Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, more than two months
ago, the federal government announced it would cancel the agriculture programs
at six prison farms across Canada. The government claimed these programs were
"uneconomical," and it was said that agricultural employment training was not
useful for today's job market.
I would respectfully disagree. Not all successes can be measured in monetary
terms, by costs and savings. The hundreds of inmates across the country who
worked in these farm programs learned employment and trade skills, like
equipment operation and repair. They also learned about attitudes, such as
teamwork, responsibility and pride in a job well done. In addition, it has been
shown time and again that working with and caring for plants and animals
provides rehabilitation and therapy for inmates. Prison farms also provided
nutritious food for inmates and staff in the present system.
The loss of these programs will also impact the communities around the
institutions. In a news release, Craig Jones, Executive Director of the John
Howard Society of Canada, said:
. . . prison farms are integrated into the local economies of agricultural
producers across the country.
He also noted that the farms have:
. . . beneficial consequences for the communities in which they are
For example, the Partners in Mission Food Bank in Kingston received more than
2,000 dozen eggs every year from the prison farm in the Kingston area.
New Brunswickers have recently launched a province-wide campaign to save the
farm at Westmorland Institution at Dorchester. The prison farm there currently
employs 62 inmates and produces a number of items including eggs, milk and
vegetables. The harvests are provided to the prison inmate population, local
food banks and surrounding communities.
I urge the federal government to reconsider its decision and to do a thorough
review of the agricultural programs at prison farms. I understand that Minister
Van Loan has already pledged to keep the abattoir in Kingston open, citing the
employment skills training it provides.
If we are to help more Canadian inmates succeed once they leave the prison
system, the federal government must provide social programs and skills training
that will help them become contributing members of society.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, on June 7, the Right Honourable
John Napier Turner will celebrate his eightieth birthday. He is Canada's oldest
living prime minister. The Right Honourable John Turner was Canada's seventeenth
Prime Minister, and while his tenure was the shortest next only to Charles
Tupper, Prime Minister Turner's long and laudable career up to that point
included appointments as Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs under Lester
Pearson, and Minister of Justice and Minister of Finance under Pierre Elliott
Perhaps, however, his most propitious and, for me, most fortunate moment came
in the winter of 1965 when young Mr. Turner and his wife were vacationing in our
Commonwealth partner country, Barbados. Ms. Turner noticed an older gentlemen
having trouble navigating the surf and alerted her husband to the situation.
John Turner had been a competitive swimmer in university, and he immediately
plunged into the ocean, grabbed the gentleman, struggled against the undertow
and swam back to shore.
The older gentlemen came round just as John was about to start mouth-to-mouth
resuscitation. The man saved that day was the former Progressive Conservative
Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John George Diefenbaker, rescued by a
future Liberal Prime Minister, John Turner. As Liberals are not known for saving
Tories, generically, this speaks to the decency and courage of John Turner.
As Minister of Justice, he improved the judicial appointments process,
broadening federal consultations to provincial attorneys general and law
societies prior to appointment. He had a difficult role to play during the days
of the 1970 War Measures Act, and when he introduced the Public Order Act to
extend the legislation, the MP whom I was employed by, David MacDonald, member
for Egmont, P.E.I., was opposed to that bill and stood alone in the entire
house. However, no one ever doubted for a second that John Turner acted
sincerely in what he perceived as the compelling public interest.
He sought the Liberal leadership twice, succeeding once and failing in an
earlier bid. However, the 195 supporters who stood with him on the last ballot
against Mr. Trudeau in 1968 stayed, and remain loyal to him to this day.
He resigned from cabinet in 1975 on principle rather than accommodate a
Liberal reversal under Mr. Trudeau on price and wage controls. He not only
danced with Princess Margaret but he also stood on principle. In any Liberal,
that is something to celebrate.
Perhaps one of his most salient contributions as a parliamentarian came
during the first Gulf War, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, in 1991, when
he broke with Mr. Chrétien's position as Leader of the Opposition, that any
Canadian troops in the Gulf region should be withdrawn the moment shooting
began. The Right Honourable Mr. Turner spoke eloquently about who we all were as
Canadians, what we believed in and that we must stand with our allies, as we
always have and — please God, always will.
We should honour our former prime ministers, and one who served in opposition
and government with distinction, whom we cherish and embrace today. He deserves
special mention on the eve of his eightieth birthday.
Hon. George J. Furey: Honourable senators, as Chair of the Standing
Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, it sometimes falls to
me to take note of the departure of employees after significant and dedicated
service to the Senate of Canada.
On January 16, 2009, Ron Tremaine, Managing Editor of Debates, came in for
his last day on the job, before taking his well-earned retirement. He was seen
off by his many friends and colleagues and took with him a comprehensive
scrapbook of his career — a career that has had an impact on all of us in this
Ron joined the debates team in 1981 as a parliamentary reporter, following
two years in the other place. In 1990, he became the senior reporter and was
tasked to work on the development of the real-time transcription system used to
capture debate in the chamber and in committee. While initially intended as an
efficiency exercise in turning out transcript, Ron foresaw as early as 1992 in
an article he wrote for the Canadian Parliamentary Review that real-time
transcription, as performed by our parliamentary reporters in the middle of the
chamber, could be turned to the purpose of providing closed captions in both
official languages for televised proceedings.
Closed-captioning is now a common feature of televised Senate committee
proceedings. As a result, the full-screen real-time text of chamber debate is
made available for viewing on channels 19 and 20 of the Parliamentary Television
Network and on monitors in the public galleries.
In addition, our former colleague Senator Gauthier, for one, was able to
continue his work in the Senate because of the efforts of Ron and his team, and
I know Senator Gauthier was exceedingly grateful for their support.
Using computer-assisted transcription has been judged by external consultants
as a cost-effective means of producing our debates. When one adds the fact that
live text of the spoken word can be viewed by our visitors in the gallery and
broadcast on television, as well as assisting the work of senators, the Debates
Services team is not only a highly skilled and professional unit, it is
extremely productive as well. It is also worth noting that our chamber is the
only one in the world that is able to provide all of these accommodations
simultaneously and in both official languages.
Ron has enjoyed a good reputation throughout his career. He was elected by
his peers to be the president of the Hansard Association of Canada, and we
benefit from his tremendous legacy every day. Ron and his wife Paddy are now the
happy grandparents of two grandchildren. The most important things in life being
family, friends and the respect of his peers, one can say that Ron Tremaine is
truly a wealthy man.
Thank you, Ron, for your dedication and service to the Senate of Canada and,
in turn, to Canadians in general. On behalf of the Senate, I offer best wishes
to you and your family on a well-deserved retirement.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to honour Ronald G.
Tremaine, who has recently retired from the Senate. He is a fine gentleman who
served the Senate for almost 28 years, in several positions, and rose to the
post of Managing Editor of Debates Services. He was well known to senators, and
ever responsive to those who called upon him, especially those who were working
on their blues.
Honourable senators, life's pilgrimage holds several rites of passage marking
the transition from one life state to the other. Retirement is that rite of
passage which marks the completion of career, and the commencement of one's
later years. Today I express appreciation to Ron Tremaine for his exceptional
service to this place, and to us senators, public men and women involved in
public service. As the Managing Editor of Debates Services, Ron's field of
labour was an art, the art of words, senators' words spoken here in debate in
the oral tradition of this house. As editor, he fixed the numerous problems in
our speeches. However large, however small, however simple, however complex, he
fixed them. He rendered our speeches ready for publication in Hansard, the
Honourable senators, Ron Tremaine has expended endless hours and countless
late nights in the arduous task of editing senators' speeches. Editing demands
special talent and a vibrant knowledge of both of our languages in their full
plenitude. Editing also demands selflessness. Good editors must not trespass on
author's privilege or author's style. Ron Tremaine was one of the best, but the
Hansard will never reveal him and will never identify him. His work was a work
of silent service. For that silent service, I praise Ron Tremaine here today.
Honourable senators, Mahatma Gandhi said it well. In the 1967 book The
Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, edited by R.K. Prabhu and U.R. Rao, Gandhi said:
The path of service can hardly be trodden by one who is not prepared to
renounce self-interest, and to recognize the conditions of his birth.
Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or
other. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our
desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and will make not only for our
own happiness, but that of the world at large.
Honourable senators, I thank Ron Tremaine for his very faithful service to
us, for his love of the language and for many other things. I wish him a happy
retirement with his wife Paddy, his two sons, Jerrid and Mark, and his infant
grandchildren, Kyla and Jackson, who will soon begin to discover what a nice man
I thank you personally, Ron, for the many exchanges I had with you. Most of
all, I thank you for your quiet, patient, gentle and serene manner.
Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, this coming Saturday
marks the sixty-fifth anniversary of D-Day, that chilly, grey morning in
Normandy, June 6, 1944, when we began the gruelling task of liberating Europe
from Nazi Germany.
Throughout that night, the allied navies, including principally those of
Canada, Britain and the United States, had crossed the channel, steaming toward
their objectives, the beaches of Normandy and the rest of the European continent
that lay beyond.
The Americans were targeting Utah and Omaha Beaches on the west; the British,
Gold Beach in the middle and Sword Beach on the east; while the Canadians had
Juno as their objective.
The united force was 155,000 strong. Among the more than 14,000 Canadians
were the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, the Canadian Scottish Rifles, the Regina Rifles,
the 1st Hussars, the Queen's Own Rifles, the North Shore (New Brunswick)
Regiment, for the Fort Garry Horse, le Régiment de la Chaudière, the Stormont,
Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders, the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, the
Highland Light Infantry and the Sherbrooke Fusiliers.
At 7:30 a.m., the landing craft headed for the beaches. The first Canadian
beachhead was established in Courseulles, but many of the other Canadians faced
more difficult battles. The North Shore Regiment landed under heavy fire. The
Queen's Own Rifles were forced to run across 183 metres of open beach under
heavy German artillery, and only a few of the first company survived. Many of le
Régiment de la Chaudière were killed when their landing craft hit mines, while
others drowned trying to reach land.
At the end of the day, St-Aubin, Courseulles and Bernières were captured. The
Highland Regiment later captured Colombier-sur-Seulles, and the Hussars were
the only allied unit to reach its objective on D-Day — the Caen-Bayeux Highway
We sustained heavy losses that day, with 340 Canadians killed, 574 wounded
and 47 captured, but the allied forces had taken a successful first step toward
accomplishing the difficult mission of liberating Europe. This week, honourable
senators, let us remember the sacrifice made by those Canadians and their
families. Let us also remember the young soldiers who survived the landing and
bore their scars through the battles that followed.
Speaking directly to veterans of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy gathered in
this Senate Chamber earlier this week, Canada's Minister of Veterans Affairs,
Greg Thompson, stated:
Sixty-five years later, Canada still mourns our losses.
Sixty-five years later, Canadians still want to hear the countless untold
human stories that our written history cannot capture or convey. . . .
You have known the great price of freedom, and you have been willing to pay
You have known the terrible struggles of nation building, and you have made
Canada strong and proud and free.
You have felt sacrifice, and you have made Canada the best country in the
We can never repay you. We can only offer two simple words: "Thank you."
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I wish to say a few words of
In the ceremony to which Senator Meighen has just referred, one of our pages,
Jonathan Yantzi, was the vocal soloist who sang all of the ceremonial pieces.
Jonathan, you did a fabulous job. Those of us who were there enjoyed it
Second, I know colleagues will agree with me in saying what a pleasure it is
to hear Senator Cools in full flight once again in this chamber. I thank her
very much for her lovely words today.
Senators, last Thursday evening in Vancouver the Zajac Foundation, which
operates the Zajac Ranch for Children, held an event for fundraising purposes
that celebrated the achievements and the standing in that community of Senator
Gerry St. Germain. I can tell you that the heavy hitters were out, the place was
sold out, and a great deal of money was raised. The speeches in praise of
Senator St. Germain and his contributions to that community over these many
years, not only in politics but otherwise, were profuse — not as profuse as we
heard yesterday for Senator Atkins but profuse nonetheless.
My colleagues and I all join in congratulating Senator St. Germain again on
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, I am pleased to join
Senator Munson, whose comments on this issue were both inspiring and touching,
in commemorating the tragic events in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago.
First, I extend my deepest sympathy to the families of the estimated 2,000
mainly young men and women who were brutally murdered by the Chinese army and
police. I also wish to praise the spirit of Tiananmen, exemplified by the
thousands of courageous young Chinese who dared ask the governing Communist
Party for fundamental freedoms and rights, something most of the world takes for
granted. Colleagues, that spirit is not dead.
Partly in memory, and partly to honour, the many reform-minded Chinese
government officials, including Party Secretary Hu Yoabang, the then Communist
Party chief, who were chastised, shunned and punished by their colleagues, the
democracy movement in and outside China continues and grows. Inside China,
however, the movement is mostly underground. Yet recently, 300 Chinese
intellectuals, some of whom have since been detained, signed a document called
"Charter '08," demanding democratic changes. I understand the number of
signatories now exceeds 8,000.
Many brave and courageous Chinese citizens are still fighting today for their
right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion, and
many are regularly jailed by the Chinese police. Today I wish to salute these
valiant people for keeping the flame of hope alive. They honour the memory of
those whose lives were so brutally snuffed out on June 4, 1989.
The governing Communist Party in China continues to deny, through their
propaganda machine, the horrific events of Tiananmen Square. They continue to
demonize anyone who criticizes them and recently they have been sending members
of their so-called "parliament" around the world to promote their propaganda.
On Sunday, May 31, I spent several hours with members of the Toronto Chinese
community who are supporters of democracy in China. It was refreshing and
inspiring to hear from many of them that they love China, they love their
country, but they do not love the Communist Party and the Chinese government.
I am heartened by the Chinese-Canadian community's understanding of the
issues and their criticism of the Chinese government. More than ever, I believe
the Chinese people themselves will ultimately succeed in achieving fundamental
rights and freedoms in China.
Honourable senators, as we honour those who perished in Tiananmen Square 20
years ago, let us assure those who continue to struggle for rights and freedoms
that the world stands in solidarity with them.
Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, I worked with
industry stakeholders to set up the National Optics Institute in the Parc
technologique du Québec métropolitain, so I was very pleased to attend a press
conference yesterday during which our Prime Minister announced that the
Conservative government would provide $12 million to the Institute.
This major financial support will enable the Institute to keep growing,
strengthen its leadership in optics and photonics, and provide even more support
to Quebec companies seeking to become more competitive.
I fully agree with our Prime Minister, who said that during the current
global economic downturn, it is important to support the activities of an
organization like the Institute, because this world-renowned research centre is
contributing to the knowledge economy and innovation. This financial support by
the Conservative government will help maintain well-paid jobs in Quebec and will
also help many companies that benefit from the transfer of technologies
developed by the Institute.
This $12 million in funding represents tangible support that recognizes not
only the National Optics Institute's excellence, but also its essential role in
the economic vitality and dynamism of Quebec businesses. In the current economic
situation, research and innovation are particularly key if Canadian companies
are to distinguish themselves and prosper internationally. Our financial support
will put the National Optics Institute in an excellent position to create value
added, using the properties of light, enabling Canadian companies of all sizes
and in all industrial sectors to boost their productivity and competitive
The National Optics Institute is making a substantial contribution to
know-how developed in the Quebec City region. Its initiatives are enhancing
Canada's international influence in numerous high-tech sectors and helping it
carve out an impressive niche in the knowledge economy.
Lastly, this support will allow the National Optics Institute to raise its
profile and pursue its mission of commercializing scientific research with even
greater enthusiasm and determination, to the greater benefit of businesses in
Quebec and Canada.
This support is proof of our government's commitment to scientific research
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to section 38 of
the Access to Information Act, I have the honour to table, in both official
languages, the Annual Report of the Information Commissioner, covering the
period April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009.
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in
both official languages, the third report of the Standing Senate Committee on
Official Languages entitled Francophone Arts and Culture: Living Life to its
Fullest in Minority Settings.
(On motion of Senator Chaput, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. John. D. Wallace, for Senator Bacon, Chair of the Standing Senate
Committee on Transport and Communications, presented the following report:
Thursday, June 4, 2009
The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications has the
honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred the document "Department of
Public Works and Government Services Canada User Fees Amendment Proposal for
services relating to the Esquimalt Graving Dock" has, in obedience to the
order of reference of Tuesday, May 26, 2009, examined the proposed new user
fee and, in accordance with section 5 of the User Fees Act, recommends
that it be approved.
JOHN D. WALLACE
For the Honourable Lise Bacon, Chair of
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Wallace, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been
received from the House of Commons with Bill C-24, An Act to implement the Free
Trade Agreement between Canada and the Republic of Peru, the Agreement on the
Environment between Canada and the Republic of Peru and the Agreement on Labour
Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Peru.
(Bill read first time.)
The Hon. the Speaker: 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. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 23(6), I
have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian
parliamentary delegation on the meeting of the Co-operation and Development
Committee of the Canadian branch of the Assemblée parlementaire de la
Francophonie held in Cotonou, Benin, from April 28 to 30, 2009.
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the
next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That, pursuant to Rule 95(3)(a), the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science, and Technology be authorized to sit up to and including
Tuesday, June 30, 2009, for the purposes of its study on current social issues
pertaining to Canada's largest cities, even though the Senate may then be
adjourned for a period exceeding one week.
Hon. Mac Harb: Honourable senators, I have the honour to present a
petition signed by a resident from British Columbia asking the Government of
Canada to amend the Fisheries Act to end Canada's commercial seal hunt.
Senator Comeau: Where is Senator Mercer when you need him?
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, with your leave, I would like to inform the Senate that the Leader of
the Government is unavoidably absent for this sitting. The government will
therefore not be able to answer any questions today.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Brazeau, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Fortin-Duplessis, for the second reading of Bill
C-28, An Act to amend the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act.
Hon. Charlie Watt moved second reading of Bill C-28, An Act to amend
the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act.
He said: Honourable senators, the amendments proposed in this bill are in
fact an incremental recognition by the Government of Canada of the Cree rights
to govern in their territory. Those amendments result from protracted
discussions between the Government of Canada and the Grand Council of the Crees,
and they were developed in consultation with the Cree communities. Moreover, the
Inuit were consulted through the Makivik Corporation, and the Naskapi Band of
Quebec was consulted on them as well. Both organizations agreed that the
proposals do not affect their rights or the rights of their citizens. The
Government of Quebec was also consulted and accepted the proposed amendments.
In order to understand Bill C-28 in its proper historical context, it is
important to remember that it is seen by the Cree leadership to be the
modern-day expression of their Aboriginal rights to govern, as they have always
done on their traditional lands.
In the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement of 1975, the Government of
Quebec recognized the Cree Regional Authority. This bill takes the same Cree
Regional Authority and brings it into the federal Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act,
originally passed by Parliament in 1984. Canada will therefore recognize the
Cree Regional Authority as having a certain power over Category 1A lands, which
are under the federal jurisdiction — that is why it is called Category 1A land.
The Cree of James Bay, Quebec, share a common history and a common culture
and language. This act recognizes their historic existence as a people. Unlike
the Indian Act that has fragmented many of Canada's Aboriginal peoples into
community nations, this act recognizes the Cree presence in James Bay and
enhances their ability to govern.
The Cree Regional Authority will be empowered by this bill to set regional
standards for the Cree communities, and it will provide regional oversight in
planning, environmental protection and the protection of the Cree language and
The Cree Regional Authority will also be responsible for the implementation
of certain obligations to the Cree people, contracted by Canada in the 1975
treaty. By assuming Canada's obligations to their own people, the Cree will take
charge of their community and social development.
In 1975, the Cree and the Makivik Inuit signed the James Bay and Northern
Quebec Agreement. I was one of the signatories. In both cases, we opted to have
certain services from Quebec and others from Canada. The Cree and the Inuit
fought for years for the implementation of the obligations of the Government of
Canada and the Government of Quebec in that agreement.
In the case of the Cree, substantial obligations of the Government of Quebec
were settled in 2002 with the signing of a Quebec-Cree New Relationship
Agreement. In 2008, a similar agreement with Canada settled a court proceeding,
as well as a certain issue concerning the community of Oujé-Bougoumou.
The amendments that we have before us will also recognize the Cree of
Oujé-Bougoumou as a community under the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act. This is a
fact of great importance to the members of that community, who were moved
several times since the 1950s and were eventually scattered along the roads in
the Chibougamau region. Their community has won an international award for
excellence, a credit to their tenacity. We will honour their effort by the
passage of this bill.
The 2008 Canada-Cree New Relationship Agreement called for a new amendment as
part of the two-step process in the development of Cree governance. Those
amendments are part of phase 1 and empower the Cree Regional Authority to
implement the obligations it has assumed from Canada.
The second phase, which has already begun, will involve the Cree, as well as
Canada and Quebec. It will seek consensus among the parties on further
developments in the governance of the James Bay territory. The federal issues
only to be covered in the discussion comprise 27 matters of governance,
including a Cree consultation, dispute resolution, representational matters and
their own source of revenues, among others. When phase 2 is completed, a
comprehensive proposal will be presented to Canada and to Quebec for their
I recommend the passage of Bill C-28.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Will the honourable senator allow a
question or two on this far-reaching bill?
Senator Watt: Yes.
Senator Grafstein: Honourable senators, I apologize but I have been
involved in other matters in the last day or so and I have not had an
opportunity to look at this bill in a fulsome way.
However, on my first reading, this bill effectively takes the existing
governance structure of the Crees and downloads it into a new organization
called the Cree Regional Authority. At the same time, this bill provides for
downloading of federal services, including water, other infrastructure, health
and so on, without any requisite standards. In addition, the bill says nothing
about gender equality and talks nothing about the democratic process as to how
the regional council will be established.
Honourable senators, how can we satisfy ourselves at this stage, as a
question of principle, that these issues of democracy, accountability and
responsibility will be addressed in this bill?
Senator Watt: Honourable senators, first, the regional authority
already exists. It has been in existence since 1975. It came out of the James
Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.
Regarding the concerns that you highlighted in your remarks with relation to
water and women, I believe that the Grand Council of the Crees are still in the
second phase of negotiations. I imagine they will deal with the concerns you
I have been briefed by the Grand Council of the Crees. The particular issues
that the honourable senator raises were not raised to me and I do have the
ability to ask them about your specific concerns. However, this bill went
quickly through the House of Commons and it was not dealt with by the committee
so an opportunity has not arisen to answer those concerns.
If this bill is referred to committee, then that would be the place to raise
Senator Grafstein: I do not want to belabour this issue because I have
raised the paramount concerns. For example, if I read this bill correctly, what
happens here is that the regional council is now given the power of the federal
law — in effect, it is now empowered to govern a vast region of Canada that, at
this time, is governed partially by treaty and partially by the federal
government. The federal government has clear responsibility here under the
In this agreement, it provides for the downloading of services from the
federal government to the regional council. That downloading will be beyond the
purview of Parliament because it will be an agreement of delegation between the
agencies of government and this governing council, without any sense of whether
the democratic process has been involved at all.
In my view, it is absent constitutional principles. However, I may be wrong.
This is my view at first blush; it is a prima facie look at the bill. I hope
that we can give more consideration to this bill.
This morning, I asked to find out what happened in the other place. I
discovered there were two days of debate and it went through committee in a day,
as bills like this have done, without ample surveillance or oversight.
Honourable senators, are we to do the same thing here?
Senator Watt: If the honourable senator is asking me a question, it is
up to the Cree Regional Authority to make that decision. It is beyond my ability
to suggest otherwise.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?
Some Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Brazeau,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Fortin-Duplessis, that Bill C-28, An Act to
amend the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act, be read a second time.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Comeau, seconded by
the Honourable Senator Adams:
That, in accordance with section 38 of the Nunavut Act, chapter 28
of the Statutes of Canada, 1993, the Senate concur in the June 4, 2008 passage
of the Official Languages Act by the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on Motion
No. 26 because when it was introduced last week on the Order Paper, it caught my
eye when I read that it was dealing with an official languages act. As any one
of us in this chamber knows, the Official Languages Act is at the constitutional
core of the duty of the Senate. We praise ourselves that our chamber represents
regional authorities and minority rights. However, the motion calls upon the
Senate to concur in the Official Languages Act for Nunavut.
I thought: Why are we concurring in that? Should it not be the prerogative of
the Nunavut government to adopt the official languages status on its territory?
I found out that section 38 of the Nunavut Act, which this motion references
has a "trick" in it. The Parliament of Canada is called to concur when there
is a diminishing of rights. Section 38 states in relation to official languages:
. . . if that repeal, amendment or measure that otherwise renders that law
inoperable would have the effect of diminishing the rights and services
provided for in that ordinance as enacted on June 28, 1984 and amended on June
In clear terms, what does it mean? It means that if there is a change of
status in relation to language rights that, as an effect, reduce those rights,
we are called upon to give our consent. In other words, we are the trustee. We
are the fiduciary of language rights in the Nunavut territory as we are in the
Northwest Territories because they are federal territories.
I wanted to know more about which rights were reduced, diminished or altered
in the Official Languages Act of Nunavut that was submitted to us for
concurrence. I found the answer in a backgrounder published by Canadian Heritage
in May 2009, a month ago. It is titled "Concurrence of Parliament: Nunavut
Official Languages Bill." Page 3 is entitled "Why Parliamentary Concurrence?"
The first bullet states:
Necessary when rights and/or services are diminished . . .
Which rights are diminished?
The Nunavut Act (sec. 38) stipulates that the Nunavut Official
Languages Act cannot be changed without the concurrence of Parliament if
the proposed changes diminish the rights and/or services provided for in the
The second bullet states:
Bill 6 includes two "reductions" in rights:
Aboriginal languages not spoken in Nunavut are losing official language
Why? The ancient territory has many Aboriginal languages that have status.
This act will remove any recognition of those Aboriginal languages. There would
be one recognized — Inuktitut.
The second bullet continues and refers to French and English:
Territorial court decisions may be issued in only one of the three official
languages (instead of in both English and French currently).
Translation into the other official languages would occur only if a matter
is of public interest or if requested by an interested party.
That triggered my attention. If I am called upon in this chamber to concur
with a diminution of rights, I want to know the scope of it.
I called upon the Canadian Official Languages Commissioner, Mr. Graham
Fraser. Our Official Languages Commissioner is an Officer of Parliament who acts
on our behalf in reviewing legislation to ensure any legislation that has an
impact on the status of both official languages is called to our attention. In a
three-page letter dated May 2007 — two years ago — Mr. Fraser wrote to the
Honourable Louis Tapardjuk, Minister of Culture, Language, Elders and Youth, and
delivered a lengthy comment about the draft bill that was submitted to him.
There are many comments that he makes with regard to various aspects of the
bill, but I want to refer to three for the sake of our reflection today. At the
bottom of page 2, the last paragraph states:
I also noted that the draft Inuit language protection bill obligates all
territorial municipalities to communicate with and provide services to the
public in the Inuit language. Since English is currently the language that is
most commonly used by the majority of municipalities and the Inuit language
will henceforth enjoy legal protection in this regard, I am concerned about
the inequality of status and use of French in municipal services.
He continues on the following page to state:
In light of this concern, it is my opinion that the draft official
languages act should require municipalities to provide services in English and
French when there is significant demand. This change would have no impact on
the special status that the draft Inuit language protection bill grants to the
Honourable senators, I totally subscribe to the idea of making Inuktitut one
of the official languages. However, in allowing the municipalities to use
Inuktitut extensively, I am concerned about the consequences of our second
minority language — French — in terms of numbers.
The commissioner is also preoccupied with something that we have legislated
in this chamber. It is what I would call "Senator Gauthier's amendment." Do
senators remember when we amended Part 7 of the Official Languages Act after
lengthy debate? I think the bill was introduced four times by Senator Gauthier
and finally it was adopted. Why? It places an obligation on the federal
government to promote and not only to say "here is the letter of the law." You
have to be proactive.
What does the Official Languages Commissioner state in relation to the
Official Languages Act of Nunavut? I am quoting from the middle of page 2:
. . . although the preamble of the draft bill states the government's
commitment to protecting the three official languages communities, this
commitment has not resulted in explicit obligations for the Minister of
In other words, I recommend that we "refer explicitly to the obligation to
take measures to promote the development and vitality of these communities."
That applies strictly to the community that is smaller — the one drawn into a
majority and will be speaking Inuktitut that is now speaking English. There will
be a certain dynamic going on, and this is a dynamic to which I subscribe.
However, I do not want to subscribe to a dynamic while at the same time
undermining the community that is more at risk, namely, the one that speaks
French. That is why the Official Languages Commissioner has requested that the
minister has the power to promote.
Honourable senators, the third point of the commissioner's letter that I want
to draw to your attention is the following. It is the second paragraph of page
2, which states:
I would also like to draw attention to subsection 12(6), which requires
government departments and agencies to ensure that communication with and
services to the public that are offered on their behalf by a third party are
offered . . . in the territory's official languages. However, I believe this
clause could be improved in such a way as to make all territorial institutions
subject to this obligation.
Honourable senators, it is again referring to the situation that we have
known where a provincial government — that is, the New Brunswick government —
contracted with the RCMP. The RCMP told them that they are not compelled to
implement the Official Languages Act because they are within the territory of a
province. That matter ended up in court in New Brunswick and Ontario. Both
federal courts ruled that you cannot bypass the obligation you have to provide
services in both languages. That is, in fact, what this paragraph covers.
Honourable senators, I am addressing myself to the Deputy Leader of the
Government. I understand that our friend Senator Adams is retiring soon. He
would like to have this motion concurred with by this house. However, in all
senatorial consciousness, we should look into the implication of that motion,
not in order to delay the adoption of the bill. Again, our friend Senator Adams
is retiring, as I understand, on June 22. Therefore, I would propose that the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs look into the
implications of that motion and report no later than June 11, which is in a
Honourable senators, this week the committee has just completed its study and
report on Bill S-4. Therefore, we have an open agenda. We could hold our two
weekly meetings next week on this issue and report to the chamber so that we
will know what we are concurring with.
I think it is fair for us to have the Commissioner of Official Languages
appear and, of course, a representative from Nunavut. We could easily accomplish
that through teleconferencing. We would know the content of this bill and if it
indeed needs our concurrence. As I say, at first sight, I concur with it; but I
want to know if there are limitations that we should be concerned about and how
to manage those in the future.
Hon. Serge Joyal: Honourable senators, that is essentially why I wish
That the motion be referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs for study and report; and
That the committee report no later than June 11, 2009.
That is in one week's time.
As a matter of fact, the government received a letter from the Nunavut
minister with respect to this issue a year ago, on June 17, 2008. It is now June
2009, and we are asking for one week to look into the matter. If the government
took a year to look into preparing the motion, we can take a week to perform our
constitutional duty in an effort to understand why we should be diminishing
rights, in what manner and what kind of measures are needed to ensure that, when
we wake up, the fallout from this motion is what we expected.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, there is a motion in
amendment by the Honourable Senator Joyal, seconded by the Honourable Senator
Robichaud, that the principal motion be referred to the Standing Senate
Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for study and report and that the
committee report no later than June 11, 2009.
Are there questions and comments on Senator Joyal's speech?
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, assurances were given in this
chamber that there would be no intended diminution of existing rights for any of
the linguistic groups in the territory. I accept that those were given in the
best of faith.
Would Senator Joyal be prepared to share the letter that he quoted from the
Commissioner of Official Languages, have it tabled so all sides could have a
chance to examine it?
Senator Joyal: Honourable senators, I wish to table the letter because
I think it is important that, as Senator Segal stated, we understand exactly the
implications in relation to the official languages minorities that are at stake.
As I said, it is important to make the Commissioner of Official Languages
aware that we know that he tried to exercise his duty, inasmuch as we are
exercising ours. In his annual report, he could report on various implications
and the way linguistic dynamics develop in Nunavut. With great pleasure, I have
the letter available in both official languages.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted to table
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, I would like to touch on a few points that were raised by Senator
Joyal. First, he refers to a document that is a backgrounder issued by Canadian
Heritage called "Concurrence of Parliament: Nunavut Official Languages Act." I
noted that he did not in fact refer to the actual bill itself, the consolidation
of the Official Languages Act, which was produced by the territory of Nunavut. I
think that should have been, in my view, the working document on which Senator
Joyal based his comments today. I am not sure if Senator Joyal has read the bill
A second note that I would like to bring forward is the fact that the
honourable senator refers to a letter from the Commissioner of Official
Languages dated May 2007. That is two years ago. As to whether the concerns
raised by the Commissioner of Official Languages were acted upon in the bill
that came in a year later, in 2008, at which point the Parliament of Canada
started dealing with it, I am quite sure it would be readily apparent in here.
Be that as it may, the bill was referred to the Government of Canada back in
June 2008, and we have had it since then. We have all had a year to review this
document. The House of Commons did receive it. The comment was made that this
issue has been before us for a whole year so let us continue postponing it.
In fact, however, it has been before Parliament. The House of Commons took
more time dealing with it than probably we would have liked. However, if we look
at the fact that this arrived in June of last year, which was the end of the
year on the parliamentary calendar, when Parliament resumed in the fall and then
prorogued, it was postponed to February. Therefore, it was not in the House of
Commons all that long.
During this time, we have all had the opportunity to review this document and
read it thoroughly. We could probably have raised concerns before now.
I found that the francophones of Nunavut do in fact support this bill. They
have indicated their public support for the bill, so I believe that, had there
been problems with the bill, we would have heard from these groups in a very
I would like to return now to the Commissioner of Official Languages. It was
either the commissioner that the honourable senator mentioned or someone else,
but he referred to Senator Gauthier's bill, Bill S-3, which was passed in 2005,
if I recall. It made the Official Languages Act "executoir" rather than just a
limp instrument, as it had been before. It was to promote linguistic minorities
I understand that because this bill is subject to the Official Languages Act,
it obliges the Government of Nunavut to do everything it can to promote the
minority language. It is, in fact, subject to the Official Languages Act.
Therefore, the provision we passed in Bill S-3 in 2005 would apply to this bill.
I really see no great need to delay this any further. I would suggest to all
honourable senators here today that we need to get this done. The people of
Nunavut have been waiting for a long time.
The most important aspects of this bill are the provisions that allow the
Inuit of Nunavut to start promoting, expanding and enhancing the Inuit language
in their communities.
The issue of the diminishing of rights is in fact tackled in bullet form in
the document that Senator Joyal read. The point is that it eliminated a number
of languages that are no longer a part of Nunavut. When Nunavut was part of the
Northwest Territories, there were a number of languages that were part of the
Northwest Territories but which are no longer there. The three languages now
spoken in Nunavut — because it is no longer part of the Northwest Territories —
are French, English and Inuktitut.
Yes, it does diminish what were, prior to now, official languages, but
because they are no longer part of Nunavut, they have been eliminated.
I suggest we proceed with this motion this afternoon.
Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators,
the deputy leader says that we have had a year to look at this. Is it not a fact
that this bill was received in the Senate last Thursday?
Senator Comeau: Indeed, it was received last Thursday, but that does
not mean it was not available to us. This was passed by the Nunavut legislature,
which is a consensus. Nunavut has a consensus legislature. It was passed last
June and was there for anyone to dig into and study if they wanted to do so.
Senator Cowan: I am not speaking against the bill at all. I think
Senator Joyal has made some persuasive arguments. I, for one, would like to hear
further what the Commissioner of Official Languages has to say.
As I understand the chronology, this bill was passed by the Legislative
Assembly of Nunavut in June 2008, one year ago, and it took almost a year to get
from there to here. Senator Joyal is suggesting we take a week to get to the
bottom of the two issues referred to in the government's own document. I suppose
that document was available to all of us from some point in time, but it is only
reasonable to expect that we would look at it when the bill arrives here.
Perhaps it might not have passed the other place, so why would we look at it
before it passed the other place? If it passes in the other place, it comes
here, and why would we not take time to look at these serious issues?
Senator Comeau: In complete fairness, you cannot include issues in a
government document which are not there. Most of Senator Joyal's comments
referred to a letter from the Official Languages Commissioner dated May 2007.
The government identified in this concurrence of Parliament that a number of
languages will be removed by this act. A number of what were official languages
are no longer to be part of official languages, and the government said that in
However, the other item he referred to was a letter dated May 2007 by the
Official Languages Commissioner, two years ago, so do not ascribe those comments
to the government document.
Senator Cowan: As I understood Senator Joyal, he was reading from a
briefing document issued by your government, which indicated that this
concurrence was necessary because certain Aboriginal languages that are
currently official languages will no longer be official languages when this bill
Up to now, any court decisions and other official proclamations would have to
be produced in both English and French, and now they could be produced in any
one of the three: Inuktitut, English or French. Even if they did not look into
it in the other place, it would be reasonable to assume that we should take a
few days to look at it. What harm can possibly come from taking a week to do the
job that we are here to do?
Hon. Willie Adams: I have an answer for the Leader of the Opposition
in the Senate. In 2008, the bill did not go to the House of Commons; it did not
come here to Ottawa. Bill 7, the Inuit Language Protection Act, was here. It was
supposed to be passed in Nunavut last year, June 2008. Somehow, francophones
were out, and Bill 6 did not pass through the Nunavut legislature.
The Inuit Language Commissioner worked together with the French concerning
Nunavut and the language, and that is what happened. However, last Monday, Bill
6 arrived in the House of Commons with a motion. It was not there for one year.
It just came from Nunavut. I want to ensure that everyone understands.
The federal government and Nunavut agreed that the bill would not go to the
House of Commons committee, that there would just be a motion from the House of
Commons to pass Bill 6. It then came to us on Tuesday afternoon. After speaking
to Senator Comeau through an Inuktitut interpreter, and according to the
agreement between the Nunavut government and the Government of Canada, the bill
would receive consensus from the Senate. Somehow the opposition adjourned
debate. We could do nothing about it, and that is what is happening right now.
The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement was settled in 1993 between the Government
of Canada and the Inuit, subject to section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. At
that time, Nunavut was recognized.
Section 32 of the Official Languages Act recognizes English and French. It is
time for the Inuit language to be recognized so that it can be used in Nunavut
in the administration of offices, in the courts or by anyone else.
In 1984, the territorial government recognized seven languages in the
Northwest Territories: English and French, Inuktitut, Chipewyan, Cree, Gwich'in
and Sahtu. At that time, those languages were being used in the Northwest
Territories legislature in Yellowknife.
I was an MLA in 1970 in that legislature. I was not allowed to speak in
Inuktitut because we did not have a translator. After 1984, the Northwest
Territories legislature passed an act allowing English and French and the other
languages I mentioned to be translated in the legislature.
The Nunavut government was created in 1999. Pursuant to section 32 of the
Official Languages Act, we started looking to the future to determine how we
could govern in other languages in Nunavut, and that is what happened. According
to the land claims agreement, if a person has to go to court, they have their
choice of language — English, French or Inuktitut. If you are English-speaking
and do not know how to speak Inuktitut, the court will hear your case in your
preferred language. It is the same thing for French speakers and those who speak
If I said that I could not understand English and wanted to have everything I
say translated, recorded, in Inuktitut, I could do so. It would be no different
than receiving services in English and French. That is what Bill 6 stipulates.
There is nothing to say that we lost something here and that what happened
here would have to be passed. If people living outside of Nunavut are concerned
and do not understand our language, they can do what they want, too. The bill
only concerns Nunavut, not the rest of Canada. If anyone wants to do it
differently in Nunavik, Nunatsiavut or the Northwest Territories, they have
their own land claims agreements.
It has nothing to do with anyone there; that is for Nunavut only. That is
what the language here is for, if it passes today.
We have two languages in the Rules. We are not only concerned about the
future. We are concerned that everything comes from the Government of Canada;
and that the laws come from the Government of Canada.
Bill 6 says in the future — a lot of times the laws of the Government of
Canada do not work for us. We used to have our own law. We do not need to have
everything come from Ottawa. Nunavut now, in some ways, can change some of the
laws to work for Nunavut. That is the intent of Bill 6. Not everything comes
from the government.
Since Nunavut was created, we have 70 per cent Inuit RCMP today. We did not
have that before. We now have nurses and judges who understand Inuktitut. We
have judges who hear court cases in Nunavut. No one else has that system. We
have a Supreme Court in Nunavut.
I will be leaving next Wednesday, not June 22. To me, if I come back next
Thursday, I do not want to be here. I think you should understand we have a
review in another five years. If anything happens now and the bill passes, it
can be changed between when we make mistakes the first time the Inuit did, we
can correct it in another five years.
That is why I cannot sleep at night. In the meantime I have a phone call
every half an hour, and some calls are from reporters. In another 90 minutes I
will be going to CBC to televise what is happening in the Senate with Bill 6.
Since the 1950s Judge Morrow has been up in Nunavut and using Inuktitut in
court. They had their own aircraft, a DC-3. To understand how the justice system
works in the Northwest Territories, just read Judge Morrow's book on the
We should just pass this bill now.
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Honourable senators, I began my career in the
Parliament of Canada defending the need for an official languages act in this
country in 1968.
An Hon. Senator: Bravo!
Senator Corbin: I was the vice-chair of the committee whose job it was
to study the official languages bill. I was rather disappointed that the bill
did not go as far as I might have hoped.
I co-chaired, with Senator Murray, the first Joint Committee of the House of
Commons and the Senate on Official Languages. Throughout my political career in
the Parliament of Canada, I have stood up for a principle I hold very dear, and
that is the recognition of both official languages. I went further. I proposed
that we allow our Aboriginal colleagues to use their mother tongues in Senate
debates and committee proceedings. The committee report did not go as far as I
would have liked, but I endorsed it anyway, with the result that last week and
earlier this week, our colleagues were able to use their own language.
I would like to tell Senator Adams, whom I consider a good friend, that I am
troubled that I do not have enough information to vote in an enlightened and
intelligent way on this issue. Senator Joyal argued that the motion should be
referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. I
listened to what Senator Comeau had to say. But the more talk I heard, the more
confused I became.
There are important principles at stake here. I do not believe it is
unreasonable for this chamber to authorize the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs to examine this issue as soon as possible, as
Senator Joyal has proposed. I do not believe that will change anything in
Nunavut's administrative or judicial decisions for the next six or seven days or
the next week or perhaps even the next month. But, as it has been argued, if
there is a chance that language laws will be diminished, that concerns me.
For that reason, I support Senator Joyal's motion. I hope that the committee
will be able to do a thorough job and get back to us with a recommendation as
soon as possible.
Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, I too feel very troubled
after hearing what Senator Joyal had to say, especially because he made some
very solid points backed up by a letter from the Commissioner of Official
I felt real sadness when Senator Adams tried to almost blackmail us — I do
not really mean that — by saying that he will not be here next Thursday. Senator
Adams, I can assure you that nobody in this chamber is against the idea of you
obtaining, when the time is right, the right to express yourself in your
language anytime you want to in Nunavut. However, given the battle that
francophones have fought over the years to ensure that we truly have two
official languages, I am sure you can understand our concern, slight though it
may be, that this proposal will result in French losing its place in Canada's
Of course, as some have said, French speakers are in the minority, but it is
still one of our official languages.
As such, I would be uncomfortable and annoyed with myself for some time if I
did not vote for the motion moved by Senator Joyal that is before us now.
Beginning next week, we will have to study the motion thoroughly and report on
it on the 11th. After that, nothing would prevent us from voting automatically
that very day on whatever the committee has to say.
And who knows, Senator Adams, perhaps you can delay your departure for 24
hours. I will support Senator Joyal's motion.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, the terms of this debate, so
far, have focused on the implications of the bill that has been passed in
Nunavut and to which our concurrence is sought on the implications of that bill
for the francophone minority in Nunavut.
However, we are talking about something broader here. We are talking about
the duty of this chamber in relation to minority languages, and, ultimately, as
the years roll by, our duty extends to all official minority languages: French,
English and Inuktitut. The day may come when someone somewhere will ask us to
concur in a piece of legislation that diminishes the rights of the Inuit
minority in Canada, as the day may come when we are asked to concur with the
diminution of minority languages in other circumstances.
I believe that if this chamber has an abiding principle, it is that we do not
consent lightly and without examination to the diminution, however slight, of
minority languages because that precedent can come back to haunt us, our
children or our grandchildren. I do not want to go there.
It is a matter of pride for all Canadians that the people of Nunavut are
making such wonderful progress in re-promoting and re-establishing the full
richness of their language and, through it, their culture and their society. I
can say without fear of contradiction that every member of the Senate not only
supports that progress but also rejoices in it. No one here today wants to
diminish that wonderful progress. As is so often the case, it is important for
us to balance the many principles that we hold dear. One of them, surely, is
that we examine matters of this nature before we adopt them.
I do not hear in Senator Joyal's proposal any prejudgment as to what that
study would report upon or what the committee would say. I could not support the
proposal if he were supporting a prejudgment of what the committee would say on
that study. I believe that it is reasonable to propose that, by an early
deadline, we conduct that study and tell our colleagues what the committee has
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I see there are some
reservations on both sides. I have to wonder why we are divided on such a
fundamental issue. I do not wish to go on at length after hearing all the sound
arguments put forward by Senator Joyal and by those who want the bill to pass
today. However, it seems to me that, in positive spirit, perhaps we could allow
this bill to follow its course as it was introduced to us, without division or
at least without a vote.
Then again, I understand Senator Adams. It must be difficult to operate in a
Parliament when your mother tongue is not one of the two that most of us have
I often feel like Senator Adams. When I was first elected to the House of
Commons, I felt uncomfortable. I could not take part in all the debates with the
same fervour, just as he would have liked to do since his appointment here. I
know he is anxious to see this bill pass here today.
I am sure that Senator Adams can give our colleagues the assurance that this
bill is not pushed too fast but has not been the subject of division.
What is the fair solution when we have, on the one hand, people who want to
vote immediately and, on the other hand, people who think the bill should be
sent to committee for further study?
This is a fundamental issue for the Senate. Who are we, as senators? Perhaps
not for everyone, but for some people, this relates to one of the fundamental
questions concerning the creation of the Senate.
Thus, I am in a quandary. I know it; I can feel it, just by listening to our
colleagues. On the one hand, I feel that some people in certain circles would
prefer that we go ahead with what is written, while on the other hand, an
experienced senator submits another proposal, and lastly, another group would
prefer to see the motion pass today.
It is clear that the Senate will not rise next week. Still, regardless of how
I vote, I would not want to be the one whose decision dismisses something so
I am profoundly convinced that we will sit for at least the next two weeks.
If we had the assurance that whoever wants to make a proposal such as the one
put forward by the honourable senator, it could be back in time and we would be
happy to show that, by give and take, we have come to a happy conclusion. That
means that every one of us here today must give a little, which is unusual:
those who want the bill right now; those who feel strongly about the issue; and
those who wish to have reassurance, at least from our study, that we are doing
the right thing.
I will listen to the rest of the debate, but I must admit that I am not at
ease. I am a man of feeling, and I feel that people want to be nice to each
other. Some are more nervous than others and some want to finish faster than
others, but with a bit of patience, I think that we can show that in the Senate
we can be different from the other chamber, which I left. I was very happy in
the other place, but I did not like the atmosphere. On this issue, I would not
like to see that kind of atmosphere develop in the Senate. That is my
contribution for today.
An Hon. Senator: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question
on the motion in amendment?
Some Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Joyal,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Robichaud, that the motion be referred to the
Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs for study and
report and that the committee report no later than June 11, 2009.
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.
Some Hon. Senators: No.
Senator Prud'homme: A few "noes."
The Hon. the Speaker: On division?
Senator Adams: I say "no."
The Hon. the Speaker: I think we had better have a vote.
Honourable senators, those in favour of the motion in amendment will please
Some Hon. Senators: Yea.
The Hon. the Speaker: Those opposed to the motion in amendment will
please say "nay."
Some Hon. Senators: Nay.
The Hon. the Speaker: In my opinion, the "yeas" have it.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Murray, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Atkins, for the second reading of Bill
S-222, An Act to amend the International Boundary Waters Treaty Act (bulk
Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, the bill before us deals with
two of our most important responsibilities: the protection of the rights of
Parliament and the preservation of our environmental heritage.
Bill S-222 will correct certain shortcomings in amendments made to the
International Boundary Waters Treaty Act in 2001 by the government of the day.
The 2001 amendments put in place a licensing system that gives the federal
government the final say in the approval or prohibition of projects such as the
construction of dams and bridges affecting the level or flow of boundary waters
on the other side of the border.
In and of itself, the 2001 legislation, tabled as Bill C-6, was necessary and
praiseworthy: necessary because we had to eliminate the ambiguity with respect
to the legality of approval orders previously issued by the International Joint
Commission and praiseworthy because the objective was improved protection for
the ecosystems in boundary waters. However, the gaps in this legislation are
serious and obvious.
Some of the definitions are vague. Even worse, crucial definitions that
should be in the text of the legislation were placed in the regulations and
subject to the sole discretion of cabinet. The legislation also grants cabinet
the authority to grant exceptions under the licensing system and even to
prohibit bulk water removal. These provisions are counter to the prerogatives of
Parliament and pose a risk to the environment.
The bill I am introducing, which I inherited from our former colleague, the
Honourable Pat Carney, is meant to correct these flaws in the 2001 act. I am
aware that other initiatives designed to protect our water resources have
recently been launched at the provincial level and by several neighbouring U.S.
states. In addition, in the Speech from the Throne delivered on November 19,
2008, the federal government promised to introduce legislation banning bulk
water transfers and exports from our drainage basins.
I know that even though my bill is necessary, it may not have the scope of
some of these other initiatives, especially the one planned by the federal
government. The federal bill seems to be at the drafting stage. But I believe
that referring my bill to committee would create an opportunity to reopen the
debate on the many international, constitutional and environmental issues any
legislative initiative on this topic involves. That is what I am going to
Honourable senators, when I spoke briefly in opening this debate on April 1,
I moved, and obtained, with your permission, the adjournment of the debate
because there had been offered to me a briefing session by the Department of
Foreign Affairs. That session was held about a week ago. Advisers and officials
of the Minister of Foreign Affairs waited on me. I found the meeting to be
helpful and informative, at least from my perspective, and I hope from theirs.
It clarified some of the issues on my side, and I hope on theirs. I simply say
that I appreciate the courtesy of the briefing. The officials and I agreed to
stay in touch.
Bill S-222 goes back to legislation brought in by the government of the day
in 2001. The bill was called Bill C-6, An Act to amend the International
Boundary Waters Treaty Act. I will not take you through all the history of the
Boundary Waters Treaty, which was negotiated in 1909, and with it, the creation
of the International Joint Commission, followed by the International Boundary
Waters Treaty Act, to give effect to the treaty, passed by Parliament a couple
of years later, in 1911.
Bill C-6 established a federal government licensing regime regarding in-basin
activities that would affect the levels or flows of boundary waters, and it also
purported to establish a prohibition on the removal of waters in bulk from the
basins. The federal government licensing regime was added in 2001 to an approval
process that hitherto had been complete with the approval, or not, of the
International Joint Commission.
The background to this licensing regime set up in 2001 was that the legal
status of the IJC's orders had become somewhat shaky.
In a 1976 Federal Court case, Clifford Burnell v. the IJC, Mr. Burnell
sued the IJC unsuccessfully. The Federal Court found that the IJC had no legal
personality and therefore could not be sued. The corollary of that decision is
that the IJC could not itself sue or enforce its orders. Its orders are not
I am indebted to the legal officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs and
International Trade for this background information.
Since then, the IJC has been accorded immunities comparable to those enjoyed
by international organizations. With the IJC not able to enforce its rulings,
the response of the federal government — Bill C-6 in 2001, creating a licensing
regime that would have legal enforceability — was appropriate, and none of us
disputed that response.
Our quarrel in 2001 with Bill C-6 — and when I speak of "our quarrel," I am
speaking of Senator Carney and myself; Senator Di Nino and Senator Andreychuk,
who were also at the time Progressive Conservative members of the Foreign
Affairs Committee; and our other colleagues who were then in that caucus and who
supported the amendments we tried to make to that bill at that time.
Our concern was that Bill C-6 could prove the law of unintended consequences.
To begin with, the definition of "bulk water" was not in the statute but,
rather, in the regulations where it can be changed by fiat of the
Second, while the statute requires a licence for any obstruction or
diversion, it provides that exceptions to the licensing requirement can be made:
how — by regulation.
Third, while there is a prohibition on bulk water removals from boundary
waters in section 13(1), a couple of lines later, section 13(4), adds:
Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of the exceptions specified in the
What are the exceptions? Cabinet will decide; the regulatory authority will
Honourable senators, a prohibition qualified by the unfettered authority of
cabinet to make exceptions to it is not much of a prohibition at all. The
Governor-in-Council, by regulation, can specify, as I have indicated, what
constitutes a use, obstruction, diversion or work. The Governor-in-Council can
define any word or expression used in section 11 to section 26 that is not
already defined in the act. The Governor-in-Council can specify exceptions to
the licensing requirement, and the Governor-in-Council can specify exceptions
to the prohibition on the removal of waters from the basin. The scope of the
regulation-making authority under this act is extraordinary and, in my view,
Bill S-222 seeks to remedy those flaws in the statute as amended in 2001. In
a nutshell, this bill accomplishes two main objectives. First, it will
incorporate in the statute some of the definitions and some of the exceptions
that have been placed in the regulations, notably, the exceptions to the
prohibition of bulk water removals. These exceptions, as I said, will now be in
the statute and there will be no authority for cabinet to make further
exceptions by regulations. To make exceptions to the prohibition of bulk water
removals, they will have to come to Parliament and have a law passed to enable
them to do it.
Second, in respect of certain other regulations, notably other definitions
and the making of exceptions to the licensing regime, any new regulations will
have to be presented to both houses of Parliament and will take effect if there
is no negative vote by one or other of the two houses.
We tried these amendments with Bill C-6 in 2001. When I say "we,"
honourable senators know who I am talking about. The amendments were in Senator
Carney's Bill S-225 in 2007, which died on the Order Paper; they were in her
Bill S-217 later in 2007, which also died on the Order Paper; and they are now
before honourable senators in Bill S-222.
Since 2001 and the passage of Bill C-6, there have been several developments
that I want to mention in passing, because I think they may be relevant to where
we go from here.
First, the Great Lakes Charter amendments were brought in by 10 Great Lakes
states. These charter amendments impose some restrictions on diversions outside
the basin. Importantly, from the point of view of the legal expert — and, again,
I am indebted to the Department of Foreign Affairs officials for this background
information — the Great Lakes states brought in these amendments notwithstanding
the U.S. Constitution's interstate commerce clause, which, if it were applied,
would not permit selective restrictions. Those amendments to the charter are
permitted under the United States Constitution. They go to Congress to be
ratified, which they were, and then the amendments are signed by the president,
which happened late in the presidency of President George W. Bush.
Second, in February 2008, a study sponsored by the Munk Centre for
International Studies at Trinity College, University of Toronto, made the
obvious point that Bill C-6 applied only to boundary waters. The study went on
to sketch out a proposed model Canadian water preservation act that would not
apply to boundary waters but to most others, at least at the level of the five
largest drainage basins.
Interestingly, they tackled the federal-provincial jurisdictional issue by
putting in a provision to the effect that their proposed federal legislation
would not apply in any province that had equivalent legislation and regulations
and that had signed an equivalency agreement with Ottawa.
Third, the first Speech from the Throne brought in during this Parliament was
delivered on November 19, 2008. Not to put too fine a point on it, it was
overtaken by events. There was a brief passage in the speech that I will quote.
My ears perked up when I heard the Governor General say this:
To ensure protection of our vital resources, our Government will bring in
legislation to ban all bulk water transfers or exports from Canadian
This undertaking was not in the second Speech from the Throne in this
Parliament, which was delivered in January. However, I understand the government
commitment stands and that they are working on translating it into legislation.
This matter is still under consideration by the government.
It is not surprising that it is taking some time to bring in legislation
based on that commitment when one considers the many overlapping, and sometimes
competing, considerations touching on the environment, on federal-provincial
jurisdictions and on international relations, including trade, that need to be
canvassed within the government and between the government and it various
partners before a bill on this subject is ready to come to Parliament.
I note, and ask honourable senators to note, the use in the Speech from the
Throne of the term "exports." It was at that word that my ears perked up,
because successive governments have resisted and indeed rejected calls for a
legislated ban on water exports. The concern of many legal experts was that such
a ban would be tantamount to a declaration that water was a tradable good and
would therefore be subject to our various trade obligations. It remains to be
seen whether the present government has had second thoughts or new legal advice
on this matter or whether they have a different definition of the word "export."
I may also bring to your attention the platforms of the present governing
party. In 2006, they promised to ensure, and I quote partially, ". . . water
quality by addressing environmental issues such as the need for aquifer mapping,
protection of the Great Lakes Basin, banning interbasin water transfers,
imposing substantial penalties for illegal bilge oil dumping . . ." and so on.
Then, in 2008, their platform says they:
. . . will reaffirm the Government of Canada's position that NAFTA cannot
require Canada to export bulk water to other NAFTA countries.
We will work with the provinces to strengthen the current ban and ensure a
clear legislative prohibition on bulk water removals or export from Canadian
Honourable senators, this is interesting stuff. I do not say that these
developments have overtaken the amendments in this bill that go back to 2001;
however, I acknowledge that Bill S-222, the bill before you, cannot be
considered in isolation given these other developments. I suggest that the
reference of this bill to committee, perhaps even before second reading, would
provide the opportunity to hear expert witnesses, including government
officials, not only on the bill but on the larger issues raised by these other
developments. It might serve to provide some assistance and guidance to the
government and, ultimately, to Parliament while the government considers the
best way to honour the planks in its 2006 and 2008 platforms and to translate
into legislative form the commitments in the November 19 Speech from the Throne.
This is the proposal that I would ask you to consider.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Grafstein has
a question. Will Senator Murray accept questions?
Senator Murray: Yes.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, I congratulate
Senator Murray for raising the consciousness of the Senate on the question of
water. We heard yesterday from Mary Simon in regard to the disastrous state of
drinking water in Aboriginal communities, and we hope to address that subject
next week in committee. Senator Angus has told me that my bill on clean drinking
water will be dealt with by committee, and I thank him for that.
Having said that, there is a big flaw in this bill that I hope will be
explored in committee. I welcome the senator's comments on the differentiation
between boundary waters and intrastate or intraprovincial waters, which is
essentially the Great Lakes and the systems that run along the border. They are
in part international waters and in part domestic waters. The water does not
decide whether it will be international or domestic, it just floats around, to
paraphrase our former Prime Minister. While there is a prohibition in this bill
for bulk water, what is the difference between bulk water and a commercial
company turning a tap on in Toronto or Detroit and just filling bottles full of
water and then redistilling it? What is the difference between bulk water and
bulk water that comes through the tap on either side of the border, or is there
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, this question raises both
technical as well as legal or even constitutional implications. The legislation
was passed in 2001. Under the regulations, they talk about 50,000 litres being
the definition of bulk water, and they make exceptions for bottled water and
that kind of thing.
Intrabasin activities are, to some extent, covered on the American side by
the Great Lakes Charter as amended a while back. What I meant to say and did not
say was that on the same day that the amendments to the Great Lakes Charter were
passed by the Congress and approved by the president, an identical instrument
was passed by two Canadian provinces, namely Ontario and Quebec. They addressed,
to some extent, the intrabasin issue.
Perhaps more importantly, although I do not know because I have just glanced
at it, the bill that the Munk Centre has brought forward purports to apply to
all but the boundary waters, and therefore my humble proposal. I realized right
away that, in view of the other things that have happened in the past seven or
eight years, we would be better advised to take the opportunity to send this
bill to committee and canvass all these other issues at the same time.
My honourable friend talks about raising the consciousness of the Senate
about the water issues. I have been on this bill for quite a while, but I think
no one in this place has done as much as has Senator Grafstein with his two
bills on important water issues that are still under debate here. I congratulate
him in return on that.
Senator Grafstein: I went to an LCBO store the other day and noticed
that I can buy bottled water from glaciers, or glacier water. Is that covered by
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, I am not sure that glacial waters
would be within the ambit of this bill. Even the Newfoundland vodka that is
supposedly made with ice from glaciers in the vicinity, while it is on my mind
to some extent, is not in the bill.
Senator Grafstein: I think the honourable senator agrees with me that
this bill requires careful examination both from a legal and constitutional view
as well as an actual application perspective. I think that the definitions, and
I assume he agrees, are rather loose and require much more precision and
definition, at least to obtain a public good, which is to cut out the bulk
export of water.
Senator Murray: Honourable senators, the looseness is in the statute
that we are trying to amend with this bill. However, as I say, it might be quite
possible or likely that this bill will be overtaken by other initiatives,
including perhaps government legislation. I put this forward now so that it may
go to committee and provide the opportunity for discussing and considering not
just the provisions of this bill but of the wider issues that are imminent.
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Goldstein, seconded
by the Honourable Senator Lovelace Nicholas, for the second reading of Bill
S-231, An Act to amend the Investment Canada Act (human rights violations).
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable
senators, we are still looking at the repercussions of this bill, and the
analysis is not complete. I would like to adjourn the debate on this bill for
the remainder of my time.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette moved the second reading of Bill S-238,
An Act to establish gender parity on the board of directors of certain
corporations, financial institutions and parent Crown corporations.
She said: Honourable senators, it gives me great pride to speak today at
second reading of a bill that is very important to me and that I have been
working on for several years.
The purpose of Bill S-238 is to ensure parity for women on the board of
directors of publicly traded corporations, financial institutions and federal
Crown corporations. Women are active participants in the business community, as
business owners, shareholders, officers, managers and employees, and they also
play an important role in the market as consumers, so they should have equal
representation in the management of business.
A great many women in Canada have the qualifications and experience to act as
corporate directors, but the number of women in top corporate positions does not
come close to reflecting their economic importance.
A June 2008 Catalyst study based on 2007 data collected from the Financial
Post 500 companies is unequivocal. I would like to quote from the study,
which is entitled 2007 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors.
The report found that women's representation on corporate boards in Canada
remains remarkably low. Women held 13 per cent of board seats in the
Financial Post 500, up only 1 percentage point since 2005. In 2007, just
over 40 per cent of Financial Post 500 companies in Canada still had no
women on their board of directors; and less than one-third of companies had
multiple women on their boards.
Financial Post 500 companies continue to draw board members from
narrow pools. Overall, one in five board seats filled since 2005 were given to
individuals, women and men, who were currently sitting on at least one other
Financial Post 500 board.
It is clear that fine promises and good intentions are not enough to promote
equality for women on boards of directors. The Canadian government must
Bill S-238, which I have introduced, requires the following corporations and
financial institutions to achieve parity in the number of women and men serving
as directors: every corporation that is a distributing corporation under the
Canada Business Corporations Act; every bank that is listed in Schedule I to the
Bank Act; every insurance company and every trust and loan company that is a
distributing company; and every cooperative credit association. The requirement
for gender parity also applies to the Crown corporations listed in Schedule III
to the Financial Administration Act.
Corporations have up to three years to comply with the parity requirement.
Bill S-235, which I introduced on May 12, provides that no individual may sit on
the board of directors of more than four public corporations. That means that
there will be vacancies created that can be filled with women, thanks to Bill
For all honourable senators who see this as a dangerous precedent on the part
of the Canadian Parliament concerning good corporate governance, I would remind
them that, in 2006, the Government of Quebec passed similar legislation. Here is
what the Quebec finance minister at the time, Michel Audet, said when he
announced this reform:
One new element that has been particularly welcome is the increased number
of women on boards of directors. Crown corporations have been asked to have
equal representation of men and women on all boards of directors within the
next five years. With this measure, we are acknowledging the fact that Quebec
can count on the expertise of many, highly qualified women who have the
required skills and have proven their commitment to society.
As far as we know, no Crown corporations in Quebec have gone bankrupt or had
any problems because an equal number of men and women sit on the board of
directors. Furthermore, the Premier of Quebec, Jean Charest, has taken the
initiative even further by selecting an equal number of women and men to serve
on his cabinet. This is an excellent example to be emulated in the federal
cabinet and in all the provinces.
Some major industrialized nations in Europe have also decided to take action
and have passed legislation to increase women's representation on boards of
directors and in publicly traded corporations. For instance, since 2006, Norway
has required that women make up 40 per cent of all public enterprises' boards of
directors. That measure existed before, on a voluntary basis, and Norway later
passed legislation to that effect. Two years ago, Spain adopted identical
Honourable senators, it should come as no surprise that having equal
representation of women and men on boards of directors makes businesses more
A recent study, entitled Groundbreakers, done by the firm Ernst &
Young, is positive, and I quote:
Economic analysis by the World Bank, United Nations, Goldman Sachs and
other organizations show a significant statistical correlation between gender
equality and the level of development of countries. The evidence is compelling
that women can be powerful drivers of economic development.
Several studies from a broad spectrum of organizations — including
Catalyst, Columbia University, McKinsey, Goldman Sachs and The Conference
Board of Canada — have examined the relationship between corporate financial
performance and women in leadership roles. Their undisputed conclusion is that
having more women at the top improves financial performance.
There are many reasons that explain this result and here is one of them, says
this study: Diversity is strategy; diversity is an equation for success.
Academic research has established that diverse groups of people tend to
outperform homogeneous groups if both groups' people have equal abilities.
This was very aptly put by Anne-Marie Hubert, a partner in Ernst & Young, in
an article in the May 17, 2009, edition of La Presse:
We need board members who can suggest new ways of tackling old problems and
who reject the group-think that may have contributed to the global financial
challenges we are facing at this time.
Honourable senators, many of you will agree with that statement.
But not everyone agrees. Well-known investor Stephen Jarislowsky undoubtedly
said out loud what some people think quietly to themselves when he recently
spoke out against Quebec's law on parity. Speaking of women, he said:
They have not lived their whole lives in this type of culture . . .
Speaking about women in organizational culture, he said:
. . .they come from outside. Something is missing and that is industrial
Jarislowsky maintains that, assuming that they raise children, it is much
more difficult for women to be good administrators.
I am tempted to quote the comments by Sophie Cousineau, a columnist for La
These inappropriate comments are ridiculous. They merely betray the fact
that the venerable Stephen Jarislowsky is 83 years old. They are obviously not
in keeping with today's reality.
I would also like to quote an attentive observer of Canadian news, who is
known to many members of this chamber. In his report on LCN, the television news
channel, Luc Lavoie commented that Mr. Jarislowsky is a financial wizard and
speaks intelligently about economics. However, he added:
But, this time, his sexist remarks are out in left field. He spoke about
the little women who could not expect to have the necessary skills to serve as
board members. Mr. Jarislowsky, please apologize or your image will be
In his comments, which were reported extensively in the Quebec media, Mr.
Jarislowsky nevertheless confirmed that he was in favour of parity provided that
the members of boards of directors are curious, courageous and competent. I
would say that all women agree with him there.
However, Premier Jean Charest was also quick to respond and defend the Quebec
law, as reported in the May 28 edition of the Le Devoir. The article
states that the premier pointed out that the Quebec law has actually forced the
. . . to think outside the box when making appointments. In this way, we
were able to discover people who apparently did not exist previously, but who
were suddenly brought to our attention.
Because the competence of men versus women is still an issue, here are the
latest Statistics Canada data, which were released in March and concern the
degrees awarded in 2006 by all Canadian universities.
Of all qualifications, about 60%, or 136,200, were awarded to women,
continuing a long-term trend in which female graduates have outnumbered their
male counterparts. Women have outnumbered men at every level other than at the
doctorate level since 1994.
As for doctorates, the federal agency states:
Universities granted 4,500 doctorate degrees in 2006. Women accounted for
42% of these doctorates, up from 34% a decade earlier.
Now, let us look at the figures for qualifications granted by field of study.
In the fields of business, management and public administration, 20,900
university qualifications were awarded to men in 2006, compared to 24,800 for
women. In the fields of physical and life sciences and technologies, men
received 7,100 qualifications and women, 10,000. As you can see, the figures
speak for themselves.
Honourable senators, with this new bill, I am continuing, with you and with
the Canadian public, the reform of the financial system and business management
that I initiated a few weeks ago with Bill S-235. In view of the moral crisis in
the capitalist system, an overhaul of the culture of boards of directors is
urgently needed. Gender parity on boards of directors is a part of these
absolutely necessary changes.
There may be no quick fix to the current financial crisis, but a sure-fire,
long-term resolution is to advance more women into leadership positions and
provide the right environment for new perspectives to be heard.
That statement concludes the 2009 study by Ernst & Young, Groundbreakers.
Honourable senators, I therefore urge you to study and pass Bill S-238. This
is our chance to take up a leadership role with the other industrialized nations
working to achieve the economic and social progress that Canada truly needs in
the great global village.
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report of the Standing
Senate Committee on Official Languages (budget—study on the application of
the Official Languages Act—power to hire staff and travel) presented
in the Senate on June 2, 2009.
Hon. Maria Chaput: Honourable senators, I move the adoption of the
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
The Senate proceeded to consideration of the seventh report of the Standing
Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration (amendments to the
Senate Administrative Rules), presented in the Senate on May 28, 2009.
Hon. Joan Cook moved the adoption of the report.
The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Debate?
Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I am unfamiliar with this
report, for which I apologize, although I am sure it has been made available to
me. Therefore, I move the adjournment of the debate.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Comeau calling the
attention of the Senate to the career of the Honourable Norman Atkins in the
Senate and his many contributions in service to Canadians.
The Hon. the Speaker: I remind honourable senators that the agreement
of the house yesterday was to proceed under this inquiry pursuant to the rules
for Senators' Statements, which is a limit of three minutes.
Hon. Tommy Banks: Senator Atkins, I hope that you are not bored by all
these speeches lauding you. I have been here only nine years and I have never
heard or seen anything like it before. We are all avidly supportive of what is
being said about you, and the great compliments. In any other place and about
any other person, much of what has been said might have been hyperbole, but in
your case, it is not and I hope you know that.
Before I came here, I had only heard of you; I did not know you. I expected a
different and much more formidable character than I found, given your herculean
achievements in respect of reorganizing Canada's great Progressive Conservative
Party. That was a very pleasant surprise.
I wish to take a moment, senator, to thank you for your advice. Everyone in
this place has received advice from you, most of us directly. It has always been
right, and it has most often been acted upon because it has been most reliable.
I, for one, want you to know that I will continue to ask for your advice, and I
hope that you will continue to give it.
When you speak in this place, or anywhere else, senator, people listen and we
still want to listen to you. We will still pay attention to what you say.
"Retirement" is a word that — at least its adjectival form — I would not
attribute to you. You are not a "retiring" person. First, it is a good idea
that everyone change jobs every 23 years or so. I congratulate you on looking at
what you are going to do next.
I know that in some way or another you will continue your distinguished
service, indirectly, to this place and to your country because it is not in you
to stop doing that, senator. That is something to which we all look forward.
I want to thank you, Senator Atkins for your irreplaceable help and advice,
your unfathomable patience with those of us who are naive and who have come to
you for assistance. You have set, in more ways than you know, an extremely high
bar to which the rest of us can only aspire. I thank you very much personally
and add my voice to all of the others — much more distinguished before me — that
you heard yesterday. Thank you, Norm.
Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Last night I had the honour of going to a
well-attended dinner in honour of our good friend, Senator Atkins. I was happy
to have the opportunity to listen to so many good people who spoke about Senator
Atkins. Among the speakers was the former Premier of Ontario, the always popular
and outstanding Mr. Davis and the former Chief Justice, Mr. McMurtry, a fabulous
traveling companion who reminded me of an extraordinary trip we took to South
Korea with our good friend, the former Minister of National Defence, Mr. Bob
It is good for posterity to know that Bob Coates created — and I was his
assistant, with pleasure — the Canada-Korea organization that helped open
avenues of communication between Canada and South Korea. That organization was
responsible for the first visit of the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney to South
Senator Atkins' wonderful family attended the dinner last night and although
the party was well attended, I wish that more senators had been there to see his
magnificent family. I am glad that I have nephews, nieces, grand-nephews and a
great-grand-niece, but I do not have children.
I was happy to listen to Senator Atkins' sons as they gave their speeches to
their father. They are outstanding young people and were gracious in their
remarks. At the same time, I was happy to celebrate with all the others who
spoke. They reminded me that the man who is leaving is certainly deserving of
all that was said about him last night, as well as yesterday afternoon. He is a
man of great integrity who did me the honour of sharing many discussions with
me. He has always been highly civilized, as I believe we in the Senate should be
always. He made me realize that we neglect the important exchange of ideas that
come from having discussions with people from various places in Canada, and from
various political backgrounds.
I had an experience at noon — without mentioning names — of having lunch with
a member of the Conservative Party of the House of Commons, a former minister. I
discovered an unbelievable idea, because we agreed one day to say, "Why do we
not have lunch together?"
Thank you very much, senator, for your civility and for the few months that I
have left, I will try to spread the same message that you gave us last night:
Keep healthy, keep smiling and we will see each other again. Of course, keep in
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, it is a great honour for me
to participate with other colleagues and friends in paying tribute to the
Honourable Senator Norman Kempton Atkins.
It has been a wonderful experience, the last two days, listening to the many
speeches extolling the attributes of this fine senator.
As we have heard, before his appointment to the Senate, Senator Atkins worked
in the field of communications. He also made significant contributions in the
volunteer sector, including work with the Canadian Diabetes Association, and the
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Senator Atkins exemplifies the intent of the Fathers of Confederation when
they created the Senate chamber as a chamber of Canadians who had made a
significant contribution to society prior to being appointed to the Senate.
Having been involved in politics in the province of New Brunswick, I became
aware of the legend known as Senator Atkins. Although we did not get to know one
another at that time, I came to know very well, two of his particularly good
friends, Dalton Camp and Barney London, both of whom spoke highly of Norman
Upon being appointed to the Senate I had the good fortune of working on the
Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, of which Senator
Atkins was an active member from its inception. We also had the opportunity to
work together on the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, and for a time as chair
and deputy chair.
One of the observations that I made during the many travels that we did
together was the keen rapport that Senator Atkins had with the soldiers,
sailors, air men and air women with whom we visited on those various trips.
There are many stories I would like to be able to share with you, but time does
not permit. However, permit me to recount two stories on trips during committee
During one of our visits to Washington, Senator Atkins was having a problem
with one of his feet. We convinced him that he should use a wheelchair as we
moved about from building to building on Capitol Hill. During the transfer
between buildings, Senator Atkins took to his wheelchair and I, as his pushing
assistant, decided we could take the walkway rather than going on the motorized
train with the rest of our delegation.
Then we decided to try and beat them to the other building. As we raced along
the walkway, chasing our colleagues who were on the motorized train, the
security guards, thinking the worst, chased after us. Luckily, we were not
stopped by security at that time, but I am sure they are still looking for that
wild man in the wheelchair.
Honourable senators, in conclusion, let me tell you about two items that we
worked on in the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs: One is The Valiants and the
other is the bomber command display in the Canadian War Museum, which is now a
fairer display. The Valiants are there at our War Memorial because of Senator
Atkins' work on our Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.
Senator Atkins has made a contribution through these and many other ways, and
he has influenced his country and our country and made it better for all
I wish him well, as do honourable senators, in his future endeavours. We
thank him sincerely for the contribution he has made to Canada through his
service here in the Senate of Canada.
Hon. W. David Angus: Honourable senators, I, too, am proud to join the
long, long list of colleagues who wish to pay tribute to our great friend,
Norman. I want to associate myself with all the laudatory comments that have
been made, Norman, not only in this chamber yesterday afternoon but last night
at the magnificent testimonial to you in your favourite room in the West Block.
I first met Norman Atkins at a Montreal Expos baseball game, beside the third
base line, in the early 1970s. I think Norman was in town, as Senator Meighen
said yesterday, to help with the little campaign we were running in Westmount to
try to overcome Bud Drury's massive majority.
I met this burly, athletic-looking character who announced that he was from
Montclair, New Jersey. We immediately established that we had a common friend
there who had attended the same university as me. As Senator Meighen said, our
effort probably helped in reducing the margin of defeat to some 11,000 votes.
However, the campaign was fun and it established our common love for, and belief
in, the principles of Sir John A and the Progressive Conservative Party.
I did not see Norman much for several years after that campaign. Then, in
1983, I received the call from a deep-voiced man with a large chin, Mr.
Mulroney, and he asked me if I would do a little job for him.
I said, Well, sir, anything you ask, within reason.
He said, I am considering hiring a campaign chair and one of the people we
are looking at is Mr. Norman Atkins of the Big Blue Machine.
Of course, Norman was a legend and I said I had met him once before, a couple
of times in Montreal. We arranged to meet at what is now the Sheraton Hotel, in
a little back room by the restaurant. I arrived a little late and there was the
man: the same burly, athletic fellow with a twinkle in his eye. He was nursing a
see-through libation of several proportions, and he ordered one up. He said, you
will have one of these, and we both got into those things.
I do not know whether it was for me to get to know him, or for him to get to
know me, or what the conditions or parameters were of him becoming the campaign
chair but, when I reported back the next day, I was at a loss to give any
details at all about what went on; so was Norman, I think. We exchanged
telephone calls and agreed that another dinner was in order.
The rest is history. He became our campaign chair. We had two wonderful
majority government victories.
An Hon. Senator: Hear, hear!
Senator Angus: As someone said here yesterday, the greatest political
experience I have had to date — unparalleled — were these meetings that Norman
held for his campaign teams in the 1984 and 1988 elections, in the Château
The theme that I remember, whether it was actual or not, was that, if
something is worth doing, it must be done in a "having fun" way. Norman had
this remarkable ability to bring people together in common cause, to focus on
the target and have fun. Many friendly relationships developed during those
meetings and over those years. I will never forget how lucky I am and was to
have been part of them, Norman.
For that, I thank you.
Norman, the only other thing I will say is that my son, Gregor, evinced an
interest in advertising and communications. You offered to help him. The result
is that he is now a senior executive in a major Canadian advertising agency. He
maintains a relationship with at least one of your sons. Your boys have been
extremely helpful to Gregor and I know you have supported him directly and
indirectly over the years.
Norman, you were chair of the caucus when I came here. What is, is. You have
remained in your caucus — a small one — but I wish that I had been able to
continue, and that you were able to continue, in the same caucus as me, because
you enhance every group you take part in. These last few years without you have
not been the same for me. I am sure many of my colleagues on this side agree,
You have your reasons. I do not understand them but I respect them
profoundly. I respect you and I have a deep and abiding affection and even love
for you. God Bless you. I wish you the very best.
Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, now is the time for
true confessions. Senator Norman Atkins, an old friend and worthy adversary, is
leaving. I think it is time that we do a mea culpa. I have a double
mea culpa today; it is the first time honourable senators will have heard
this confession but I think it is important because it relates to Norman.
I start with my late father-in-law, Harry "What a Man" Sniderman, who was
an active Tory bagman for Roland Michener, a good friend of Leslie Frost and his
brother, Cecil, and a great friend of Arch MacKenzie. When I came to Toronto to
court his daughter, he introduced me to these great Tory gentlemen.
When he learned I was a Liberal —
Senator Segal: Shame!
Senator Grafstein: — and a true grit at that, he said: "Farmer" —
because from then on he called me Farmer — "you see the palm of this hand? Hair
will grow from the centre of the palm of that hand before Liberals are elected
I grieve that Mr. Sniderman passed away, lo, these many years but he would
have been turning over in his grave if he had discovered that the Liberals truly
had taken over Ontario.
During that time, he also introduced me to some other fabled characters, Red
Foster and Allister Grosart, later to become Speaker of the Senate whose picture
is hanging in the other room.
He said, "If you want to know about politics, you have to talk to Red Foster
and learn from Allister Grosart. They will teach you what politics and machine
politics is all about."
I became curious. I started my own investigation. I discovered that, behind
Red Foster and the Red Foster agency, were the two geniuses of the Big Blue
Machine, one of whom was Dalton Camp. I met Dalton and we exchanged views from
time to time. It was during that period, Norman, that we first met. We then
slugged it out. I was on the other side of the Bill Davis campaign — I was
supporting Bob Nixon. I remember the great debate well where Bill Davis lashed
Bob Nixon. I helped Bob Nixon prepare for that debate and we were beaten by a
superior team and superior ideas.
Behind all that preparation was none other than the genius of Norman Atkins,
a true architect of modern politics.
Confession number two relates to when Mr. Trudeau asked me to head up the
advertising consortium for the Liberal Party, which we called Red Leaf. I became
the president and one of my mentors was Keith Davey. Confession number two is
that we stole your ideas.
Senator Segal: Shame!
Senator Grafstein: We stole the idea of a common colour, a common
logo, a common handbook and common posters; we stole the idea of doing things
collectively, and in an organized and scientific way. In addition to that, we
stole some of your polling techniques.
Having said all that, we improved on all of them.
Norman, I want to bid you a fond adieu because you are a true architect of
modern politics. You brought modern politics onto the Canadian stage. You were
not only a creator of it, but also an expeditor of it. I have only one other
regret today and that is your good friend and my mentor, Keith Davey, is not
here. If he were here, he would be extolling your friendship and virtues. Then
he would whisper to me, "But we can beat him any time."
By the way, we await your book. When your book is published, I promise that I
will steal as many ideas from that book as possible when I write my own. We wish
Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I am also pleased to rise to pay
tribute to Senator Norm Atkins although I cannot believe that it is time for him
Senator Atkins began his involvement in political campaigns in New Brunswick
and Nova Scotia when he was still a student. His website mentions that he was an
assistant and gofer in the 1952 and 1956 campaigns. Most of us in the Senate
Chamber have been gofers in political campaigns. We all know that being a gofer
simply means that you do jobs that you would never dream of doing if they were
paid positions. However, Norm, you did go on to become an organizer
I got to know Norm well when we both served on the Standing Senate Committee
on National Security and Defence. Whenever the committee had witnesses
discussing stolen goods, Norm would always ask them if they had ever seen a
little red truck with a licence plate "NORMIE," which had disappeared from his
driveway. However, Norm, no one had the heart to tell you that the red truck was
now likely painted green or brown and it had someone else's name on the licence
On a few occasions during our committee travels, Norm and I had the chance to
enjoy a martini at dinner. We both agree that a martini must be made with gin. I
remember one afternoon in the Senate we were having some serious discussions
about waterways in Canada. Many of you have already spoken about the advice that
Norm gives. I received a note from Norm saying that we should simply fill all
the lakes with martinis — not a bad idea. I guess it would certainly encourage a
lot of people to take up swimming and, perhaps, it could be the start of a new
Having heard your sons speak last night at the tribute to you, I can
understand the great pride that you show every time you speak about them. Then
again, their speeches also demonstrated the love and pride that they have for
you. Norm, it has truly been a pleasure working with you. You are a gentleman
and we will miss you in the Senate. My best wishes to you and to Mary for a
healthy and happy retirement.
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, others have said in far better
detail, more fully, eloquently and knowledgeably than I, all the things that
Senator Atkins has done and accomplished in his life thus far.
I want to relay an anecdote. I think it says a lot about him. When I came
here 10-odd years ago, he was one of the senators of whom I stood in awe. I did
not know him, but he had a gigantic reputation. I was much too shy ever to speak
to him. The first time he spoke to me in a kindly fashion, I suffered from
something approaching stage fright. I was practically tongue-tied.
A little while ago, I told him this. It says a lot about Senator Atkins that
he immediately concluded that this meant I must have heard terrible things about
him and that would be why I was afraid to speak to him. I said, "No, no. I was
nervous because you are a great man." He said "No." I said "Yes!" He said "No!"
However, he was and is a great man. In the ensuing years, I have watched him
with admiration. I have learned lessons about wisdom, grace and courage of many
kinds. Recently, I had the opportunity to work with him and to appreciate that
dry sense of humour. There are not many people who can combine well-earned
cynicism with high principle, integrity and kindness, but he does.
He has been a lesson to me and, as I know, to many senators. I say again,
sir: "You are a great man."
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I thank all who
participated in this inquiry, which is now considered debated.
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Hubley calling the
attention of the Senate to the Treaty on Cluster Munitions.
Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, it is with mixed emotion that
I rise in this place to speak on the issue of cluster bombs. It would be to risk
understatement our collective wish that they did not exact such a collateral
toll. However, today, I am somewhat optimistic when I look at Canada's efforts
and leadership regarding cluster munitions. It signals that we have begun the
process of eradication.
Only this past December, Canada's Ambassador to Norway, Her Excellency
Jillian Stirk signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on behalf of the
Minister of Foreign Affairs. Together with like-minded states, Canada will
continue to contribute to global efforts to protect innocent civilians.
Stockpiles are being destroyed; the prohibition is taking hold; and more and
more nations are signing on to new international treaties to ban the use of
Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action report what they describe as a "major
shift internationally." Spain became the first country to destroy all
stockpiles; Colombia is not far behind; Austria, Belgium and Norway are moving
quickly; and Canada, of course, is also taking action and showing leadership.
As Senator Hubley pointed out in her original inquiry in February, it was
Canada that led the way with the historic signing of the Mine Ban Treaty in
Ottawa in 1997. Canada's former Minister of Foreign Affairs Lloyd Axworthy has
been a leader in the reduction and elimination of weapons that target civilian
As a weapon of war, the cluster bomb is particularly insidious. It does not
even truly target an enemy. Ninety-eight per cent of all recorded cluster
munitions casualties have been civilian. As Senator Prud'homme has eloquently
and passionately highlighted in this chamber on more than one occasion, children
are far too often the victims.
With your indulgence, please allow me a few moments for some background
because not everyone inside or even outside this chamber understands what we are
talking about. Cluster bombs can contain hundreds of deadly sub-munitions that
disperse upon impact. Their purpose is to destroy airfields and runways,
electric power transmission lines or moving targets such as armoured columns.
They can be air dropped or ground launched. Up to 2,000 of these sub-munitions
or "bomblets" can be packed together in a single cluster bomb canister. These
weapons scatter tiny, but deadly, grenade-like bomblets over a wide area as
large as two or three football fields. The idea, like carpet bombing, is to
achieve a high level of explosive impact upon the largest possible area.
Therein lies the problem. Part of their punishing power is their
unpredictability. Although cluster bombs are designed to fully explode, many of
the sub-munitions do not. These bomblets can remain on the ground as live
ammunition for decades after the end of a conflict. Camouflaged by Mother
Nature, the rain falls, the wind blows and it all conspires to offer cover and
create deadly hiding places.
Long after the tanks have been silenced and the arms have been put down,
these hidden killers linger in homes, on roads, in playgrounds threatening
communities for years. The curious squat, brown cylinders strewn casually about,
seemingly innocent objects, are intriguing discoveries for children who easily
mistake them for toys with obvious devastating and disastrous effects — killing
That is why I want to be perfectly clear today that our Canadian Forces have
never used cluster munitions in operations, and our forces are ridding their
arsenal of this weapon.
We have shown leadership with stockpile destruction. The Canadian Forces
recently destroyed their entire stockpile of MK20 "Rockeye" air-delivered
cluster munitions. The forces currently hold some ground-delivered munitions,
but they are diligently working with other government departments to destroy
these remaining weapons in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
We have shown leadership with respect to mine clearance, and we continue to
lead with services to rehabilitate victims.
Under this government, the contribution of the Canadian International
Development Agency to mine action was $33 million last year, for a total
contribution of approximately $74 million over the last two years. That is why
we also support the Canadian Landmine Fund, the Global Peace and Security Fund
and leading partner non-government organizations such as Mines Action Canada.
Through the past action of the Ottawa convention, the Convention on Certain
Conventional Weapons and, under this government, the recent signing of the
Convention on Cluster Munitions, Canada has always shown, and continues to show,
leadership in meeting its obligations.
Even when participating states could not achieve agreement with the
traditional disarmament framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional
Weapons in February 2007 in Norway, Norway initiated a separate process to
negotiate a new convention, and Canada was an early, consistent and important
In our view, the convention on cluster munitions strikes an appropriate
balance between humanitarian and military considerations; namely, it establishes
a high humanitarian standard with respect to cluster munitions while preserving
the Canadian Forces' capacity to continue to engage effectively with allies who
will not be party to this convention. It commits us to risk education, and it
commits us to helping others comply.
This convention is seen amongst participating states, UN agencies,
international organizations like the Red Cross and civil society organizations
from every region of the world as a major success and a huge step forward.
Of course, opinion in the international arena remains divided on the usage of
these bombs. Even about the facts, such as how many cluster bombs exist and
where have they been used, is all controversial, even right here in this
chamber, as demonstrated in the debate between Senator Goldstein and Senator
As Senator Prud'homme brought to my attention, and this information has been
reported in places like The Guardian and other publications that "some
middle-ranking officials at the Pentagon and the state department have argued
that Israel had violated prohibitions on using cluster munitions against
civilian areas," but "others in both departments, thought Israel's use of
weapons was justified on the grounds of self-defence."
This debate will no doubt continue as we work to convince others to join us.
In times of war, and during the rebuilding process, civilian populations and
children need protection. Again, according to Human Rights Watch and the group,
Landmine Action, there is the determination of the international community to
deal urgently with humanitarian dangers posed by this weapon.
Canada continues to show strong moral leadership globally while pursuing
ratification and implementation here at home.
Hon. Joseph A. Day: Will the honourable senator entertain one
Senator Wallin: Yes, to the best of my ability.
Senator Day: It was only at the end of Senator Wallin's well-delivered speech, and I agree with all the points she made, that she mentioned
It is my understanding that ratification is a two-step process; one step is
signing and the second is ratification. In the treaty, there is provision after
ratification for disarmament. Therefore, all the points the honourable senator
made in relation to disarmament are prior to ratification, and hopefully those
points are an indication that we will ratify.
However, if this treaty is not ratified by 30 nations within a year or a year
and a half, then it will expire. Is there any indication as to leadership from
Canada in relation to ratification?
Senator Wallin: Honourable senators, we are and we have been
researching this matter. We are told that it is expected that we will ratify
this convention soon.
Here is the issue: Authority to ratify the convention can be sought only once
the domestic legislation and other measures are put into place. We must do that,
our own homework, to ensure our own compliance.
The other problem is that it is proving to be a challenge internationally
because the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, CCW, has adopted a
practice of consensus decision-making, which requires unanimous agreement. That
is being worked on.
The good news is, while there were in the 1990s — 1994 and 1996 — original
signatures, the number is now over 100. Many states involved are taking
unilateral action and moving forward on stockpiles, regardless of whether the
final convention has been signed and ratified.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is there further debate?
(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.)
Leave having been given to revert to Notices of Motions:
Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next
sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs have
the power to sit from 12:00 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 10, 2009, and
from 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 11, 2009, even though the Senate may then be
sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.
Leave having been given to revert to Presentation of Reports from Standing or
Hon. Joan Fraser, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs, presented the following report:
Thursday, June 4, 2009
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has the
honour to present its
Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-205, An Act to amend the
Criminal Code (suicide bombings), has, in obedience to the order of reference
of Tuesday, March 31, 2009, examined the said Bill and now reports the same
with the following amendment:
Clause 1, page 1:
(a) Replace lines 8 to 10 with the following:
"bombing is an act that comes within paragraph (a) or (b)
of the definition "terrorist activity" in subsection (1) if it satisfies
the criteria of that paragraph."; and
(b) Add after line 10 the following:
"2. This Act comes into force on the day to be fixed by order of the
Governor in Council.".
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this report be
taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Fraser, report placed on the Orders of the Day for
consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Segal calling the
attention of the Senate to the government of Iran's imminent nuclear war
capacity and its preparations for war in the Middle East, and to the
commitment of Canada and its allies, including the USA, Russia, Turkey, the
Gulf States, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and others, to diplomatic and
strategic initiatives that exclude first-use nuclear attack, the ability of
Canada to engage with its allies in order to understand, measure and contain
this threat, and the capacity of Canada to support allied efforts to prevent a
thermonuclear exchange in the Middle East.
Hon Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, I said I would address
this topic following President Obama's speech. I must say I am studying the
speech he made this morning very closely.
Outstanding, if I may say, in Egypt. It will have some influence on the rest
of my debate. Therefore, with permission, I want to adjourn the debate in my
name. I am in the position to believe I will do so before the summer
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it agreed?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(On motion of Senator Prud'homme, debate adjourned.)
Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Champagne, P.C.,
seconded by the Honourable Senator Eaton:
That the Senate unanimously urge the two Ministers responsible for the
Olympic and Paralympic Games to do everything in their power to make VANOC and
the Broadcasting Consortium quickly reach an agreement that will ensure the
broadcasting of the 2010 Paralympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler.
Hon. Joyce Fairbairn: Honourable senators, it is with great
appreciation and enthusiasm that I support the motion of Senator Champagne
urging the federal government to do everything in its power to have VANOC and
the Broadcasting Consortium quickly negotiate an agreement that will ensure the
broadcasting of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler.
To say that I am a fan of our Canadian Paralympians is an understatement. I
have become a very intense honorary godmother who joins the team in supporting
them at Paralympic Games — winter and summer.
In 1998, I was asked to represent the Canadian government on behalf of the
then sports minister Sheila Copps at the Winter Paralympic Games in Nagano,
Japan. Like almost every citizen in Canada, I knew very little about these games
and these extraordinary athletes who bring great pride to this country.
On day one in Nagano I became an instant fan and was introduced to some of
the finest people I have ever known. Since then I have enthusiastically
attended, from opening to closing, every games, both summer and winter, and I
truly wish all Canadians could see our athletes giving their best for this
For example, in the last Winter Games in Torino, there was for the first time
in Paralympic history an event that filled the arena with enthusiastic fans
waving flags of all nations. It was wheelchair curling for the first time. It
ended with none other than the Canadian flag being raised as our relatively
young wheelchair curling team took home that gold medal. Other countries had
promoted curling for some time, but it was the Canadians that startled them when
our new team ended up with the last stone of the last game moving them past the
British team, which had been well on its way to victory. The place went wild
with enthusiasm, but there were no television cameras to show it to Canadians.
There was no broadcast.
Games after games, we have cheered and waved the biggest flags possible to
carry our athletes to do their finest. Many win medals, approaching the podium
with smiles and pride for their country. Chantal Petitclerc, whom Senator
Champagne knows well and spoke about during her speech, the most outstanding
female wheelchair racer in the world, was awarded the 2008 Lou Marsh Trophy for
Canada's Athlete of the Year. The Lou Marsh Trophy is not for women only, not
for disabled athletes, but for Canada's overall top athlete of the year. Her
career spans 17 years, during which she has won 21 Paralympic medals and knocked
the socks off her competitors in Beijing, China.
Our sledge hockey team, which has taken home many medals in past Paralympic
Games, is currently ranked first in the world and is a strong contender for gold
in Vancouver next year. We have amazing wheelchair rugby and basketball players,
runners and skiers, both alpine and cross-country.
We have the McKeever brothers from the mountains near Banff where the oldest
brother, Robin, left the Olympic sports team in order to guide his visually
impaired brother Brian as a gold medal pair in Salt Lake City and Torino, and
they are now looking forward to Whistler.
Our blind downhill skier Chris Williamson continues to barrel down those
slopes with his guide nearby and again has brought the flag home to Canada from
Salt Lake and Torino.
Our outstanding downhill skier Lauren Woolstencroft blazes down hills with
prosthetic lower legs and one pole and has led the pack to the Paralympic podium
time after time and is ready to do it again. Already in the advance competitions
leading up to the 2010 games, she has gathered up a number of gold medals around
the world and is continuing to get ready for the year ahead at Whistler.
Along with these athletes, many others are working endlessly hard not just
for themselves but for their families and their country. They are also well
aware that success finds its way into the lives of others with disabilities who
want to come forward and do a great deal to encourage others to get physically
In order to do so, Canadians in all areas need to have the opportunity to
watch these athletes, their skill and their spirit, their pride of each other
and of their country. Over the past years, Canadians have had little chance of
knowing who the Paralympians are and how they have the courage and goodwill and
determination to overcome these disabilities and leave people, young and old,
across Canada to know that there is a road ahead on which lives can change and
Along with supporters and friends from across this country, we have tried to
follow the courage and generosity of our athletes by creating a Canadian
Paralympic Foundation to encourage other Canadians to support this effort. The
goal is to open the doors and opportunities to those with physical disabilities
and give them a chance to move forward in daily life and in sports.
It is imperative that parents and children across this country have the
opportunity to see what can be done. The slogan of our athletes is, "Yes I
Can." They want to offer their own efforts to the families in every part of
this country. Clearly the way to do it is to give Canadians a chance to see
these athletes compete and succeed on the world stage.
Senator Champagne has encouraged the Senate of Canada, and she has worked
extremely hard, to persuade our government to promote the 2010 Paralympic Games
and its athletes by ensuring that a broadcasting agreement will be made. These
games must be televised while the athletes are performing and not weeks after
the games are over. Surely, as hosts to the world, our government and our
citizens can make sure that what takes place in that beautiful part of our
country will be seen here in Canada and beyond our borders.
I encourage honourable senators on both sides of this chamber to stand in
line behind our colleague who has taken a great deal of time and effort to make
the doors open. I would hope that the Senate of Canada can come together and
send a message that says "Yes We Can."
This is like a march, and I urge all of us in whatever way we can to persuade
our friends across the building that now is the time to give these folks a fair
chance to lift our country. We have never had this kind of opportunity before.
Let us make the best of it.
The Hon. the Speaker: I must inform the house that if Senator
Champagne speaks, it will have the effect of concluding debate.
Hon. Andrée Champagne: Honourable senators, I want to thank Senator
Fairbairn for her kind words. I know that she has been working with Paralympians
for many years. Once you have been with them during one competition, you cannot
but love them and want them to win and want them to get all the help they can.
Recently, the Official Languages Committee heard officials from the
CTVglobemedia consortium. Even though I was supposed to ask questions on the
French part of the broadcast of the Olympics and the Paralympics, I asked
whether they were planning to show us our Paralympians — and not at three
o'clock in the morning when everyone is in bed — so we can get to know them, to
love them, and develop the wish to help them and their cause. I was told that
maybe one or two games of the sledge hockey would be shown in prime time.
Honourable senators, this is not enough. With your help in supporting this
motion today, I hope to continue to find sponsors. The problem is lack of
sponsors because the Paralympic Games are not known well enough by Mr. and Ms.
Public. We must convince people, even in these difficult economic times, which
may be improved by the winter of 2010, to sponsor our Paralympians.
Honourable senators, the Government of Canada should do its part. I would
like to move forward with this resolution in an effort to convince them. I am
quite confident that we will get at least a "maybe" before we leave for the
summer. I thank you all and I will do my best.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Chaput calling the
attention of the Senate to the Conservative government's inaction on
CBC/Radio-Canada's urgent financial needs and the disastrous consequences of
this inaction on services to official-language minority communities.
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable
senators, today I want to continue the inquiry of the Honourable Maria Chaput,
who on April 2 called the attention of the Senate to the government's inaction
on CBC/ Radio-Canada's urgent financial needs and the disastrous consequences of
this inaction on services to francophone minority communities.
I would like to begin by reminding you of certain facts. On March 25,
CBC/Radio-Canada announced that because of an anticipated shortfall of $171
million for the 2009-10 fiscal year, it was forced to lay off 800 people and
make major changes to its services. These layoffs represent close to 10 per cent
of the corporation's employees. Nearly half of all the job cuts are at the
In western Canada, nine full-time and four part-time positions in the French
network will be cut. In Manitoba, five employees and one manager will be let go;
in Saskatchewan, one person will be laid off; in Alberta, one full-time position
and one part-time position will be cut; and in British Columbia, four people
will lose their jobs. The local noontime programs have all been cancelled, and
Saturday programming will be consolidated for the entire western part of the
On March 31, to press the government to act, the Liberal Party introduced a
motion in the House of Commons urging the government to give CBC/Radio-Canada an
advance on the funding it needs. The motion read as follows:
That this House recognizes the indispensable role of CBC—Radio Canada in
providing national, regional, and local programming including news coverage
and services to linguistic minorities throughout Canada, and therefore regrets
the financial hardship and substantial lay-offs that CBC—Radio Canada
currently faces; and urges the government to provide CBC—Radio Canada with the
bridge financing it requires to maintain 2008 staffing and service levels.
Unfortunately, Conservative members voted against this motion. The government
could have taken measures to limit the damage, but it refused. It is clear that
the government is failing CBC/Radio-Canada on three fronts. First, it is cutting
$63 billion from the corporation's funding in the 2009-10 main estimates
compared to the 2008-09 estimates; second, it is refusing to provide $125
million in interim financing; and third, it is delaying the annual supplementary
payment of $60 million.
And yet the government has known about CBC/Radio-Canada's financial problems
for some time. It has ignored the recommendations of various parliamentary
committees, which recommend providing stable funding to the corporation. In
spite of these interventions, the government did nothing to prevent layoffs or
the cancellation of regional broadcasts. The government's refusal to advance
funding has placed the corporation in a precarious situation. And yet, the
government plans to help private broadcasters face the current economic crisis
while refusing any financial assistance for CBC/Radio-Canada.
On April 27, Hubert T. Lacroix, President and CEO of CBC/ Radio-Canada,
appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, where he talked
about some serious concerns. He insisted on the fact that the corporation's
funding model is no longer adequate for the efficient delivery of services that
Canadians expect. He reminded the committee that, under the Broadcasting Act,
CBC/Radio-Canada has a unique mandate under which it provides Canadians with
programming that is accessible everywhere and at all times, based on their
choices and availability, through 29 services and various platforms such as
television, radio, the Internet, satellite radio and digital audio across five
time zones and in two official languages. It provides a very broad and
diversified range of services. In addition, the current economic crisis has
accelerated the loss of advertising revenues.
Mr. Lacroix said that $125 million in transitional funding would have enabled
them to balance the budget and reduce the number of jobs affected by the
economic downturn. The request for funding was refused, so the corporation is
being forced to sell off assets to cover the difference. It is clear from his
comments that CBC/Radio-Canada is making an effort. As he said:
. . . we control costs in the best possible manner and . . . we are aware
of our obligations to French-speaking and English-speaking communities.
Mr. Lacroix aptly demonstrated that CBC/Radio-Canada is a great deal for
Canadians. He referred to the Nordicity Group's study, which showed that
CBC/Radio-Canada costs $34 per year per Canadian. On average, each of the
western nations in the study spends $76 per citizen per year on their public
broadcaster. Great Britain spends $124 per person on the BBC.
The president of the Syndicat des communications de Radio-Canada, Alex
Levasseur, commented on the difference between funding for Canada's public
broadcaster and that for foreign broadcasters. He suggested that the government
is partly responsible for that. He said:
The $171 million budget shortfall is due in part to lower advertising
revenues, but the really big issue is the structural problem of funding. The
government is largely, if not entirely, responsible for that. The party's
intentions and approach are very ideological.
Honourable senators, funding for CBC/Radio-Canada is critical to helping the
broadcaster survive competition and essential to ensuring that the government
fulfils its responsibility to linguistic communities.
It is crucial to support CBC/Radio-Canada's local presence, especially in
French, because it is already a bare-bones operation. I repeat: the cuts to the
French network represent close to half of all the jobs cut by the broadcaster.
Is the government meeting its commitments to anglophone and francophone minority
communities? By not providing the bridge financing the corporation needs, it is
depriving these communities of a service that is vital to their cultural
identity and one of their only sources of news in either official language.
The current government also seems to be forgetting that many isolated rural
communities depend on CBC/Radio-Canada for access to the news. The cuts are very
disappointing and harmful, because if the bridge financing had been approved,
some positions could have been saved and, more importantly, CBC/Radio-Canada
would have had the stability and flexibility it needs. The government is leaving
the corporation in limbo and forcing it to make major decisions that are hurting
the regions and having serious consequences.
If CBC/Radio-Canada is not given the means to carry out its mandate,
particularly given the current economic climate, the corporation could well fall
back onto safe, risk-free programming, which will make it even more like private
broadcasters by prompting it to invest less in youth programming and local
stations and reducing funding for international news, which should be the
corporation's flagship service.
It is too bad that the government does not understand what a pivotal role
CBC/Radio-Canada plays with its unique offerings and its high-quality programs
that cover topics private broadcasters often ignore. CBC/Radio-Canada must have
the resources it needs to carry out its mandate effectively and successfully, to
continue to provide the best possible service to all Canadians and, most
importantly, to avoid having to face agonizing decisions that affect our
Hon. Mac Harb rose pursuant to notice of May 26, 2009:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to the fact that the Canadian
government has supported the use of seal products, specifically seal skins,
for the uniforms of Canadian athletes at the upcoming Winter Olympics in
He said: Honourable senators, I would like to draw to the attention of the
Senate the fact that the Canadian government has supported the use of seal
products, specifically, seal skins, for the uniforms of Canadian athletes at the
upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Senator Harb: As we all know, on Tuesday, May 5, 2009, the European
Parliament passed a ban on the importation of seal products from Canada's
commercial seal hunt.
Some Hon. Senators: Shame.
Senator Harb: The very next day, the Government of Canada, by
unanimous consent in the other place, approved a motion to use seal products in
the making of Canadian Olympic clothing for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.
There was no vote. The motion was passed by agreement of all members of that
place to use seal skins for the official athletic wear of Canada's Olympic team
In one fell swoop, the Government of Canada managed to, first, demonstrate an
incredible lack of awareness of just how strongly Canadian and international
public opinion is set against the commercial seal hunt. Second, the government
showed a complete and utter disregard for long-established international Olympic
protocol; and third, it damaged, by association, artisans and communities in
That is not bad for a few minutes' work.
I understand it has taken considerably longer to do the necessary damage
control to calm down irate International Olympic Committee members and to
reassure the Vancouver Olympic Committees. Honourable senators, this is not to
mention the Olympic athletes themselves, who were, no doubt, shocked to find out
that they would have to parade into the opening ceremonies in seal furs. This is
an unnecessary political distraction for these dedicated and committed athletes.
Honourable senators, this latest salvo in the government's efforts to prop up
a dying industry would be laughable if it had not been so ill conceived. It was
bad politics and extremely poor public relations. It could even be argued that
it raised a human rights issue for those individuals potentially forced to wear
a product that is banned around the world.
It is time for the government to respond to the dramatic shift of opinion
that has occurred on the issue of the commercial seal hunt.
Most Canadians, and in fact, a majority of people west of the mouth of the
St. Lawrence River oppose the commercial seal hunt and are tired of the
international damage it does to our more lucrative industries. They are also
tired of seeing tax dollars washed down the drain trying to convince people
around the world that the commercial seal hunt has a future.
The European Union has made very clear how its citizens feel about the
commercial hunt and, indeed, about this particular motion. In fact,
representatives of the EU Parliament dismissed this frivolous, unanimous motion
and its obvious intent to question the independent actions of a foreign
political body simply responding to the wishes of its own electorate. The timing
of the motion made it clear that it was a knee-jerk reaction to the overwhelming
support in the European Union for a ban on commercial seal hunt products and not
a serious initiative to support any Canadian enterprise.
Given our role as an Olympic host country, this motion was little more than a
disastrous public relations exercise, alienating our guests here and around the
globe, essentially saying, "We simply do not care about your views or the views
of your citizens."
While attempting to use the Olympic platform to further a political cause is
not a new idea, it certainly is not a good one, especially for a national
government. Canada has worked very hard to get the 2010 Winter Olympics,
committing precious resources and time to its successful bid to bring the
international spotlight to Canada, its beauty, its athletes and its bright
It is incomprehensible that our elected officials would choose this
opportunity to flog an unpopular industry that has already given rise to
boycotts, bans and international sanctions.
The Olympics are about excellence in sport, not a forum for revenge on
foreign states and their policies. If we stop to explore the claim of the
motion's sponsor that we could use the Olympics to "save an industry," we have
to question the choice of industry he would have us save.
There is no doubt the Olympics are a mega-marketing stage. Chinese
automakers, for example, took advantage of the Beijing Olympics to market their
energy-efficient cars of the future, using them as limos to transport athletes
and games officials. That is genius. However, here in Canada, our government,
along with other members of Parliament, voted unanimously to use the Vancouver
Olympics to market the commercial seal hunt, a dying $500,000 industry that is
more about days gone by than about the bright, exciting industries of tomorrow.
Are seal products truly the flagship products that we want to market to the
But of course, the International Olympic Committee's rules are clear: no
political symbols, apart from a national emblem, may be displayed on Olympic
uniforms. And the government knew that, but it chose to pass the unanimous
motion, instead of accepting the fact that times have changed and that Canada's
seal hunters need the government, not to glue some seal fur onto our athletes'
clothing, but to invest in retraining and in buying back their permits, in order
to ensure a future for the people affected by the end of the commercial seal
hunt in Canada.
The government must do more than feign interest in the needs of displaced
workers. The government has not yet taken any concrete action to help their
families, and they need that kind of action a lot more than meaningless,
It is important, honourable senators, to note that the backlash to the motion
may do more damage than good for those Northern Inuit communities whose seal
products are exempted from the European Union ban.
Honourable senators, the Vancouver 2010 Aboriginal Licensing and
Merchandising Program marks the first time an Olympic organizing committee has
partnered with indigenous people to create an official licensed merchandise
program, a program that showcases excellence in Aboriginal arts, culture and
enterprise in Canada and which will raise funds for the Aboriginal Youth Sport
Legacy Fund. The program includes an agreement with the Nunavut Development
Corporation for the creation of authentic with hand-carved inuksuit by over
1,200 Inuit carvers from across Nunavut. The government's continued policy of
misleadingly lumping the traditional Inuit seal hunts in with the large
commercial seal hunt to the south may backfire on these artisans and this
While sifting through public opinion on the Internet and in the more than
575,000 emails, cards and petitions that my office has received thus far calling
for an end to the commercial seal hunt in Canada, I have been overwhelmed by how
strongly Canadians feel that the time to end the hunt is upon us.
Just last week, a young 7-year-old Canadian boy named Gabo Bazo visited me at
my office. He travelled with his parents all the way from Vancouver, while on
crutches, due to a sprained ankle. He shared with me his strong support, and the
support of many of his friends and classmates, for an end to the commercial seal
Gabo had a list of good reasons why the hunt should end, including the fact
that, as humans, with access to many other forms of clothing, we really do not
need to wear seal fur, unless, he said, we live in the North, where the climate
is very harsh. These are smart words from a smart boy and it is important to
realize that Gabo's voice is the voice of the future.
Honourable senators, we simply cannot ignore the reality facing the
commercial sealers any longer. We need to take immediate action to provide them
with training and employment replacement options so they can move forward each
spring to the next fishery, even after the commercial seal hunt is closed for
good. We need to put mechanisms in place to protect the traditional Aboriginal
communities who depend upon the seal, day in and day out, all year long.
The massive cull of young seals for their fur is over. There is no market, no
profit, and there is no point to the industry any longer.
The unanimous motion in the other place is a sorry indication of just how out
of touch the government is on this important issue and how sadly they are
shirking their responsibility to displaced commercial sealers and our Aboriginal
hunters. Canadians deserve better.
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, if no other senator wishes
to participate in this debate, this inquiry is considered debated.
Hon. Nicole Eaton, pursuant to notice of May 28, 2009, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology undertake a study examining the promotion of Canadian identity,
integration and cohesion with a working title of Who We Are: Canadian
Identity in the 21st Century.
She said: Honourable senators, on February 11 of this year, I was honoured to
give my maiden speech in this chamber. That maiden speech defined me as a
senator and as a Canadian. It set the stage for my intervention today.
I said at that time, and my opinion has not changed, that all men and women
in this country must fully embrace the unyielding fact that the benefits that
come from being Canadian must be a direct result of our willingness to invest
ourselves fully in this country.
Surely we want all Canadians, including new Canadians, to feel both welcome
and part of the Canadian experience. Therefore, we must define who we are, and
the time to do it is now. Too often, newspaper headlines scream out about our
lack of national pride, our ambivalence to civic responsibility and our
increasingly troubling voter apathy.
Just last week, for example, I was disheartened to read that today's youth do
not consider voting to be a civic duty. Of particular import to this debate is
the finding that those most likely to vote believe that citizens have both
rights and responsibilities.
Now that two of the major studies that the Standing Senate Committee on
Social Affairs, Science and Technology has undertaken are nearing their
conclusion, we have a perfect opportunity to focus the committee's work on
defining our Canadian identity in the 21st century.
The magnitude and diversity of the subject to be considered lends itself to a
stand-alone examination. In order to be relevant, it must be pan-Canadian in
scope and inclusive of all interests and points of view.
Honourable senators, allow me to go back in time for a moment. In June 1999,
the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology
published its final report on social cohesion, which provided a complete
analysis of the economic and social factors and their impact on our social
However, the scope of the study stopped short of addressing a critical
dimension of social cohesion — that of national identity and its role in the
social cohesion of a nation. It is this dimension that I encourage the committee
to embrace as our next major field of study. It would serve as a logical
companion to the committee's previous work and would address a subject that many
nations, including Canada, are grappling with today.
This "fourth dimension" — the others being material conditions, social
order and networks — is about the extent of social inclusion or integration of
people into the mainstream institutions of civil society. It also includes
people's sense of belonging and the strength of shared experiences, identities
and values between those of different backgrounds.
Sadly, Canada lags far behind other countries in addressing the issue of
social cohesion and national identity. For example, New Zealand's official
definition of "social cohesion" incorporates national identity, including
history, heritage, culture and rights, and entitlements of citizenship.
Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States have all revamped
their citizenship promotion programs with a greater focus on history and
In addition, in July 2008, the United Kingdom published the results of a
study into the relationship between recent immigration and social cohesion in
the context of other social and economic transformations affecting the daily
lives of the population of the United Kingdom.
An announcement by the government offers a timely rationale for launching
this debate in Canada. In June 2008, cabinet approved a memorandum on Canadian
identity in preparation for the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Dominion
of Canada's one hundred and fiftieth birthday in 2017. It approved a memorandum
for events such as the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012 and the
centenary of the First World War in 2014-18. In particular, the War of 1812 is a
powerful symbol of the survival of our free institutions involved in today's
Honourable senators, I do not make this motion in isolation. I have spoken
with the Leader of the Government in the Senate, with the Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration, and with the chair and deputy chair of the
Whenever possible I included their suggestions and I thank them for helping
me to define the subject of the study I am proposing.
The issue of nationhood and identity is extremely topical and one that many
nations are beginning to debate. This topic has not yet been addressed in Canada
and it is a study that would be much lauded.
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has
an unprecedented opportunity to seize the initiative and launch a first-ever
study of its kind in Canada. We would be setting an example of leadership and
Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Would the honourable senator accept a question?
Senator Eaton: Yes.
Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, as I have said in committee, I
have become increasingly concerned about references that come to this chamber
for committee studies without discussion having taken place in the committee on
whether they have time to do the work.
I know that the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology is involved in a major cities study, and I know that they have just
accepted a reference from this place to do a study on post-secondary education.
Has the committee said that they have the time to do this study?
Senator Eaton: I thank the honourable senator for the question. I
discussed this several times with the Honourable Senator Art Eggleton, the
chairman of our committee. I copied all the senators on the committee with my
proposal, and I am conducting ongoing negotiations. I fully realize that if this
study were to be undertaken it might be part of a larger study, or that it would
have to wait in line. However, I felt it was important to bring it forward in
order to get people thinking about it.
Senator Carstairs: I thank the senator for that answer.
Has the honourable senator considered the possibility of doing this study as
a special study of the Senate, similar to the one we just completed on aging,
where the committee would meet on Mondays when it would not come into conflict
with any other studies or any other committees?
Senator Eaton: No, I have not, and I fear that is due to ignorance on
my part. I would be happy if the Senate would consider doing this as a special
Hon. Art Eggleton: Honourable senators, Senator Carstairs is quite
right to point out something that I was about to point out, that is, that we do
have a rather full agenda in terms of major study items.
While we are completing the current segment of the cities study, which deals
with poverty, housing and homelessness, we have several other topics to deal
with in our terms of reference from the Senate. Interestingly, one of them is
social cohesion, which Senator Eaton referenced. That could well be the next
segment undertaken sometime in the fall. However, that study is still a fair
distance away from its completion, with more segments to come.
While the fabulous work of the Subcommittee on Population Health has now come
to a conclusion, with the filing of the report by Senator Keon, the Senate has
adopted Senator Callbeck's motion for another major study dealing with
We have a full platter and, in addition, must deal with legislation that
comes our way. That is about as much as the committee can take.
In the conversations I have had with Senator Eaton, she has expressed a
desire to talk to the committee members at a meeting about the subject matter in
which she is interested, and I think that is a fair way to proceed as the next
With that, I would like to move the adjournment of the debate for the balance
of my time.
(On motion of Senator Eggleton, debate adjourned.)
Hon. W. David Angus, pursuant to notice of June 2, 2009, moved:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural
Resources be authorized to examine and report on the current state and future
of Canada's energy sector (including alternative energy). In particular, the
committee shall be authorized to:
(a) Examine the current state of the energy sector across Canada,
including production, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, sales,
consumption and conservation patterns;
(b) Examine the federal and provincial/territorial roles in the
energy sector and system in Canada;
(c) Examine current domestic and international trends and
anticipated usage patterns and market conditions, including trade and
environmental measures and opportunities, likely to influence the sector's
and energy system's future sustainability;
(d) Develop a national vision for the long-term positioning,
competitiveness and security of Canada's energy sector; and
(e) Recommend specific measures by which the federal government
could help bring that vision to fruition.
That the committee submit its final report no later than June 30, 2011 and
that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until
180 days after the tabling of the final report.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Senator Corbin: Explain.
Senator Angus: It would be my pleasure to explain.
First, the motion speaks for itself in its terms, and far be it from me to be
more eloquent than that. It reflects two weeks of intense discussions by my
colleagues on the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and
Natural Resources in light of a pressing need, as expressed by the energy sector
across Canada, particularly in what is known as the oil patch in Alberta.
The energy industry has concerns in the present context of climate change. A
joint dialogue has been announced by President Obama and Prime Minister Harper
for working out a program of clean energy for our two countries in preparation
for the important upcoming Copenhagen conference. There are various types of
energy, including wind and solar, that are alternatives to the hydro grid. Much
information must be coordinated, analyzed and brought together.
It is the view of this committee that this will not be just another study. It
will be a baseline study over a two-year period to develop a policy, and the
words "national energy policy" do come to mind.
This comprehensive study would render a great service to Canada, its industry
and all the related elements in our continuing battle with climate change as it
relates to the energy sector, our relationship with the United States, and to
our daily comings and goings.
Hon. Eymard G. Corbin: Would the honourable senator accept a question?
Senator Angus: Absolutely.
Senator Corbin: I read with great attention the text of the motion and
paragraph (b) elicits questions.
The proposal is to examine the federal, provincial/territorial roles in the
energy sector and system in Canada. In my opinion, that is rather loosely
worded, and that is probably intentional.
Does the committee propose to call provincial governments before the
committee and expect them to divulge their policies, programs and intentions for
the future? In the past, some provincial governments have told committees that
were putting their noses in provincial affairs to go fly a kite. How do you
propose to bring the provincial and territorial governments on board in this
study? Will it be only a polite invitation and, if they do not respond, pass and
move on with the other measures?
Senator Angus: Honourable senators, I do not know how many megawatts
we can generate from flying a kite, but I can tell that you we are blessed in
our committee by having as a member a former Minister of Natural Resources in
the great province of British Columbia. He has brought to our attention how his
province, Alberta and Ontario are in the field bringing in cap-and-trade
systems and taking measures that overlap. One underlying objective is to bring
together and consolidate all the facts available on all the different sources of
energy and all the initiatives being undertaken nationally, provincially and
territorially so there will not be cross purposes in the future. It is in that
sense that the subparagraph is in the motion.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is the house ready for the question?
Hon. Senators: Question.
The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to
adopt the motion?
Hon. Consiglio Di Nino, pursuant to notice of June 3, 2009, moved:
That the papers and evidence received and taken and the work accomplished
by the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on
its order of reference relating to foreign relations and international trade
generally during the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament be
referred to the committee for the purpose of its current study on the rise of
China, India and Russia in the global economy and the implications for