Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 38
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Honourable Rose-Marie Losier-Cool Speaker pro tempore
- SENATORS' STATEMENTS
- ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS
- Study on Issues Related to Mandate
- Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament
- Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act
- Canadian Agricultural Loans Bill
- Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association
- Fisheries Act
- QUESTION PERIOD
- ORDERS OF THE DAY
- Business of the Senate
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act
- Business of the Senate
- Criminal Code
- Environmental Enforcement Bill
- Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999
- Criminal Code
- National Security and Defence
- National Philanthropy Day Bill
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- The Senate
- Study on Provisions and Operations of the National Defence Act
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker pro tempore in the chair.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, the Leader of the Government has requested, pursuant to rule 22(10), that the time provided for the consideration of Senators' Statements be extended today for the purpose of paying tribute to the Honourable Trevor Eyton, who will retire from the Senate on July 12, 2009.
I remind honourable senators that pursuant to our Rules, each senator will be allowed only three minutes and may speak only once.
Is it agreed that we continue our tributes to Senator Eyton under Senators' Statements?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: We will therefore have the balance of the 30 minutes for tributes, not including the time allotted for Senator Eyton's response. Any time remaining after tributes will be used for other statements; is it agreed, honourable senators?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, today we officially bid farewell to our colleague and friend, Senator Trevor Eyton. Even though we expect to see Senator Eyton here for another month or so, this is the official marking of the date after almost two decades of public service in the Senate of Canada.
Senator Eyton entered the Senate a few days before the eight extra so-called "GST senators" but, like them, was thrown into the tumultuous GST debate where he became a charter member of the "Orville Phillips Whipping Society."
Senator Eyton has represented Ontarians in the Senate for almost 19 years and has done so with great pride and commitment. We will certainly miss him.
All honourable senators are aware of Senator Eyton's considerable accomplishments long before coming to this chamber — his legal background; a business leader; a company director of several firms, most notably Brookfield Asset Management, or Brascan Corporation as it was formerly.
In 1986, Senator Eyton was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada not only for his great successes in business but for his devotion to community service. He is the former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the University of Waterloo and the former Chancellor of the University of King's College at Dalhousie.
Since 1990, when he was named to the Senate of Canada by the former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, Senator Eyton has undoubtedly been a busy man. However, over the years, he has continued to be active in a wide variety of volunteer groups and charitable organizations, including Junior Achievement of Canada. As honourable senators are also aware, he is the honourary chairman of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, and was the chair when the decision was announced last October to locate the hall of fame at Canada's Olympic Park in Calgary.
Senator Eyton is the co-founder of the Canada-Mexico Retreat, which brings together business people and government officials in an effort to promote two-way trade and investment. In recognition of his dedication to strengthening the ties between our two countries, in 2002 the Government of Mexico awarded Senator Eyton with the highest honour that they can bestow on foreigners: The Order of the Aztec Eagle.
In his work in this chamber, and especially in committees, Senator Eyton has brought considerable legal and business expertise and a sharp, keen intellect to all he has done. Senator Eyton has been a great asset to this place, there is no doubt about that, and has been a particular benefit to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, of which he has been a member for many years.
We hate to see this day come, but I am sure, as Senator Eyton takes leave of this place, we know that his mandatory retirement from here will not slow him down in the least, and he will remain the active, engaged person he has always been.
I know I speak for all of your Conservative colleagues in the house, Senator Eyton, in wishing you and your family all the very best as you embark on the next chapter of your life. I cannot believe 19 years went by so quickly.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, I am pleased to have an opportunity to add my words of appreciation to Senator Eyton, who reaches the magic retirement age on July 12. I had never met Senator Eyton prior to my appointment to the Senate four years ago, although I had heard a great deal about him through business, legal and university circles.
Senator Eyton graduated in arts and law from the University of Toronto and embarked on a distinguished legal career with one of Canada's foremost legal firms, a career he left in 1979 to become President and Chief Executive Officer of Brascan Ltd., a position he held for 12 years. Senator Eyton subsequently became chairman of the board of Brascan — now Brookfield Asset Management Inc. — and remains an active director of that company, a global asset manager focused on property, power and other infrastructure assets, with approximately $80 billion of assets under management.
Senator Eyton has also been a board member of a number of other well-known Canadian and international public corporations. He is Chairman of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and a Governor of the Canadian Olympic Foundation.
From 1996 to 2001, he served as Chancellor of the University of King's College in Halifax, a university that shares a campus with my own alma mater, Dalhousie University. In recognition of his legal, business and philanthropic activities, Senator Eyton was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and has received honorary degrees from both the University of Waterloo and the University of King's College.
Amongst numerous other honours, as Senator LeBreton has pointed out, he was awarded Mexico's Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest award given to foreigners by the Government of Mexico.
Since his appointment to the Senate in 1990, Senator Eyton has been an active member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, and the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, and has served as co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations of the Senate and the House of Commons.
Our colleague has always taken his duties seriously and has contributed much to the work of the Senate, particularly in committees where his vast experience has enabled him to comprehend the complexities of testimony and ask the most appropriate of questions. We shall miss that wisdom and experience, but I am sure he will remain only a phone call away when we need his help.
It is hard to imagine that anyone with his vast interests and connections will ever truly retire, but I hope he will take whatever time is freed up from his Senate duties to spend with his wife Jane, his five children and their eleven grandchildren.
Senator Eyton, as you take leave of this place, we wish you good health, much happiness and a long and, need I say, active retirement.
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, I first met Trevor Eyton in the mid-1980s. At that time, he was "Mr. Big" in Toronto; he was "The Man." He was a former star defensive guard for the Toronto Varsity Blues, as well as an accomplished athlete in many fields, including golf, tennis and skiing. He was senior partner of a leading Toronto law firm, Chairman and CEO of Brascan Ltd. and a major player and chairman of the SkyDome and other Toronto projects. He is a director of Coca-Cola Canada, GM Canada, Noranda, Nestle Canada, Covitec, Ivernia West and numerous other businesses, as well as community and educational organizations.
Therefore, honourable senators, you can imagine how I felt one day when Trevor called me out of the blue at my Montreal law office and invited me to come to Toronto to have lunch with him in the SkyDome executive dining room. "I like what you are doing for Brian," he said. "I believe I might be of a little assistance to you, Brian and our party." Needless to say, I was on the next plane and we have been friendly ever since, especially since I returned to Montreal with a large smile on my fat little face.
Honourable senators, it was only in 1993, after I joined Trevor in the Red Chamber, that I really got to know this remarkable gentleman. We became pals and kindred spirits of a sort. This, of course, was reinforced during a period of four or five years as seatmates in the back row — albeit in the centre section — of this chamber, where we developed an unspoken knowledge of and appreciation for each other's comings and goings, and our respective idiosyncrasies.
For example, how many honourable senators have seatmates who read the Northern Miner and take assiduous notes thereon on a daily basis? Like many honourable senators, I was charmed by the twinkle in Trevor's eye, his mischievous predilection and his penchant for hatching elaborate practical joke capers designed to introduce levity and humour in our otherwise humdrum and sometimes tedious routine here.
Never, however, were Trevor's humorous exploits mean-spirited or ad hominem in nature. They were never designed unduly to embarrass or wound colleagues of any political stripe whatsoever. Frankly, they were usually just plain hilarious and often ingenious.
Honourable senators, there is actually a serious side to Trevor because of his self-avowed short attention span. He cannot resist taking on new challenges and getting involved in the vast array of ventures and activities. His family and friends refer to him as a "serial entrepreneur," and his many successful — and yes, sometimes unsuccessful — investment capers bear this out in spades.
Trevor loves meeting people and is a world-class networker and schmoozer. He loves to travel and he has mastered the art of communication. For a lad from a small mill town in Quebec, he has had a remarkably diverse and highly successful career. He has been justly honoured and recognized repeatedly in Canada, as the leaders have each said — and I will only agree about Mexico's Order of the Aztec Eagle.
Trevor, it has been a joy and a privilege to be your pal and colleague over these past 25 years and more. I will miss you, your wit and your loyal friendship, and I will use my very best efforts to remain in touch as we both go forward. Godspeed and good luck in what I know will be a very busy life after the Senate.
Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I rise to pay tribute to a quality person who, alas, is retiring from the Senate, Senator J. Trevor Eyton. I am a fan of Trevor's and I believe his appointment was one of Prime Minister Mulroney's finer achievements, as was the appointment of Senator Angus, because it is important that this institution have experts from the various sectors of Canada's business community.
There are several sectors, and which ones are Senator Eyton's? He is one of the Bay Street crowd. People may like to tease that group a little bit, but the significance of the group to the Canadian economy as a whole is important. Like any other sector, it is good to have someone who is among the best and brightest of whatever sector they come from, particularly in the Senate.
What are the aspects of this group? I am familiar with that crowd for several reasons. First, he has served a lot of time at Torys, a big Bay Street law firm. It is a great firm; and I must say I am even more impressed with it since about a week ago when they hired my son to be a litigator with their firm. That decision speaks for itself. In any event, that background is a good one and it is one that I come from.
Also, being senior management of a major corporation — and Brascan is an international major Canadian corporation — gives him another set of insights. I did not have that experience. However, the senator is the director of many major corporations. I have sat on a few boards, and his are probably more impressive — not all of them, but probably most of them. I think it is good to have people who understand that world.
However, he did not spend all his time with the major business corporations. He also spent it on the non-profit and charitable corporations, and that experience, too, is important.
I could not resist mentioning the Bay Street connection because I know if someone comes from Toronto, people around the rest of the country like to nudge that person a bit but we have broad shoulders and the Senate needs that wisdom and experience.
Senator Eyton is also a good host. I have had fine dinners with him. He tells me he still owes me one. I think he lost a bet. I am looking forward to that dinner and I will collect it.
Trevor, let me say that you are respected and you will be missed. I wish you and your family all the best in the next chapter of life and I hope our paths continue to cross regularly. All the best.
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, the Honourable J. Trevor Eyton is indeed one of Canada's most distinguished citizens, a prince of commerce and industry and an accomplished entrepreneur. His many successes include a stellar legal career, which led him into the business world with a phenomenal history of accomplishments including being a generous champion of many public causes.
I listened to all of my colleagues and I will skip all the good things he has done because these things have been eloquently articulated by the previous speakers.
Honourable senators, this is where I make a confession: When I thought about what I wanted to say about this friend of mine, notwithstanding all his achievements, I believe that he will tell you his greatest legacy is his family. He is proud of his family, and in a moment, honourable senators will understand why.
I cheated, Trevor. I went to some of your family for help so they could put their thoughts on the record. I tried to persuade them to say something funny but they would not because they love you very much. I engaged the help of Kate Findlay, Trevor's eldest grandchild. She is now a lawyer, and also in the visitor's gallery today. She gave me a little help by telling me what she thinks of her Papa. Let me quote parts of a note she sent to me on behalf of the 11 grandchildren:
I think that the three strongest traits my grandfather has instilled in me are fearlessness, the importance of family and friends, and taking pride in your work.
Since I was a very young child, Papa has taught me to forge ahead during life's more frightening moments. He has always been very involved in my life . . .
Coming from a very large, extended family has been one of my greatest pleasures growing up. Ever the host, Papa and Granny have hosted my friends and extended family on an almost weekly basis. . . . He has taught me the importance of family and friends and finding time to spend together.
Finally, Papa has always been interested in my academics and encouraged me to take pride in my work, be it as a camp counsellor, receptionist or now as a lawyer. He has taught me that any job worth doing is worth doing well.
. . . Papa has always made me, and the other grandchildren in the family, feel like we are the centre of the universe. He has attended every birthday and graduation along the way, has taken the time to get to know our friends, and has encouraged us, allowing us to grow into strong individuals. You couldn't ask for a better grandfather or mentor.
Those are Kate's words.
Trevor, I could not have said it any better. On a personal basis, I disagree with my friend, Senator Angus I do not think your golf will ever get you applause or trophies, but your friendship, Trevor, deserves a gold medal.
To Jane and the rest of the family, I extend my best wishes and may the rest of your life be the best yet.
Hon. Paul J. Massicotte: Honourable senators, I take this opportunity to talk to you about my friend, Senator J. Trevor Eyton. It is with sadness that I am addressing him on the occasion of his departure from the Senate after a long and fruitful period.
I will be brief and to the point, but I would be remiss if I did not say a few words about this senator's work and his vast knowledge. I hope I can pay a worthy tribute in just a few words.
I have had the opportunity to serve with Senator Eyton in the Senate, as well as on the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. His experience as an astute businessman, his professionalism and his outstanding judgement were crucial factors in the fulfillment of our committee's various mandates.
I must also mention his key role within the Canada-Russia Interparliamentary Group. In addition to being a member of our group, he graciously accepted to chair the Canada-Russia roundtable in order to enhance both the parliamentary and industrial relationship between our country and Russia. Being highly recognized in all of Canada and in many other parts of the world as one of Canada's most extraordinary and senior business persons, we could not have asked for a better representative. His engagement was on par with his many past achievements.
Trevor, you can leave with pride since your work in the Senate has been remarkable and your duty as a responsible citizen has been well accomplished. In the name of our Senate colleagues, I tip my hat to you and wish you a retirement filled with joy, happiness and assuredly much further success. Thank you, Trevor.
Hon. Michael Duffy: Honourable senators, I rise to add my voice to those paying tribute today to Senator Trevor Eyton on his retirement. Senator Eyton, as we have heard, has a long and distinguished career in this place, but it is important not to overlook another important aspect of this great Canadian: what he has brought in the way of being a leader in Canadian business and philanthropy. It is no exaggeration to say that Trevor Eyton is a great Canadian.
He rose from humble beginnings, as Senator Angus pointed out — somewhat reminiscent of others we know who come from mill towns in Quebec — to become one of our nation's most respected citizens. In some quarters these days, as my friend Senator Smith has pointed out, Bay Street is not in fashion. However, through all of the years that he has been a lion of Bay Street, Senator Eyton has been a beacon of integrity and a man whose word has been his bond.
I first met the senator more than 20 years ago when he was still devoting most of his time to business. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney had asked him to undertake a special assignment bringing the business community of Toronto and the region into action in support of the G7 summit in Toronto. Senator Eyton took up this challenge as he takes up many others, that is, he goes 100 per cent. The cooperation between business and government that we saw in Toronto made that summit an international hit. Toronto was a success with political leaders and with international media.
In this place, his work has been no less important and impressive. He has been very generous with the new senators in terms of wisdom and advice. He always delivers the advice with great good humour. On behalf of "the 18," I would like to thank him for his generosity to us.
Trevor, I wish you, Jane and your family the very best as you go forward to continue building the great country that Canada is today. Your hard work, wise counsel and integrity will be sorely missed.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I have a different perspective on Senator Trevor Eyton in the role I played in the 1980s as Mayor of Toronto. As Senator Angus said earlier, to which I can attest, Trevor Eyton was a big factor in the life of our city.
Those were exciting years — not because I was mayor — they were years of great cultural advancement in Toronto. When we talk about culture, many senators may think of the ballet or the opera. However, I like to think of my own piece of culture that I particularly enjoy in Toronto, which is baseball. Trevor Eyton was instrumental in Toronto's development in that regard through his involvement with Brascan and Labatt. We were able to bring a baseball team to Toronto, one that went on to win a couple of World Series. Until eight games ago, I thought they might be doing it again this year, but I hope they will recover.
The development of that team also meant the development of a new stadium facility in Toronto, the SkyDome. He was instrumental in making that coming about. He was a mover and shaker behind that daring and bold project. Like other things he did in Toronto, he made that kind of bold visionary contribution. I was proud to be mayor of a city that included Trevor Eyton.
I have to relate one other story that he may not like me to pass along. Back in the days of the Chrétien government when I was a minister, I went to a Laurier Club event in Toronto. Who should walk in the door but Trevor Eyton. He put on a badge and walked into the room. I asked, "What are you doing here?" He said, "I am a member." I thought for a moment that I should whip out my Liberal application form and get him to sign up and to come over. I think he was only there to keep an eye on us.
I want to tell you, Trevor, that any time you want to come to the Laurier Club, please join us. We would still be happy to see you. You are a very ecumenical fellow in many respects.
I want to wish you well, Trevor. Congratulations on all your years of service in the Senate and to the people of Canada. I thank you and congratulate you for your contribution to the quality of life in our city of Toronto. I wish you and your family well.
Hon. Janis G. Johnson: Honourable senators, I think Trevor's granddaughter, Kate Findlay, said it all about the man, the Trevor Eyton I have known and come to know as a colleague and friend for the last 19 years. As he takes his leave from our august chamber, I thought another fine way to pay tribute to J. Trevor was to ask the opinion of people around the Hill who are very honest, such as our security staff, interpreters, researchers, cab drivers, the people who work in the restaurants and the committees. The words they gave me went something like this: Senator Eyton is friendly; he is polite; he is kind; he is smart; he is distinguished; and he is funny. I could not agree more with these sentiments from all his friends on Parliament Hill, from all parties and from all walks of life.
I will add for my own part that Trevor is quite a legend as well, for no one has organized better Christmas parties with every theme known to man, including our Jewish Christmas. That was done specifically for the senators of the 1990s era, the "Orville Phillips Whipping Society" survivors. It was very special because we are a crowd that did really survive the worst of the worst in here.
Also, Trevor has done something very special for the pages of the Senate all these years, along with Senator Di Nino, his buddy, and that is to organize box seats at the Blue Jays baseball games at this time of year. They all go to Toronto and enjoy the game, and one of them gets to throw the first ball of the season. Those are the kinds of things that Senator Trevor Eyton has done.
Of course, he has also attended committees and was Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. I was one of the deputy chairs for years. He has really been astute at all our hearings. I do not think that the Banking Committee will have a more brilliant member, one whose questions always seem to go to the heart of an issue.
For his part, I know that Trevor will especially miss co-chairing the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations, because I believe under his leadership they have gone from meeting once a year to much more regularly. What I will personally miss most about Trevor is placing bets with him on the Triple Crown of horse racing. Happily, I have always, or usually, won. We did the same with the Academy Awards. It was such fun, another quality that Trevor has in abundance. He lives to enjoy life in all its many dimensions and he explores every opportunity. My late father used to say, "ability is ageless," and so is Trevor.
Trevor is an original. He brought invaluable experience to the chamber and it was displayed every day. We were lucky to have him serving Canada in Parliament all these 19 years.
Fellow senators, I know he will take from this place many wonderful memories of the institution, of his friends and of the experiences he has had. This is an adventure that few people get to have, and it is a major experience that one can have in life. Trevor has been the best of friends to us all.
Trevor, I wish you, Jane, and your family all the very best. Long may your big jib draw.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, what does it take to make a great senator? The Senate of Canada is a precious jewel. It is a complex diversity consisting of senators, male and female, French-speaking, English-speaking, Aboriginals, Blacks and Whites, young and old, rich and poor. However, our real diversity is what we bring, as individuals, to the debate and to our distinguished committee work.
Some are trained as teachers, lawyers and doctors, but there is one senator, J. Trevor Eyton, who brings a global view of business, a view like none other before him. Senator Trevor Eyton became one of our precious jewels in the Senate for what he contributed to the Senate from his vast global business experience. He is a man of great wisdom and he is an excellent strategic thinker.
Trevor Eyton and Jack Cockwell joined a company in Montreal called Edper Investments in 1969, and together, with just a few million dollars, they built the Brascan empire into a labyrinth of cross-holdings among Canada's largest corporations.
Their empire was so vast that it consisted at one time of more than 360 closely intertwined companies with holdings as diverse as the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, Labatt Breweries, Noranda Natural Resources, Trilon Financial Services companies, Carena Business, London Life, Great Lakes Power, Hees International, MacMillan Bloedel, Royal Trustco and Trizec Corporation. They once employed more than 110,000 people on their payroll with an empire of more than 32 public companies. It was massive, and there is nothing like it in Canada today. It is really an incredible business story.
I have been blessed to have had many interesting experiences with Senator Trevor Eyton. Once, when I was Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, we were doing a study on the international competitiveness of Canada's telecommunications system. We went to London, England, among other places, to have hearings with major companies, such as cable and wireless. I wanted a senator with global experience to help pose important questions that could give the committee information it could use in making recommendations to make Canada more competitive.
Trevor rose to the occasion. He used his vast business experience to ask probing, deep, vitally important questions of the key witnesses during our London hearings. It was marvellous to see. I learned a lot. The work of the committee was substantially enhanced by his presence. For that particular experience, Trevor, I thank you very much.
Trevor also performed a lot of charitable work. As a senator from Nova Scotia, I was delighted when he agreed to become the Chancellor of the University of King's College in Halifax. To welcome him, I hosted a large party in his honour and invited my friends. We roasted him and welcomed him to our province with a toast of a great burgundy. However, on the social side, if Trevor offers to choose the wine for a special occasion, say no thanks; really no thanks, Trevor. Wine is not one of his strong points so Trevor, stick to big business, where you have made such a tremendous and enormous contribution not only to Canada but globally.
Trevor, I am honoured to call you a friend. You are one of the Senate's precious jewels. We wish you all the best in your retirement.
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, the record states, and Senator Angus has reminded us, that the Honourable John Trevor Eyton, although an Ontario senator, was not born in this province but rather in Quebec. This information led me, as factoids sometimes do, to a brief digression. I made a quick count and learned that more than half the Ontario senators now serving in this place were born elsewhere. I ask you: Is this a warm and welcoming province or what?
The record also shows that Senator Eyton's appointment was announced by Prime Minister Mulroney on September 23, 1990, and that Trevor Eyton lost no time coming here. In fact, he showed up for work three days later. The Journals of the Senate record that he was introduced between Senators Murray and Atkins. Nowadays, to be found in the company of Atkins and Murray would be a career-limiting move for any new — or old — Conservative senator.
However, I think I can speak for both Senator Atkins and myself in saying we remain proud of our role in introducing Senator Eyton on that day. We could have done worse, and come to think of it, we have.
On the occasion of his appointment, one media report described Senator Eyton as "a high priest of the Canadian establishment." Less charitably, Ontario's NDP Premier Bob Rae saluted the appointment with an unflattering reference to the nomination process under the late Emperor Caligula. That hurt, because Senator Eyton is no mean student of Roman industry, as he demonstrated in the 1982 speech to the Empire Club of Toronto castigating the then-Progressive Conservative Government of Ontario for introducing rent controls. "Rent controls," he informed his audience, "did not work in Roman times." He did not say whether this failure was Caligula's fault.
The record shows that throughout his professional business and political life, Trevor Eyton has been associated with higher education, health care, sports and a myriad of activities vital to the wider community, to our economic well-being and our social cohesion.
Other captains of industry or politics lend their names. Trevor Eyton has always been a hands-on leader, sacrificing time and giving freely of his prodigious talent and experience. I want to underline the fact that, long before he arrived here, Trevor Eyton was present and active in the public forum, contributing constructively to the ongoing debate of national goals and national policy. It does not take much talent, imagination or courage for business leaders to plead publicly for their won parishes, as many do. In contrast, Trevor Eyton addressed his mind analytically, fairly and in public to difficult issues and large undertakings, thereby courting controversy not only in the public square but I expect also in corporate boardrooms.
Senator Eyton has given much to his profession, to business, to civil society and the Senate. The country is better for his commitment and his contribution. I hope it is an example for others.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I think my friend and colleague, Senator Paul Massicotte, has expressed exactly what we are all trying to say. I would simply like to add my thanks to Senator Eyton for his service to the Canada-Russia Association. He is very well-known, as far away as Russia.
I wish to assure Senator Eyton that he will not be forgotten as he has been appointed as an honorary member to the executive of the Canada-Russia association. I salute his family, and I also want to assure him that, for the next six months, right at the entrance to the Senate chamber, the door to my office is his door, as well.
Hon. Lorna Milne: I apologize to honourable senators because I am not on the preferred list, but no one has mentioned Jarvis Collegiate. That is where Senator Eyton met his wife Jane — at Jarvis Collegiate, in the brain class. That is where Trevor and I were colleagues and classmates, way back when, and I will not say how long ago. It is all on the record.
We both served the same year, when we were in high school, as Eaton's reps, too. When I first arrived in the Senate, I brought out a picture of the two of us, both much younger editions, and how sad it is to see how he has changed over the years. Of course, I have not changed at all. In high school, Trevor was a big, good looking jock. He really was.
I also remember organizing the first student council at Jarvis Collegiate. I wrote the constitution and organized the election. Trevor ran and was elected president.
Trevor, I wish you, Jane and your family a long and happy healthy life on your land in Caledon.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The Honourable Senator Trevor Eyton.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. J. Trevor Eyton: Honourable senators, until today I never appreciated the value of tributes, but now, on the receiving end, I have changed my opinion and consider them to be a vital part of our governance and practice. Partly it is because it is always nice to hear nice things about yourself, although I found them a little understated today. Partly, it is because members of my family are in the gallery and, hopefully, at least a few will believe what they heard, and the others will have enjoyed them.
Thank you, honourable senators, for your tributes. Your remarks were well said and much appreciated, more so because they are part of our public written record.
I mentioned my family, and now I want to recognize them and pay them tribute: my long-suffering wife of many years, Jane; my children here today, Suzie Belton, Adam Eyton and Sarah Eyton; my grandchildren here today, Kate Findlay, Scott Belton, Bronwyn Gould and Rory Gould; and, my kid brother, Tony Eyton, who many of you know. I thank them and the others who could not be here today for their constant love and support. I recognize they are much of the reason for all the good things that have happened to me. It is something that I keep in mind all the time.
At times like this we are bound to think back to the turning points in our life. There are many for us all, but I thought I should share a few with you that will demonstrate these events are rarely planned and are almost always fortuitous.
The first event occurred when I was 14 years old, living in the idyllic mill town of Beaupré, Quebec outside of Quebec City. My father was a senior manager at the paper mill, and he came home one night to tell us all at dinner that he had been offered a promotion to the Toronto head office of Abitibi. There was a family conference. At 14, I do not think I had much to say about the matter, but the decision to move was made. Of course, that move was a major turning point in my life for I stayed in Toronto, and there I remained to this day. That included my education through the University of Toronto and my undergraduate and graduate degrees that I earned there. That was an important turning point in my life.
The University of Toronto law school was then presided over by Bora Laskin who many of you will know. He was a preeminent teacher and scholar and later, of course, our Chief Justice. Bora had an infinite web of contacts within the legal world, and for that reason he counselled the graduating class each year on where they should article, and, beyond that, the kind of law they should practice. He knew us well enough and he knew the profession well enough that he was ideally suited for that occupation.
In my final year at law school, I waited until half the class had gone through and received his advice. I then showed up and Bora was sitting there at his large desk in his very large office. The desk was positioned next to the hallway because he liked to see and talk to the students. He welcomed me and opened by saying, "I wondered when you were coming to see me." Without anything more, he then said, "You are going to the Tory law firm," to which I replied, "Well, sir, I thought of that. However, I know you have given others the choice of two, three, or even four other firms." The great man leaned over and patted me on the knee as he said, "Don't you worry about it, Trevor, you are going to Torys." That was another turning point in my life and of course I did what he told me to do.
The third event I wish to share was at the Tory firm, where, as counsel, I had the honour of serving Peter and Edward Bronfman and their family and their senior managers, including Jack Cockwell. In 1979, we decided we should make a bid for Brascan, now Brookfield Asset Management. We knew it would be resisted; we knew it was hostile, and we were pretty confident it would involve litigation and battles in the media and otherwise. However, Jack and I persuaded Peter Bronfman it was something we should do that would be successful. Peter's response was to say to me, "Well, I am prepared to go with your advice, but on the clear understanding if I go through all this turmoil and we are successful, I will have a call on all of your time for two years."
We then went into our bid process. It was as nasty as we had anticipated. Finally, after five or six months in various courts we acquired control of Brascan. Thereafter, Jack and I set off on a mission where we visited the different Brascan businesses and came back with a business plan we thought would suit the enterprise. We delivered the business plan to Peter Bronfman. It was 40-or-so pages, but the first page listed the proposed senior officers and directors. The rest looked at the different businesses and how they might be adjusted. We delivered it to Peter on a Friday and he took it home over the weekend. On Monday morning, he asked Jack and me to come into his office. Sitting there, he looked happy enough. He started by saying, "I like the business plan; it seems to make sense and I can support it with only one change." He then took out his stubby pencil and went to page 1 of the business plan listing the senior officers and directors. With his pencil, he erased the name of the proposed chief executive, Jake Moore and, in his squiggly handwriting he wrote in "J. Trevor Eyton." He then looked up at me and said, "Trevor, I am exercising my call for all of your time for the next two years."
That was a turning event in my life, because shortly afterward I was appointed the chief executive, later chairman, and I have a continuing association as a director of Brookfield Asset Management.
The fourth event I wish to share occurred when I was on a business trip in Tokyo when I got a call at some ungodly hour from Prime Minister Mulroney. It was a total surprise because there had been no discussion whatever about going into the Senate. However, that was his intent and he asked if I would accept a Senate appointment. As Senator Murray has already pointed out, he gave me three days to make up my mind.
I expressed surprise and said I needed to think about it and talk to my wife and family, and to my colleagues. I added that I would not consider the appointment if it meant that I had to sever my business relationships, to which the Prime Minister replied I would not have to do that, but I would have to make sure that there were no conflicts and that I played a meaningful role in the Senate. I returned to Toronto a few days later and I accepted the invitation. I was catapulted into the Canadian Senate and the turmoil around the GST. That, too, was a turning point.
I am now about to retire and I am facing another turning point, with the certain knowledge in these turbulent times that I will face new challenges and new opportunities. I will miss you, my good friends and colleagues; I will miss the meaningful committee work dealing with important public issues; and I confess I will miss, as well, the sense of knowing at least some of the stories "behind the stories," in the newspapers from day to day.
I want to finish with a few words about the Senate, which is a remarkable institution, boasting a host of remarkable Canadians. These Canadians contribute much with little public notice and have the capacity, both individually and collectively, to contribute more.
I have three observations: First, the Senate would operate more effectively if it were less partisan and more collegial, especially in its role as the chamber of sober second thought.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Eyton: Second, the Senate might well respond to specific questions posed by the government of the day concerning major public issues, with the time and the resources necessary to frame reports that could be considered and even adopted into ongoing government policy. I think of such things as the challenges around pensions in Canada today and the challenges of obesity and lack of fitness.
Third, the Senate could take on many of the roles now assigned routinely to a variety of commissions and do the job better, more quickly and at less cost than at present.
These are but a few thoughts, although I realize they would all be affected by Senate reform and an elected Senate.
I recognize the value of an elected Senate, conveying as it does a stronger mandate for action. At the same time, I see the value of appointed senators as a way of attracting special individuals who would not subject themselves to the electoral process. In my mind, the electoral process diminishes the available talent pool by more than one half. That is a shame, for the Senate needs more Kirbys, more Keons, more Dallaires, more Meighens, more Murrays, more Prud'hommes. That thought leads me to the concept the Senate Chamber might be partly elected and partly appointed. That would distinguish it from the other place and at the same time secure a stronger electoral mandate and a stronger pool of talent that in combination would improve the workings of this federal government.
Thank you for your kind attention and for the glowing words previously expressed. Thank you for your friendship. As you heard, I plan to finish the term to the end of June.
Responding to my late mother's advice that it is important how you begin and how you finish; for if you do that the middle parts do not matter all that much. Thank you, honourable senators.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of a group of instructors and students from the Canadian Centre for Verbatim Studies in Toronto. This centre is one of two institutions in Canada that trains shorthand reporters such as those engaged by Debates Services in the Senate.
On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, I also wish to draw to your attention the presence in the gallery of Robert Côté, an Officer of the Order of Canada and former chief police inspector for the City of Montreal. He is the guest of the Honourable Senator Prud'homme, P.C. On behalf of all the senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the seventh (interim) report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, entitled Globe Conference 2008.
Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present the fifth report of the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, which deals with changes to the Rules to reflect the Conflict of Interest Code for Senators.
(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 734.)
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this report be taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Oliver, report placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-28, An Act to amend the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-29, An Act to increase the availability of agricultural loans and to repeal the Farm Improvement Loans Act.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the second time?
(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, OSCE, respecting its participation in the election observation mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly, held in Moldavia, April 2 to 7, 2009.
Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 23(6), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Branch of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF), respecting its participation at the Seminar of the United Nations Development Program and the Meeting of the Political Committee of the APF, held in Luang Prabang, Laos, on April 8 and 9, 2009.
Hon. Mac Harb: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present a petition signed by residents from British Columbia and Ontario calling on the Government of Canada to amend the Fisheries Act to end Canada's commercial seal hunt.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The question on every Canadian's mind today is how did the Harper government get it so wrong? Last fall, the Minister of Finance projected budgetary surpluses as far as the eye could see, while economists projected a recession.
Since then, Minister Flaherty has been forced to backtrack time and time again. His latest revelation yesterday afternoon outside the house of a deficit of over $50 billion for the current year has stunned Canadians.
This deficit will be the largest ever recorded by a Canadian federal government.
As reporter Don Martin said in today's National Post:
Jim Flaherty has reached the point where his fiscal deficit is only exceeded by his credibility deficit.
Does the leader now understand why Canadians have lost confidence in this government?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, I vehemently disagree with the premise of the honourable senator. First, this deficit is not the largest in the history of the country. The largest deficit in the history of the country was under the honourable senator's hero, former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, when the deficit was 8.3 per cent of GDP. I should factor that figure into today's dollars to determine how large it would be.
The Canadian public has not lost confidence in the Minister of Finance or in the government. As I said yesterday, in the economic update last fall, some people predicted a downturn in the economy. It obviously started in October because of the sub-prime mortgage issue in the United States.
No one predicted it. I remind honourable senators that one year ago, people were predicting oil at $200 per barrel and a Canadian dollar at $1.10 versus the American currency. I said yesterday that this government and all governments make their economic predictions and projections in consultation with a wide range of private-sector economists.
After two months of consultations, we brought the budget forward in late January, which was the earliest budget ever produced.
Clearly, the global economic situation continues to slide, although there are some encouraging signs. In particular, we have the huge issue of General Motors, which is particularly relevant to Canada. As well, Canada as many other governments around the world faces complex issues that require complex answers. In the General Motors case, despite it being a worldwide company, its status is particularly relevant to Canada and the United States.
Senator Cowan, the Minister of Finance is simply acknowledging a situation whereby significant sums of money have been spent on Employment Insurance. Obviously, tax revenues are down. It is somewhat rich for the opposition to demand more in the stimulus package and demand more spending. Day after day, the opposition asks for changes to Employment Insurance, changes that would cost billions of dollars.
It is rich that the opposition can criticize the Minister of Finance when the minister truthfully tries to put out what he believes will be the deficit range.
Senator Cowan: Honourable senators, the fact is that this government went from a zero deficit to an over $50-billion deficit in just over eight months. That is $240 million a day since the November economic update.
In light of these facts, how can Canadians expect your government to deliver its stimulus package in a timely, efficient and effective way?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, within the next few weeks, the government will report to Parliament a full accounting of the monies that are being spent on stimulus.
Many leading international organizations — such as the IMF and the OECD — still say Canada is in the best position and our debt ratio to GDP is the lowest in the G7. People tend to forget that in the 1990s, the unemployment rate never fell below 8 per cent — actually, one year it did fall below 8 per cent. In the early 1980s, when Mr. Trudeau was the Prime Minister, we had double-digit inflation, double-digit unemployment and very high interest rates. I happen to know because I paid 19.5 per cent for a mortgage and that was a good rate. Most people were paying over 20 per cent.
Honourable senators, given the global economic downturn, the government is experiencing huge deficits. However, our G7 and G20 partners are experiencing much larger deficits. The United States has had to change its deficit projections many times.
Given the circumstances, our government is doing the right thing. Unlike in the past, because of low interest rates, we are able to borrow money at relatively low interest rates, which will help get the country out of deficit, so it does not become a structural deficit.
The honourable senator was asking about disbursing infrastructure money. We have announced over 950 projects across the country worth almost $3 billion.
Senator Mitchell must really miss being down here because he has to really shout from over there.
As I said yesterday, we have doubled the Gas Tax Fund to $2 billion per year and accelerated the first payment to municipalities. We removed red tape and simplified the funding application to one page.
I urge the honourable senator to pay great attention to the report to Parliament on the economic situation. I think even he will have trouble being able to criticize it.
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I remember sitting in the Leader of the Government's seat. I remember the complaints from the other side because we could not get the numbers right on surpluses — 2 or 3 per cent of the overall budget. Why were we not better at getting our numbers right? We now have a situation in which they are 47 per cent wrong. Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate please explain how the Minister of Finance can be considered competent when he gets the deficit wrong by 47 per cent?
Senator LeBreton: First, the Minister of Finance was talking about projecting. We are talking about the year 2009-10. Obviously, it goes back to the G20 meeting in Washington in November when the sub-prime mortgage issue had started in the United States and the global worldwide economy started to go downhill very quickly.
I remind the honourable senator that the Prime Minister committed at that time — and no one predicted the extent of this crisis — to deal with this emerging global economic downturn by providing stimulus; that was what the government agreed to do.
If one goes back and listens to all of the fuss over a simple economic update in November, one will remember that the opposition was crying for stimulus. We used the opportunity through December and January to consult widely. We asked everyone to give us their ideas. The Liberal Party of Canada, the official opposition, did not; the other two opposition parties did. We presented a budget with deficit projections at the end of January.
Obviously, the global economy continued on a downslide. Depending on which economist one listens to, there are now signs it is levelling out. Some economists are quite optimistic and others are not. We are dealing with a situation that no economist anywhere, including the former Governor of the Bank of Canada, could have predicted.
As a result of the obvious expenditures the government is having to undertake — because everyone is demanding that more money be put into EI, into training and into stimulus — the Minister of Finance yesterday projected how much all of this will cost. He put out a projection as to what we believe the deficit range might be. After their demands for EI and stimulus, now everyone asks, "Why did you do it, because we now have this projected deficit?"
There are people in the country who said, "Don't do anything, just ride it out." What would they be saying today if we had not spent billions helping the unemployed and billions putting stimulus into the economy to make sure that Canada survives and gets through this global economic downturn?
The IMF and everyone else still say that Canada is in a very good position because our deficit relative to our GDP is the lowest. We are still in the best position to come out of this extremely serious global economic recession in better shape than our G7 partners.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Consistent with the Leader of the Opposition's expression of lack of confidence in the Finance Minister, and in his leader's expression of lack of confidence in the Employment Insurance issue, the Leader of the Opposition some days ago expressed lack of confidence in the funding for research and development, scientific research and university research. In the non-partisan premise suggested by Senator Eyton of honest exchange of information on complex issues, can I impose on the minister to share with us some of the hard truths about research and development funding in this country?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): I hoped that my colleagues opposite would ask me a science and technology question yesterday because great strides have been made. We have invested $5.1 billion in science and technology. I am glad to have this opportunity to quote a colleague of Senator Carstairs from Manitoba, Lloyd Axworthy, who is well known to all of us. An announcement from the University of Winnipeg on May 20 stated that an historic infrastructure grant of $18.042 million by the Government of Canada to the University of Winnipeg means that world-class researchers will be attracted to Winnipeg and thousands of science and environmental students will receive the highest calibre of education in a state-of-the-art complex for many years to come. As reported by the University of Winnipeg, President Axworthy said:
With this generous grant, the Government of Canada is demonstrating a critically important commitment to the citizens of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada in advancing solutions to the many global challenges facing us today. The University of Winnipeg is poised to become a leader in environmental sustainability research, knowledge translation and product commercialization. We are perfectly positioned, with a cluster of leading institutions within a few blocks . . .
That kind of praise I will take any day.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. My question is more matter-of-fact and down-to-earth.
I am well aware that we have just registered a record-breaking deficit. Nevertheless, Canadians of very modest means should not have to pay for the government's ideological measures. For example, lowering the GST cost $12 billion in annual revenue. That money would have helped to reduce the current deficit.
Madam Leader, the most important species to Canada's east coast fishery is lobster. In any given year, lobster sales bring in $1.3 billion. The plummeting price for lobster poses a serious threat to the future of the industry.
The government has shown very little interest in Canadians on the east coast. It failed to prevent the European Union ban on seal products. Will the government intervene this time to provide direct support to lobster fishers?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Senator Hervieux-Payette mentioned the 2 per cent GST cut and claimed that it was $12 billion. I have heard her leader in the other place say that the government could have used that $12 billion. That thinking is the Liberal way. We thought the better way was to put $12 billion back into the pockets of the taxpayers. By the way, private economists have conceded that the GST cut and some of the other measures taken in the fall of 2007 helped to cushion the blow for Canadians in the face of the global economic downturn.
With regard to the lobster fishery, there is no question that this industry is in some serious difficulty. I answered some questions a week or more about it. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has been working with the industry. Efforts have been made to try to improve market share for the lobster fishery.
This is not an easy situation to deal with because some of our major markets are drying up, but we are making efforts with regard to the lobster fishery. It is crucial in the Northumberland Strait. The government has made announcements with regard to that particular fishery in moving their product to market.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, lobster sells for between $2.75 and $3.50 a pound, but for coastal fishers to make a living catching lobster, it has to sell for at least $4.00 a pound. Right now, people in the industry cannot support their families, cannot make a living. Never mind marketing, what these people need right now is support so they can make it through the crisis.
I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate when her government will listen to the fishermen's union, which has recommended that 2008 income be used to calculate employment insurance benefits at the end of this season. That would ensure that people make it to the next season. If the price of oil climbs to $200 a barrel, the base price for lobster might be $5.00 a pound. The government would have to intervene again to ensure a certain income for fishers.
What does the government intend to do to enable fishers and processors in this industry to survive and make it through this fishing season?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, last Friday, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced $10 million for the Community Adjustment Fund to assist all aspects of the lobster fishery in promotion and marketing. Rather than accusing us of doing nothing, the senator should check her facts because the government is concerned about this industry. The Community Adjustment Fund is an important part of our budgeting and is being used for its intended purposes. It is assisting industries in various communities that are having difficulty. In this case it is the lobster industry.
Hon. Fernand Robichaud: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government. Yesterday, representatives of the lobster fishery appeared before the Fisheries Committee, which was examining the $10 million program to which you referred.
I asked them outright if there was any chance that the program would help fishers who are currently facing a crisis. The four representatives looked at one another and said the chances were absolutely zero.
I ask the leader, given that what it announced is clearly not enough, does the government have something else up its sleeve?
Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator says: "The four of us looked at ourselves and said absolutely zero." I do not know to which four people he is referring. However, I would say that a $10 million payment from the Community Adjustment Fund a scant four or five days ago would mean that it is premature to suggest that such an infusion of funds will do absolutely zero for the industry. Most reasonable people would give the minister and the program a chance to work before they come to a conclusion that it will have zero impact.
Senator Robichaud: Honourable senators, is the Leader of the Government telling me that the witnesses who appeared before the Fisheries Committee were not telling the truth? They are experts. They talk with the fishers, they live with them. They have certainly looked at how the program would be delivered. They were sincere when they said that the chances of this program helping people presently facing this crisis would be zero. They should not be taken for idiots. They are right there and they know what is happening.
I will repeat my question. Does the government have other programs up its sleeve to help these people now?
Senator LeBreton: Those were the honourable senator's words. I did not ascribe any motives to the individuals. I would never assume that anyone who appears before any committee is an idiot. I find that completely and totally offensive.
I find it hard to believe that anyone who is trying to help their fellow fishers in the lobster industry would make an assessment that $10 million out of the Community Adjustment Fund to help lobster fishers market their product is useless.
There are a host of reasons for the drastic drop in lobster prices, although it is mainly because of the state of the economy. I would like to have the opportunity to refer the senator's concerns to my colleague, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Gail Shea, and determine how the department is using these funds to assist these people to ride out this very difficult period in the lobster fishery.
I reiterate that I do not ascribe any such ridiculous notions used in the honourable senator's questioning. I would not denigrate any witness who speaks on behalf of others.
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and relates to the 2008-09 annual report of the Commissioner of Official Languages. The commissioner has indicated that, while some progress has been made, there is nevertheless a failure rate of 25 per cent and that this is unacceptable.
Despite some progress, many significant obstacles remain to prevent us from achieving real equality between French and English in this country. First, we are seeing a decline in active, in-person services. Second, certain changes recently made by the federal government have weakened the governance structure for official languages. Third, not enough clear targets have been set to guide federal bodies in these matters. Finally, this government is not providing enough support for the development of official language minority communities.
We are definitely starting to feel the effects of this in Manitoba. Francophone community organizations in Manitoba are weak, drained of resources, and constantly waiting to see what they will receive. They cannot plan anything. Our communities are beginning to feel discouraged, in Manitoba and elsewhere in Canada.
Can the Leader of the Government tell us if the Conservative government recognizes that some of the recent changes it has made have weakened the support structure for official language minority communities? Does it recognize that the links and connections in Canada's language policy are often missing? Will it correct that problem? Does the government intend to explore the commissioner's recommendations and ensure that they are immediately implemented?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): I absolutely intend to review the recommendations, and as I pointed out in earlier answers, we very much appreciate the report of the Official Languages Commissioner, Graham Fraser.
In his report, Mr. Fraser said that our government does not highlight our successes often enough. He acknowledged that there were many areas where we had great successes. We have increased spending by 20 per cent over the previous government's spending in the area of promoting Canada's linguistic duality.
Mr. Fraser made six recommendations in his report and our government has acted on all of the recommendations.
Regarding the monies in the new agreements, as the honourable senator knows, the new agreements will be signed with the provinces and territories. They are responsible for implementing the agreements, especially in the area of education. The honourable senator has, in past questions, brought individual organizations to my attention. I would have to have the details of which organization she is speaking about in order to provide a more fulsome reply.
Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, I find it strange that the minister did not make mention of a very important fact today. This morning, in a radio interview, the Commissioner of Official Languages said that the current problems stem from the fact that we have not been able to overcome the terrible situation caused by the budget cuts of 1995 and the fact that we are still trying to make up for lost time.
It is too bad that the minister did not talk about that. Perhaps she would like to explain.
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I did not have the advantage of hearing the Official Languages Commissioner this morning. I very much appreciate Senator Champagne bringing to our attention the interview she heard.
In the mid-1990s, many programs in many areas were seriously encumbered because the government, rather than dealing with the situation itself, took it out on the backs of the provinces and even the EI fund.
Senator Champagne makes a salient point. I appreciate that she has drawn it to our attention because that is exactly why the government spends 20 per cent more now than was spent by the previous government.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Before calling for Orders of the Day, I am pleased to introduce two House of Commons pages who are participating in the Pages Exchange Program this week.
Michelle Fawcett is enrolled in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa and is majoring in international development and globalization. She is a native of Ottawa, Ontario.
Hannah Manning of Delta, British Columbia, is enrolled in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Ottawa and is majoring in political science.
On behalf of all honourable senators, welcome to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I would like Item No. 3 on the Order Paper under Government Business to be called right away, followed by the other items according to the order in which they appear on the Order Paper and Notice Paper.
Hon. Yonah Martin moved second reading of Bill C-18, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act, to validate certain calculations and to amend other Acts.
She said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to speak at second reading of Bill C-18, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act, to validate certain calculations and to amend other acts. This bill makes several technical amendments to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act. The key changes grant authorities necessary to expand existing provisions relating to elections for prior service and to introduce pension transfer agreements. Other related amendments clarify and improve administrative aspects of the existing act, such as those related to part-time service and the cost of purchasing prior service with a police force that was taken over by the RCMP.
The new elective service provisions will also allows eligible pension plan members, both police officers and civilian members of the RCMP, to elect for prior service with other Canadian pension plans. The introduction of pension transfer agreements will allow the RCMP to enter into former arrangements with other Canadian pension plans to permit the transfer of pension credits into and out of the RCMP Pension Plan.
Once implemented with regulations, these changes will modernize the RCMP Pension Plan and bring it into line with the federal Public Service Pension Plan and other Canadian plans that allow previous service under other plans to be recognized under the current plan.
The new portability provisions will offer more flexibility and will provide each category of employee within the RCMP with similar pension options. Under the existing legislation, the almost 24,000 RCMP members whose pensions are governed under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act do not have the same choices as their 6,300 colleagues whose pensions are governed by the Public Service Superannuation Act.
The Public Service Superannuation Act recognizes prior services with other eligible pension plans, including service with other levels of government and private sector employers. It also has more than 70 pension transfer agreements in place.
However, the police officers and civilian members of the RCMP whose pensions fall under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act do not enjoy the same level of pension portability. Bill C-18 proposes to address this inequality.
Recruitment has been designated as one of the RCMP's internal management priorities. The ability to transfer pension credits from a former employer's pension plan to the RCMP Pension Plan would assist in the promotion of the RCMP as an employer of choice for both the police officers and civilian members of the force.
Expanded pension portability options would also have positive implications for the RCMP Lateral Entry Program, which was highlighted in a November 2005 report of the Auditor General of Canada as an option that should be considered more fully by the RCMP in its efforts to build capacity. This program allows police officers from other forces in Canada to join the RCMP after shorter and less costly training periods than other recruits. The program can become more attractive to potential lateral entrants once pension credits with a former employer are transferable to the RCMP pension plan.
Honourable senators, I would like to address a few concerns that were raised during the study of Bill C-18 by the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. Some of these issues were also raised at second and third reading of the bill.
The first relates to the fact that the six-month training period for RCMP cadets is not recognized as pensionable service. This was raised as an issue because recruit training in some other police forces is pensionable and would be recognized under the RCMP Pension Plan if the previous service is transferred.
The service is not recognized as pensionable because cadets at the RCMP Training Academy in Regina are not sworn in as members of the RCMP until they successfully complete their training and graduate. The RCMP Pension Plan applies to all members of the force who work a required minimum number of hours per week. As cadets are not members, they cannot be covered under the plan.
Since the training period cannot be recognized as current service, the RCMP fully considered whether it could be purchased as a prior service event. In this regard, the RCMP Pension Plan, like all registered plans, must comply with strict requirements of the Income Tax Act and its corresponding regulations. The tax rules make eligibility for coverage under a registered pension plan dependent upon employment. Consequently, since cadets are not hired as employees, they cannot qualify for a pension entitlement under the RCMP pension plan.
This issue is important, but it is an employment issue, not a pension issue that can be dealt with under the scope of the bill before us today. The RCMP staff relations representatives have committed to raising the concern through appropriate channels within the RCMP.
Other topics of debate included the issue over the right of RCMP members to unionization and collective bargaining, benefit entitlements payable upon the death of a member, the wage roll-back for RCMP officers and benefits for RCMP members under the Veterans' Independence Program administered by Veterans Affairs Canada. These issues are all sensitive and important, but they are also issues that are unrelated to Bill C-18 and must be dealt with in a more appropriate forum.
Honourable senators may know that the new elective service and pension portability options supported by Bill C-18 were intended to be put in place following legislation that received Royal Assent in 1999. We have the opportunity today to set things right and provide the authorities missing from the original legislation to bring these provisions into operation.
Like many employers in the country, the RCMP faces an aging workforce and tough competition from other employers looking to attract the best and brightest to their ranks. About 700 members retire each year from the RCMP. To fill their place and meet future operational requirements, the RCMP must attract and retain a record number of recruits. While it is only one piece of the solution, pension portability can help to attract experienced police officers and civilian members, and make the RCMP an employer of choice.
I encourage honourable senators to demonstrate their support of the RCMP by supporting Bill C-18.
(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, may I rearrange the order one more time? We now call Item No. 5, Bill C-14.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Wallace, seconded by the Honourable Senator Angus, for the second reading of Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system participants).
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, I will not belabour the facts surrounding this bill because I believe that Senator Wallace did an able job when he presented the bill. This bill seeks to amend the Criminal Code to make any murder committed in connection with a gang a first degree murder; to create mandatory minimum sentences for drive-by shootings; to create new offences related to assault of peace officers; and to extend the duration of recognizance for people suspected of gang-related crime.
There are four primary elements in this legislation. First, it changes sentencing provisions so that every murder committed in connection with a criminal organization is considered first degree murder, regardless of whether there was premeditation. Second, it creates a drive-by shooting offence with a four-year mandatory minimum sentence. Third, it creates mandatory minimum sentences for the offences of assault with a weapon and aggravated assault of a peace officer. Honourable senators should know there is already an existing offence of assault of a peace officer. Fourth, Bill C-14 extends the duration of recognizance for up to two years for a person who has previously been convicted of a gang-related or terrorism offence and is suspected to be planning to commit another such offence.
The Liberal Party supports the bill but does not believe it goes far enough to fix the problem. Tougher sentencing is good, but it does not address the issue of catching the gang members in the first place. There is no point in having laws to prosecute criminals if we cannot catch the criminals. Also, the Liberal Party does not generally support a bill that would implement sentences for "all" crimes. In addition to the changes in Bill C-14, we suggest that two other vital components must be added to the bill at some later point. The first is that we require lawful access laws that allow law enforcement to intercept lawfully a wider range of communications between suspected gang members. Second, we believe there should be a Canada-wide protocol that involves all disclosure at the time of the trial. The British Columbia government and other provincial governments want to see these provisions implemented to crack down on organized crime and gangs.
We welcome this bill to committee so it can be studied and come back to the Senate before the summer recess.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: When shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Wallace, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Neufeld, seconded by the Honourable Senator Fortin-Duplessis, for the second reading of Bill C-16, An Act to amend certain Acts that relate to the environment and to enact provisions respecting the enforcement of certain Acts that relate to the environment.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I want to establish on the record my support and the support of my colleagues on this side of the house for Bill C-16, the Environmental Enforcement Act. I begin my comments by congratulating my colleague on the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, Senator Neufeld, for his presentation on the bill yesterday. It was good, clear, and it summarized the bill exceptionally well. I will not reiterate what the bill does. There is no need to and nowhere that I could improve upon his presentation. His presentation is indicative of the kind of work that the Environment Committee has produced. The group has been working well together. It is a pleasure to work with Senator Angus as chair, and I believe that we have strong members on all sides and we have accomplished productive work. When this bill goes to the committee, I am sure it will be subjected to excellent analysis, but my expectation is that it should and will be passed. The bill is eminently supportable.
It is supportable for what, of course, is in the bill. The bill does the right thing in extending, enhancing and making more rigorous the penalties that can be imposed upon polluters, and it addresses a number of important and difficult issues, to some extent, in the application of penalties. For example, Bill C-16 focuses on individual executives in companies as being responsible for pollution. While that issue is difficult and controversial, the step to allow penalties in this act to be applied is important and significant.
What disturbs me, though, is what is not in this bill. There is further evidence of a pattern beginning. The bill that was brought in by our colleague from Newfoundland and Labrador, the Energy Efficiency Act, was an equally reasonable bill. This bill is reasonable. The government is reasonable as far as they go. They simply go nowhere near far enough.
In the absence of anything in addition to these bills, these bills become, in the scheme of environmental policy, quite insufficient. They are insufficient for many reasons, but in particular because they do not address the issue of climate change. There is no other evidence of other legislation or initiative that does address climate change.
This is a huge issue. It is an issue that is way past the time at which it should have been addressed aggressively, significantly and comprehensively. Many Canadians feel a profound frustration about the absence of real action on this important issue.
We recently issued a report on our trip to the North and one of the fundamental themes that I think every member of the committee felt, understood and appreciated — and that the people of the North felt and understood — was the impact that climate change is having on their way of life. You can see the roads warping. You can see serious structural problems because the permafrost is beginning to melt.
The 160,000 caribou herd is now down to 40,000 in the Tuktoyaktuk area after five years. That is climate change related, as well as rain, thunder and lightening in December. The coast is eroding because the water is rising. The water is not rising just because the ice is melting — although that contributes to it. The water is rising because the temperature of the air is hotter and it expands the water. There are serious, deep problems that this government has not taken any concrete measures to address.
There is a deadline looming. We need to be ready for Copenhagen. Far more significant than even Copenhagen, as significant as that is, is that there is action looming. That action is President Obama, the United States and a cap-and-trade system that will probably be legislated by this fall and will be implemented over the next two and a half years. Where is Canada? Where is our leadership? What is this government doing to get ahead of the economics of this action?
Alberta has a huge stake in getting this climate change issue settled because the U.S. is expressing serious reservations about buying Alberta's oil sands oil. Canada needs to provide leadership to sustain our exports in that area and many other products that could be jeopardized because of what the Americans do.
The issue of the $50 billion deficit came up today. When one looks at a government, one wonders what that government's legacy will be. What will be left for Canadians by this government when it is gone? Financially, the legacy will be almost incomprehensively bad. A $50 billion deficit has accrued in just months, and how long will it take us to extricate ourselves from that deficit? Environmentally, the legacy will be incomprehensively bad as well.
There are two opportunities to provide leadership facing this government right now. One is on the economy; the government needs to get its stimulus package working. The other is on the environment. Great leaders seek out and attack great problems. You cannot have great leadership without great challenges, and I believe we have a government and a prime minister who simply run from great challenges. He wants to control but cannot control the biggest issues; therefore, he needs to lead on the biggest issues.
Yes, I support this bill. Yes, we will see this bill pass before the end of the session. It is good for what it is. Its real weakness is that it simply does not do enough. There are great challenges to be met, and this bill simply goes no distance whatsoever toward meeting the real challenge facing this country and its environment.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is the house ready for the question?
Hon. Bert Brown: Honourable senators, I have a question.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Will Senator Mitchell accept a question?
Senator Mitchell: Yes.
Senator Brown: Honourable senators, I wonder if Senator Mitchell understands that the Province of Alberta is further ahead with environmental conditions than any other jurisdiction in North America and that it has committed an additional $2 billion to studying carbon capture and sequestering it underground. Alberta also has a new plant in the oil sands that is dedicated to putting $8 billion into a new technique to put carbon emissions into a pipeline that would go to Red Deer from the oil sands. Such a pipeline would force the mature oil fields to produce more oil because of the CO2 pressure sequestered underground.
It seems to me that there are quite a few things being done in Canada. I wonder if the honourable senator is aware of any of those items.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, I am aware of those initiatives. I speak frequently about the fact that Alberta is providing some leadership and is ahead of the game compared to other jurisdictions. The problem with the Alberta initiative is that it utilizes intensity targets, which are not sufficient. Even the Alberta government understands that now because those targets will not meet the expectations of the U.S. cap-and-trade system..
The fact that Alberta has taken the initiative on carbon capture and storage is excellent. In fact, even to those who say it is too expensive to deal with the problem — I think it is $120 a tonne — I say, every time someone comes up with a solution to climate change, someone says there is a problem with it. We must take what is possible and start to act on it. It is well and good that Premier Stelmach has undertaken that action, which I appreciate.
I would like to see Senator Brown pushing harder — he understands what is happening in Alberta — to have his government, his Prime Minister, initiate this kind of thing, only better, across the country. I know Senator Brown has posed his question to try to point out that I am neglecting something. I am not. I know it. I understand it, absolutely.
Here is an issue: Alberta farmers are selling carbon credits for $6 a tonne. They are able to do so because there are caps in Alberta, and companies that cannot make their cap can go out and buy offsets.
I might point out as an aside that at $6 a tonne, we could have accomplished our Kyoto objective each year for $1.5 billion. The Conservatives say it would wreck our economy? Please. All of that $6 a tonne goes to Alberta farmers. Imagine if Senator Brown had been standing in his caucus across the way and he had been fighting to get those credits established across the country so that every single Canadian farmer would have a chance to develop carbon credits and have a market into which he or she could sell those carbon credits. All of that money goes into Canadian farmers' hands, right now. I do not know of many Canadian farmers — I do not know if the honourable senator does — who actually have more money than they need. They do not.
This is the same thing that we could do with small business and with big business. If we could get a carbon market going in this country, companies would be able to buy credits, and that money would go directly to other companies and farms that would use it directly as investment for jobs, for capital construction and for profits; it would be direct economic stimulus.
Therefore, yes, Senator Brown is right; Alberta has made some steps. They have not been quite good enough, but it is a start. Senator Brown should pick up on the issue — I hope he will — and argue in the Senate and in his caucus that something should be done across the country.
Senator Brown: Honourable senators, Senator Mitchell spoke eloquently about what the Americans plan to do. Does the honourable senator have any idea what Barack Obama has actually done in terms of reducing emissions? Is the honourable senator aware of President Obama's deadline?
Senator Mitchell: Unlike the honourable senator's government, which has been in power for three and a half years, President Obama has been in power for about 120 days. If we want to start talking about who should be meeting deadlines and who should be showing progress, do you know what I would like to do? I would like to see Senator Brown stand up in this house and tell us what his government has done to deal with climate change in this country. What have they done in three and a half years?
I am still talking. I do not want to see you stand up just yet.
What have they done to do that? I would say "precious little." However, in the U.S., President Obama has made some very specific steps. For example, he is just now letting bids to lease 20 per cent of the American coastline for wind and tidal alternative energy projects. Additionally, he has pushed the Waxman-Markey bill into Congress and we are told it will be passed by September. Out of that, they are already beginning to put into place those things that need to be done. They will also be establishing auto standards very quickly.
That is 120 days versus 1,200 days. You have had 1,200 days and nothing has happened. Rather, I guess I should say something has happened: We have Bill C-16 and the energy efficiency bill. However, you know what? There is nothing; zero. Nothing has happened in 1,200 days. President Obama has had 120 days and is so much further ahead of where this government was and is as to be of no comparison.
Senator Brown: I am wondering if Senator Mitchell is aware that there is a power plant in North Dakota, I believe, that has been capturing carbon emissions for a number of years already. They have been piping all their emissions across the U.S. border into Canada and putting them into deep storage in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.
Senator Mitchell: How much carbon do we have here, and we are importing it from the U.S.? Why was that not mentioned to Mr. Harper three years ago? Maybe he could have been working on it and we could have had it working here.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Do honourable senators wish to continue debate?
Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question!
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Neufeld, seconded by the Honourable Senator Fortin-Duplessis, that Bill C-16 be read the second time. Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Banks, seconded by the Honourable Senator Day, for the second reading of Bill S-212, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, Senator Lang could not be here this afternoon as he is participating in another public parliamentary activity. I therefore move adjournment of the debate in his name.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, for Senator Lang, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Lapointe, seconded by the Honourable Senator Tardif, for the second reading of Bill S-226, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (lottery schemes).
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, Senator MacDonald had to attend the same meeting as Senator Lang. Please note that this bill has reached its fifteenth day on the Order Paper, so I move adjournment of the debate in Senator MacDonald's name.
(On motion of Senator Comeau, for Senator MacDonald, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion by the Honourable Senator Kenny, seconded by the Honourable Senator Banks, for the adoption of the third report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence (budget—study on the national security policy—power to hire staff and travel) presented in the Senate on May 7, 2009;
And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Tkachuk, seconded by the Honourable Senator Kenny, that the report be not now adopted, but that it be amended in Appendix B by reducing the figure in the "Professional and Other Services" category to $116,006, for a total of $349,175 for all categories, reflecting adjustments in the salaries for the Communications Consultant, the Senior Military Advisor, the Senior National Security Advisor, and the Writer-Consultant.
Hon. Colin Kenny: Honourable senators, I would ask that the question be put.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, there was a motion in amendment by Honourable Senator Tkachuk, seconded by the Honourable Senator Kenny, that the report —
Shall I dispense?
Hon. Senators: Dispense.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion in amendment?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: We are now on the main motion. It was moved by the Honourable Senator Kenny, seconded by the Honourable Senator Banks, that the third report —
Shall I dispense?
Hon. Senators: Dispense.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion as amended?
(Motion as amended agreed to and report adopted.)
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the sixth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (Bill S-217, An Act respecting a National Philanthropy Day, with amendments) presented in the Senate on May 14, 2009.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I move the adoption of the report.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Honourable senators, when shall this bill, as amended, be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Eggleton, bill, as amended, placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Cook calling the attention of the Senate to Newfoundland and Labrador — 60 years of being Canadian.
Hon. Bill Rompkey: I want to make a few brief comments, honourable senators. I wish to thank Senator Cook for raising this matter and allowing us to recognize our sixtieth wedding anniversary in this chamber. It is not the wedding anniversary of we two senators, but that of Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador.
However, I owe a lot to Senator Cook, because Senator Cook was a key part of my campaign organization in 1972. I was a greenhorn. It was the first time I put my toe in the water, and she was an experienced campaigner. She came to my aid and she was, in large part, the reason I won that election in 1972, so I owe a lot to her.
Senator Cook, the theme of what I will say is "fortune." First, Senator Cook was born in Fortune Bay. I also was born in Fortune Bay. Therefore, Fortune Bay probably has the greatest representation per capita of any place in Canada in the Senate.
The second reason I think we are fortunate is because we voted to join Canada. Some people have tried to vote to leave Canada. We voted to join. That side won with a narrow margin; there was a great debate. George Baker will remember.
I draw to the attention of honourable senators a record that George Baker made when he was Clerk of the House of Assembly in Newfoundland. The title is, ". . . and oh, what a battle it was!" Honourable senators can hear the debate that went on, if they buy his record. Is it still available, George? It is.
If honourable senators want to know about the Confederation debate in Newfoundland and Labrador, I recommend that record. It is on vinyl, but Senator Johnson, with her knowledge of the arts, is about to offer to move it from vinyl to digital, George. It will be available.
We are so fortunate. If we had not joined Canada, we would not have had the three R's. The three R's are not reading, writing and arithmetic; they are two Ricks and a Rex. We would not have had Rick Hillier as the Chief of the Defence Staff if we had not joined Canada. Second, we would not have had Rick Mercer. Third, we would not have had Rex Murphy on CBC and in The Globe and Mail.
It is better to read Rex than to listen to him. Rex is a Rhodes Scholar from Placentia Bay, which is a bay right next to where we were born. He was fortunate too. Rex has a command of the English language and he shows it from time to time.
We are fortunate to have Labrador as part of our province. We go back hundreds of years. There is an identity on the island. We are a fishing people. We came because the fish were in the sea all around the island, much like many of my colleagues from the Atlantic Provinces. That is what formed our character.
Labrador was different. Labrador was really the eastern edge of the Hudson Bay territory, and what distinguishes its identity is just that. It has, of course, an Aboriginal population. It has the most southerly Inuit population anywhere in Canada. It has an Innu population, which Labrador shares with the north shore of Quebec, and there is a Metis population as well.
Labrador is sub-Arctic. It is just south of Nunavut. Willie Adams is my neighbour, and we are fortunate to have Willie Adams as a neighbour. Thank you very much, Senator Campbell. I had better have Senator Campbell write my speeches from now on.
We are fortunate to have Labrador as part of the province. That special identity of Labrador has been recognized. The identity of the island was so strong that for a long time it was difficult for people to accommodate, let us say, another strong identity, but that has now been done. In 2001, I think it was, the name of the province was changed to Newfoundland and Labrador so that we now recognize that there are two strong, separate identities in one strong province.
We have existed on fish for a long time, and on other resources. That situation is changing now, but I asked Senator Fraser a while ago, was it Bob Dylan who wrote the song, "The Times They Are a-Changin'." She said it was, but neither of us are of the generation — let us not go into that.
The times are a-changin', and we are moving from a fish economy to an oil economy. The demographics are changing so that St. John's and the Avalon Peninsula are growing and things are not the same as they were in the outports.
We are fortunate to be part of this country, to have come here. I never tire of telling that I was 13 when we joined Canada. I was 18 when, at university, I joined the Royal Canadian Navy reserves. That made me a Canadian. I had never met Canadians before. Those people in Newfoundland of my generation said, My God, they are just like us, except they have this funny accent.
Seriously, that was a change in my life that I shall never forget and that I shall always appreciate, because it moved me across this country. We should put in place programs for all young people to do, or for as many people as we can.
We talked about that subject last night — the relationship between, let us say, the Armed Forces and the country itself. One thing that the Armed Forces can do for us, apart from the training, is to move people back and forth across the country. The infrastructure is there, the wherewithal is there to give young people that experience not simply of important leadership training, but of actually seeing Canada. That experience is important. It was for me and it will be for all of us.
We are fortunate to be here. I am pleased that Senator Cook gave us the opportunity today to celebrate being Canadians and to say that we are here for the long haul. Senator Johnson today used a favourite phrase of ours in response to Senator Eyton's farewell. I will use it to conclude by saying that this marriage is going to last, and long may our big jibs draw.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Does any other senator wish to speak?
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: Will Senator Rompkey take a question?
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Rompkey, will you take a question?
Senator Rompkey: Let me think about it. No, go ahead.
Senator Moore: Can you tell us about one Captain Robert Bartlett and what his connection is with Newfoundland and the Arctic?
Senator Rompkey: This is the year in Newfoundland of Captain Robert Bartlett. He was born in Brigus, about an hour's drive from St. John's. He comes from a long line of famous skippers. His father, grandfather and his whole family went to sea, fished off Newfoundland and fished in Labrador.
What is important about Robert Bartlett is that he left Newfoundland and went to the United States. His fame came from his experience in the Arctic. Robert Bartlett sailed Peary to the North Pole. Peary did not take Robert Bartlett all the way, but Robert Bartlett took him there and gave him access to the Pole. That is only one of the many famous trips he made.
The other trip was with Stefansson on the Karluk, where they went up the western portion of the Arctic and Stefansson was also trying to reach the Pole. The Karluk became stuck in the ice for the winter. He left Bartlett behind. Bartlett travelled with a couple of other people for 800 miles — and Senator Baker can correct me if my knowledge is incorrect — to eventually reach Russia. Thereafter, he worked his way down until he found a boat to return and rescue his crew who were stuck in the ice. That also is on tape, if senators want to listen to it.
Robert Bartlett became an American citizen and received the highest honours bestowed by the National Geographic organization for his great experience in the Arctic. This year, his life and his record are being celebrated. I thank Senator Moore for bringing that to my attention.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: If no other honourable senator wishes to speak, this inquiry is considered debated and will be dropped from the Order Paper.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Manning, seconded by the Honourable Senator Brown:
That the Senate of Canada support the Government of Canada's position on the commercial seal hunt, affirming the right of fishermen to lawfully hunt seals, recognizing the integral part the seal hunt plays in the communities where those hunters live; and
That a message be sent to the House of Commons requesting that House to unite with the Senate for the above purpose.
Hon. Lorna Milne: Honourable senators, I strongly support the honourable senator's motion and Senator Hervieux-Payette's motion. I move the adjournment of debate for the remainder of my time.
(On motion of Senator Milne, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Joan Fraser, pursuant to notice of May 13, 2009, moved:
That, pursuant to Rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government to 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 and adopted on May 12, 2009, with the Minister of National Defence being identified as minister responsible for responding to the report.
(Motion agreed to.)
(The Senate adjourned until Thursday, May 28, 2009, at 1:30 p.m.)