Debates
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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 48

Thursday, June 18, 2009
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


THE SENATE

Thursday, June 18, 2009

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

Prayers.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Lord Prior of the Venerable Order of St. John, visiting from St. John's Gate, London, Professor Anthony Mellows and Ms. Elizabeth Mellows.

On behalf of all honourable senators, we welcome the Lord Prior and Madam Mellows to the Senate of Canada.

[Translation]

Royal Assent

The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that the following communication had been received:

RIDEAU HALL

June 18, 2009

Mr. Speaker,

I have the honour to inform you that the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, will proceed to the Senate Chamber today, the 18th day of June, 2009, at 4:30 p.m., for the purpose of giving Royal Assent to certain bills of law.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila-Marie Cook
Secretary to the Governor General

The Honourable
        The Speaker of the Senate
                Ottawa


[English]

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

The Senate

Comments During Debate on Bill S-7

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, yesterday, while speaking at second reading of Bill S-7, I referred on several occasions to Prime Minister Stephen Harper as "Mr. Harper" and to his government as the "Harper government." This incensed both Senator Comeau and Senator LeBreton. The record shows that Senator Comeau shouted out "show him some respect," and Senator LeBreton joined in the commotion by referring several times to the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in the other place as "Iggy."

I believe that in referring to the Right Honourable Stephen Harper as "Mr. Harper" and to his government as the "Harper government," I was following longstanding Senate practice. I certainly have not and would not refer to Canada's Prime Minister by his surname alone or by any nickname.

This morning, I visited Senator Comeau in his office to assure him that I meant no disrespect and believed that I was in fact following Senate tradition in how I referred to the Prime Minister.

By way of precedent, in a major speech in the Senate on March 27, 2001, this is how Senator LeBreton described Liberal Prime Ministers, and I quote: "Mr. Pearson," "Mr. Trudeau," and "Mr. Chrétien." She spoke of "the Chrétien criteria" and of "a Chrétien minister." In that speech, when she was referring to a former Prime Minister, she said, "You are not Mr. Mulroney."

I was surprised that in the middle of a serious speech on the future of the Senate I would be heckled by the leadership opposite simply because I used terms that they traditionally have used themselves to describe the prime ministers of our country.

I have the highest respect for the Office of the Prime Minister, and my record in the Senate shows that I have always referred to that office and to that office-holder with respect while strongly disagreeing with the record, the policies, the actions or, in some cases, inactions of that government.

Agnico-Eagle Mines

Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, two weeks ago, Agnico-Eagle Mines, a Canadian mining company with over five decades of operating history in Canada, officially opened its first international mine in Finland.

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I had the opportunity to go to Finland and participate in the opening ceremonies, along with the Finnish Minister of Trade and Industry and several Finnish government officials and representatives of the Canadian Embassy in Finland.

Agnico-Eagle is a great example of a Canadian company exporting its expertise and strong culture to other countries. With the official opening of its Kittila mine in Finland, Agnico-Eagle now has the biggest single gold reserve at an operating mine in Europe.

Even though it is expanding internationally with another mine set to open in Mexico this summer, the vast majority of Agnico-Eagle's assets are here in Canada. Headquartered in Toronto and in business for over 50 years, it has three operating gold mines in Quebec, where it is the Abitibi region's largest employer with approximately 1,100 full-time workers, along with over 600 contract positions. This has been very important to the economic health of the region, especially with the significant job losses in the forestry sector. Agnico-Eagle has invested over $1 billion in Quebec over the past several years, building new mines and expanding its flagship operation, the LaRonde mine in Cadillac, Quebec. LaRonde currently has the largest gold reserve of any mine in Canada, and the company is using state-of-the-art technology to mine for gold at depths of 2.4 kilometres underground. It is working on an expansion plan at this mine that will see it extract gold at depths of 3 kilometres below surface. I believe the McIntyre gold mine in my hometown was 3 miles deep.

Probably most exciting for Canada is the company's plan to open the first large gold mine in Nunavut early next year. I believe Senator Watt and Senator Adams are very familiar with this venture. The company is in the final stages of completing an $800 million investment to build the Meadowbank mine north of the community of Baker Lake. Part of this large investment includes $70 million to construct a 110-kilometre road from Baker Lake to the mine site. The company also built its own airstrip at the site, updated the port facilities of Baker Lake and has brought cellphone service to the area. The company employs about 200 workers at Meadowbank, including many Inuit, who have received training and have steady, full-time work for the first time.

This also provides a positive economic benefit to the Nunavut economy. When the Meadowbank mine opens early next year, Agnico-Eagle will have over 1,500 employees in Canada, generating approximately $1 billion in annual revenue.

[Translation]

I should also point out that the Canada Pension Plan is the company's second-largest shareholder. The CPP's decision to invest in Agnico-Eagle was most certainly a good one, as it will benefit countless Canadians across the country.

[English]

Although Agnico-Eagle has grown dramatically in the last few years, it continues to look for ways to expand. The company is currently working on plans to increase output at three of its four Canadian operations. This will require additional investment of over $250 million and expand output at these projects by 25 per cent.

Agnico-Eagle is a Canadian success story. The company has quietly gone about making significant investments in Canada, building new mines and creating hundreds of permanent and well-paying jobs over many years. At the same time, they are very conscientious in the community affairs of the districts.

Electronic Voting

Hon. Stephen Greene: Ah, the Internet. We all use it, honourable senators, and most of us love it. I do all my banking online these days, but consider that before there was the Internet, I had to go to my bank branch and stand in line between the hours of 10:00 and 4:00, five days a week — holidays excluded, of course. I can now visit my bank online whenever I want, 24/7, spend only minutes there and move hundreds or even thousands of dollars around with the press of a key.

I can buy things online too. I do not have to spend an hour or so going to Chapters to buy a book; I can order it and it will arrive in a day or two. Some people buy cars or even more expensive things online.

As Senator Gerstein knows, you can donate to your favourite political party online. Ah, the joys of doing that, especially if you are a Conservative.

Internet security is one of the technological marvels of our time. You can do everything online these days, can you not?

But wait! Voting?

There was an election in Nova Scotia on Tuesday, June 9. The turnout was only 58 per cent; a record low. This is doubly sad given the historic nature of the election, which Nova Scotians understood well in advance. There were real reasons for Nova Scotians to vote this time. The choices were clear. You would expect the turnout to be high, but many ridings had a less-than 50 per cent turnout, which means it was impossible for any candidate in those ridings to capture even a majority of the potential electors. Indeed, many of those ridings were run by candidates with about 20 per cent of the eligible vote.

The low turnout this year, which beat the previous low in the previous election, was despite the fact that the weather on election day was perfect and there were three days of advance polling — and five days more where you could go to an office of Elections Nova Scotia and vote if you were going to be away. There were many opportunities for people to go to a poll. There really are no excuses for not voting, except, maybe, going to a poll takes too long these days.

For me, being a good Conservative meant I went to the advance poll. First, I had to find out where it was, as the Elections Nova Scotia card did not make it clear. To locate the advance poll, I had to go to the Internet.

From the time I left my house, which is only about a mile from the advance polling station, it took an hour and ten minutes for various reasons having to do with the weather, lack of parking, inability to find my name on the voters list — even though I have lived there forever — and breaking my pencil in the voting booth and having to send out for a sharpener. It was a time-consuming experience I do not wish to repeat.

Last fall there were municipal elections in Nova Scotia. Some districts, like mine, were given the option of electronic voting for mayor, councillors, school board officials, et cetera. I used the option to vote electronically. I voted from my laptop at about 11 p.m. one night. For the positions I had no opinion on because I did not know the people running or what they stood for, I could choose not to select.

The whole experience took about three minutes — three minutes for multiple candidates in multiple positions, versus 70 minutes to vote for one person in my provincial election. Electronic voting was a good experience.

I have become an advocate of electronic voting by Internet, phone or your favourite handheld device. For some people, voting is already too tedious and time consuming for them to bother. I believe that, over time, physically going to a poll will become increasingly tedious, especially in relation to the rest of the things we do in our busy lives. I fear that our democracy is diminishing because of lack of participation. Electronic voting, coupled with proper civics education, can save our democracy.

There is a Nova Scotia company called Intelivote, a world leader in electronic voting. Intelivote has managed many electronic elections in the U.K., Europe and other countries around the world, as well as Nova Scotia's municipal elections last year.

The Hon. the Speaker: Order. I must remind honourable senators that statements are three minutes.

[Translation]

The Late Honourable Sheila Finestone, P.C.

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, today I would like to say a few words in homage to a former colleague, Sheila Finestone, who passed away on June 8.

Sheila Finestone was an unforgettable woman, at once formidable and friendly. Her impressive reputation preceded her to the Senate, and it turned out to be well founded.

As a women's rights pioneer, this illustrious volunteer began to fight for subsidized housing for women in Montreal in the 1970s. In 1977, she became president of the Fédération des femmes du Québec, and then moved on to focus on drafting the Liberal Party of Quebec's policies on women. She entered federal politics during the 1984 election, taking over from the Right Honourable Pierre Elliott Trudeau as the member for Mount Royal, a position she held until 1999, when she passed the seat along to the Honourable Irwin Cotler and came to join us in this august chamber.

[English]

Within the Liberal Party of Canada, Sheila Finestone kept on fighting for women, promoting their increased involvement with politics. She was non-partisan, conciliatory and a true team player, making, along the way, many friends from all political stripes. She turned out to be a great Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Status of Women.

[Translation]

I had the tremendous pleasure of working with Sheila Finestone myself in 1994-95, when she was Secretary of State (Status of Women), and I was the vice-president of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

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Three years later, I met Sheila Finestone again while we were co-chairs of the former Standing Joint Committee on Official Languages. In 1999, we started working together as senators, but it was for too short a time.

Honourable senators, I will miss her inexhaustible passion, constant determination and great affection for others, as I am sure many of you will as well.

At her funeral in Montreal last week, everyone spoke of her big heart and the huge impact she had on everyone around her.

I offer my sincere condolences to her family and to her many friends, who have lost a paragon.

[English]

Apology to Students of Indian Residential Schools

Comments Made During Committee of the Whole

Hon. Patrick Brazeau: Honourable senators, I rise today to respond to a statement made in this chamber yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. In it, my honourable colleague said that I had made what he terms to be "outrageous" remarks surrounding the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, who appeared in this chamber last week.

Honourable senators, I wish to vigorously assert my position in this respect.

I hold this Parliament, and this chamber's esteemed role in it, in the highest possible regard. I approach my role in this chamber with professionalism, dedication and, above all, honesty.

Equally important to assert is the fact that in my questions posed to the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, I levelled no accusations.

As the record shows, honourable senators, I posed questions on the basis of previous public statements made by the former Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Justice Harry LaForme. Justice LaForme was publicly quoted in an October 2008 CBC report regarding, and I quote:

. . . interference and influence that is being attempted through Aboriginal organizations like the AFN.

The record again shows that no answer to the question asked was offered. Moreover, neither did the Chair of the Committee of the Whole insist upon a response.

Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber should offer an apology for supporting and allowing witnesses to disrespect this institution by refusing to answer a question posed by an honourable senator.

The honourable senator opposite asserts that I do not speak for my honourable colleagues opposite. He is right, I do not. I speak on behalf of Canada's grassroots Aboriginal peoples; those who either have no voice or whose words have been denied or forgotten by their own leaders. I speak on behalf of Canada's Aboriginal peoples who deserve answers on questions posed in this esteemed place to their representative political leaders.

Honourable senators, we should not be surprised, however, by such Liberal indignation. Analysis of Election Canada's online database shows that in the period covering 2000 to 2006 the Liberal Party of Canada received over $353,000 in contributions from taxpayers' dollars from First Nations and Aboriginal organizations. Apparently, the Liberal Party has no problem accepting monies that were intended for the support of grassroots Aboriginal peoples as political donations.

Honourable senators, let us be clear. This is not about abuse of parliamentary immunity. This is not about respecting and fulfilling the interests and needs of grassroots Aboriginal peoples. It is about partisan support of faithful contributors to the Liberal Party of Canada, at the expense of the needs of Canada's Aboriginal peoples.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

William Davis Miners' Memorial Day

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, for 80 years Nova Scotians have celebrated Davis Day in the coal mining communities of Industrial Cape Breton, Springhill, Stellarton and many others.

Every year on June 11, offices, schools and banks are closed for the afternoon in remembrance of miner William Davis, who was killed at a New Waterford Lake riot on June 11, 1925, in the struggle for better wages and better safety for miners in the "pits."

Honourable senators, this past November, An Act respecting a Memorial Day to Honour Miners was passed by the Nova Scotia House of Assembly. It officially recognizes June 11 and will be observed under the name of William Davis Miners' Memorial Day.

This year, Margaret MacDonald, Deputy Minister of Labour and Workforce Development for Nova Scotia, said:

This day also serves as a reminder for government, employers and employees to renew our commitment to protecting the health and safety of all workers in Nova Scotia.

I could not agree more.

Even with the closure of Nova Scotia's last coal mine in 2001, Davis Day has continued on. Ceremonies this year were held in New Waterford, Stellarton, Springhill and River Hebert, where wreaths were laid in memory of all miners who lost their lives.

The ceremonies also ensure that the history of coal mining and the struggles that the miners went through will not be forgotten. We will remember those who "stood the gaff."

[Translation]

L'Université Laval

Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, more good news: on June 12, the rector of Laval University, Denis Brière, along with minister Josée Verner, representatives of the Government of Quebec and the Mayor of Quebec City, announced that the Government of Quebec was making Laval University the principal contractor for the expansion project of PEPS, the physical education and sports pavilion.

The university will award contracts for the construction, and will manage the new sporting facilities that will benefit the entire region. An outside firm will be designated to assist the university throughout the project. The plans and bidding will be completed by February 2010, and work will start the following month.

This project shows, once again, that the Conservative government is committed to supporting and completing projects that are important to the people of Quebec, which is why the Super PEPS complex was one of the first projects to be given priority early in the Building Canada program. It is also thanks to close cooperation between our government and our partners in other levels of government that the Super PEPS will soon be a highlight of the Quebec City region.

Building the Super PEPS is a major project for the greater Quebec City area and all of Quebec. Quebec City will benefit from it by being able to offer many more sports activities, host national and international sporting events, and develop world-class athletes. The Conservative government has great things planned for Quebec, and these new facilities fit in with the vision of excellence it is developing for the region.

The construction of the Super PEPS will involve expanding the current PEPS facilities to add an Olympic-sized pool and a 3,500-seat amphitheatre-gymnasium. Furthermore, the first phase of work will include the construction of an indoor soccer-football facility for the region, whose main structure will be made of wooden arches. It will be completed using sustainable development practices and will have significant economic spinoffs for Quebec City and the region.

This project will be equally beneficial for both elite athletes and average citizens who play popular sports. In fact, 70 per cent of the equipment will be used by the Quebec City sports and recreation department for the city's residents. The general public will use the Super PEPS. At least 110 days of sporting activities will also be added to the calendar.

The project will also strengthen the infrastructure of the current outdoor stadium. The total value of the project is $85 million. Both levels of government, federal and provincial, will each invest $38 million and the City of Quebec will invest up to $10 million.

[English]

Canadian Paralympic Foundation

Hon. Rod A.A. Zimmer: Honourable senators, I rise today to follow up on Senator Fairbairn's motion and Senator Champagne's comments made in the Senate earlier this month, June 4, 2009, regarding Canadian Paralympians.

Senator Champagne was right when she said that the problem is a lack of sponsors because the Paralympic Games are not known well enough by the general public. Therefore, Senator Fairbairn, Chair of the Canadian Paralympic Foundation, and I, a director of the foundation, in addition to the entire Paralympic Foundation and the Canadian Paralympic Committee, are in the process of arranging a gala reception, which will be held in early September of this year in order to help combat this lack of sponsorship.

Honourable senators, with the exceptional support of Mr. Frank Stronach and Ms. Belinda Stronach, this year's honorary chairs, we will host an elegant and intimate fundraising cocktail reception at the Magna Golf Club in Aurora. The event will feature an international menu of gourmet food, exotic drinks, live music and Canadian Paralympians who have won medals in the recent World Paralympic Games. A live auction will feature five exceptional packages, including two foursomes of golf at the Magna Golf Club and one foursome package for a one-week skiing vacation in Colorado, donated by Mr. Stronach.

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The goal of this event will be to show our Paralympians that we do care, and we are ready to support, appreciate, encourage and inspire them. We are working hard to inform the Canadian business, political and professional elite of the need to sponsor these amazing Paralympians who are working so hard to proudly represent our country with little to no recognition from the public.

Honourable senators, we look forward to making this reception the event of the year, and I hope that all of you will attend, support and inspire our Paralympians, our heroes.

[Translation]

Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Mr. Déogratias Nzemba, legal counsel and former president of the Law Society of Burundi.

He is a guest of the Honourable Senator Poulin.

On behalf of all the senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Marine Liability Act
Federal Courts Act

Bill to Amend—Sixth Report of Transport and Communications Committee Presented

Hon. Lise Bacon, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, presented the following report:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications has the honour to present its

SIXTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Marine Liability Act and the Federal Courts Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, June 3, 2009, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment but with observations, which are appended to this report.

Respectfully submitted,

LISE BACON
Chair

Observations to the Sixth Report of the Standing Senate Committee
on Transport and Communications
(Bill C-7)

Your committee notes that some stakeholders are quite concerned with the provisions in Bill C-7 respecting maritime liens and marine adventure tourism activities. Stakeholders recommended that the maritime lien provisions require a contract between a Canadian ship supplier and the foreign shipowner or a person authorized by the shipowner. With respect to marine adventure tourism activities, a common recommendation from representatives of the legal community was that, in order for an operator to be excluded from Part 4 of the Marine Liability Act, the operator must provide a seaworthy vessel, property crewed, at the commencement of the voyage. Representatives of the legal community believe that adding this condition to the legislation will prevent operators of unsafe vessels from using a waiver to eliminate their liability to their passengers in case of an accident. Having heard these concerns, your committee will monitor the impact of these provisions and be prepared to seek an order of reference to review provisions relating to the maritime lien and marine adventure tourism activities, should it be necessary.

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

(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

[English]

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

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(b), I move that the bill be placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading later this day.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted to consider this bill later this day?

An Hon. Senator: No.

Senator Comeau: At the next sitting of the Senate.

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

Maanulth First Nations Final Agreement Bill

Seventh Report of Aboriginal Peoples Committee Presented

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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

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

SEVENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-41, An Act to give effect to the Maanulth First Nations Final Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, June 17, 2009, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

GERRY ST. GERMAIN
Chair

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

Senator Germain: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(b), I move that the bill be placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading later this day.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator St. Germain, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading later this day.)

[Translation]

Aboriginal Peoples

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

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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

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

EIGHTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 to examine and report on the federal government's constitutional, treaty, political and legal responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples and on other matters generally relating to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, respectfully requests supplementary funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010.

The original budget application submitted to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, budgets and Administration and the report thereon of that committee were printed in the Journals of the Senate on April 28, 2009. On May 5, 2009, the Senate approved the release of $402,023 to the committee.

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

Respectfully submitted,

GERRY ST. GERMAIN
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix, p. 1161.)

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

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

Judges Act

Bill to Amend—Ninth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Presented

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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

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

NINTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Judges Act, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Thursday, June 11, 2009, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

JOAN FRASER
Chair

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

[English]

Senator St. Germain: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(b), I move that the bill be placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading later this day.

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

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Explain.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Day is asking for an explanation.

Senator Day: We are asking for leave many times today. Why are our rules being abrogated? If there is an explanation, I would be pleased to hear it.

Senator St. Germain: I will be pleased to explain. This bill provides for the appointment of a new judge, and the sooner that is done, the sooner the Truth and Reconciliation Commission can proceed, which I think is critical. I think we all agree that this bill is important to Aboriginal communities across the country. That is the reason for the urgency.

I understand and respect the fact that the honourable senator is questioning the request for leave on two bills seriatim. That request for leave is completely justified, and that is the reason for it.

We want to expedite this process. This matter is not partisan. It is for the purpose of allowing this commission to operate.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator St. Germain, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading later this day.)

Canada National Parks Act

Bill to Amend—Eleventh Report of Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee Presented

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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

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

ELEVENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-38, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act to enlarge Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, June 17, 2009, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

W. DAVID ANGUS
Chair of the committee

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

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(b), I move that the bill be placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading later this day.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Di Nino, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading later this day.)

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Food and Drugs Act

Bill to Amend—Twelfth Report of Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee Presented

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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

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

TWELFTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-208, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (clean drinking water), has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, April 29, 2009, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

W. DAVID ANGUS
Chair of the committee

 

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

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: With leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(b), later this day, honourable senators.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Grafstein, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading later this day.)

Scrutiny of Regulations

Third Report of Joint Committee Tabled

Hon. J. Trevor Eyton: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations entitled: Broadcasting Licence Fees Regulations, 1997.

Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association

Visit of Science and Technology Committee Sub-Committee on Energy and Environmental Security, April 27-30, 2009—Report Tabled

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association to the Visit of the Science and Technology Committee Sub-Committee on Energy and Environmental Security, held in Vienna, Austria, and Geneva, Switzerland, from April 27 to 30, 2009.

Inter-Parliamentary Union

Parliamentary Conference on World Trade Organization, September 8-10, 2008—Report Tabled

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the Annual 2008 Session of the Parliamentary Conference on the World Trade Organization (WTO), held in Geneva, Switzerland, from September 8 to 10, 2008.

Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly and Related Meetings, October 13-15, 2008 and Conference on Information Needs of Parliamentarians, October 16, 2008—Report Tabled

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union to the One Hundred Nineteenth Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly and Related Meetings, held in Geneva, Switzerland, from October 13 to 15, 2008, and to the conference on Informing Democracy: Building Capacity to Meet Parliamentarians' Information and Knowledge Needs, held in Geneva, Switzerland, on October 16, 2008.

Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association

Visit of Political Committee Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Relations, March 25-27, 2009—Report Tabled

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association to the Visit of the Political Committee Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Relations, held in Zagreb, Croatia, from March 25 to 27, 2009.

National Security and Defence

Quorum for Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure—Notice of Motion

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

That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on National Security and Defence that it adopt a motion to provide that its Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure may only convene provided that it meets its quorum of three members and that one member from each recognized party is present.

Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the Senate

Hon. Joan Fraser: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(a), I move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs have the power to sit today, Thursday, June 18, 2009 at 2:45 p.m., even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)


QUESTION PERIOD

Transport, Infrastructure and Communities

Infrastructure Stimulus Fund

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, Nova Scotia sought federal approval for 39 highway paving projects under the federal government's infrastructure stimulus plan. All 39 projects were almost identical and all were shovel-ready, yet 17 of the 39 projects were rejected for federal funding assistance.

Since all 39 projects were essentially identical, could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us the criteria that the Harper government used to make the decisions about which projects would receive federal funding and which would not?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): As I stated yesterday, honourable senators, a considerable amount of money is being expended on the agreement of the three levels of government — federal, provincial and municipal. The process is well under way, as confirmed by the President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Obviously, each of the projects goes through a rigorous process. I do not have the details of all the various bids or applications, so I cannot specifically answer the honourable senator's question. Therefore, I will take the question as notice.

Senator Cordy: Thank you very much.

The minister said that three levels of government were involved in determining which projects would go ahead. We have the municipal government involved; we have what used to be the Progressive Conservative government in Nova Scotia when the decisions were made; and, of course, we have the federal Conservative government as part of that group of decision-makers. Perhaps I will give the leader a list of some of the projects that have been approved.

Honourable senators, if we look at the Liberal seats in Nova Scotia, four highways were approved and 14 projects were disapproved. Of the four that were approved — and six were rejected — one was in Kings—Hants, which is Scott Brison's riding. However, when one looks more closely, the one that was approved heads into Greg Kerr's riding of West Nova. I guess we could say that was 50 per cent approval.

Let us now look at the Conservative seats. We have 10 projects approved and 2 rejected — actually, it is 10.5 approved because of the one that was approved in Greg Kerr's riding — for a percentage of 83 per cent.

Let us look at our vacant seat in Nova Scotia. That seat is Bill Casey's former riding. There were seven projects approved and one rejected. I guess one could say that for the upcoming election in that riding, the Conservatives are trying to pave their way to victory.

Honourable senators, I even hear that people in Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley are putting signs on their lawn that say, "Don't pave me; I am a lawn."

(1420)

It is not surprising to learn that 10 of the 22 projects that have received approval are in Conservative-held ridings; with seven projects in the riding left vacant after Bill Casey's resignation.

Could the leader please inform honourable senators as to the criteria for the funding approvals?

Senator LeBreton: As I said yesterday, our Economic Action Plan is being implemented in various parts of the country. An honourable senator could get up and ask me why funds were approved for various infrastructure projects in downtown Toronto.

Over 3,000 infrastructure projects have been approved since the budget was announced. As I said earlier, we announce projects all across the country. The $4 billion infrastructure stimulus is up and running in every province. Work has begun on many projects and we have announced 1,500 projects from this fund. Canadians know this infrastructure stimulus is working. There are many examples of this stimulus working across the country.

With regard to the criteria, I am not familiar with the project to which the senator refers. I believe I drive through Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley on the way from New Brunswick to Nova Scotia. It is reasonable to assume that this portion of the highway is receiving infrastructure funds because this is an access point to the province of Nova Scotia. As I am unfamiliar with the other portions of the highway, I will take the senator's question as notice.

I have mentioned to the honourable senator that the government was concerned to get the infrastructure programs up and running. All municipal, provincial and territorial governments have been very helpful and cooperative.

Municipalities and various ridings all benefit from the $2 billion Gas Tax Fund for which we accelerated the first payment. Therefore, many municipalities are benefiting from actions of the federal government. All municipalities are eligible for the Gas Tax Fund. I am sure many municipalities in a given riding have representatives in Parliament from all three parties or maybe an independent member as well.

I can only take the honourable senator's question as notice because I am not familiar with the projects to which she refers. I am not familiar with the criteria. If the senator will provide me with the exact details, I will provide the senator with answers.

[Translation]

Canadian Heritage

Project Funding

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, speaking of money that is not flowing, by the end of the summer, some francophone community groups will be folding because of the lack of commitment and funding from Canadian Heritage.

Some Hon. Senators: Shame!

Senator Tardif: Eight months after grant applications were filed with the Department of Canadian Heritage, none of the money promised has been received. Worse yet, some francophone community organizations are still waiting for a mere funding confirmation.

The president of the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada reports that, so far, 75 per cent of provincial organizations have not received confirmation of the amount they will be provided with for the current year. When will the communities receive the grants they have requested? When will this government take concrete action?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, in response to a question posed by Senator Chaput, I spoke to the Minister of Heritage concerning the various organizations that have requested funding. The minister and I also discussed when these organizations might expect a response to their requests for funding.

The minister has assured me that departmental officials are processing the large number of applications. They are providing due diligence and the minister is hopeful that the organizations will know soon whether they qualify for the funds.

[Translation]

Senator Tardif: Time is of the essence. Some offices will be shutting their doors between now and the end of the summer. Why is Canadian Heritage so slow in paying out this grant money? What is the problem? These groups are exhausting their lines of credit right now.

This is an urgent situation, Madam Minister. I hope that these groups can expect to receive some funding before the end of the summer, perhaps even before the start of the summer holidays.

[English]

Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator is aware that over the past several years, there has been a significant increase in funding to the arts and cultural programs.

I believe the honourable senator would understand — and I am sure everyone would support — that it is the responsibility of the minister on behalf of the Canadian taxpayer and the government to ensure these applications meet the criteria. As I mentioned a moment ago, Minister Moore is well aware of the situation and has said he will work with his officials, ensure due diligence is done and get the word out to the organizations as quickly as possible so they can make their plans.

Seniors

Health Services

Hon. Jim Munson: I know the minister has a sincere interest in the subject of aging.

Honourable senators, Canada's population is aging and it is no secret. All one needs to do is look at Senator Duffy and me. The serious part of the matter is that we know all about our retiring baby boomers and how that will change our society. However, are we ready to face the implications of an aging and ailing population?

Currently in this country, we have shockingly few medical professionals who specialize in looking after the elderly. Consider this: There are 200 geriatricians working in Canada — that is 200 for the entire country — to look after the 4.5 million Canadians over the age of 65 years. We have grounds for concern given the average age of Canadian senators. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, we have 2,257 pediatricians in Canada — one pediatrician for every 2,472 children under the age of 14 years — but only one geriatrician for every 20,742 adults over 65 years of age.

Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate with responsibility for seniors tell us what this government is doing to ensure that Canada's seniors, today and in the future, have the health services they need?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, the demographic is obviously changing. Our population is aging, but on the positive side, seniors are living longer, healthier lives. That is not to say there is not a serious problem looming regarding access to doctors and health care. We saw this in the Senate when we did our health care study under Senator Michael Kirby. The so-called orphan patients are largely seniors because their doctors have aged along with them and have retired. New and younger doctors coming into the system are not as eager to take on a more senior patient because, as people become older, they require more time of the doctor.

(1430)

Honourable senators, the government is well aware of this situation. I have said in this place previously that our medical schools, our universities and those teaching our young people in medical sciences would be wise, when they provide guidance to young medical researchers and doctors coming up in the profession, to recommend choosing the field of geriatrics as their specialty. There is an effort to encourage that choice.

Honourable senators, in early September, I will meet in Edmonton with ministers from the provinces and territories who have, as part of their responsibility, a seniors' portfolio. In many cases, the ministers that I will meet with are also the ministers of health. I thank the honourable senator for mentioning this issue because it is one area that we discussed putting on the agenda. It is one of the areas of concern to the National Seniors Council that the government set up to consult with seniors and various community-based organizations around the country. I appreciate the honourable senator's question because it reminds me to ensure that this matter is high on the agenda for the meeting in September.

Senator Munson: I thank the minister for that response, and I thank her for mentioning medical schools and how they should be reminded. In our medical schools now, students do not receive any core programming in gerontology. If students do not learn about the elderly, then it is unlikely that these students will undertake postgraduate studies in the care of the elderly. The Special Senate Committee on Aging recommended that the federal government provide funding for course development for undergraduate students. I am curious if the minister advocates for this kind of funding. It is extremely important.

Senator LeBreton: I meant to mention that committee report in my response. The delivery of health care services in this country falls to the provinces and territories. Universities are independent bodies, but that does not mean that there should not be every effort made, or a campaign mounted, to encourage our provinces and territories and our teaching institutions to step up their efforts to encourage students in the medical field to move into the area of gerontology. It is obviously an area that will require significant numbers to keep up with the demand.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, my question relates to the federal government providing the funding that was requested by Senator Munson. We discovered in our study, Quality End-Of-Life Care: The Right Of Every Canadian, that there was also a shortage of palliative care physicians in Canada. The College of Physicians and Surgeons, because they received funding from the Government of Canada, developed a core program in palliative medicine in every medical school in Canada. As a result, there is not a single undergraduate student graduating in medicine without a core program in palliative medicine. Can the minister use her ability as minister responsible for seniors to obtain the same kind of undertaking from the federal government to fund such a core curriculum development for gerontology?

Senator LeBreton: As the honourable senator knows, huge sums of money are transferred from the federal government to the provinces for health care. As I mentioned to Senator Munson, it will be interesting to have input and feedback from my counterparts when we meet in September. I appreciate the honourable senator's valid suggestion and will be happy to take note of it.

[Translation]

Elder Abuse

Hon. Suzanne Fortin-Duplessis: Honourable senators, this week, the Government of Canada announced the launch of a powerful national awareness campaign on elder abuse, as well as a call for proposals under the Federal Elder Abuse Initiative.

Coinciding with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the announcement of these initiatives builds upon the Government of Canada's work to improve the lives of seniors.

Honourable senators, Canadian seniors deserve our support; we must do everything in our power to raise awareness of elder abuse in order to prevent it.

It is shameful that some people inflict various forms of abuse upon elders, be it physical, financial, psychological or other. This has to stop, and the government's announcement will help bring these problems to light so that they can be prevented.

My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Could the leader explain what the next steps will be, following this announcement?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): As the honourable senator is aware, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and I made an important announcement on Monday with regard to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. As an aside, this announcement was important, but unfortunately, not the story that the media thought was important. They were more interested in the machinations on Parliament Hill. It is a shame it was not covered, although some media did cover it. The television advertisements have now hit the air.

The issue of elder abuse is serious. At the first meeting of the ministers responsible for seniors in the provinces and territories that I went to, every one of them put elder abuse at the top of the list or in their top three issues.

In Budget 2008, we invested $13 million over three years to increase awareness of this serious issue. The first part of the advertising campaign that we announced on Monday will run through to 2010-11. It is running right now. It will run again in October. The total campaign, including television, newspapers, Internet and other forms, will cost about $7 million, a little over half of the $13 million. The remaining funds to support federal elder abuse will be disbursed among the Department of Justice, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Part of the announcement on Monday was also that we called for requests for proposals that will be open until July 24, inviting national organizations and organizations in Quebec to apply for funding to customize and distribute information, and be part of the information stream in dealing with the issue of elder abuse. That funding will come from the New Horizons for Seniors Program. That funding is not to be confused with the funding we announced earlier for community-based elder abuse.

(1440)

The problem is serious and not often spoken of. There is obviously a lot of shame; seniors often do not want to discuss the subject. Environics has conducted extensive research on elder abuse. Of course, financial abuse is at the top of the list. People do not want to admit that they have been abused financially by members of their family. However, there is also physical abuse as well as isolation, which is another horrible form of abuse.

I have a sad aside, honourable senators. The government tabled Bill S-4 in the Senate to deal with identity theft, which is a big issue with seniors. We passed it through the Senate. It went to the House of Commons, and all the parties accept the measure, except the New Democratic Party, of all people.

The NDP have decided for some reason not to proceed with Bill S-4. Not that the NDP listens to any of us on either side of this house, but if any honourable senator has a chance to speak to any of our NDP colleagues in the other place, that senator should speak up. If not, the bill's failure to pass will make a great line for my speech as I go around this summer to speak to elder organizations.

This issue is serious, and the government is committed. We have set up this program with great assistance from the RCMP. I hope that, with our public awareness campaign and the knowledge that we all have of the issue, we can provide assistance to people who heretofore have been afraid to come forward.

Finance

Regulatory Oversight of Financial Institutions

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Earlier this week, President Obama announced sweeping reforms for oversight and re-regulation of the financial instruments and institutions in the United States.

The only reforms that we have had in this place have been two amendments to the Bank of Canada Act that were included in budget implementation bills — this one and the one previous — which were dealt with in both houses in under a day or two of debate.

Does the Government of Canada intend to examine and amplify its regulatory oversight of financial institutions to better protect consumers and investors, and to enhance consumer confidence in our financial sectors?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, all Canadians are extremely proud of the stability of our banking and financial system. President Obama and his officials have pointed to Canada's system on several occasions. The president is not the only person to do so. The International Monetary Fund and other world financial bodies have done so, as well.

We are aware of the initiatives taken by President Obama. All of us would acknowledge that much work needs to be done. The whole sub-prime issue and the various financial difficulties that were originally faced in the United States sparked the worldwide economic downturn.

We have not discussed in a Canadian context what President Obama may be doing in the United States. We have in this country, in this Parliament and in this body, an excellent committee that looks into various issues. I would be surprised if that committee does not look, at one point or another, at what President Obama is saying, and perhaps offer an opinion.

Senator Grafstein: I have a brief supplementary question.

The former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, Sheryl Kennedy, has indicated that we should not be complacent; that there are flaws in our regulatory system. There are issues of consumer protection with respect to credit. There are problems with respect to credit cards. There are problems with respect to oversight of our largest institutions and insurance. Many of our pension funds have taken a serious loss without any oversight at all, notwithstanding the fact that they have asked the federal government to come to the rescue when they have made these egregious errors of judgment.

I hope the government will take a look at this question once again. We now hear that the Bank of England is calling for reforms. President Sarkozy of France is calling for reforms. Yet this government is absolutely silent on what its plans are to renovate, modernize and assure investors and consumers that our system is safe and sound.

Senator LeBreton: We are dealing from a position of strength much more so than those other countries. However, the honourable senator is fully knowledgeable on all these financial matters, and he would know that the Minister of Finance and his provincial counterparts have had discussions in late May. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, Ted Menzies, has been going around the country, consulting with all of the stakeholders on pensions.

The government has decided to act on this matter not only because of what President Obama has done. The Minister of Finance has been working on this matter for some time. I am well aware of the comments with regard to credit cards.

I believe that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance will report, at some point, his findings from his tour around the country to the minister. I am certain the Minister of Finance will pursue this matter further as he has regular meetings with the ministers of finance from the provinces and territories.

[Translation]

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour of presenting delayed answers to four oral questions raised in the Senate. The first was raised by Senator Cowan on May 5, 2009, concerning science and technology; the second by Senator Rivest, on May 5, 2009, concerning science and technology; the third by Senator Mitchell on May 5, 2009, concerning science and technology; and the fourth by Senator Carstairs on June 10 and 11, concerning health, specifically the H1N1 influenza outbreak in northern Manitoba.

Science and Technology

Funding

(Response to question raised by Hon. James S. Cowan on May 5, 2009)

The Government of Canada has increased the budgets of the Granting Councils by $40 million in 2006, another $85 million in 2007 and another $80 million in 2008 — bringing ongoing investments in researchers up by $205 million per year every year thereafter.

We have built a strong and dynamic research community and we remain committed to supporting innovative and excellent research as outlined in our S&T Strategy. In Budget 2009, we provided $5.1 billion in new S&T investments which is one of the most substantial budget investments in S&T in Canadian history.

To create a world-class research environment that will attract top researchers we have made significant investments over the past three years, putting Canada first in the G-7 in the higher education sector and second among the OECD in the amount of S&T performed by our higher education sector.

Investing in infrastructure makes sense and provides a strong base for research. That is why the recent Budget included new funding in the amount $2 billion over two years to support deferred maintenance and repair projects at universities and colleges. This initiative will provide substantial economic stimulus across Canada and enhance research capacity in these institutions.

The Churchill Northern Studies Centre received $11M from the Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund, which provides near-term economic stimulus.

An independent, arms-length, peer review panel determined that the Churchill Northern Studies Centre did not meet the minimum requirements for funding this year; however, they will be able to apply for funding next year.

Our government supports Arctic research. That's why we committed $87 million in the 2009 Economic Action Plan to upgrade Arctic Research facilities.

(Response to question raised by Hon. Jean-Claude Rivest on May 5, 2009)

The government has built a strong and dynamic research community and we remain committed to supporting innovative and excellent research, as outlined in our S&T Strategy. The Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada's Advantage Progress Report release on June 5, 2009, is demonstrating that strong progress has been made in implementing the strategy.

The government's sustained commitment to S&T is reflected in a succession of recent federal budgets that have made major, ongoing, multi-year investments in this area. This includes a wide range of measures to help advance our objective of building a sustainable national competitive advantage based on S&T; namely:

  • substantial funding for the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Genome Canada, and other organizations;
     
  • significant and ongoing increases in funding for the federal granting councils;
     
  • new initiatives to support public-private research partnerships;
     
  • expanded funding for student scholarships and industrial internships;
     
  • new and enhanced initiatives to support international research excellence; and
     
  • investments in our knowledge infrastructure.

In the last three Budgets preceding our most recent one, the Government of Canada has pledged over $2.2 billion in new science and technology funding. In Budget 2009, we provided $5.1 billion in new S&T investments, which is one of the most substantial budget investments in S&T in Canadian history. This included new funding in the amount $2 billion over two years to support deferred maintenance and repair projects at universities and colleges. This initiative will provide substantial economic stimulus across Canada and enhance research capacity in these institutions.

To create a world-class research environment that will attract top researchers, we have made significant investments over the past three years. Canada is first in the G-7 and second among the OECD in the amount of S&T performed by our higher education sector.

The Government of Canada has increased the budgets of the Granting Councils by $40 million in 2006, another $85 million in 2007 and another $80 million in 2008 — bringing ongoing investments in researchers up by $205 million per year every year thereafter.

We have also invested $1.3 billion in the Canada Foundation for Innovation since 2006, including $750 million announced in Budget 2009.

To capitalize on our investments in the research environment we have created new programs to bring over our best.

The Canada Excellence Research Chairs program provides 20 prestigious awards to help Canadian universities attract and support world-class researchers in four research areas of strategic importance to Canada: environmental sciences and technologies; natural resources and energy; health and related life sciences and technologies; and information and communication technologies. Each chair will receive up to $10 million over seven years to support their research. Recently, we announced the winners of Phase 1 which are the 40 proposals from seventeen universities which will move to Phase II with the final selection to be announced in early 2010.

Budget 2008 also saw the launch of the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships program. The government announced the first 166 recipients who will each receive $50,000 per year over three years. This program will enable Canada to attract and retain world-class doctoral students in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and health. Both Canadian and international students are eligible to be nominated for a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. Both the Canada Excellence Research Chairs and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships programs will help ensure Canada continues to attract and retain top intellectual talent.

The Government of Canada is pleased to have provided Dr. Sékaly with significant funding over the last several years and equally pleased that he is retaining a lab at the University of Montreal to continue to contribute to world-class research. His links with the University of Montreal and his new position with the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute in Florida will benefit HIV/AIDS research in Canada.

(Response to question raised by Hon. Grant Mitchell on May 5, 2009)

We have built a strong and dynamic research community and we remain committed to supporting innovative and excellent research as outlined in our S&T Strategy. In Budget 2009, we provided $5.1 billion in new S&T investments which is one of the most substantial budget investments in S&T in Canadian history.

To create a world-class research environment that will attract top researchers we have made significant investments over the past three years, putting Canada first in the G-7 in the higher education sector and second among the OECD in the amount of S&T performed by our higher education sector.

Investing in infrastructure makes sense and provides a strong base for research. That is why the recent Budget included new funding in the amount $2 billion over two years to support deferred maintenance and repair projects at universities and colleges. This initiative will provide substantial economic stimulus across Canada and enhance research capacity in these institutions.

The Churchill Northern Studies Centre received $11M from the Arctic Research Infrastructure Fund in order to create a near-term economic stimulus.

An independent, arms-length, peer review panel determined that the Churchill Northern Studies Centre did not meet the minimum requirements for funding this year; however, they will be able to apply for funding next year.

Our government supports Arctic research. That's why we committed $87 million in the 2009 Economic Action Plan to upgrade Arctic Research facilities.

Health

H1N1 Outbreak in Northern Manitoba

(Response to questions raised by Hon. Sharon Carstairs on June 10 and 11, 2009)

Since 2006, Canada has had a pandemic plan for all Canadians, including First Nations. This government has prepared for this situation, and we have responded rapidly to reports of increased illness across Canada.

The provision of health services to First Nation communities is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments. All partners work together to ensure that First Nations communities have access to health services when they need them.

With the increased respiratory illness reported across Canada, the Government of Canada is working closely with First Nations leadership, the Provinces, Public Health Agency of Canada, and Regional Health Authority officials to ensure a timely, coordinated and integrated response.

With respect to the Honourable Senator's statement that there has been no communication with First Nations, Health Canada is in regular contact with community leadership of all First Nation communities to ensure they have the support and information they need.

Since the first suspect cases of respiratory illness were reported, federal and provincial health officials have been in daily communication.

Health Canada nursing stations, including the one at Garden Hill First Nation, have stocks of antivirals and personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks and gowns. A process is in place to ensure that the stocks of these supplies are replenished as needed.

Health Canada provides personal protective equipment for the use of medical personnel. Surgical masks are provided when an individual presents with symptoms of influenza-like illness (i.e. fever, coughing) at a health care facility. Health professionals at Health Canada nursing stations in First Nations communities are following provincial guidelines for the use of personal protective equipment. Masks are not recommended for the general population.

Health Canada works in coordination with the Province of Manitoba and the Northern Medical Unit of the University of Manitoba to provide physician services to a number of First Nation communities. Onsite physicians are provided in communities on a rotational basis, however, the nursing stations are able to consult with a physician as required for all cases that are presented at the nursing station for care. Medical staff are being sent into the communities on an ongoing basis, based on the needs of the community. Health Canada makes every effort to help ensure that First Nations communities receive the health services they need.

Regional staff in Manitoba assess nursing stations workload daily and make adjustments. Given the strain this outbreak has put on the nursing stations, we have requested the assistance of the Province of Manitoba to support nursing station operations. We are working with the province to establish human resource pools consisting of physicians, nurse practitioners and nurses to assist with the response in First Nation communities.

Health Canada, the Province of Manitoba and First Nations leadership are working together to provide educational materials and general information on prevention and treatment services to the residents of all First Nations communities in Manitoba.

Health Canada supports First Nations in all communities across Canada to help ensure their readiness to deal with respiratory illness.

[English]

The Senate

Tribute to Departing Pages

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before calling Orders of the Day, let me invite all honourable senators to say farewell to two of our departing pages.

Maureen Hasinoff is truly grateful for her two years as a Senate page. She will return to the University of Ottawa to complete the last two years of her degree, after which she will apply to law school. Maureen wants to thank all honourable senators, staff and fellow pages for the great experience she has had while working in the Senate.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, Marc-André Roy, our first page, is leaving the Senate with very good memories, honoured to have had the opportunity to serve in the Senate page program. Marc-André would like to thank all the honourable senators, the Senate staff and the team of pages for helping to make his years in the Senate a memorable experience.

Next year, Marc-André will complete his bachelor's degree in political science. He plans to do graduate studies in law.

[English]

Point of Order

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Your Honour, earlier today in Senators' Statements, Senator Brazeau said, ". . . I levelled no accusations." Senator Brazeau stated the following on June 11, 2009, in reference to National Chief Phil Fontaine:

Some have suggested as well that perhaps the interference was by yourself in trying to have family and/or friends hired on to this commission.

Today, Senator Brazeau has accused the Chair of the Committee of the Whole — who achieves that office by virtue of the fact that she is Speaker pro tempore — of failing to take action. He said, "Moreover, neither did the Chair of the Committee of the Whole insist upon a response."

Your Honour, I suggest that Mr. Brazeau is in violation of rule 51 of the Rules of the Senate of Canada which says: "All personal, sharp or taxing speeches are forbidden." When one makes allegations, without proof, of interference and of nepotism, one is indeed making speeches that are sharp and taxing.

(1450)

Citation 168 of Beauchesne states the following:

Reflections upon the character or actions of the Speaker may be punished as breaches of privilege.

I suggest, Your Honour, that this passage also relates to the Speaker pro tempore.

I have chosen to proceed by way of a point of order as opposed to a question of privilege because I believe action must be taken as soon as possible so that this senator understands the rules of this place and acts accordingly.

The Hon. the Speaker: Do other senators wish to comment on the point of order?

Honourable senators, I concur with the point of order raised by the Honourable Senator Carstairs. I listened carefully because I attended the Committee of the Whole. I wish to sustain the view that the Speaker pro tempore, in my judgment, conducted the Committee of the Whole in a proper manner; and I support the way in which she dealt with the matter.

Honourable senators, we have been asked, in this chair to comment on the purpose of Senators' Statements and how senators make their statements. I simply wish to repeat all that I have said, as your Speaker, about Senators' Statements up to this point in this Parliament and what we had to say in the last Parliament.

It is important for us all to dig a little deeper and understand, as has been recognized by honourable senators themselves, that we address ourselves as honourable senators because we are honourable senators. It is so important, in my judgment, that we be circumspect. Sometimes it is even a virtue to have custody of the tongue. I would invite honourable senators to be mindful of that and to keep Senators' Statements for the intent and the purpose for which it is really designed.

Many honourable senators who have long experience in this house have had the opportunity to share their experience with us when we arrived. I do recall, on one occasion in my first few months in the Senate, leaving the chamber at the end and our very distinguished former colleague Heath Macquarrie came up to me. That day I had had the audacity to make a statement and I think also to ask a question. He said to me, "Now, young man, once a day is quite sufficient."

Honourable senators, I think it is important that we learn from each other. What I would like us always to remember is that this is the Senate. It is the upper house. It is a place where the throne is found. The quality of our debate, the quality of our statements is at a different plateau, both in form and substance — and I underscore both form and substance.

I think Senator Carstairs has made a good point of order. I concur in it, and I would invite all honourable senators to be as prudent and as perspective as we can be.

Business of the Senate

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, I wish to ask the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate a question on the subject of delayed answers. Since January 29, 17 of my questions to the Leader of the Government in the Senate have been taken as notice. To date, I have received only one response, which means that 16 questions still have to be answered. When can I expect some answers?

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): I think I actually heard the date of January 29. If it is January 29, is it 2008 or 2009?

Senator Callbeck: January 29 of this year.

Senator Comeau: Honourable senators, allow me to check the status of the various questions on which the honourable senator is awaiting responses. I will get back to her.

Senator Callbeck: If the deputy leader would like a list of the questions, I have it.

Senator Comeau: I would ask the honourable senator to please pass that on to me.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Business of the Senate

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, under "Government Business," I would like to call forth Bill C-38.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Your Honour, since it does not appear on the Order Paper, could we at least be informed as to the subject matter of Bill C-38?

The Hon. the Speaker: The bill, which was adopted at second reading, was referred to committee. The committee has studied it and reported it back to the Senate without amendment. The bill is the same as it was at second reading; there is a copy in our binders of bills.

Senator Carstairs: If Senator Di Nino could just read the title of the bill, that is all I request.

Canada National Parks Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Consiglio Di Nino moved third reading of Bill C-38, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act to enlarge Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada.

He said: Honourable senators, we are dealing with Bill C-38 concerning the enlargement or expansion of the Nahanni National Park Reserve. I would like to make some brief comments on this bill, which I believe has wide support in this chamber.

First, honourable senators, I would like to express my thanks to Senator Mitchell, the "critic" of this bill — although critic does not apply because I think we are pretty well in agreement on this particular issue. I would like to thank him for his eloquent support of the initiative to expand Nahanni National Park Reserve from 4,800 square kilometres to more than 30,000 square kilometres.

As an aside, I met with the Ambassador of Albania this morning. We were chatting about these things, and he said "that park is bigger than my whole country," to give us a reference as to how large this is.

I also wish to congratulate Prime Minister Harper and Minister Prentice for their leadership on this landmark conservation achievement. The expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve has been a 31-year journey, and I wish to acknowledge the contributions of all previous prime ministers and ministers for their commitment to this project. As well, I extend my gratitude to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources for their cooperation and the speedy analysis of this bill.

Honourable senators, yesterday, in my second reading comments, I may have been unclear on the issue of the status of the mines now situated within the boundaries of the park reserve. Let me clarify.

Approximately 9 per cent of the Dehcho part of the Greater Nahanni Ecosystem will be excluded from the park, which will be available for potential extraction of its high mineral and energy resource potential. This includes two current mining operations, the Cantung and the Prairie Creek mines, which will continue to operate under the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and are subject to its provisions.

The exclusion is intended to continue to provide economic development opportunities for the people of that region. This is a balance between conservation on one side and economic prosperity for those in those areas on the other side.

Honourable senators, Bill C-38 also deals with two issues that do not conform to existing regulations. Two access roads will be built across the park reserve to service mine claims. As well, three outfitters have been granted authority to continue their operations for up to 10 years. During this time, negotiations will be undertaken for the acquisition by the Crown of their businesses at a fair market value.

Honourable senators, the passage of this bill is no small feat. It is the result of consultation that spans three decades and many governments. These extensive consultations have included First Nations, the Government of the Northwest Territories, other stakeholders and the Canadian public. Their support is acknowledged and much appreciated.

Honourable senators, for those of us who have had the privilege of experiencing this magnificent part of Canada, the passage of this bill is greatly welcomed.

The preservation of these lands is of great value, not only for the environment but also to the people of that region.

As well, a wide diversity of life, both flora and fauna, will be protected. I must admit, honourable senators, that seeing a grizzly bear in full flight from just a few hundred feet away is an awesome sight and, frankly, quite scary.

Honourable senators, the passage of Bill C-38 will be a highlight of my career in the Senate, as I hope it will be for all honourable senators.

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Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I rise to speak for a moment to impress upon honourable senators that I, too, am very supportive of Bill C-38. I have had the privilege of working over the last day or two with Senator Di Nino on the bill. It is rewarding to see his pleasure and satisfaction at being part of this process, and I feel that as well. The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, Natural Resources and the Environment worked well under the chairmanship of Senator Angus in its consideration of the bill to return it to the house for third reading, which I hope it receives this afternoon.

Senator Di Nino emphasized the elements of the bill well. I simply make the point that it is critical to conserving vast regions of ecosystems and habitat for wildlife. It is the product of a lengthy, detailed and extensive consultative process with all major stakeholder groups. Beyond that, the process continued across the country and many Canadians were consulted on this bill in respect of a great northern expanse known as Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada.

People can feel reassured that this process was done as well as it could have been done. It is important to note that the Dehcho people have held this park as a dream for many years. This is a tremendous accomplishment for them. Other First Nations also have a stake in this, and they will be equally happy when the bill passes.

The movement of this bill through Parliament is evidence of how that process can rise above the partisan fray to accomplish something that is intrinsically good for Canada. As Senator Di Nino mentioned, this process started some 30 years ago. It has been moved along by various governments, from that of former Prime Minister Trudeau to that of current government of Prime Minister Harper. It is an issue that has been resolved in a collaborative, Canadian way. All honourable senators should be proud that we are here today to authorize it, finalize it, and bring into being something that is very special—this national park.

There is something about Canadians' relationship to their wild lands and wildlife. At times, we take it for granted as more and more of us move into urban areas, but none of us are very far from that sense of the land that is so much a part of being Canadian. It is defining. For generations to come, people who see Nahanni National Park Reserve will understand deeply, if they have forgotten for a moment, that it is a critical element of Canadian character and values.

Today, honourable senators can vote to support this bill and reflect on that most important aspect of Canadian character by making this Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada a reality.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I remind Senator Di Nino that it is hard to outrun that bear he talked about but when he is chasing both you and me, I do not have to outrun the bear; I only have to outrun the honourable senator.

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

Hon. Senators: Question!

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

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

Maanulth First Nations Final Agreement Bill

Third Reading

Hon. Gerry St. Germain moved third reading of Bill C-41, An Act to give effect to the Maanulth First Nations Final Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

He said: Honourable senators, I rise proud and honoured to be the sponsor of this bill. I thank and congratulate those who worked so diligently, patiently and honourably to negotiate the Maanulth First Nations Final Agreement. I thank those who have spoken so eloquently in support of the proposed legislation that brings this landmark accord to life. I think of Senator Campbell, spokesperson for the opposition; and those who, having recognized the exceptional merit and significance of the bill, have ensured its swift passage through Parliament. It should come as no surprise to anyone why Bill C-41 has received such deep and widespread support.

The bill and the agreement it implements promises to have an immediate and profoundly positive effect on the people of the Maa-nulth First Nation. Equally important, the bill and the agreement it implements provides Canada with a clear and true path to follow as we make further progress to negotiate, sign and implement final agreements with many more First Nations communities across the country.

The promise that Bill C-41 holds open and the path it lays down are the direct result of the soundness of the bill's construction. Bill C-41 covers areas of taxation powers; authority over land use; immediate and ongoing financial resources; clarity over the management and use of natural resources; and strong, elected and accountable local government.

Equipped with these essential levers, the people of Maa-nulth First Nations will be in an ideal position to develop and deliver social programs that address their specific community needs. They will be in an ideal position to preserve their language, culture and tradition. They will be in an ideal position to participate fully in the economic growth and prosperity of their region, province and country.

There are many people to thank and congratulate for creating and bringing to life such a practical and thorough piece of legislation. All negotiators for the Maa-nulth First Nations must be congratulated. We must thank Chief Commissioner Sophie Pierre and her colleagues of the BC Treaty Commission for their indispensable support.

The Maanulth First Nations Final Agreement is the second final agreement to be ratified under the British Columbia Treaty Process and is the first agreement to be reached with multiple First Nations within that process. With that fact clearly in mind, we must thank and congratulate Prime Minister Harper, Minister Chuck Strahl and Premier Gordon Campbell for their unwavering support for the British Columbia Treaty Process.

The chiefs of the five Maa-nulth First Nations communities deserve our special thanks for their inspiring leadership: Chief Councillor Charlie Cootes, Chief Councillor Violet Mundy, Chief Councillor Tess Smith and Chief Councillor Robert Dennis Sr. and hereditary Chief Anne Mack.

I must also thank honourable senators who spoke in support of Bill C-41 in this chamber and during its consideration at the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. We thank and congratulate those chiefs and committee officials who testified before our committee last evening.

As the bill's sponsor, I thank honourable senators for agreeing to give this vitally important bill their full attention to ensure its timely consideration and passage in the Senate.

Honourable senators, this is a great moment in the history of British Columbia. I want to thank Senator Campbell again, as well as all the members of the committee, who worked so diligently on this bill with short notice. However, this bill is not something that was hatched overnight. The agreement has been negotiated for years and years.

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With that, I thank honourable senators for their time and consideration.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is there continuing debate? Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

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

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

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Tenth Report of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Presented

Leave having been given to revert to Presentation of Reports from Standing or Special Committees:

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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

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

TENTH REPORT

Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (organized crime and protection of justice system participants), has, in obedience to the order of reference of Wednesday, May 27, 2009, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,

JOAN FRASER
Chair

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

(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

Judges Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Gerry St. Germain moved third reading of Bill C-39, An Act to amend the Judges Act.

He said: Honourable senators, I stand today to express my support for Bill C-39. This bill proposes to amend the Judges Act and facilitate the appointment of a judge who currently sits on the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench to the position of Chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The bill supports the essential contribution that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will make to this country. The commission is a key component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which is the largest class action settlement ever negotiated in this country.

I believe that the agreement also represents one of the most significant steps towards reconciliation between non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal people in history. Never before has a nation acknowledged in both word and deed the devastating role that its politics and action had on the peoples who originally inhabited this land. We all recognize that many former students and their families suffered during this shameful phase of our history and, honourable senators, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement confronts these truths and helps all Canadians overcome them. That is why the agreement features both tangible and symbolic elements, and why it provides financial compensation, counselling and support services along with commemorative activities.

While we can never erase this part of our history, I believe we can come to terms with it if we confront it with honesty, grace and compassion. The commission was off to a difficult start last year. Now a new chairperson has been chosen, one who has earned the support of all parties to the settlement agreement. Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair is an accomplished, experienced and respected jurist with considerable expertise in Aboriginal issues. He currently sits on the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench, and his appointment to the commission will diminish the court's capacity.

Bill C-39 proposes a solution that will protect the interests of Manitobans, and will also enable the commission to make progress on its important mandate. The commission will catalogue not only the story of the institutions but also the heartfelt stories of individuals whose lives were forever altered by the Indian residential school system. It will create an accurate historical record of the system, the documents and the misguided policies that helped create and maintain it.

The commission will honour the experiences of former students and their families. Many former students carry the scars of trauma with them for their entire adult lives. Society's failure to recognize these scars only compounded the original trauma. By helping former students share some of their experiences, the commission will promote reconciliation and hopefully, will help in the healing of those scars. The commission will also engage non-Aboriginal Canadians in the healing process.

For the first time, many Canadians will hear and read first-hand accounts of what went on in Indian residential schools. In the process, they will gain valuable insight into why the experience of so many former students continues to reverberate today. As a result, the commission will foster a new level of mutual respect between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians, and there is no doubt that to make lasting progress on a full range of Aboriginal issues, Canadians have to see Aboriginal Canadians with new eyes. They must discard old prejudices and adopt a new way of thinking.

All of us possess the power to effect change, and I believe that the commission will help ordinary Canadians develop a new relationship with Aboriginal Peoples, a relationship characterized by compassion and honesty.

The Government of Canada, for its part, continues to take a number of actions to address the full range of Aboriginal issues. These actions include legislation to protect the human rights of residents of First Nations communities and to establish a tribunal to help eliminate the backlog of specific claims. The actions include partnerships with Aboriginal groups to resolve problems related to on-reserve schools, and child and family services. These actions also include targeted investments in employment, training programs, housing and drinking water. The commission's work will complement these actions and will help Canadians close a deplorable chapter of our history and write a new one based on harmony and common purpose. It will help make this nation whole again.

I encourage all honourable senators to support Bill C-39, to help the commission fulfil its larger role. I would be remiss if I did not say how honoured and how moved I am to be the sponsor of this particular bill. I thank all honourable senators from both sides of the Senate for the support the Aboriginal community is receiving. I believe that if we continue to work together in a non-partisan fashion, in a fashion that is designed with the sole purpose of improving the plight of our Aboriginal Peoples, we will succeed. I thank you, and God bless all of you.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Continuing debate? Are senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

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

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

War Veterans Allowance Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Michael A. Meighen moved third reading of Bill C-33, An Act to amend the War Veterans Allowance Act.

He said: Honourable senators, I am pleased to speak briefly this afternoon to Bill C-33, the War Veterans Allowance Act, and even more pleased that it is being reported back to the Senate without amendment.

Let the record show that the honourable senators who asked questions about this bill before the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs performed their due diligence carefully in scrutinizing this important piece of legislation. I want to express my personal thanks to the deputy chair of the committee, Senator Banks; and to the other members, Senators Kenny, Senator Day and Senator Wallin; and to our frequent visitor and most informed colleague, Senator Downe, who, perhaps because of his residency in Charlottetown, knows a great deal about these matters.

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With passage of this bill, allied veterans from the Second World War and Korea will see access to the War Veterans Allowance, associated assistance and health benefits fully restored. In other words, they will be treated much like Canadian veterans who served alongside them. With this new legislation, Canada is enhancing its commitment to our allied veterans by giving them more options, more choice and more hope of living their lives with dignity, comfort, respect and honour.

As Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson said before the subcommittee:

With this bill, we will make sure allied veterans of the Second World War — those who have lived in Canada for at least 10 years since the war and continue to reside in Canada — will once again have access to the vital programs provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.

Honourable senators, this means that qualifying veterans will have access to the War Veterans Allowance, the Veterans Independence Program, emergency financial assistance, long-term care, health care and support, and an appropriate burial where circumstances would not otherwise allow.

As of today, approximately 3,600 allied veterans and an estimated additional 1,000 family members will benefit.

In working on this bill, I would like to thank the senators who served not only on the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee but also on the parent committee, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, for being very sensitive to the fact that this bill needed speedy passage so that its associated regulations can be implemented on January 1, 2010; and, most importantly, so that payments that are retroactive to October 14, 2008, can be mailed out to their deserving recipients.

Time is indeed of the essence, honourable senators. These veterans are not getting any younger.

Ultimately we can never do enough to repay the sacrifices and contributions made by Canadians as well as by allied war veterans, but we can be vigilant in restoring imbalances and correcting injustices where they occur.

Bill C-33 helps to do this, honourable senators, and for that we should be thankful. By passing the bill, Canada is taking the opportunity to right a wrong. Canada is making progress in ensuring a lasting and real benefit for some of the truest heroes of our country.

We are demonstrating with action that we will never forget the service and courage of many brave veterans. We are showing that we are equally proud of our allied veterans as we are of our Canadian troops who have helped Canada become the best country in the world. Today, in a very real sense, and a very real way, we are saying thank you.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I thank Senator Meighen for correctly pointing out how important and necessary this bill is. There is no doubt that in this place we are cogently aware of what we owe the people who are covered by this bill.

I do want to remind honourable senators that, as Senator Meighen has said, due diligence was provided in the study of the bill by the subcommittee, of which he is the eminent chair. A couple of questions were asked during the study of the bill on which we have yet to receive answers, and we are looking forward to those. The questions had to do with a few dates in the bill and what might be an interim period during which some people might fall through the cracks that are otherwise covered by the bill. They are technical questions having to do with dates and specific provisions of the bill. We are looking forward to hearing the answers.

However, there is no doubt about the thrust of the bill and what we owe to the people who are covered by it; people who served and the survivors of people who served in World War II and the Korean conflict, in particular. It is very necessary to pass this bill today.

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

Hon. Senators: Question.

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

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

Business of the Senate

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, there has been consultation with the other side and, with leave, we would like to rearrange the items under "Other Business." We would like to call first Bill S-208; followed by Item No. 9, regarding the second reading of Bill S-209; followed by "Reports of Committees,": No. 1, the Agriculture Committee report; followed by No. 10, the Social Committee report; followed by Inquiry No. 27 on the Notice Paper.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Food and Drugs Act

Bill to Amend—Third Reading

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein moved third reading of Bill S-208, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (clean drinking water).

He said: Honourable senators, I do not mean to deal with this item other than to thank Senator Angus and Senator Banks and all members of the committees over the last eight years who have given this bill a thorough top-to-bottom review, and I urge its speedy adoption.

Hon. Hector Daniel Lang: Honourable senators, I rise to once again register my opposition to the bill. I think that I have clearly and concisely provided a number of reasons why. Given the reasons I brought forward to the floor of the Senate and, more importantly, to the committee, I still think that I am justified — as I think many others in this house could be — in not supporting the bill.

I will be very concise because I know time is not necessarily our friend today.

I do not think the federal government needs to be more involved in the question of clean drinking water across our country any more than it already is. There are at least two pieces of legislation on the books that the federal government is exercising. Overall, I think they are doing a very good job. I see this particular bill as an intrusion into provincial responsibility. I do not think it is the place of this house to do this, especially without consultation with the provinces.

I also say that the federal government has had some direct responsibility, that is, with regard to First Nations reserves across this country. I can tell honourable senators that their track record has not been good.

Why would we say to the federal government that we will go further into the question of exercising responsibility and indirectly enforcing laws with respect to drinking water across this country when we have not done what we are supposed to be doing and we have had the constitutional responsibility to do so?

Honourable senators, it is important for the house to realize that major improvements have been made in this area over the last 10 years. Even now, as we speak, I know that the Government of Canada is speaking with the First Nations and looking at putting guidelines and legislation in place as far as the question of drinking water is concerned and how it should be handled in First Nations across the country.

I do not think this house should be passing legislation just for the sake of passing it. We have our responsibilities, and I do not think we should be moving into an area that is really the day-to-day responsibility of the provinces of this country.

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Honourable senators, I want to register my opposition to this bill.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Further debate?

Are senators ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: Question!

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

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

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Hervieux-Payette, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Carstairs, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-209, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children).

Hon. John D. Wallace: Honourable senators, I am pleased to rise today to speak on the important matter of Bill S-209, which purports to afford new protection to children under the Criminal Code by proposing to repeal and replace current section 43 of the Criminal Code.

I would like to begin by acknowledging that this bill is a well-intended attempt to deal with an issue that has significant importance and implications to all Canadian families. That issue is whether a legislated ban is required and is appropriate in regard to what is referred to in Bill S-209 as "corporal punishment" of children. The issue is whether a legislated ban will ensure that children will be better protected than they are today, from what Senator Hervieux-Payette frequently refers to in her second reading speech as "child-rearing violence."

I fully agree with the intention behind this bill, however, with respect, I cannot agree with the need to replace the existing law as it relates to this particular issue.

Undoubtedly, there is no one among us who disagrees with the proposition that children should be free from physical abuse and injury. That is beyond question. However, in my view, that is not what this current debate surrounding existing section 43 of the Criminal Code is really about. Rather, the debate and the concern of many, including myself, concerns the appropriateness of the use of minor forms of physical contact by parents in parenting their children, and the application of criminal law to enforce a particular view of what does constitute "proper parenting," and in circumstances that have absolutely no relevance whatsoever to what is reasonably contemplated by Senator Hervieux-Payette's phrase "child-rearing violence."

In this regard, I would like to begin by first referring senators to current section 43 of the Criminal Code, which reads as follows:

Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.

On January 30, 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the case of Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and Law v. Canada (Attorney General). The issue that was before the court was whether section 43 of the Criminal Code was unconstitutional. Six of the nine justices concluded that this section does not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, since it does not infringe a child's rights to security of the person, or a child's right to equality, and it does not constitute cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

The majority of the justices in the Canadian Foundation case upheld section 43, on the basis that it protects only parents, schoolteachers and persons who have assumed all of the obligations of parenthood. Further, it maintains a risk of criminal sanction if force is used for non-educative or non-corrective purposes, and limits the type and degree of force that may be used.

The words "by way of correction" in section 43 mean that the use of force must be sober and reasoned, address actual behaviour, and be intended to restrain, control or express symbolic disapproval. The child must have the capacity to understand and benefit from the correction, so that section 43 does not justify force against children who are under two years of age or those with particular disabilities.

The words "reasonable under the circumstances" in section 43 mean that the force must be transitory and trifling, must not harm or degrade the child, and must not be based on the gravity of the wrongdoing.

"Reasonableness" further implies that force may not be administered to teenagers, as it may induce aggressive or anti-social behaviour, may not involve objects such as rulers or belts, and may not be applied to the head. While corporal punishment itself is not reasonable in the school context, a majority of the Supreme Court did conclude that teachers may use force to remove children from classrooms or secure compliance with instructions.

I continue to believe that the 2004 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in the Canadian Foundation case represents an effective balance between the interests of children and their parents and teachers, and our wider society.

This decision by the Supreme Court narrowed the application of the defence available under section 43 of the Criminal Code as to when parents and teachers could use reasonable force to discipline a child, setting out limitations that were consistent with both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

As a result, and as I previously stated, a defence is now open only to parents who are able to show that they used reasonable force within the circumstances, and that the force was minor, resulting in nothing more than trivial and trifling effects on the child.

In other words, from the time of the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada decision, it was made clear that the defence of using reasonable force to discipline a child was not available to parents where there were, for example, any marks on the child or where an object was used, or where the force was applied to the child's head, or in circumstances where the child was incapable of learning from the correction.

I believe that part of the reason we are here today is that the current law may not, in fact, be well understood, leading some to be confused about whether "corporal punishment" is or is not allowed under the current Supreme Court of Canada test. Part of the confusion is that often debate can occur between people talking about very different ideas of what is meant by "corporal punishment."

In my view, the kind of behaviour most of us think of when we speak of "corporal punishment," that is applying abusive physical force such as striking with a belt, a ruler, a spoon or other object, would most certainly constitute what Senator Hervieux-Payette has referred to as "child-rearing violence," and that type of action is clearly not permitted under the current law.

However, if we are to take the term "corporal punishment" literally, as including any physical contact, no matter how small or trifling, then it is clear that the Supreme Court of Canada has determined that minor slaps or swats are part of reasonable parenting and should not be subject to criminal sanction, provided it is within the very strict limitations I have previously referred to.

As I have said, and with all due respect, I do not believe that enacting Bill S-209 into law, even with the best of intentions to further clarify the law in this area, will result in better balance than that which has already been achieved by our Supreme Court of Canada. Rather, I am concerned that the proposed change to the existing law will inevitably and unnecessarily put parents, children and families before the courts as judicial interpretations of the new wording are developed. If there are concerns as to how well the general public understands the existing law, then the answer surely lies in creating more public awareness, and not in risking potential damage to responsible parents and their families as a result of the wording proposed by Bill S-209.

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I am well aware that the subject matter of Bill S-209 has been debated previously here and elsewhere, and that a great deal of thought and effort has gone into a previous study of this challenging issue by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

I understand that the current wording of Bill S-209 is a deliberate attempt on the part of some members of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs to respond to the concerns expressed by some of the witnesses who appeared before them concerning the proposed outright repeal of the defence for parents and teachers under section 43 of the Criminal Code.

What concerns me greatly, however, is that not one of the witnesses who appeared before the Senate committee ever had a chance to make representations on the language that was eventually chosen by the committee members as a response to the concerns they identified with regard to a complete proposed repeal of section 43 of the Criminal Code.

Undoubtedly, the opinions and advice of witnesses who appear before the committee in its further consideration of current Bill S-209 will be of utmost importance to the further deliberations of the committee members, and all honourable senators of this chamber, on this extremely important matter.

I am concerned that the three specific circumstances proposed in Bill S-209 as to when reasonable force is justified are not enough to ensure that reasonable parents, who make reasonable decisions in the parenting of their children, are not subject to the application of Canadian criminal law prosecution, and such a result is never in the best interests of the children and their parents.

As a comparative example, it is interesting to note that legislation existing in New Zealand that also deals with this topic, and which has been favourably referred to by Senator Hervieux-Payette in her second reading speech, includes an exemption for parents "performing the normal daily tasks that are incidental to good care and parenting."

In my view, aside from the defence and protection provided under current section 43 of the Criminal Code, the absence of a similar provision in Bill S-209 runs the risk of subjecting children and their parents to unnecessary and totally inappropriate legal intervention.

I believe that the current law continues to represent the best balance to protect children from abusive parents, which is undoubtedly necessary, while also allowing parents to help guide their children through the many difficult steps of growing up in today's society. Responsible parents need to have room to parent without fear of criminal prosecution.

As I have said, I prefer the current law, which has been interpreted and upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada as being consistent with both the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We need to consider carefully how to maintain an appropriate balance between protecting children from abusive parents, while at the same time protecting reasonable families from unwarranted interference from government and the criminal justice system.

As with each of my fellow honourable senators, I look forward to further debate and Senate committee study on this issue, as well as further careful consideration of how best to balance these competing and extremely important considerations.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is there continuing debate?

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I thank Senator Wallace for his comments today. I could not disagree more with everything he said, because I am a firm advocate of this bill. In fact, it was originally my bill, eons ago, before it became Senator Hervieux-Payette's bill. For that reason, I will reserve and ask for the adjournment of this debate so I can refute each and every one of his arguments, because it is children who are in need of protection in Canada, not parents.

(On motion of Senator Carstairs, debate adjourned.)

Study on Rural Poverty

Fourth Report of Agriculture and Forestry Committee and Request for Government Response—Motion as Amended Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion by the Honourable Senator Fairbairn, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Grafstein, that the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, entitled: Beyond Freefall: Halting Rural Poverty, tabled in the Senate on June 4, 2009, be adopted and that, pursuant to rule 131(2), the Senate request a complete and detailed response from the government, with the Ministers of Agriculture and Agri-Food; of National Revenue and of State (Agriculture); of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism; of Environment; of Finance; of Fisheries and Oceans; of Health; of Human Resources and Skills Development; of Justice and Attorney General of Canada; of Industry; and of Natural Resources being identified as Ministers responsible for responding to the report;

And on the motion in amendment of the Honourable Senator Mercer, seconded by the Honourable Senator Lovelace Nicholas, that the motion be amended by:

(i) inserting, before the words "Ministers of", the words "President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada being identified as Minister responsible for responding to the report, in consultation with the", and

(ii) deleting all words following the words "Natural Resources".

Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I rise briefly to express my support for the committee report before you this afternoon. The work by our chair, Senator Fairbairn from Alberta, throughout the 70 meetings that took place right across the country, with over 300 witnesses, was outstanding. She provided immense leadership and tremendous balance. Senator Fairbairn was aided by our former colleague Senator Gustafson, who brought a valuable perspective, because he joined us either between seeding or harvesting, as the case may be, a regular part of his life as a member of this place. The work by our colleagues, Senator Callbeck, Senator Mercer and Senator Peterson, was outstanding and of immense value to the quality of this report in so many ways.

I support the motion and I support the amendment. I will quote from the preface to this report now before you.

This is a report for and about people like Émilienne and Alfred Basque, who more than 30 years ago flew to Ottawa to tell their story of rural poverty to the 1970 Senate Committee on Poverty headed by Senator David Croll. Some 30 years later, Mr. and Ms. Basque continue to struggle for the rights of the rural poor, even as the policy world ignored Senator Croll's tireless efforts . . .

It's about Dennis Dowswell, a native of Prince George, British Columbia, who told us how her 60-year-old father works from dawn to dusk, how her two sisters, both accountants, pour almost all their income into the farm, how the seven grandchildren work on the farm when not in school, how despite their efforts, they are working down the equity built by previous generations. "The reality of it is that we are paying to farm. There is no way around that."

Many recommendations here are compelling. I will refer to a few.

One recommendation suggests that we should work to ensure that we increase the population of rural Canada and do not let it decline. The truth of the matter is that when the report first came out from the committee, many of us received calls from journalists. The most fascinating call I received was from a German weekly magazine. The caller could not believe that Canada had less agricultural population as a percentage of the total than Germany, and the journalist could not believe that we had urbanized to that point. The thresher and the wheat field were part of her image of this great country and she did not understand how we could reach the point where our rural population had become so small.

Another recommendation suggests that we have to reverse that policy. By the way, it can be done. Our Scottish friends have found a way to do it. Scottish rural communities are the only ones growing throughout all of Europe, because they have a program to bring people to their community, to bring the skill sets necessary to make those communities sustainable. If our Scottish friends can do it, colleagues, so can we.

Another recommendation that I think is important is with regard to children: access to digital media. Being able to download quickly for rural children is a tiny fraction of what it is for our urban children, and that digital access and digital capacity is a huge factor in how one moves ahead and builds their networks and builds their opportunity in this world.

The lack of broadband in our rural communities is a matter we need to address. There is a recommendation that the cabinet give a policy direction to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that a condition of licence for those who want to provide telecommunication services on a profitable basis across the country should be that they also provide some measure of support for rural Canada.

A recommendation that may not be popular in this great city of Ottawa is that the federal government move 10 per cent of its employees and offices out of the big cities, out of the expensive real estate, and into rural Canada, where those jobs would be economic anchors that would help economic growth and expansion take place, and provide job opportunities for rural Canadians.

Another recommendation suggests for those of us who believe that on occasion we can change tax policy for the better, that we should make it easier for farms to be transferred within families and from generation to generation than the tax system now allows.

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In the Leeds area, my senatorial district, less than 7 per cent of the farms now operating are being run by second-generation families. Families are giving up farming, something we cannot in any way, shape or form afford in this country. If we had a pandemic that required the closing of our border, therefore stopping the free movement of food across it, we would learn very quickly what a strategic national security resource our rural farming communities are. We must sustain that resource in the interests of our own national security.

There is a recommendation that we work with the provinces to address the issue of rural poverty. The numbers are worse. It is more invisible, but the suffering of the rural poor is actually worse than what is happening in our cities, and it does not make the news every night. There are no gun fights or high-profile police chases. However, there are families that are suffering, families that have no access to public transit, seniors who are isolated and cannot get to medical care because they have no way to get from point A to point to B.

We look to provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador, which has made remarkable progress on rural poverty issues, to its credit, and to initiatives taken by the Province of Quebec and to new initiatives in Ontario. This calls for a green paper to look at income security options and how we might go forward so that we view the base of rural population that is fundamental to this country's future as a core strategic asset, and so that we treat those people with respect and give them the support that is absolutely essential.

Honourable senators, there would be no Canada today were it not for the rural communities, the farmers, the fishermen and the people who worked in the forests. They built this country and shaped our history, and their values and communities lie at the very core of what makes this country special.

This report affords us a chance to call on the government of the day and all future governments, not only to affirm that rural Canada was a vital and core part of our past but that it remain an essential part of this nation's future.

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

Hon. Senators: Question.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Carried.

On the report as amended, is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the main motion?

(Motion as amended agreed to and report adopted.)

[Translation]

Study on Impact and Effects of Social Determinants of Health

Eighth Report of Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee Adopted

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the consideration of the eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, entitled: A Healthy, Productive Canada: A Determinant of Health Approach, tabled in the Senate on June 3, 2009.

Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, I rise to speak after Senator Keon, whom I congratulate for demonstrating leadership in our committee and in promoting a population health approach.

Many experts feel that it is time Canada took an active rather than passive approach to health. Our understanding of health is generally limited to diseases and treatments. We focus our energies more on treating diseases and less on what makes people sick. Yet research shows that 15 per cent of a person' health is attributable to biology and genetic factors, 10 per cent to the physical environment, 25 per cent to the reparative work of the health care system and 50 per cent to socio-economic conditions, which are generally beyond people's control.

Some Canadians are less healthy than others because of low family income, inadequate housing, adverse conditions during early childhood and adolescence, lack of education, illiteracy or poor working conditions.

These socio-economic conditions, known as the socio-economic determinants of health, are also the main causes of the huge health disparities between Canadians.

There are major differences in the health outcomes of various population groups. It is unacceptable that a wealthy country such as ours tolerates such disparities. Every Canadian has the right to be healthy, regardless of ethnic origin or socio-economic status.

These health disparities can be diminished by implementing well-designed government policies. We must intervene at that level.

To deal with the factors that make some people more prone to illness than others, a whole-of-government approach to population health must be adopted.

That is the conclusion reached by the Senate Subcommittee on Population Health after two years of study.

The population health approach requires a profound structural change in government policies and coordinated action by the entire government organization. Our report is very explicit about that. Our colleague, Senator Keon, chaired the committee and has already outlined the main planks of this policy. I will not go into the details.

However, I would like to insist on the need to involve communities in implementing any policy of this nature.

To obtain the desired results, governments cannot act alone. They must work closely with community organizations on those measures that can most effectively improve health and well-being, increase productivity, promote social cohesion and reduce the crime rate and that must be undertaken locally and managed by the communities themselves.

That is why the approach adopted by the Subcommittee on Population Health emphasizes the community context. We believe that community interventions are those that best reach vulnerable populations, create local networks and attract a portion of the resources.

It is important to focus on concerted efforts based on local needs. For that reason, the subcommittee recommends that the Government of Canada work with the other levels of government and the non-governmental sector in order to support the coordination and integration of community services in a framework of health determinants. The subcommittee was extremely impressed to learn of the vast array of fruitful initiatives implemented locally to contribute to good health, well-being, productivity and reduced crime.

Local and integrated means of intervention are the result of combined socio-economic and environmental objectives that can have a positive influence on a good number of health determinants. They take root in the communities themselves, are supported by volunteers and geared to the population. One such example is Stella Burry Community Services in St. John's, Newfoundland, which we visited while conducting our study.

Stella Burry Community Services provides help to adults struggling with serious social and psychological problems. These people have access to support and counselling, training and development programs and affordable housing.

Stella Burry Community Services also launched Stella's Circle, which is a social enterprise whose goal is to provide job and training opportunities in the food service industry, and to offer low-cost meals to Stella Burry members who must eat on a limited income.

Through these initiatives, Stella Burry Community Services can not only generate revenue, but can also make a difference in terms of many more health determinants in the population it serves.

There are many initiatives across the country that deserve to be recognized and supported. There is no single model that can apply to all situations.

An action that yields results in a particular community may not necessarily yield the same results in a different community.

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Each set of circumstances is unique, so local leadership is required to draw upon the experience of what has worked elsewhere and adapt it to the specific needs of each community. Therefore, we must provide better tools to communities and we must support them, so that they can adopt solutions that meet their needs.

Our report includes several recommendations on how governments can establish partnerships and support the initiatives of Canadian communities, so that they can focus on the determinants of health. The success of a whole-of-government approach to population health can, to a large extent, be measured by the ability of communities to navigate between the various orders of government.

Since the programs on the determinants of health come under various federal, provincial and municipal bodies, local initiatives to reduce health disparities could receive funds from many sources.

In order to reduce the administrative burden and promote local leadership, the subcommittee recommends that these three orders of government review and harmonize the information, reporting and audit requirements that they impose on community groups for grants and contributions.

It should possible to account for funds received without creating an administrative burden. The beneficiaries of funds provided through various programs should be able to group their accountability reports together.

Short-term, project-based funding as a principal source of revenue weakens community organizations by creating insecurity and preventing long-term planning. Multi-year funding agreements would provide greater stability in the sector and reduce transaction costs for the government. Therefore, we recommend that the Government of Canada encourage multi-year funding of community projects that seek to reduce health disparities.

Honourable senators, the federal, provincial and territorial governments have already spent a lot of time on the issue of population health. Canada is a leader when it comes to understanding the usefulness of an approach based on population health. However, we are slow to act. There is no national plan to reduce health disparity and improve population health in general.

Now is the time to act. We cannot keep putting money into the health system indefinitely without dealing with the root causes of the problem or wait until we are confronted with diseases before taking action. The population health approach to dealing with the causes of disease has many advantages. A healthy population is a more productive population and, in turn, this increased productivity fosters economic growth.

A healthy population requires less government expenditure on income support, social services and so on. Simply put, Canada's economic health depends on the health of all Canadians.

A whole-of-government population health approach would present the advantage of allowing people to experience a better start in life, even from the prenatal stage and early childhood. Health is a basic human right, and it is essential for individuals and societies to function well. Governments have an obligation to create and maintain the conditions necessary for all citizens to live their lives in good health.

Honourable senators, I encourage you to read the report of our Subcommittee on Population Health and give your input so that Canada can soon take a proactive approach to health.

[English]

Senator Eggleton: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker: There is no motion, honourable senators; we are just debating a report.

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, I move the adoption of the report.

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Keon, seconded by the Honourable Senator Wallace, that the eighth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be adopted now.

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

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Canadians' Support for New Direction in Food Production

Inquiry—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Mira Spivak rose pursuant to notice of June 16, 2009:

That she will call the attention of the Senate to Canadians' support for new direction in food production.

She said: Honourable senators, in recent years some 40 national and regional organizations have given voice to Canadians' concerns about industrialized agriculture and the desire to consume food that is less harmful to ecological and human health.

The National Farmers Union, the Toronto Food Policy Council, the Canadian Organic Growers, and many more have presented new evidence to policy-makers and lawmakers and raised awareness of the dangers of factory farming and of industrialized food production. There is growing public awareness of the impact of the way we grow, process and eat food on health, energy use, climate change and, indeed, national security. In the U.S., organic food production is growing exponentially. Michelle Obama planted a vegetable garden; Wal-Mart is selling organic food; and the new movie Food Inc. is a horror film about the living conditions of chickens, grim meat-cutting rooms and chemical-laced corn fields.

The Senate, through its inquiry into rBST, the first genetically modified product that Monsanto attempted to inject into milk production, played a substantial role in alerting Canadians, in particular, to the process by which drugs of uncertain safety are approved for use in food production.

Honourable senators, I would like to draw your attention to the many new challenges to a safe food supply since that debate, and to new evidence that the industrialization of food is harming the environment. The concerns are the raison d'être of scores of groups throughout North America — perhaps none more aptly named than the Beyond Factory Farming Coalition. There is a long list of their specific concerns. There is evidence that the crowding, genetic uniformity and feeding regimes in factory farms are spawning new dangerous diseases such as, for example, high pathogenic avian flu and mad cow disease.

There is evidence that nearly half of all antibiotic use in North America is in agriculture and as much as 90 per cent of the antibiotics used in livestock production are simply used to promote growth of animals in crowded, stressful conditions. Factory farm conditions are ideal for creating such antibiotic-resistant bacteria as C. difficile. In the public mind, the potentially fatal intestinal disease caused by the superbug is most likely to strike hospital patients, but increasingly C. difficile is found in people who have not been hospitalized and contaminated food is the suspected source. An Ontario Veterinary College study shows that the same strain of C. difficile that has caused severe hospital outbreaks has been detected in the feces of dairy calves in Ontario.

In 1997, the World Health Organization recommended that no antibiotic used in human medicine be permitted for growth production in livestock. Canada has not eliminated antibiotic use in livestock production. The result, according to a federal study, is antibiotic resistant E. coli in swine, chicken and cattle; antibiotic resistant salmonella; antibiotic resistant campylobacter; and antibiotic resistant enterococcus.

The European Union banned the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in livestock in 2006. Denmark banned them 10 years ago, demonstrating that antibiotics can be eliminated without losing production capacity and, not incidentally, that the level of antibiotic resistance in livestock can be lowered significantly.

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The European Union has long had concern about North America's use of hormones in factory farms, which led to bans on meat imports. The new concern on this side of the world relates to the health and environmental problems these estrogen-mimicking pharmaceuticals can create when they survive sewage treatment plants and are discharged into waterways.

As the Beyond Factory Farming coalition pointed out in a petition to the Environment Commissioner, hormones released from intensive livestock operations raise the same issues. The response to the petition is that no agency is monitoring hormone use or impact. Health Canada has done no studies.

Safe food advocates are concerned about distillers' grain, a by-product of ethanol production used as livestock feed. Research in the U.S. indicates that cattle fed distillers grain have a higher incidence of E. coli O157:H7 in their gut, the same variety of E. coli that caused the disaster in Walkerton.

Concerns are raised about other forms of water pollution — particularly high levels of phosphorous in livestock feed that result in high levels in manure — as Manitobans know well from the recent plight of Lake Winnipeg. An industrial farm with 5,000 hogs produces as much waste as a town with 20,000 people. The town is required to have a sewage system; the industrial farm is not.

There is widespread concern about the food system's impact on climate, from seeding and breeding to food preparation and all the steps in between — fertilizing fields, applying pesticides, transporting fresh produce thousands of miles, food processing, food packaging, food wholesaling and retailing, and food storage and preparation in homes. The fact of the matter is that this food system is highly dependent on and highly consumptive of fossil fuels — the chief anthropogenic contributor to global warming.

After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any sector of the economy. By best estimates, the way we feed ourselves contributes more greenhouse gas to the atmosphere than any other sector of the economy — as much as 37 per cent, according to one study. Simply put, our food system is far less reliant on photosynthesis that has fed mankind for millennia and far more reliant on fossil fuels than it has ever been in human history.

Fortunately, there is a new, big idea gaining momentum internationally: claw back that overreliance on fossil fuel, restore balance and, by relying more on energy from the sun, improve the state of our environment, our health and our food security simultaneously.

As U.S. food guru Michael Pollan, a leader in the sustainable food movement, wrote in the New York Times recently, "the surfeit of cheap calories that the food system has produced . . . may have taken food prices off the political agenda" — at least in North America. However, it has come at a steep cost to public health.

Four of the most prevalent and often fatal diseases are linked to diet: heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer. Cheap calories from grains and vegetable oils that make up so much of our supermarket and fast-food diets are fuelling these preventable diseases. It is no coincidence that as family spending on food has declined, health care costs have increased.

However, in developing countries, as the Financial Times recently reported, agricultural commodities have returned to levels last seen in the 2007-2008 food crisis, leading to a growing concern that higher food prices may return; and global hunger is on the rise again in the most vulnerable countries, such as Bangladesh, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Our decision to heavily subsidize food crops for fuel is an example of what Michael Pollan sees as a food system that is not simply the product of a free market. Rather, it is the product of a specific set of government policies that have transformed North American agriculture and a diverse food system into an industrialized machine.

Two years ago, an excellent Library of Parliament research paper, entitled Farm Size and Financial Health and Government Payments, quantified how federal policies have continued to reward the biggest producers and to encourage the consolidation of farms in our country. The paper concludes that one way of resolving the problem is to examine the principle that government payments be distributed in proportion to farm size.

In order to address the low incomes of many farmers — as the recent report has indicated — and the safety of the food supply and the long-term viability of food production, we need to reconsider what we have been doing. The new agricultural policy framework, "Going Forward," and the Budget 2009 announcements are silent on this critical matter of proportionality and have little to do with substantive agricultural policy reform.

Fortunately, there is a new consumer movement afoot — legions of consumers who do not want to buy produce shipped thousands of miles, breads made with grains grown with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, or meat produced with feed laced with antibiotics and hormones.

As honourable senators know, these people support farmers' markets. That number is growing exponentially, as is the number of organic producers. In one year, organic production of livestock increased dramatically — by 30 per cent in beef herds and 56 per cent in broiler hens. Community-supported agricultural operations are also booming. These small farms have joined with consumers and farmers' markets, et cetera.

These consumer trends tell us that whether for concerns about health, the environment or simply a desire to support local farmers, individual North American families — not government policy-makers — are attempting to find a solution to the problems that the modern food system has created. These new progressive ways to put food on the table not only promote healthy eating, but they also have the great advantage of relying more on sunshine and less on fossil fuel in growing, transporting, processing and packaging of food.

Our government can do more to reverse the unfortunate balance in the food system. It can certainly redirect support payments to smaller producers. It can encourage and promote community-supported agriculture and other direct sales methods. It can promote healthy eating and be much less willing to allow farm animals to grow with the help of antibiotics and hormones, as Europe has done for some time.

Factory farms are one of the biggest sources of pollution in North America. They make economic but not ecological sense. As one pundit put it, "To take animals off farms and put them into feedlots is to take an elegant solution — animals replenishing the fertility that crops need — and divide it into two problems: a fertility problem on the farm, a pollution problem on the feedlot. The former is remedied with a fossil fuel problem; the latter not at all. Argentina still retains the elegant solution, rotating animals and crops on 5,000-acre farms."

Michael Pollan's advice to consumers is this — only buy the food that your great-grandmother would recognize — real food, not "nutracycles" with a lot of things in them that you do not even know what they are if you want to be healthy. However, for that to happen on a large scale, we need a different, sustainable direction for the food we grow, produce and distribute.

It was Schopenhauer, the great German philosopher who said:

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident.

I am not sure whether we are at any phase here.

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Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, the Honourable Senator Spivak does not want tributes, so I will not give her one. I will just say thank you, Senator Spivak, for what you have contributed to this place, to my city of Winnipeg and to my province of Manitoba.

(On motion of Senator Banks, debate adjourned.)

Fisheries and Oceans

Study on Issues Relating to Federal Government's Current and Evolving Policy Framework for Managing Fisheries and Oceans—Committee Authorized to Meet During Adjournment of the Senate

Hon. Ethel Cochrane, pursuant to notice of June 16, 2009, moved:

That, pursuant to rule 95(3)(a), the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be authorized to sit this summer as part of its travel plans, for the purposes of its study of issues relating to the federal government's current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding one week.

(Motion agreed to.)

Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Study on Provisions and Operations of DNA Identification Act—Committee Authorized to Extend Date of Final Report

Hon. Joan Fraser, pursuant to notice of June 16, 2009, moved:

That notwithstanding the Order of the Senate adopted on February 26, 2009, the date for the presentation of the final report by the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the provisions and operation of the DNA Identification Act (S.C. 1998, c. 37) be extended from June 30, 2009 to December 31, 2009.

(Motion agreed to.)

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of His Excellency, the Ambassador of Poland, as well as a number of veterans who are in our gallery, all of whom are here to observe the Royal Assent being given shortly to bills, including Bill C-33, An Act to amend the War Veterans Allowance Act.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

(The Senate adjourned during pleasure.)


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[Translation]

Royal Assent

Her Excellency the Governor General of Canada having come and being seated on the Throne, and the House of Commons having been summoned, and being come with their Speaker, Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give the Royal Assent to the following bills:

An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act, to validate certain calculations and to amend other Acts (Bill C-18, Chapter 13, 2009)

An Act to amend certain Acts that relate to the environment and to enact provisions respecting the enforcement of certain Acts that relate to the environment (Bill C-16, Chapter 14, 2009)

An Act to increase the availability of agricultural loans and to repeal the Farm Improvement Loans Act (Bill C-29, Chapter 15, 2009)

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 C-24, Chapter 16, 2009)

An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act to enlarge Nahanni National Park Reserve of Canada (Bill C-38, Chapter 17, 2009)

An Act to give effect to the Maanulth First Nations Final Agreement and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (Bill C-41, Chapter 18, 2009)

An act to amend the Judges Act (Bill C-39, Chapter 19, 2009)

An Act to amend the War Veterans Allowance Act (Bill C-33, Chapter 20, 2009)

The House of Commons withdrew.

Her Excellency the Governor General was pleased to retire.


(The sitting was resumed.)

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Adjournment

Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of Motions:

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:

That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand adjourned until Monday, June 22, 2009, at 4 p.m.

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

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

[English]

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, as usual, I will say that I have strong reservations about Senate committees sitting. My new colleagues always ask me to stand up and tell them more. If only one senator says no, that would be the end of it, but of course, I will say yes.

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

(Motion agreed to.)

[Translation]

The Senate

Committees Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the Senate

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(i), I move:

That on Monday, June 22, 2009, the Standing Senate Committees on Human Rights, Official Languages, and National Security and Defence be authorized to meet at their approved meeting times as determined by the Government and Opposition Whips, even if the Senate is then sitting, and that the application of rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto; and

That on Monday, June 22, 2009, other Senate committees be authorized to meet even if the Senate is then sitting, provided that both the Government and the Opposition Whips agree to the meeting, and that the application of rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.

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

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until Monday, June 22, 2009 at 4 p.m.)