Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to
the heroic efforts of one man from Winnipeg. Faron Hall is not your everyday
hero. He does not have a house to call his home, nor does he have money to his
name. He has spent his time on the streets trying to stay out of society's way,
a society that up until recently ignored him.
Last Sunday, Mr. Hall reminded Canadians how it should be; that it is not
one's social status or achievements in life that earns the respect of others;
but rather how one treats and cares for people that counts.
Mr. Hall did the most valiant and brave thing any one person could do — he
put his own life at risk to save another. He was in the right place at the right
time, hearing the calls for help after a young man fell from the Provencher
Bridge into the waters of the Red River. Mr. Hall dove in after the young man
and pulled him from the river. To dive in after the young man is an act of
courage second to none. It is to the credit of Mr. Hall's selfless effort that
this young man is alive today.
Honourable senators, Mr. Hall's actions are a clear reminder to all that one
does not have to be rich and famous to be a hero. We in the hallowed halls of
Parliament, caught up in the often rancorous Ottawa bubble, need to take a step
back from time to time. We need to take a step back to look and recognize that
it is not one's personal fame or fortune that has a lasting impact; it is one's
ability to put others before oneself that gains the respect of others.
Honourable senators, my hat is off to Faron Hall, for he is a living, breathing
example of a true, selfless human being.
Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, Africa has become a
continent of orphans. As many as 13 million children have been orphaned by AIDS
in sub-Saharan Africa. Their parents have disappeared and the grandmothers of
those children have become their parents. The grandmothers have buried their own
children and then, in their later years, have become parents again raising
grandchildren with little or no support in most countries. More than half of
these African orphans live in grandmother-headed households. These courageous
women have no time to grieve.
This is the next generation; the infants and children who have been left
behind. There is never enough for these grandparent-children households, and
yet, somehow these grandmothers attempt nonetheless to feed, to clothe and to
comfort their orphaned grandchildren.
The Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign was launched on March 7, 2006, on
the eve of International Women's Day. Since that date, some 200 groups of
Canadian grandmothers have responded to the desperate needs of these African
grandmothers. Thus far, the campaign has raised $4 million for African
grandmothers and the children in their care. The funds raised through this
campaign are handed over to community-level organizations in 15 sub-Saharan
African countries that provide grandmothers with support including food,
housing, rent, school fees for their grandchildren and grief counselling.
Please look at the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign website through the
Stephen Lewis Foundation. The plight of these women is heartbreaking. The pins
that I distributed this morning to each of your offices depict a grandmother of
one colour inextricably intertwined and linked with a grandmother of another
colour. The pin is named Ubuntu, which is an African word meaning, "your
humanity is inextricably bound with mine."
Please wear these pins and explain their meaning to whomever you can.
Elizabeth Rennie of the Burlington Ubuntu Grandwomen says: "Stand with us and
help the heroic grandmothers in Africa and their orphans."
Explain the pin to those who ask, and please support Bill S-232 to streamline
and make effective Canada's Access to Medicines Regime so that Canada can send
desperately needed AIDS, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria drugs to sub-Saharan
We owe it to the grandmothers; we owe it to the orphans; we owe it,
honourable senators, to ourselves.
Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, in April 2009, Canada and
French-speaking Ontario lost an exceptional educator, a man who had the courage
of his convictions on language rights issues, both as a primary and secondary
school teacher and as the founding dean of the University of Ottawa's faculty of
education. That man was Lionel Desjarlais, who passed away at the age of 88.
He was a leading advocate for education rights and a member of the Bériault
Commission, which was instrumental in ensuring recognition for French-language
schools in Ontario.
He was a visionary and a man who, like every good educator, knew how to
awaken his students' creativity by promoting self-confidence and innovation.
Mr. Desjarlais' leadership style was warm, compassionate, and steeped in respect
for basic human rights.
Even after his retirement, this proud Franco-Ontarian, this proud Canadian,
stayed involved as a professor emeritus, a school board trustee, and president
of the board of directors of Ottawa's Centre de jour Guigues.
He received numerous awards for his achievements in academia and his efforts
to promote the rights of francophones in Ontario and in Canada.
I would ask that honourable senators join me in expressing our most sincere
condolences to Jeannette, his wife of 55 years, and to his family on the loss of
an extraordinary French Canadian.
Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, I rise today to draw attention
to the beginning of Asian Heritage Month. During the month of May, Canadians
join together from coast to coast to celebrate the long and rich history of
Asian Canadians. This month provides an opportunity for all Canadians to
experience many cultures and celebrate the contributions of our Asian citizens
to the growth and prosperity of Canada.
In December 2001, the Honourable Senator Poy introduced a motion in this
chamber to designate May as Asian Heritage Month. Six months later, in May 2002,
the Government of Canada officially recognized Asian Heritage Month.
Two years after the launch of Asian Heritage Month festivities in Vancouver,
British Columbia, I still remember Senator Poy's eloquent speech at an
explorASIAN gala event presented by the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society
in partnership with the Korean community.
Asian Heritage Month events across Canada during the month of May celebrate
the many achievements and contributions of Asian Canadians while promoting
cultural harmony and community diversity.
One such notable Canadian of Asian heritage is an extraordinary woman, Jin-me
Yoon, a Vancouver-based world-renowned artist who, through her evocative
photography and video installations, challenges the viewer to question what
constitutes Canadian identity. We are "soul sisters," both born in Seoul,
Korea as eldest daughters to immigrant parents who arrived in Canada with hopes
of a better life for their children. We are proud daughters of two great
More than three decades after being my favourite Sunday school teacher, who
included the best arts and crafts in her lessons, it is no surprise that Jin-me
Yoon is a respected professor of contemporary arts and visual arts at Simon
Fraser University, inspiring many budding artists to find their own voice as
Jin-me Yoon was nominated recently for the Art Gallery of Ontario's
prestigious Grange Prize. Each year, the Grange Prize recognizes the work of two
Canadians and two international contemporary photographers, awarding $50,000 to
one winner chosen through an international online public vote.
Honourable senators, I encourage you to visit the site,
www.thegrangeprize.com, and cast your vote by May 20. I invite each
honourable senator to take time this month to participate in one or more of the
many festivals taking place across the country in honour of Asian Heritage
Hon. Vivienne Poy: Honourable senators, like Senator Goldstein, I rise
today to speak on behalf of participants in the Grandmothers to Grandmothers
Campaign who are disappointed with this government's lack of commitment to make
Canada's Access to Medicines Regime, CAMR, work in practice.
Unanimous support by all members of Parliament led to the passage of the CAMR
legislation in 2004, which was designed, through compulsory licensing, to help
countries acquire the low-cost generic medicines they needed to treat diseases
such as HIV/ AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other life-threatening infections.
By amending the Patent Act to create exemptions to intellectual property
rules, it was hoped that low-cost medicines would flow to those who were
suffering and dying, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, this
flow has not happened. As Senator Goldstein noted, CAMR has only exported a
single AIDS drug to one country.
CAMR is not working, and it needs to be amended as proposed in Bill S-232,
the legislation recently tabled in this chamber by Senator Goldstein.
The legislation, as it currently stands, puts roadblocks in the way of
generic drug companies and non-governmental organizations, well beyond what is
required by the World Trade Organization. The need for a more flexible, more
open-ended approach to CAMR is evident without the strict, fixed quantities and
time periods required under the current legislation.
Since there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, the treatments provided must be
long-term and enduring. The current system acts as a disincentive to generic
drug companies, importing countries, as well as NGOs to participate in CAMR.
Given the urgent need of those dying of HIV/AIDS in Africa on a daily basis,
these obstacles cannot be justified. It is regrettable that Canada has passed
legislation with good intentions that does not work in practice. The motto of
Grandmothers to Grandmothers is: "We will not rest until they can rest."
Honourable senators, in Africa there is no rest for grandmothers who are
increasingly caring for orphaned grandchildren whose parents have died in the
epidemics. Let us extend a hand to the grandmothers of Africa and the many
orphaned children they care for by passing Bill S-232, enabling CAMR to work in
practice so that Canadian drug companies and NGOs can bring generic drugs to
sub-Saharan Africa on a continuous basis.
Hon. Mira Spivak: Honourable senators, the Canadian Alliance of
Student Associations visited Parliament recently and asked that I put their
concerns on the public record. This is my response.
Last fall, when I met with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and
the Canadian Federation of Students, I was frankly shocked to learn that the
average student debt now ranges from $21,000 to $28,000, depending on the
provincial contribution. I made a statement then.
Late last year, the Canadian Council on Learning, an independent,
not-for-profit corporation, released its second annual report on post-secondary
education. In 2006, the council produced its first national overview of
post-secondary education in Canada. These reports pull together what we know
today about the state of post-secondary education.
We have fundamental data gaps. We do not know how the capacity of our
post-secondary institutions measures up to the needs of the labour market. We do
not know the state of community colleges with respect to faculty, enrolment or
capacity, the extent to which part-time faculty teachers are in university, and
whether private colleges are growing or declining.
Statistics Canada administers 11 surveys that provide valuable information
about post-secondary education and such related matters as immigration and adult
Honourable senators, investment in post-secondary education is where the
future of our country lies, so I hope that in future, more will be done for the
concerns of these students.
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, I was present last
week when the Conservative government and the Government of Quebec announced the
signing of three new agreements, totalling over $1 billion, aimed at developing
the skills of workers and improving the employability of unemployed people in
That announcement is a reflection of the Conservative government's support
for initiatives introduced by the Government of Quebec. What is more, those
funds are a testament to the Conservative government's commitment to the people
of Quebec. The goal of this generous financial support is to provide easier
access to training tailored to the needs of the Quebec market, which will allow
workers in Quebec to get better jobs.
The Conservative government concluded these three new agreements with the
Government of Quebec in order to boost that province's economy. Under the
Canada-Quebec Labour Market Agreement, the Government of Canada will invest more
than $700 million over the next six years.
These new investments are aimed at unemployed Quebecers who do not qualify
for training assistance under the employment insurance program. The new Labour
Market Agreement is in keeping with the commitments made in the Advantage Canada
plan, which aims to create the best educated, most skilled and most flexible
workforce in the world.
Furthermore, the Conservative government will also provide Quebec with $261.2
million. These funds are in addition to funding of over $598 million provided
this year to the Government of Quebec.
At the same time, nearly $128 million from the Strategic Training and
Transition Fund will be paid out during the same period to ensure that everyone
has access to training or any other form of assistance they require, whether or
not they are eligible for Employment Insurance benefits.
These investments by the Conservative government aim to improve Quebec
workers' skills, to integrate pools of available labour, to make participation
in the workforce more attractive and better paying, and to meet the labour needs
of growing Quebec businesses in the coming years.
Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, last Sunday we remembered once
again the Battle of the Atlantic, the most crucial battle of World War II.
At the outset of war, neither Britain — whose very survival hinged on the
supply of materials, armaments and personnel — nor Canada, was prepared. Yet, it
was a challenge that Canada accepted.
My own province played a vital role. In June 1940, five Digby bombers were
flown to Gander. In May 1941, the Newfoundland Escort Force was born when almost
all the ships that the Royal Canadian Navy, RCN, could muster, Agassiz,
Alberni, Chambly, Cobalt, Collingwood, Orillia
and Wetaskiwin, sailed for St. John's. Thereafter, the NEF was to play a
crucial role in the Newfy to Derry run and "Newfyjohn" was affectionately
known all over the world.
At the outbreak of war, there were barely 1,800 individuals in the RCN and
1,200 in the reserves. At the end of the war, over 100,000 had served in the
RCN. At the outset, Canada could muster only 16 ships. By the end of the war,
370 ships had been built at shipyards like Kingston and Collingwood. With this
support, 25,000 Allied merchant ships carried about 200,000 tons of cargo across
Many of my fellow countrymen manned these escorts. Churchill called them
"the most skilful boatmen in rough seas who exist." I dare say many of them
took part in the seal hunt.
More ships, more men, more planes and more accurate intelligence. Finally,
the tide began to turn in 1943. By grit and
determination in the most trying circumstances, the RCN had risen to the
challenge of patrolling the Atlantic sea lanes. It had become one of the largest
and finest navies in the world.
Today, we salute those who served ashore and afloat in this historic battle,
and we remember especially those who had no known grave, who went down to the
sea in ships, and who gave their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic so that we
might live in freedom.
Hon. Patrick Brazeau: Honourable senators, last week in Vancouver,
delegates from the Liberal Party of Canada met to confirm their third leader in
almost six years. I am sure many in this chamber will agree that most Liberals
did not have much of an opportunity to make this choice through elective means.
I was appalled when Paul Martin, in paying tribute to his successor, took
credit for our government's rendering of last year's residential school apology.
Perhaps I missed something, but was there not 13 years of Liberal rule in which
this noble endeavour could have been achieved if the Liberal government had
As for the notion of abandoning efforts at policy reform, this area is one
where Mr. Martin deserves full marks for a most remarkable retreat from a
progressive undertaking — we will talk about that subject later.
Under the leadership of his predecessor, his own party in a majority Liberal
government had introduced legislation that sought to overhaul governance on
reserves in an incremental fashion, and to bring greater accountability to First
Nations citizens. Unfortunately, Paul Martin himself scrapped the measure.
Honourable senators, simply saying anything, depending on where you are or
who you are speaking to, is not effective governance. That is not leadership.
Real leadership means dealing with difficult issues without hesitation.
The Liberal Party now has a new leader. We are all wondering how that leader
and his party will be defined in terms of policy and actions, because currently
they have no policies.
In a meeting with him in his office last year, the new Liberal leader told me
to be careful with whom I was keeping company on Parliament Hill. Well, I did
The Liberal leader has a lot to explain to Canadians and to Quebecers. It
seems abundantly evident that depending on where he is and to which audience he
is speaking, he will say anything, anywhere to anyone to obtain a vote. On the
issue of policy, perhaps Mr. Ignatieff's strategy is this: Do nothing, say
anything and hope that poll numbers sustain.
I was pleased to read that Mr. Ignatieff praised even former Prime Minister
Mulroney. This praise is laudable, or perhaps it is because he was out of the
country for 36 years and does not realize that Mr. Mulroney was a Tory.
Honourable senators, real leadership is about being tested and challenged and
being upfront about sharing with the public what one stands for. Mr. Ignatieff
has been the de facto Liberal leader for four months. He has not been tested, he
has not been challenged, and he has not shared with Canadians exactly what he
Honourable senators, that is a fact. Our Prime Minister and our government
are not about lofty rhetoric, hidden agendas or false promises.
We continue to offer real help, real hope and real promise for Canadians of
all ages, colours and creeds from coast to coast to coast.
Hon. Mac Harb: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present a
petition signed by residents of British Columbia calling on the government to
amend the Fisheries Act to end Canada's commercial seal hunt.
Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is for
the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The lobster industry in Atlantic
Canada is in major crisis. The prices are very low and some fishers cannot sell
their catch. The Honourable Neil J. LeClair, Minister of Fisheries, Aquaculture
and Rural Development in my province, says that a potential collapse of the
lobster industry will hit Prince Edward Island harder than the collapse of the
auto industry has hit Ontario.
In recent years, the Prince Edward Island Fisherman's Association has
requested the federal government to establish a lobster licence buy-back
program. That program eases the pressure on the fisheries and helps older
fishers to retire in dignity. Does the government plan to put in place a lobster
licence buy-back program?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): Honourable senators, when I hear such questions from the former
Premier of Prince Edward Island and member of the previous government, I ask
myself why these issues were not urgent in the past. I must ask what the
honourable senator was doing when she was premier or what her government was
doing when it was in power.
Honourable senators, I am well aware that the Minister of Fisheries and
Oceans has made many public comments about the lobster fishery. I will take the
honourable senator's question as notice.
Senator Callbeck: Honourable senators, I will be interested to hear
the leader's response because this crisis is unprecedented in the history of the
fishery on Prince Edward Island. The lobster industry is extremely important to
Atlantic Canada. In my home province, it employs over 5,000 people and
contributes over $250 million to the economy.
Recently, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Gerry
Ritz, announced a marketing promotion for Atlantic lobster. However, the federal
government committed only $329,000 to this program, which is a drop in the
Will the leader ask the minister if he will commit additional dollars to this
global promotional effort to increase the demand for Atlantic lobster?
Senator LeBreton: I thank Senator Callbeck for the question. One of
the problems with the lobster industry is that many people do not realize that
the price of lobster has fallen. People think of lobster as an expensive
product, which it was a few years ago. Obviously, there ought to be some
marketing initiatives to point out to potential consumers that lobster is more
I will bring Senator Callbeck's concerns about the market accessibility of
lobster to my colleague, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, as well as
to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is to the
Leader of the Government in the Senate and concerns the French language and the
2010 Vancouver Olympics. The Vancouver Organizing Committee, VANOC, for the 2010
Paralympics and Olympics Games says its ". . . mission is to touch the soul of
the nation and inspire the world by creating and delivering an extraordinary
Olympic and Paralympic experience with lasting legacies."
Honourable senators, I am concerned that this lasting legacy may become an
embarrassing legacy as there is a serious danger of the games becoming
unilingual. The City of Richmond recently opened an Olympic oval and the signage
was only in English. The Mayor of Richmond, Malcolm Brodie, says there are no
plans to add a francophone element to the large unilingual sign on the outside
of the municipality's spectacular Olympic speed-skating oval. In fact, VANOC
admits they did not discuss with the City of Richmond that the signs need to be
The mayor and VANOC were in discussions for two years, and VANOC at no time
discussed the fact that the signs needed to be in two languages. As honourable
senators know, these are international games. Canada is proud to have two
What message are we sending to the world and our nation, given that the
Government of Canada has the responsibility of nominating the 20-member board of
I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate, in light of this situation,
what will the federal government do to right this situation?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): As honourable senators are all aware, Graham Fraser,
Commissioner of Official Languages, expressed great concern about the lack of
bilingual facilities at the Vancouver Olympics.
As a result of discussions between the Commissioner of Official Languages and
VANOC, an advisory committee was created. Of course, this was something the
Commissioner had requested in his report last December.
VANOC has made some effort over the past two years to ensure that both of
Canada's official languages are represented at the Vancouver games. This
advisory committee is comprised of
Canadian members with expertise in the subject, as well as the former French
Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who acted as the observer for the
Francophonie at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
The government has and always will defend and promote the linguistic and
cultural duality of Canada. We will certainly continue on this track. We are
working with our partners in the Olympics to ensure that our country's
linguistic duality is showcased at the 2010 Olympics, thereby making all
Canadians, regardless of their linguistic background, proud of our games in
Senator Jaffer: I appreciate what the leader has said. In light of
what she has said, since VANOC has made this mistake of not discussing that the
signs need to be in two languages, will the federal government pay to ensure the
signs will be in two languages?
Senator LeBreton: In as much as the federal government is involved in
the Vancouver Olympics, I am not certain, honourable senators, where the
responsibilities lie. The Minister of Canadian Heritage — the completely
bilingual minister from British Columbia and the minister responsible for the
enforcement of our Official Languages Act — has made every representation
In terms of signage, I imagine signage is part of the planning for the games.
I know the situation; I saw the reports about the facility in Richmond. There
seems to be a question about when the facility is turned over to VANOC. I can
say with great certainty, honourable senators that anything that the federal
government is involved with will continue, as always, to involve Canada's two
With regard to the amount of money, the Canadian government has invested a
significant amount of money, as honourable senators know, into the Olympic
Games. I believe that Canada's linguistic policy, the Official Languages Act, is
very much a part of any expenditures we make. For further clarification,
however, I will raise the matter with my colleague, Minister Moore.
Hon. Yoine Goldstein: Honourable senators, with great respect to the
Leader of the Government, that answer is not good enough. Although the signage
with respect to the airport in Vancouver, which is the gateway to the Olympics,
is bilingual, as it must be, the airport also contains dozens of signs in the
English language only, welcoming people to the Vancouver Canadian Olympic Games.
That is not an issue for the Minister of Canadian Heritage. That is not an issue
for a committee. That is an issue for the Department of Transport,
Infrastructure and Communities to take action immediately to ensure that those
signs are either removed or become immediately bilingual.
Will the minister assure this chamber that she will arrange for that action
to take place this week?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I will make Senator Goldstein's
concerns known to my colleague, the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
Senator Goldstein: The Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and
Senator LeBreton: I am not aware of the extent of the problem. I take
Senator Goldstein's word for it. I will pass on his concerns and his suggested
remedy to my colleague.
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, on Wednesday, April 29, I
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question about this. I said
that certainly most of the stakeholders and officials involved have the best
possible intentions. They are mindful of the Official Languages Act and want to
comply with it.
The problem is that there are people who are not complying with the Act, and
no one seems to have the definitive authority needed to reach a decision.
Stakeholders who do not comply with the Act must be made aware of it and told
that the federal government has funded this activity. Services therefore must be
provided in both official languages.
I suggested to the minister that the Prime Minister appoint someone who would
have the necessary authority to make definitive decisions. There is an urgent
need for action. I would like to ask the minister again speak to the Prime
Minister, Mr. Harper, and pass along this recommendation.
Senator LeBreton: We have an outstanding individual as the
Commissioner of Official Languages who happens to be related to one of your
colleagues. He has been forceful in his deliberations and in his public
statements across the country on all of the media, English and French, about the
As a result of his concerns, an advisory committee is working with VANOC and
with him to remedy the situation. We have every reason to believe that VANOC
takes this situation seriously and is working to remedy it.
I dare say that Mr. Fraser, the Commissioner of Official Languages, is the
best person to handle this issue. I do not believe it would show much confidence
in his abilities, which are incredible, if we were to appoint someone else to
follow him around to ensure that the same message is delivered to VANOC. He has
shown that he is capable of delivering this message in his capacity as Official
Languages Commissioner. He has an extensive background in media, so he is
extremely capable of communicating this message not only to the Canadian public
but also to the organizers of the Olympics that will be held in Vancouver,
British Columbia, in February 2010.
Senator Chaput: I completely agree with what you said about the
Commissioner of Official Languages. The Commissioner's recommendations are part
of the action plan adopted by VANOC, for example.
Do you not believe that it is urgent for the Commissioner to have someone to
support his recommendations since he has no authority to ensure compliance? All
he can do is strongly recommend them, talk about them, talk about them some
more, and heighten awareness, but no one has the authority to take action.
Do you not see the urgency of assigning someone to support and direct the
implementation of the Commissioner's recommendations as soon as possible?
Senator LeBreton: I would argue that the Commissioner of Official
Languages is extremely well equipped to deal with this concern. He also has the
full support of the talented and committed Minister of Canadian Heritage, the
Honourable James Moore, who was born and raised in British Columbia. Thanks to
his parents, who saw the importance of Canada's two official languages, he was,
as a young boy, educated in the French language so he would be fully bilingual,
which he is. Who would be better to ensure that our policies are enforced than a
minister who happens to be from that very area?
Senator Chaput: Once again, I agree with you. Therefore, give him the
authority to deal with the issues.
Senator LeBreton: We have VANOC, various groups, and, then, of course,
the Olympic committee.
Honourable senators, we must show a little faith not only in the individuals
responsible for the enforcement of our Official Languages Act but also in the
people of British Columbia, the people involved with the Olympic committee, the
government and citizens.
I am much more optimistic than is the honourable senator that Canada's laws
and linguistic policies will be fully enforced when Canada, British Columbia and
Vancouver, in particular, welcome citizens from around the world to what we hope
will be a very successful Winter Olympic Games. I have faith that will happen,
honourable senators, even though Senator Chaput apparently does not.
Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, it is called ministerial
It is easy to cast the blame on someone else, whether it is VANOC or the
Commissioner of Official Languages. The fact remains that we live in a system of
ministerial responsibility. The government is the international partner of the
Vancouver Olympic Games. Consequently, we expect the minister to assume his
responsibilities rather than blaming VANOC or Mr. Fraser.
We want the issue to be resolved. We are not looking to blame people but to
identify people who, before the Games begin, will find solutions so that the
Olympic Games reflect the values of Canada and are completely bilingual.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I am looking at this matter
with great confidence. It is you people who seem to want to point the finger of
blame towards others.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator LeBreton: I do not care if honourable senators do not like the
phrase "you people" — that is who they are.
We have a committed government, we have a committed minister in Minister
Moore and we have an excellent Commissioner of Official Languages. I have great
faith in all of their abilities to ensure that, as the Olympic Games approach
and as the sites are completed and ready to welcome visitors and athletes to our
shores, all of Canada's laws, including our laws in recognition of our two
official languages, will be fully complied with.
I do not blame anyone. We have people in place. The Commissioner of Official
Languages, Mr. Fraser, has flagged this situation as a problem. An advisory
committee has been set up. Mr. Fraser has been working closely with the Olympic
committee. I have great confidence that his public pronouncements on this issue,
as well as the actions of Minister Moore on behalf of the government, will bear
the results we want, and we will have an Olympic Games that will be a great
source of pride to Canadians, no matter which of the two official languages they
speak, whether it be English, French or both. We have an official languages
policy in this country, and this government fully supports and promotes it.
Senator Dawson: Senator Goldstein has spoken to you about what
happened last Friday.
We were in Vancouver last week for obvious reasons and we were happy for our
As Senator Goldstein pointed out, there are signs in the Vancouver airport
that say "Welcome to the Vancouver Olympic Games" in English only.
I am sorry; we expect more from the government. We expect, when we go to an
airport in Canada that will host the Olympic Games, that both official languages
will be recognized. We are not talking only about Canada; the Olympic Games also
have two official languages.
We hope that the matter raised by Senator Goldstein will be resolved. This is
not Mr. Fraser's responsibility, nor is it Canadian Heritage's. It must be
addressed by the Minister of Transport.
There are two possible solutions: put up signs in both languages, or remove
the English-only signs.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I had forgotten that Senator
Dawson was in Vancouver; it did not receive much attention around the country.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Comeau: They can dish it out but they cannot take it.
Senator LeBreton: "Vanity" is not a word Liberals understand.
I will be happy to draw to the attention of the Commissioner of Official
Languages, the Minister of Heritage and the Minister of Transport, Senator
Dawson's concerns about the signage at the Vancouver Airport.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): I wonder if I could
give my friend, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, a bit of friendly
advice: When you are in a hole, stop digging.
Senator LeBreton: Since Senator Cowan speaks about holes, I was
briefly watching the new Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff, while channel
surfing. What I was really looking for was the Kentucky Derby. I caught
something that Mr. Ignatieff said. He started off his speech by saying, "In
this hole, there are . . ." I thought: Why is he talking about their being in a
hole? He meant "hall," of course.
Hon. Colin Kenny: Honourable senators, I have a question for the
Leader of the Government in the Senate regarding the recent and welcomed
announcement of multiple millions of dollars to enhance airport security.
Would the leader please advise me whether any of those funds will be
dedicated to searching ramp workers; and if so, how much? Will there be a policy
of searching all ramp workers when they arrive and leave work?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): I thank Senator Kenny for the question. I do not have those
details readily available, but I will be happy to obtain the exact breakdown of
the amount of money that was announced by the Minister of State for Transport
and provide the honourable senator with the answer.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, earlier today we heard a little
sermon from one of "you people" about Aboriginal rights. In December 2007, the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs tabled a report,
after a very thorough study, concerning non-derogation clauses. Those are the
clauses, honourable senators will recall, that are inserted in bills to ensure
that Aboriginal rights are not diminished by the application of a given law.
Over the years, a patchwork of such clauses has evolved and, interestingly, each
new iteration of the non-derogation clause has tended to limit its effect a
The Legal Committee recommended repealing all existing clauses with one
clear, unambiguous clause in the Federal Interpretation Act. The replacement
clause would affirm for all time that all federal legislation would be
interpreted in a manner that does not derogate from Aboriginals' constitutional
Seven months later, the Minister of Justice responded that this was worthy of
consideration but he would have to consult Aboriginal people. Could the leader
tell us what progress has been made?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State
(Seniors)): I would be very happy to tell the honourable senator what
progress has been made.
Senator Fraser: I take that as the leader taking my question as
notice. It is important, leader. There is no minority in this country more in
need of having its rights respected and affirmed than the Aboriginal peoples of
Canada. The Senate of Canada offered to the government, on a platter, something
that would actually do something for Aboriginal people.
When the leader is asking her colleague how the consultations have gone,
could she also ask for an estimated timeline on when we might see this simple
but important change?
Senator LeBreton: I will certainly be happy to, honourable senators,
but I will take the opportunity to put on the record a few areas where we have
made significant progress in terms of our Aboriginal people.
I heard someone yell "Kelowna" a little while ago — Paul Martin's press
release. The former Liberal Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, Robert
Nault, said last year that:
Kelowna is not the kind of fundamental change necessary to improve the
lives of First Nations. Money will not solve the problem.
One of the first things we did as a government was to work with the Assembly
of First Nations on a collaborative action plan to improve the quality of water
on reserves. Last year our action plan was expanded because of its
effectiveness. We also partnered with the AFN on Bill C-30, the Specific Claims
Tribunal Act. Bill C-21 finally provided First Nations people full access to the
Canadian Human Rights Act.
I will not get into it, but the Liberals had many opportunities and did not
do anything about that.
We made significant investments in the Aboriginal Skills and Employment
Partnership. Last September our government signed a historic protocol with the
Metis nation to begin working on a wide range of issues including economic
development and education. We are making significant investments in building new
schools and major renovations. We created two new programs to help reform and
improve the success of First Nations education. In April, Minister Strahl and
Mary Simon, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, signed the Inuit Education
Honourable senators, we have invested more than $1 billion in housing on and
off reserve and in the North. Our First Nations Market Housing Fund will make it
easier for First Nations families and individuals to access financing to build,
buy or renovate homes on reserve.
This government, to use Senator Cowan's words, dug this particular file out
of the huge hole it was in when we took office.
Hon. Marie-P. Poulin: Honourable senators, I was surprised to hear
such a partisan tone from one of our new colleagues today during Senators'
Statements. His comments were about the Liberal Party of Canada's leadership
convention held this past weekend.
I respect the fact that this parliamentary chamber includes senators from the
Conservative Party and the Liberal Party, as well as independent senators.
However, rule 22(4) states:
In particular, Senators' statements should relate to matters which are of
public consequence . . .
That is the rule, as it is written.
I have been a member of the Senate since 1995, and as I recall, this
institution has a tradition of using Senators' Statements to raise matters of
For example, today, Senator Rompkey commemorated the Battle of the Atlantic.
Yesterday, Senator Nancy Greene talked about how women will not be allowed to
ski jump in the 2010 Olympic Games.
Would the honourable Speaker be so kind as to interpret both the letter and
the spirit of rule 22(4) at his convenience?
The Hon. the Speaker: Are there any other comments?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, it always amazes me that members on the other side think they can
throw all the mud they want and that we must sit here and take it.
Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!
Senator Comeau: There they go. They will not even stop for a second to
listen to what I have to say.
When someone from our side states facts, they cannot take it. It is amazing.
By all means, I think His Honour might at some point remind members on the
other side of the kind of comments that are continually made on that side. We
take it with a smile and gently accept it. However, the second that anyone on
this side becomes a bit aggressive, they cannot take it.
Senator Tkachuk: We are in a political forum.
Senator Comeau: Yes, we are in a political forum. This chamber must
accept that, from time to time, we will not stand down and mud will fly the
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): On the point
of order, His Honour reminded us several weeks ago that the rug in this chamber
is red, not green. One must remember that. I am disturbed by what is occurring
during Senators' Statements.
If I understand correctly, the purpose of Senators' Statements is to bring to
the attention of the Senate matters of public importance that otherwise would
not be considered. It has often been the practice in Senators' Statements to
bring forth examples of distinguished citizens from across the country and to
celebrate the work they have done.
In the past, statements have rarely been used to applaud the government or
the opposition for their deeds. Motions, bills and inquiries on the Order Paper
provide opportunities to do that.
It is inappropriate to use Senators' Statements to applaud a government
action or government bill. The time provided for statements should be reserved
for the purpose for which rule 22(4) was intended.
Hon. Terry Stratton: I find what I have heard from the other side to
be incredible. I ask His Honour to check the record of the last two or three
weeks. We will. In Senators' Statements I have heard members on the Liberal side
slam members on this side personally, as a party, and as a government.
When we slam them, it is improper behaviour, yet they feel they are entitled
to slam members of this side and we have no recourse. We are supposed to sit
here and take it.
Your Honour, I ask you to check the record of the last two to three weeks,
and to distribute the record if you see fit, the statements made at a political
level demeaning this side of the chamber by people on the other side.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Your Honour, I am reminded of an occasion when one
of your predecessors, the late Senator Molgat — and I do not remember the
substance of the question before him — was ruling in relation to a controversial
matter and quoted from a Speaker in, I believe, Nova Scotia who had said, "It
may not be out of order but it is not nice."
The word "nice" was delivered with a smile because you do not usually tell
a room full of grown-ups, "Be nice." However, it is true that the traditions
of this place have laid some considerable emphasis on the maintenance of
Senator Comeau: Speak to Mercer about that.
Senator Fraser: In Question Period we are, as a general rule, far more
partisan than at most other times. However, Senators' Statements have
traditionally been a precious moment where, by and large, non-partisan remarks
were made, drawing to the attention of the Senate things that were truly of
public interest and that were not part of our normal debating practice,
highlighting the accomplishments of various citizens, et cetera. I do not say
that either side is immune to error.
Senator Comeau: Good.
Senator Fraser: Although I do endorse the suggestion that Your Honour
check the record — from the beginning of this Parliament would be my suggestion
— and I urge you to recall to us the value of preserving that precious 15
minutes for non-partisan declarations.
Hon. David Tkachuk: Honourable senators, I wish to remind Senator
Tardif and Senator Fraser that when they are talking about the non-partisanship
of statements, and the fact that we should not be using Senators' Statements to
talk about bills, Senator Poy used a statement today to talk about Senator
Goldstein's bill on medicine, Bill S-232 That is prohibited under rule 22(4) of
the Rules of the Senate.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I am quite pleased that
this point of order has been raised because it has been very uncomfortable in
this chair during Question Period from time to time. I welcome the opportunity
on your behalf to look at today's Debates of the Senate, and go back
through other Hansards, and also to recapitulate several decisions that have
been made on this matter, including a few from this particular Speaker.
In reserving my ruling and undertaking to report back on the matter, I wish
to comment on the colour of our rug. The colour not only distinguishes the order
and decorum that is the tradition of this house, which is distinct from the
order and decorum in the other place, particularly during Question Period if you
watch it on CPAC but, more importantly, the colour of the rug is red not because
of us — we all being honourable senators — but rather to note the presence of
the Crown and the throne located here. Being the chamber where the Crown has its
throne, speaks to the quality and the atmosphere that should prevail in this
house. I will take the matter under advisement.
Hon. Hector Daniel Lang moved third reading of Bill C-5, An Act to
amend the Indian Oil and Gas Act.
He said: Honourable senators, I want to thank all honourable senators for
their serious consideration of the legislation before them. I would also like to
point out that in Question Period the final question of the plight of our
Aboriginal peoples was raised. I believe that was appropriate in view of the
fact that this bill is coming forward to the Senate for third reading.
Honourable senators, First Nations with oil and gas reserves have asked for
the bill before you, Bill C-5, to update the federal rules and regulations
governing the energy sector to be consistent with other jurisdictions. After
extensive review of this legislation over the last 10 years, it is time to take
action, bring forward, and pass the Indian Oil and Gas Act into the 21st
century. I believe all parliamentarians want this important sector of the
economy to be a source of opportunity and hope for our First Nations.
While this legislation is complex and technical in its nature, we want to be
clear: Bill C-5's primary objective, once enacted, will be to unleash the
economic potential within our Aboriginal communities that have oil and gas
potential by creating the conditions and framework to attract investment.
The amendments we propose will reduce legislative and regulatory barriers
that discourage private sector investment. This will help to ensure our First
Nations do not miss the opportunities to create jobs and generate wealth in
their communities. At the same time, Bill C-5 will ensure that First Nations
lands, property rights and the natural environment are protected.
Honourable senators, not only will this bill bring federal legislation in
line with provincial regimes, but it will also enable Indian Oil and Gas Canada,
whose responsibility it is to oversee oil and gas development on reserve lands,
to continuously improve the federal system to remain responsive to future
industry and technological advances. It has to be a priority in such a
Honourable senators, another key reason for modernizing this act is so the
amendments will provide Indian Oil and Gas Canada with the tools it needs to do
its job more effectively. With the new provisions of Bill C-5 in place, the
agency will be a modern regulator with new authorities at its disposal to
enforce the act. The amendments will provide clarity, consistency and certainty
to the statutory regime. In turn, this will instill confidence and secure
compliance among businesses considering or even now actively operating on First
One of the great strengths of Bill C-5 is that it ensures development will
proceed in a way that respects and enhances the protection of cultural values
and traditions of First Nations in managing their land. The act increases
accountability and endows Indian Oil and Gas Canada with the power to audit any
business involved in the exploration and development of oil and gas on First
Nations lands. Also, the bill will put Indian Oil and Gas Canada in a better
position to determine the royalties owed to First Nations during oil and gas
It is important to point out another important change that will protect First
Nations' interests. That is, amendments which include a new maximum 10-year
limitation period for filing actions. This new maximum will oblige industry to
be on standby to respond to future audits. It is also important to note there is
no limitation period in cases of fraud or misrepresentation.
Honourable senators, a further important feature of the legislation is the
enhanced environmental protection it provides. This protection is one of the
major priorities of our First Nations, and I believe, of all Canadians. Current
regulations can specify only that a condition of a lease or licence is that
companies "should" comply with all provincial laws as they relate to the
environment. This wording leaves Indian Oil and Gas Canada with limited options
to enforce actual compliance, should provincial environmental regulations be
Equally weak, the present Indian Oil and Gas Act allows the federal
government to prescribe only a fine of up to $5,000 for contravention of any
regulation. These days, $5,000 is almost a drop in the bucket for the oil and
gas industry. Obviously, honourable senators, this fine is inadequate. This is
why the legislation also creates an offence for contravention of this act or
regulations with a fine of up to $100,000.
In addition, to modernize fines, Bill C-5 will give the minister of Indian
and Northern Affairs the authority to suspend operations and order remedial
action to be taken in the case of dangerous or damaging actions to the
environment, or if First Nation sites of historical or cultural significance are
discovered or threatened. The legislation will also change the Indian Oil and
Gas Act to allow federal regulations to be made that incorporate provincial laws
as they relate to environmental protection, exploration, equitable production
Honourable senators, there are numerous compelling reasons to support Bill
C-5. However, the most pervasive is that it paves the way for greater First
Nation participation in the energy sector. Currently, Indian and Northern
Affairs Canada is working closely with the Indian Resource Council. The
department has established joint working groups to explore options and future
changes that will see greater First Nation control over resource management on
Also, these partners will be involved actively in the development of the
regulations to implement this legislation — the important next step in the
We are confident that once fully implemented, Bill C-5 will enable many more
First Nation communities to enrich their lives and the livelihood of their
citizens. I urge all honourable senators to give their full support to this
legislation so we can move forward and seize this potential for Canada and its
Hon. Nick G. Sibbeston: Honourable senators, I will speak briefly on
this bill that was reviewed by our Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal
Peoples for the last two weeks.
Although the bill was approved by the committee without amendment, we heard
strong presentations on why changes should be made. Bill C-5, as the honourable
senator stated, is the result of ten years of extensive consultation and a
negotiation process between the government and the Indian Resource Council. The
IRC represents approximately 130 First Nations that have oil and gas production
or potential on their lands.
In the end, the IRC agreed that Bill C-5, although it did not address all the
concerns, was good enough. Part of this agreement included a "letter of
comfort" from the minister that the IRC would be fully involved in drafting
regulations and that there would be a process of continuous change to lead to
further amendments to the act in the future.
I note that the other place amended this bill to require the minister to
report back to Parliament on these processes within two years. This amendment
reflects perhaps a healthy scepticism about Canada's dealing with Aboriginal
However, not every First Nation was happy with the result. We heard from the
Stoney Nakoda nation, who belong to IRC and were involved in the consultation,
on changes they felt were needed to clarify and strengthen the bill. They were
supported in writing by a number of other First Nations.
These First Nations are among the largest producers of oil and gas and they
are the most experienced in dealing with this industry. They also recently had a
case before the Supreme Court of Canada. This group of people are familiar with
the law and the legalities, and are most experienced in the oil and gas
business. These people made representations before us to make further amendments
to the bill.
We were told by the government that any changes to this bill would require
reopening consultations and a delay of the bill. The IRC said they were
concerned that extensive changes would cause the government not to move forward
with this bill. Note the subtle difference.
We have a situation where the federal minister, when he appeared, told us not
to amend anything; do not do anything lest it will unravel the whole bill. Then,
the IRC said that they are afraid that if the Senate provides an opening or
makes amendments that they were concerned that hey may have to deal with all the
other issues. Because it was negotiated, the situation is difficult.
I raised the point about making the amendments and looking at these
amendments as gifts that the Senate could provide to the First Nations. I
proposed amendments, but unfortunately they were not supported by my colleagues.
However, I will talk briefly about what some of these changes would have
been. It is important to understand two things about the amendments that were
proposed, and which I moved in committee. First, all proposed amendments related
to outstanding matters that the Indian Resource Council itself had identified
and proposed, but which government officials had rejected. These changes would
be, in effect, a gift to the IRC. It is doubtful they would refuse to accept
them by demanding further consultation. Second, these amendments would not have
transformed the bill radically.
The first amendment would assure First Nations that the minister would carry
out the minister's fiduciary responsibility whenever the minister delegated
authority to provincial governments. Part of the process is that the provinces
would adopt or harmonize provincial oil and gas regulations; a process wherein
First Nations activity would be regulated by the provinces.
The clause that I wanted to advance began by saying, "for greater
certainty." A clause like this one would provide comfort to First Nations to
assure them that although they would be under a provincial regime, the federal
government still has fiduciary responsibility.
I felt that little amendments such as those examples could have been passed
and could have been part of the bill. They would have given more comfort to
Two amendments would have given First Nations shared power with the minister
to take actions against businesses that had breached their contracts or failed
to pay royalties. The fourth amendment would have permitted First Nations to
develop their own oil and gas resources for their own purposes.
All these changes would have increased First Nations ability to take control
of their lands and resources and improve their economies, not radically but in
an incremental way.
These amendments are consistent with recommendations the Senate has made time
after time in the last few years. I hope that eventually these and other
amendments will come before us as a result of the continuous change process
described in our committee.
The Senate has a well-earned reputation for carefully taking into account the
concerns of Aboriginal and other people, especially where their rights are
concerned, or the duty of the government is to uphold their rights.
I think this is a case where we could have enhanced that reputation and I am
sorry we did not. Obviously, if the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal
Peoples could not support amendments, I felt there was no point in me advancing
We have a negotiated bill, in a sense, that was suitable and satisfactory to
the IRC, the main body of First Nations that represents all of the oil and gas
producing First Nations. While the bill is good, we had the chance to make it
even better. Unfortunately, we will not have done that if we support the bill as
it is, without amendments.
I am sorry about the situation, but I hope that in the future we can have the
courage and determination to go that one step further to improve the situation
for First Nations.
Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, I would like to thank all
committee members who worked on this legislation and other issues in the
I agree that it would be nice if we could meet the requirements of everyone
involved, but we should never let perfection become the enemy of the good. There
is a lot of good in this bill and it has been negotiated for 10 years.
The Indian Resource Council definitely did not want to reopen this matter.
They have been working on it for 10 years, and they felt if it is reopened, it
may be another 10 years before we would get back to the stage we are at now.
I am sure the honourable senator is fully aware that the First Nations Oil
and Gas and Moneys Management Act can be opted into. I realize there is
hesitation in that regard because there is a possibility — or a view is held by
the First Nations — that the government would be absolved from its fiduciary
responsibility if they take this action and move from the Indian Oil and Gas Act
to the First Nations Oil and Gas and Moneys Management Act. Am I correct in that
assumption? Was that the thought process?
I want this on the record, not that Senator Sibbeston was trying to neglect
anything, but it is important for the Senate to know that the First Nations Oil
and Gas and Moneys Management Act is available to First Nations if they wish to
opt into it.
Senator Sibbeston: My understanding is that there is an alternative.
First Nations can opt into the other act that the minister provided, but that
act is not intended to deal with oil and gas. It is intended to deal with most
other matters besides oil and gas — the general administration of First Nations'
lands, et cetera. While there is the possibility of opting into that act and
using it as a vehicle for more control over such matters as oil and gas on their
lands, that is not the intent of the act. There is no regulatory scheme to deal
with oil and gas. The amendments to the Indian Oil and Gas Act propose to set up
such a regime. Bill C-5 proposes, in certain instances, to adopt provincial-type
regimes already in place that are pretty effective for the most part.
As I said, the big concern of some First Nations is whether that scheme will
still protect them. The day-to-day control of activities on First Nations
reserves may be subject, by this act, to provincial regulations. In that case,
the concern is whether the federal government minister's fiduciary
responsibility is lessened in any way. That is one of the issues.
One of the clauses starts with the words "For greater certainty." What is
the harm in having a clause like that in the bill, which would have provided
In response to the honourable senator's question, yes, it is an option, but
it is not likely that they would use the other act to deal with oil and gas
matters on First Nations' lands.
Hon. Robert W. Peterson: Honourable senators, as pointed out in this
chamber many times, these amendments represent 10 years of exhaustive
consultation. There was ample opportunity for all to be heard and their concerns
It is very difficult to achieve a perfect agreement, but overall, this bill
provides the framework for First Nations to have a modern, effective tool for
greater legal certainty. Honourable senators, 130 First Nations are supportive
of this bill and want it to move forward.
Some of the uncertainty, such as royalties, will be dealt with in the
regulations, which can only begin in earnest after the bill is passed.
Passage of Bill C-5 is the first step to bring First Nations into the
mainstream of economic development and to give them the opportunity to be a
major player in developing the oil and gas reserves on their properties. More
importantly, it gives them an opportunity down the road to become involved in
upstream activities such as trucking, drilling and site development companies —
an opportunity to have employment for their young people, which is so sadly
missing now. I urge honourable senators not to deny them the opportunity by
delaying passage of this bill.
I urge your support, honourable senators, of this bill.
Senator Lang: Honourable senators, I want to say to Senator Peterson
that I appreciate his support of the bill. I also wish to point out the fact
that it is seen as a non-partisan piece of legislation which bodes well for the
Aboriginal people of this country.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are senators ready for
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to and bill read third time and passed.)
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Pépin, for the second reading of Bill S-201, An Act
to amend the Library and Archives of Canada Act (National Portrait Gallery).
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, when does the
honourable senator intend to speak to Bill S-201? This particular measure has
been before the Senate for four years. Perhaps we might proceed. When might we
expect a response?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Senator Segal
will be speaking. I hope to have him speak next week on this bill.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Moore, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill S-224, An Act to
amend the Canada Elections Act and the Parliament of Canada Act (vacancies);
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Segal, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Nancy Ruth, that Bill S-224 be not now read a second
time but that the subject matter thereof be referred to the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs;
That the committee report back no later than September 22, 2009; and
That the Order to resume debate on the motion for the second reading of the
bill not appear on the Order Paper and Notice Paper until the committee
has tabled its report on the subject matter of the bill.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Honourable senators, like my colleague Senator
Grafstein, I am wondering when we can expect to have this matter spoken to.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): I will ask
Senator Brown. I believe he intends to speak to the bill next week.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Grafstein, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Fairbairn, P.C., for the second reading of Bill
S-203, An Act to amend the Business Development Bank of Canada Act (municipal
infrastructure bonds) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.
Hon. Stephen Greene: Honourable senators, I rise today to add my voice
to the debate on Bill S-203, proposed by Senator Grafstein. Bill S-203 proposes
a federal income tax exemption for investors who purchase municipal bonds that
provide financing for infrastructure projects. We all acknowledge that
world-class infrastructure is essential, not only to the economic
competitiveness and productivity of our country but also to the quality of life
and well-being of our families.
Canada's Economic Action Plan accelerates and expands federal investments in
infrastructure. This immediate action will result in Canada coming out of global
recession with more modern and greener public infrastructure.
The Government of Canada clearly understands the need to strengthen our
infrastructure. However, this bill is flawed. Bill S-203 would provide a tax
break to some investors but would not reduce meaningfully financing costs for
municipalities. I note this bill was originally introduced in the previous
Parliament in January 2008, when I was working happily for Premier Rodney
MacDonald, whose re-election on June 9 I eagerly anticipate. At that time, the
reaction to this bill was decidedly unenthusiastic. Toronto Mayor David Miller
questioned the need, noting, ". . . cities like Toronto already borrow at low
interest rates." Toronto-Dominion Bank economist Derek Burleton slammed the
idea, asserting, ". . . the negatives outweigh the benefit of slightly lower
borrowing costs for some cities."
To understand why tax-exempt bonds would not reduce financing cost requires
that I provide some background on the nature of Canadian bond markets. Large
portions of bondholders in Canada — over 85 per cent — are tax-exempt or have
special tax status. These bondholders include pension funds and other financial
intermediaries, such as mutual funds, government and government enterprises.
Many individual investors earn investment and interest income tax-free in
their RRSPs, and, as of this year, in their new Tax-Free Savings Accounts. As
TFSAs mature, it is expected that less than 10 per cent of individuals will hold
investments outside tax-sheltered accounts. It is not likely that these
investors would be likely to accept a lower interest rate in return for a tax
exemption because the exemption would have no value to them. Given the
importance of institutional or tax-exempt investors in Canadian bond markets,
municipalities would have to continue to rely on them to fulfill their financing
needs and provide interest rates that are attractive to them.
Of course, you do not have to take my word for it. Consider Ontario's
experience with tax-exempt bonds when in 2003 the Ontario Municipal
Infrastructure Financing Authority undertook a one-time issue of about $320
million in Ontario Opportunity Bonds that were exempt from provincial tax. The
program was discontinued.
If tax-exempt bonds were so effective, why would Ontario discontinue the
program? OMEIFA, the Ontario Municipal Economic Infrastructure Financing
Authority, as it is now known, commented:
. . . these kinds of bonds may not be the most efficient products to use to
raise funds for broader infrastructure loan program. Taxable IRBs are a more
efficient financial instrument. They . . . impose accountability and
discipline on borrowers.
The limited benefit of tax-exempt bonds would not justify the expansion of
the mandate of the Business Development Bank of Canada that this proposal would
require. The BDC lacks the capacity to oversee and evaluate infrastructure
projects. These functions are not consistent with its focus on the needs of
small- and medium-sized enterprises and likely would require a considerable
investment of resources. In addition, the requirement to obtain provincial
pre-approval adds to the administrative burden of the proposal.
Honourable senators, as we seek to strengthen Canada's infrastructures, we
should look at how we can maximize the benefit to municipalities, ideally in a
way that attracts additional contributions from other partners as the government
is clearly doing its part.
In Budget 2007, the government announced its historic $33 billion Building
Canada Plan to help provinces, territories and municipalities to meet their
pressing infrastructure needs. This is the largest investment in infrastructure
by the Canadian government in over 50 years.
A key component of the Building Canada Plan is the Gas Tax Fund, which
provides stable, long-term funding to municipalities for investments in water
and sewer systems, public transit and local roads. The amount of funding
available under the Gas Tax Fund is growing and, by next year, will reach $2
billion annually. In Budget 2008, we made the Gas Tax Fund permanent. To
complement the funding provided by the Gas Tax Fund, the government is providing
additional long-term funding through the increased rebate in the Goods and
Services Tax paid by municipalities.
Another important component is the Building Canada Fund — the government's
flagship infrastructure program. The BCF provides funding for specific
infrastructure projects at both the provincial and municipal levels. Projects
can include anything from major rapid transit expansion to sewage treatment
In Budget 2009, the government outlined measures to streamline the approval
process so that more projects under Building Canada can start this coming
construction season. Budget 2009 also included significant new funding for
municipalities, such as projects that rehabilitate worn out municipal
infrastructure, such as aging water mains and local roads, will be able to
receive funding from the $4 billion Infrastructure Stimulus Fund; refurbish
existing recreational facilities and the building of new ones through
Recreational Infrastructure Canada; and municipal infrastructure projects that
improve the quality of the environment, which could receive funding from the $1
billion Green Infrastructure Fund. Little wonder that the Federation of Canadian
Municipalities heaped admiration on the recent budget by declaring, ". . . the
federal government took concrete action to create new jobs, fight the
recession and invest in a safer, greener, more competitive Canada."
The Canadian Construction Association declared that Budget 2009, ". . .
recognized that the best and quickest way to get Canadians back to work is
through investments in infrastructure. . . ." "By investing in Canada today, we
ensure our economy will be ready to compete tomorrow and communities from Corner
Brook to Montreal, Cambridge to Calgary, and Kamloops to Victoria all benefit."
Of course, let us not forget Coboconk to Carleton Place and my favourite,
Ecum Secum to Meat Cove.
The Canadian Construction Association also said:
The infrastructure measures announced in today's federal budget are
critical to ensuring that Canadian communities, businesses and our workforce
are well-equipped and prepared to respond to the new opportunities that will
present themselves as the economy recovers.
Thanks to our government's recent initiatives, the amount of federal funding
available for provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure will hit more
than $18 billion over the next two years. At the same time, we need to rethink
the traditional government approach to infrastructure renewal. Why? Just like
all countries in the world, Canada's infrastructure deficit is very large, which
means that Canada, like all governments, is less and less able to afford to
finance, build and maintain every single modern infrastructure project. All
countries are looking for innovative solutions to this problem. That is why our
government is taking steps to promote the greater use of public-private
partnerships in Canada.
Honourable senators, I hasten to point out that Senator Dickson is one of
Canada's pioneers in the P3 movement on this side of the chamber. Our government
has created PPP Canada, a Crown corporation that is spearheading our efforts in
this area and has established a $1.25 billion Public-Private Partnership Fund.
Honourable senators, taking all these factors into consideration, I am unable
to support Bill S-203 because it is not necessary. A government must ensure that
taxpayers' hard-earned money is used effectively, in a manner that promotes
economic growth and a quality of life for Canadians.
This use of taxpayer money is particularly important during this challenging
economic time. The government realizes the importance of infrastructure and has
acted decisively to provide much needed support to municipalities, but in an
efficient and effective manner.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: I will ask a question or two, if I may. I
thank Senator Greene for his thoughtful speech. I think he has raised all the
issues that must be raised, assuming we can send this matter to committee. I
think all honourable senators agree that our infrastructure is lagging in
investment, and the amount of money available is still not sufficient to deal
with the infrastructure investment. We agree with that point.
The question is, would it be opportune to look at other means, including this
bill, from outside the experts to see whether we can expand the pool of
investment for infrastructure?
Senator Greene: We, as a government, are always looking for new and
creative solutions. The answer to Senator Grafstein's question is yes, I am
Senator Grafstein: I move second reading of this bill.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are honourable
senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to and bill read second time, on division.)
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Spivak, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Wallace, for the second reading of Bill S-204, An Act
to amend the National Capital Act (establishment and protection of Gatineau
Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, the purpose of Bill
S-204 is to amend the National Capital Act to provide for the establishment and
protection of Gatineau Park. The bill is designed to establish the park's legal
boundaries, and it provides a mechanism for managing that land. Introduced in
the Senate on January 27, 2009, it follows on Bill S-210, which was introduced
in the First Session of the 39th Parliament, and Bill S-227, which was
introduced in the Second Session of the same Parliament.
I spoke during both debates. I reiterate that I am in favour of this bill and
I support its objective. For over 40 years, committed people have been concerned
about the fate of this park, the jewel of the National Capital Region. The
Gatineau Park Protection Committee rightly points out that even though Gatineau
Park is considered the first national park in Quebec, it has never been given
national status and is still the only federal park that does not come under the
jurisdiction of Parliament. In contrast to national parks, its boundaries can be
changed, park lands can be
sold off and roads can be built through the park without Parliament's knowledge
However, there has been a new development that, I hope, will put an end to
this highly unusual situation. In November 2007, the Office of the Auditor
General of Canada presented a special examination report with numerous
recommendations to the board of directors of the National Capital Commission.
The report recommended that the National Capital Commission complete on a timely
basis the Capital Urban Lands Master Plan to ensure that a coherent and complete
planning framework is in place to guide management's decisions. The commission
agreed with this recommendation and initiated a consultation process to help it
define a vision, a concept and related principles.
We recently celebrated International Earth Day. On that occasion, the member
for Ottawa Centre in the other house introduced Bill C-367 which has roughly the
same objectives as Bill S-204. In short, the Gatineau Park Protection Committee,
which is doing a very good job, is calling on parliamentarians to resolve this
problem by having two bills presented, one in the Senate and one in the House of
I know that the minister responsible for the National Capital Commission, as
well as the government, plan on implementing several recommendations contained
in the Auditor General's report and in the related study.
These recommendations will encompass reform of the National Capital
Commission and responsibility for Gatineau Park, among other things. I do not
know the details or when these measures will be announced but the government's
intentions and the two bills being studied in both chambers may be on a
collision course. I believe that we should have the same intent but we run the
risk of having three measures being studied at the same time. Therefore, I wish
to continue my speech at second reading stage of Bill S-204 at a future date to
take into consideration the government's decision, which I hope is imminent. For
that reason, I request adjournment of the debate for the remaining 45 minutes
allocated to me.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure,
honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the fifth report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, entitled: Equal
Justice: Reforming Canada's System of Courts Martial, tabled in the Senate
on May 5, 2009.
Hon. George Baker: Honourable senators, regarding this report, I will
take four or five minutes to congratulate Senator Angus, Senator Campbell,
Senator Dickson, Senator Fraser, Senator Joyal, Senator Milne, Senator Nolin,
Senator Rivest, Senator Wallace, Senator Watt, Senator Bryden, as well as two
extra members of the committee, Senator LeBreton and Senator Cowan.
Honourable senators, sometimes, perhaps, we should be a body that has press
conferences and issues press releases for some of our committee reports. This
one is such an instance. It is a matter of urgency that someone do something
about what is suggested in this committee report.
I was a part of the government back in the late 1990s that passed a law that
allowed court martial courts to extend their jurisdiction to matters concerning
the Criminal Code. Prior to that time, court martial courts dealt with
disciplinary measures within the Canadian Forces, but matters concerning the
criminal law were dealt with in civilian courts. We brought in a new law, but of
course we never are able to cover all the circumstances that may arise, and
herein lies one of our big problems today with our soldiers in Afghanistan and
returning home from Afghanistan.
When honourable senators look at the decisions of the courts martial over the
past year, they will discover that the courts considered minor matters, summary
matters. If a soldier did not get up at 7:30 in the morning and the soldier was
supposed to be up, the soldier might end up before a court martial court. In
committee, we heard of a case where someone did not buy a ticket to a mess
dinner in Petawawa, and a year and a half later that person was charged before
the court martial court and had to return from duty in Afghanistan.
In committee, we also heard from the lawyers in a case by the name of R v.
Grant. This case went right to the Supreme Court. Corporal Grant served in
Afghanistan. When he came back, the first night back there was a dinner at the
base in Canada. Alcohol was consumed, but Corporal Grant did not drink any
alcohol at all. At midnight, he found himself outside the establishment on the
base. Someone else, who had consumed in excess of 12 bottles of beer and what
they called six-shooters had gone outside of the dinner and had made a motion to
Corporal Grant, questioning him, according to the facts that were agreed to in
the case, and said, where did you get that jacket? The jacket was from
Afghanistan. In the process, the individual hit Corporal Grant in the shoulder
and the side of the face, to which Corporal Grant responded with his fist. He
was left-handed. A minor altercation developed after that.
However, here are the consequences of our failure when we passed the bill
back in 1997, as a Liberal government. If there is an infraction by a soldier of
disciplinary conduct, a disciplinary committee must be organized by the base
commander within one year to deal with that reported infraction. If the
committee is not organized within the year, then it is automatically referred to
the court martial court.
A year and a half later, Corporal Grant discovered, while he was overseas
again, that he was charged under the court martial court with that altercation
that was described, after an investigation, as assault and some bodily harm. Of
course, he then was brought back and brought before the court. The judgment was
The judge wanted to send it back and said, "Look, this case does not belong
in a court martial court. It should have been dealt with within the military."
However, we did not allow for that possibility in our legislation. The court
martial courts, as Professor Oliver will tell you, do not have inherent
jurisdiction. In other words, they are restricted to what the law says they can
do. We forgot to put that provision in the law.
It went to the Court of Appeal, and the Court of Appeal said, It is wrong to
have our soldiers overseas all of a sudden confronted with a situation of being
called back home to appear before a court martial court for some minor
infraction, but the time had run out for the board to be held within the
military. The Court of Appeal of Court Martials ruled that the matter should be
sent back. Corporal Grant had his DNA sample extracted — because it is mandatory
under our law for assault causing bodily harm or assault with a weapon, and DNA
is taken automatically — and they ordered that DNA to be destroyed. However,
they did not have the jurisdiction for that order. The case was taken to the
Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada did not grant leave to hear
the case, with no reason. They never give reasons. They do not have to give
reasons. They are the Supreme Court. We do not know why, but I suspect it was
because the Court of Appeal did the right thing, although they did not have
The committee has now made a recommendation to government to correct this
problem in our legislation, and to allow two things in the first instance when
the charge is laid. We incorporated the provision that a charge has to be laid
within six months rather than assemble a board hearing within the military, and
then the court martial court judge can accept a pre-trial argument to send it
back to where it should have been in the first place.
Honourable senators, this matter is hugely important for our soldiers. When
we look at the case law, it always says something like this wording from the
Grant decision, paragraph 36 of the Court of Appeal: The charge was referred
to the Court Martial because it was believed to be impossible to make the
preparations for a summary trial before the limitation period ran out.
This wording is to correct hundreds of cases. Our soldiers serving overseas
in Afghanistan are charged before a court martial court with a minor infraction.
When we read some of the testimony, we see how they are affected by that
situation — the great mental strain, their anxiety and their stress because they
Imagine a 20- or 21-year-old brought before a court martial, talking to their
mother or father on the phone and having to tell them, "Yes, I am fighting over
here in Afghanistan, but I now have to go before a court martial court." Many
of them do not understand what that means.
This committee has performed a great service in making this recommendation,
and the government should follow up this recommendation and change the law, as
the committee has recommended. As well, honourable senators, as I said at the
beginning, sometimes we should issue press releases or have press conferences so
that not only is the government on the spot but the people of Canada would look
at this and say, "Senate, you are absolutely correct; this case is one where
sober second thought should be initiated immediately on behalf of our soldiers
Hon. Joan Fraser: I should note perhaps that although the committee
did not hold a press conference, it did issue a press release. With that, I move
the adjournment of the debate for the remainder of my time.
Leave having been given to revert to Other Business, Reports of Committees,
Item No. 1:
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, entitled Rising to the Arctic
Challenge: Report on the Canadian Coast Guard, deposited with the Clerk of
the Senate on May 4, 2009.
Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, I move:
That the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and
Oceans entitled Rising to the Arctic Challenge: Report on the Canadian
Coast Guard, deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on May 4, 2009, be
adopted and that, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and
detailed response from the government, with the Minister of Fisheries and
Oceans, the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and
International Trade, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, and the
Minister of National Defence being identified as ministers responsible for
responding to the report.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I would have thought Senator Rompkey would say a few words on the
matter, but if he is not, I would not mind saying a few words on it myself. (On
motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)
(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, May 7, 2009, at 1:30 p.m.)