in large cities, these are extremely rare and
are generally a short-term problem related to a drinking water treatment plant
or distribution system.
Indeed, the major challenge for communities, large and small, is replacing or
upgrading aging or inadequate infrastructure. This is not a problem resolved by
regulation. The significant investments in infrastructure highlighted in the
government's budget include water and wastewater treatment projects and are a
practical approach for achieving real improvements to our water systems across
In early December 2006, Health Canada worked with its provincial and
territorial counterparts to document the number of boil water advisories across
Canada and provide this information to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy,
the Environment and Natural Resources. In March 2008, the Canadian Medical
Association reported that there were 1,766 boil water advisories in place.
Certainly, the fact that any community is under a boil water advisory is
something we all need to be concerned about.
In assessing the risk, it is clear that small community water supplies is the
area where most problems — that is, boil water advisories — in fact occur. Would
federal regulation of drinking water eliminate or reduce boil water advisories?
In reality, regulations cannot solve the problem of resources and capacity. All
orders of government in Canada are facing this challenge, even though regulatory
regimes are in place. In fact, this problem exists worldwide — in the U.S., the
European Union and, obviously, in developing countries.
These small communities lack capacity and resources for protecting source
water and in treating drinking water to a level equivalent to large communities.
The issuance of boil water advisories is a protective measure to reduce people's
exposure to risks from drinking water. However, it is not a solution to a very
Small communities face challenges such as inadequate treatment and
distribution systems, lack of trained and certified operators, reduced
capability for monitoring, reduced access to testing at accredited laboratories,
and little capacity for source water protection. The number of boil water
advisories in place needs to be addressed.
Honourable senators, resolution will not happen through regulation, but
through national and international initiatives to develop best management
practices, tools and communications to address the fundamental challenges.
No order of government can solve the challenges of small community drinking
water supplies through regulation. It will take resources, innovation and
We cannot guarantee safe drinking water by creating criminal offences for
failing to comply with standards. Senator Grafstein made the case that unsafe
drinking water is common and that it imposes a significant cost on our health
care system. The evidence for this claim is not apparent. It is important to
note that we have not experienced an outbreak of waterborne illness since
Walkerton in 2000 and North Battleford in 2001. This lack of outbreak does not
mean that unsafe drinking water on occasion does not cause illness, but it is a
clear indication that the level of illness is extremely small, compared to the
illness cause by other sources. In considering the future of this bill, let us
ensure that we are realistic in terms of its scope, application and what it will
The second point is: Will a federally regulated system be a better system or
simply a duplication and intrusion into an already effective management regime
run collaboratively by all orders of government? Provinces and territories
traditionally have exercised full authority for managing and regulating the
supply of drinking water for their citizens. Senator Grafstein has indicated
that Bill S-208 is a no-cost bill because it requires only an oversight role by
the federal government. I believe this statement is an oversimplification. A
responsible government would not limit its role to one of oversight alone but
would be required to ensure enforcement, a compliance mechanism and a level of
accountability. As well, regulations would be required, which involve
significant costs because current enforcement and compliance resources
supporting the Food and Drugs Act
would not begin to cover this role. Regulation of community drinking water
supplies would require a different management regime, knowledge and skill set
than the regulation that food requires. There is no crossover in roles or skills
between management of food and drinking water. In other words, each area would
require a separate regime.
Given that approximately 40,000 community water supplies across Canada would
be captured by this bill, the enforcement and compliance costs would be
significant. Provinces and territories have such regimes in place, and the
regimes are working. It has been suggested that agreements with other orders of
government could be put in place to fulfill federal responsibilities related to
Bill S-208 to reduce duplication and costs for the federal government. However,
we need to be aware that neither the current Food and Drugs Act nor the
amendments proposed in Bill S-208 allow the federal government to transfer or
delegate its responsibilities.
It is likely that the provinces would expect appropriate resources to support
delegation of duties. There has been no assessment of potential costs and
duplication associated with the above, or with the challenges associated with
transition to a new regulatory regime. Also, there has been no assessment of
potential liabilities for the federal government associated with significant
infrastructure requirements. Communities are hard-pressed to fund infrastructure
upgrades. The current approach, which includes the promotion of full-cost
pricing and cost-shared Canada infrastructure funding programs, needs to be
continued. However, it is important to remember that the small communities face
the largest challenges in addressing infrastructure and capacity needs, which
will require special attention, not simply regulation.
Bill S-208 is straightforward and simple because it relies on surgical
amendments to an existing statute. However, this bill creates a whole new area
of responsibility for the federal government. Would this new system be more
effective? Honourable senators, I believe the answer is clearly, no. The level
of protection and investment made currently by provinces and territories in
protecting drinking water is significant. Following Walkerton, provinces and
territories developed strategies and requirements to protect the quality of
drinking water from source to tap. Provinces and territories are addressing
watershed management, operation certification, treatment plant construction and
design, reporting requirements, and emergency response and planning. Provinces
have made their legislation, regulations and policies more stringent over the
past five years. They have invested significant resources to ensure that these
improvements are successful, and that their actions are transparent and
accountable to all citizens.
Imposing a new federal regulatory regime is unnecessary and duplicative and
would lead to deterioration in federal-provincial relations. While it may be
constitutionally possible to regulate drinking water as a food under the Food
and Drugs Act, it would be seen by provinces and territories as an intrusion
into an area of traditional provincial-territorial responsibility, where
provinces and territories have made significant investments and progress. The
government could face legal challenges requiring significant resources and time.
While seemingly simple, Bill S-208 would have a profound impact on the way in
which drinking water is managed in Canada. Given this reality, one would expect
that views would be solicited from provinces, territories, communities, academic
experts, drinking water operators and others who focus on the provision of safe
drinking water. This important step needs to be taken.
Honourable senators, as I stated previously, the major challenge for large
and small communities is replacing and upgrading aging or inadequate
infrastructure. Many of us know from experience, as I know from my community,
that the major difficulty with replacing or upgrading infrastructure is funding.
Many funding models are being looked at, some of which potentially involve
public-private partnerships. Some people in our communities are concerned with
what could appear to be the privatization of the sale of water. Certainly, that
concern is legitimate. Water is a necessity of life, as we all know, and must be
maintained for the benefit of all. It is not and should never be a product that
is bought and sold for profit. We all agree with that view.
Having said that, I remind honourable senators that one of the significant
elements in Bill S-208 is the proposal to change the definition of "food" to
include drinking water. Drinking water would fit the definition of food and, as
we know, food products are bought and sold for profit. For the most part, food
products fall under the control of the private sector. I suggest to Senator
Grafstein that if we were to begin by changing the definition of food to include
drinking water, we could begin a descent down a slippery slope. I suggest that
many — the overwhelming majority of people in this country — would be strongly
opposed to the buying and selling of water for profit.
Honourable senators, we must ensure that all our decisions support
responsible government, economic realities and the best interests of Canadians.
Based on the evidence before us, I am convinced that Bill S-208 fails this test
and cannot be supported.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: I have a couple of brief questions. The
honourable senator fairly raises factual issues that are not best determined in
the house but rather in committee. I hope that the honourable senator will
support referring this bill to committee. It can be on division so that
principles are adapted. Each issue has a factual base. One issue is the question
of how safe water is. Recent facts about the safety of our water system have
been provided by the Walter Gordon organization. Representatives could give
evidence before the committee. As well, there is the question of the nature of
regulation and whether the power of regulation has an impact on behaviour. The
committee could address that important matter and the question of cost to the
federal system of discovered and undiscovered water illnesses in terms of both
productivity and actual health losses.
There is no question that we have recent evidence from the Aboriginal
communities that at least one third of the Aboriginal communities are still at
high risk, and that information is a presented fact. As well, there is the
question of relative costs to a system as they relate to the overall cost to, or
impact on, the economy and the health of the whole.
The honourable senator has raised these issues. He and I have a different
perspective on the facts, but I hope honourable senators allow me, the
honourable senator, the government and others to present evidence to the
committee and let the committee decide. The committee is geared to opine on
facts. I hope the honourable senator agrees that sending the bill to committee
would be a useful way to resolve these factual differences between us.
Senator Wallace: There is no question that the issue of water safety
is near and dear to the hearts of all of us. Water safety must be the objective.
Whatever the result of this bill and whatever else occurs in the future, we must
move in the direction of providing our citizens with the best quality of
drinking water possible. I am in total agreement with that view. They issues are
not easy, and they require input from experts who are more knowledgeable than
I agree that committee would be the place for that type of detailed review
and consideration to take place. I am sure the review will be interesting when
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
An Hon. Senator: On division.
(Motion agreed to and bill read second time, on division.)
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report of the Standing
Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators (budget—mandate pursuant to
rule 86(1)(t)—power to hire staff), presented in the Senate on April 28,
Hon. Serge Joyal moved adoption of the report.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: My question is for the chair of the Standing
Senate Committee on Conflict of Interest. Is the funding requested for the
purpose of hiring staff in order to conduct a new study on conflict of interest
I am just asking because we want to be kept apprised of the atmosphere in
Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, the committee's annual budget has
not changed in the past three years.
The purpose of this budget is to ensure that the committee has the ability —
and I am choosing my words carefully — to seek legal counsel concerning its
responsibilities in conducting inquiries or research that may be necessary in a
The committee is not currently involved in such a case, nor is it conducting
any approved inquiries as provided for in section 44 of the Conflict of Interest
Code for Senators. However, for the purpose of good governance, we want to have
access to the funds should we need them to avoid any delay between the time a
case comes before the committee and the time funds become available.
I want to emphasize that we will not be conducting another review of the
Conflict of Interest Code for Senators. The committee did that last year. It
submitted its report in June, and the honourable senators approved the report.
We have already reviewed the code, as set out in the rules. According to the
committee's rules, there are to be no further reviews of the code for several
years, unless there is a need for one. That is why we are requesting that the
funds be made available.
This provision has been in place for three years now, and we have not yet had
to use the funds. This is really just in case. We are not asking for the money
because of any cases before us that would require the use of these funds to
retain the services of outside consel.
Senator Prud'homme: Brilliant, as usual.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Jaffer, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Eggleton, P.C.:
That the Senate recognize and endorse April 25th annually as World Malaria
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, let me begin by
congratulating Senator Jaffer on her initiative. Malaria, arguably a preventable
problem that claims millions of lives a year, mostly children, is still one of
the world's greatest health challenges. Is this situation because it mainly
affects third world countries away from the ever-present public lens that
scrutinizes the Western World? Indeed, honourable senators, if the dying
children were White, would the problem be as large or last as long?
Despite the long-known cure, quinine, and simple but effective preventable
measures such as bed nets that cost only several dollars, malaria still takes
too many lives. It seems to me that our so-called efforts have indeed been what
the title of the 2007
Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade report on
Africa suggests: a failure.
Honourable senators, Africa's climate renders that continent the world's
hotbed for malaria. Of more than 1 million malaria-related deaths in Africa each
year, some 90 per cent occur in sub-Saharan Africa, the great majority of them
among children under the age of five. As the Senate committee reported, these
deaths are mostly preventable. For nearly 150 years, quinine has been used
effectively to treat malaria. Moreover, in malaria prevention, the use of
affordable, long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets and, according to
testimony received, the spraying of DDT insecticides in small amounts on the
inner walls of people's homes have proven effective.
Compounding difficulties in dealing with malaria in Africa is the continued
drain of health professionals leaving the continent for better opportunities in
wealthier countries, referred to by some whom we talked to in Africa as the
developed world's pillaging of Africa's human resources.
A comprehensive solution by the international community to the crisis of
malaria is desperately needed. The committee recommended that a key element of
this response should be to ensure needy countries, "obtain access to affordable
generic drugs deemed to be essential." When the committee toured a
pharmaceutical company, PHARMAKINA, in Bukavu, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
we were told that the company could not get World Bank assistance to buy
petroleum-based inputs because it was competing with international drug
companies. This is totally unacceptable.
Among the other recommendations the committee report made, it included that
To help sub-Saharan Africa deal with serious health crises, Canada should
assume a leadership role in encouraging the international community to:
Take new initiatives to drastically reduce the threat of malaria and
provide medication for those afflicted with the disease;
Ensure that its Official Development Assistance includes significant
investment in inexpensive insecticide-treated mosquito nets and in the
spraying of DDT on interior walls of African homes in the low-lying tropical
areas where malaria is typically present;
. . . and make the provisions of bed nets a priority, finding commercial
partners who could produce them.
Honourable senators, praise must go to those who are committed to eradicating
this problem — people such as Belinda and Bill Gates, as well as Belinda
Stronach, among others. They are making a difference and saving lives; and most
importantly, by their actions, they are shining a bright light on this
devastating Third World problem.
Honourable senators, I join in this debate not because I believe that
recognizing World Malaria Day will solve the problem — I frankly do not believe
that — but because I strongly feel that the developed world has been
irresponsible in its duty to deal with this serious health issue.
Honourable senators, malaria is to a large degree preventable. Millions of
lives could be saved. The world could be made safer for all of us. Yet, year
after year, after continually applying band-aid solutions, we continue to
witness a tragedy and mostly shrug. It is time for a change.
(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.)
Leave having been given to revert to Notices of Motions:
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate,
and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(i), I move:
That notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on March 12, 2009, the
Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, which was 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, be
empowered to deposit a report with the Clerk of the Senate between April 30,
2009 and May 4, 2009 inclusive, if the Senate is not sitting; and that the
report be deemed to have been tabled in the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is leave granted,
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Callbeck, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Corbin:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology be authorized to examine and report on the accessibility of
post-secondary education in Canada, including but not limited to:
(a) analysis of the current barriers in post-secondary education,
such as geography, family income levels, means of financing for students,
debt levels and challenges faced specifically by Aboriginal students;
(b) evaluation of the current mechanisms for students to fund
post-secondary education, such as Canada Student Loans Program, Canada
Student Grants Program, Canada Access Grants, funding for Aboriginal
students, Canada Learning Bonds, and Registered Education Savings Plans;
(c) examination of the current federal/provincial transfer
mechanism for post-secondary education;
(d) evaluation of the potential establishment of a dedicated
transfer for post-secondary education; and
(e) any other matters related to the study; and
That the Committee submit its final report no later than December 31, 2010,
and that the Committee retain until June 30, 2011, all powers necessary to
publicize its findings.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I will backtrack. The Leader of the Opposition and I had a discussion
on this matter today and I believe we will look at this in more detail. I wish
to adjourn this item until next week.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adjourn the debate?
On Inquiry No. 44, by the Honourable
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
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.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I did want to speak on this
matter today. However, I take note of the clock and what I understand to be the
normative Wednesday rule. Therefore, I will stand this item and speak to it at
some later date, if that is acceptable.
(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, May 5, 2009, at 2 p.m.)