Skip to Content
Download as PDF

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 74

Thursday, November 26, 2009
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


THE SENATE

Thursday, November 26, 2009

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

Prayers.

Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Mr. Abderrahim Foukara, who is the Washington Bureau Chief of the Aljazeera Satellite Channel.

I wish to extend the welcome of all honourable senators. Mr. Foukara is the guest of the Honourable Senator Prud'homme.


[Translation]

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

The Honourable John Lynch-Staunton

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I am very pleased to note the return to politics of one of our former colleagues, the Honourable John Lynch-Staunton, who was a senator from 1990 to 2005 and leader of the opposition in this place for 12 years. Senator Lynch-Staunton was recently elected — with an impressive majority — to the municipal council in the Township of Stanstead, Quebec.

[English]

It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the major issues at stake in the municipal campaign. However, I am sure Senator Lynch-Staunton's long and highly respected service in public affairs was a decisive factor. I can report that his campaign slogan, which should commend itself to all honourable senators, was: "Even an old broom sweeps clean."

[Translation]

We are all proud of our former colleague, and offer him our sincere congratulations. We wish him all the best in his work for his constituents, a task that will certainly not be an easy one.

[English]

Senator Lynch-Staunton is an inspiration to us all. There is life after the Senate.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Ukrainian Famine and Genocide

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, I rise today to bring to the attention of all senators the commemoration of Holodomor, the Ukraine famine and genocide of 1932 and 1933, during which millions of inhabitants of Ukraine died of starvation in an unprecedented peacetime catastrophe.

In 2003, a joint statement was issued at the United Nations defining the famine as the result of cruel actions and policies of a totalitarian regime that targeted and caused the deaths of millions of Ukrainians, as well as Russians, Kazakhs and other nationalities in the Soviet Union. In 2003, the Senate passed a resolution recognizing the Ukrainian famine and genocide of 1932-33, condemning any attempt to deny or distort this historical truth as being anything less than a genocide. In 2008, the Parliament of Canada passed the Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day Act, recognizing the Ukraine famine of 1932-33 as an act of genocide.

A commemoration ceremony was held on Tuesday evening on Parliament Hill to remember the victims of Holodomor. This celebration brought together members of Parliament and a wide range of representatives from the Ukrainian community in Canada, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps.

Today, I am especially happy to mention and commend the efforts of one secondary high school in Winnipeg, Manitoba to increase public awareness of Holodomor. Earlier this week, Sisler High School, under the leadership of teacher Orysya Petryshyn, held a commemoration ceremony before 300 students, at which some survivors of Holodomor were present. Two Ukrainian Canadian students gave the introductory address, from which I quote:

We have assembled here . . . to commemorate the Genocide by starvation of ten million Ukrainians . . . to honour their memories, to acknowledge the horror perpetrated upon a defenceless people . . . For too long has this mass terror . . . been hidden from public view.

Students were asked to research certain topics related to the Ukrainian famine and discuss their findings. I laud and thank the teacher and students at Sisler High School for raising awareness of this horrific tragedy. The two students themselves concluded their message with this famous quote:

. . . those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it! May God grant us the wisdom to learn.

Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before proceeding, I call your attention to the presence in the gallery of the Honourable Elaine Taylor, Minister of Tourism and Culture of the Yukon Territories.

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

Ms. Georgina Pope

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, earlier this month, Canadians observed Remembrance Day in cities, towns and villages across this country. Each ceremony was an opportunity to honour those men and women who served this nation in time of war.

Today, I wish to recognize one of those who made an exceptional contribution and who has earned a special place of honour.

Georgina Pope was a Canadian nurse who served her nation with great distinction in the Boer War and in World War I. She was born in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island in 1862, just a few years before this nation was formed.

She was a member of the distinguished Pope family, whose members included a Father of Confederation, a premier of the province and a member of Parliament.

After completing her nursing studies at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, she volunteered for nursing service in the Boer War and headed the first group of nurses to go overseas to South Africa. She was one of the first women in this country involved in active military service.

(1340)

When the war ended, she returned as Commander of the Canadian Army Nursing Service and, in 1903, she became the first Canadian to receive the prestigious Royal Red Cross. In 1908, she became the first matron of the Canadian Army Medical Corps and served valiantly in both England and France during the First World War.

As a result of her exemplary service to her nation in time of war, Georgina Pope was one of 14 people from our military past commemorated at the Valiants Memorial in Ottawa.

I want to give credit to the Veterans Affairs Committee of the Senate and to Hamilton Southam for helping to make this memorial a reality.

Honourable senators, we need to be reminded of those whose singular achievements and spirit of commitment inspire future generations. Georgina Pope is one of those. I encourage everyone to walk across Wellington Street and pay homage to this outstanding Islander and Canadian.

National Child Day

Hon. Ethel Cochrane: Honourable senators, last Monday this chamber was filled with energy and excitement as 300 students from across the region came together to celebrate National Child Day. This year's event marked the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by the UN.

As honourable senators may recall, Canada ratified this convention in 1991 under the leadership of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Mr. Mulroney made a commitment "to ensure that all children are treated with dignity and respect."

This year's event once again showcased the remarkable accomplishments and talents of our youth. The Ottawa Catholic School Board Children's Choir, Propeller Dance, the HB Breakers and the Baobab Drummers got us tapping our feet and moving along with them. Children and senators alike were inspired by the stories of Kevin Guerin of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Laurent Côté from Kids Helping Kids.

A personal highlight of the day for me was the incredible presentation by CanAssist, a group from the University of Victoria that seeks to improve, through the clever use of technology, the quality of life of those with special needs and their families.

On Monday, two best friends, Katherine Lambert-Gibbs and Grace Brulotte, showed us how they are using technology to engage and to participate more fully in the world around them. It was inspiring; it was moving; it was beyond words.

At the event, I had the honour of presenting, with Katie McGregor of CAYFO, Child and Youth Friendly Ottawa, the Awesome Kid award to Allie MacIsaac. Allie is a volunteer and spokesperson for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, as well as a competitive cross country runner and a top student. She also lives with cystic fibrosis and Type 1 diabetes. She is a very inspiring young woman and a leader in the community.

I thank His Honour for his involvement in this uplifting event. I also thank and commend Senators Mercer and Munson and their staff for their hard work in helping to create such a positive and worthwhile event. It was my honour and privilege to be part of such a powerful event with such a dedicated team.

The Missing Lint Co-operative Ltd.

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I have had the privilege of visiting The Missing Lint Co-operative in Sydney, Nova Scotia. The Missing Lint is a not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to employ individuals who have faced challenges obtaining and retaining jobs because of poor mental health.

Incorporated in 2003, The Missing Lint has employed more than 80 individuals living with mental illness. Along with employing individuals with their printing and photocopying service, the cooperative has also employed individuals for electronics manufacturing and testing, light demolition and cleaning, and they have developed a publication called men-tal'-i-ty.

I took an interest in The Missing Lint after reading their magazine men-tal'-i-ty and after discovering what the organization does. I had the opportunity to meet with David Crowe, editor of men-tal'-i-ty magazine, and members of the board while I was in Sydney. The magazine is a quarterly publication that provides a forum for individuals living with mental illness to publish their artistic and creative works. It is the only publication of its kind in Canada, and it is completely comprised of material provided by people who have self-identified as having a mental illness. The magazine is a valuable forum to showcase the talented contributions of those who live with poor mental health, not only in Sydney but in communities all across Canada. Men-tal'-i-ty magazine has been a strong advocate in bringing the issues of people living with mental illness out of the shadows.

To quote Mr. Crowe:

It feels good to know we're adding our voices to a growing chorus and that together we're combating the mystery, fear, and ignorance that so often surround mental illness.

Initially the magazine was comprised of only submissions from Nova Scotia, but the magazine has been garnering attention from groups and individuals from all across the country and is now receiving submissions from artists living with mental illness from all over Canada.

It is encouraging to see the positive impact The Missing Lint is having on the community of Sydney as well as across the country through their publication. The good work of The Missing Lint would not be possible without the generosity of the volunteer board of directors made up of community, business and mental health representatives. I am always amazed and inspired by what a small group of dedicated members of a community can accomplish.

Honourable senators, there are such good things happening in the field of mental health and mental illness awareness in small towns and cities across Canada. I also feel privileged to have been part of the Social Affairs Committee, which studied the issue of mental health and mental illness, because we were given the opportunity to meet many wonderful people involved in this field.

I wholeheartedly support the efforts of The Missing Lint, and I am happy to spread the word of their excellent magazine, men-tal'-i-ty. It is truly an inspiration and an excellent read.

Montreal Canadiens

Congratulations on One-Hundredth Anniversary

Hon. Michael A. Meighen: Honourable senators, I rise to draw your attention to a truly historic occasion. Next December 4, 2009, the Montreal Canadiens will officially reach their one-hundredth year in existence.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Meighen: It was on that date in 1909 that the Canadiens were founded by J. Ambrose O'Brien, of Ottawa. They played their first game in the National Hockey Association on January 5, 1910, defeating the Cobalt Silver Kings 7-6 in front of 3,000 spectators at the Jubilee Rink. However, it was not until 1916 that the Canadiens won their first Stanley Cup by defeating the Portland Rosebuds. However, in the time since, 23 more championships have come the Canadiens' way — a feat which has secured their place as the most successful hockey team in the history of the game.

Honourable senators, starting at a time when the automobile was a novelty and passenger trains were the fastest means of transportation, the Canadiens have not only survived but thrived through the Great Depression, two world wars, rule changes to the game, changes in ownership, changes in playing venues and many other upheavals.

[Translation]

Hockey would not have the same meaning in Canada if not for the rich legacy left by the Canadiens, from the original team members to the current ones. I am thinking of names like Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Jean Béliveau, Jacques Plante, Doug Harvey, Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Boom-Boom Geoffrion, Yvan Cournoyer, Serge Savard, Ken Dryden, Dick Irvin, Toe Blake, Scotty Bowman, Frank Selke, and Sam Pollock —

[English]

— and, of course, our own legends, Frank Mahovlich and Jacques Demers.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Meighen: Senator Demers is the last Stanley Cup winning coach of "les glorieux," and an honouree himself on December 4 in Montreal.

[Translation]

Do you remember that great shrine to hockey called the Forum, and the majestic voice of Roger Doucet? These names evoke the memories and highlights that we associated not only with the most successful hockey team in the history of professional sports but also with the city of Montreal.

(1350)

[English]

My personal admiration for les Canadiens began as a young boy growing up in Montreal, when tickets to a Saturday night game at the Forum were just about the most exciting thing imaginable. To this day, I can feel that excitement.

[Translation]

What beautiful memories!

[English]

It also stemmed from the connection I had through my late stepfather, former Senator Hartland Molson. He and his brother Tom bought the team in 1957, beginning an association between les Canadiens and the Molson name that continues to this day.

Hartland Molson was a sportsman in the truest sense of the word. Even as an owner, hockey for him was a game, not a business — a game which he loved, played well himself at the junior level, studied meticulously and promoted tirelessly. Hartland Molson was always fair to his players, for whom he had the greatest respect. Never did he venture into the dressing room after a loss — which, of course, means to say that he was often in the dressing room. He befriended a young Jean Béliveau when he arrived in Montreal from the Québec Aces and became like a father to him.

Next Friday night, I will imagine him sitting right behind the team bench, leaning on his cane and closely following the action on the ice as les Canadiens de Montréal celebrate their one-hundredth anniversary — with a win, of course.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

The Late Admiral Robert H. Falls, C.M.M.

Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, it is with great sadness and the deepest of respect that I ask my fellow senators to join me in commemorating the life of Admiral Robert H. Falls, a devoted servant to Canada and a man of tremendous character. Canada lost Admiral Falls on November 6. He crossed the bar peacefully in his eighty-fifth year.

A veteran of the Second World War, Admiral Falls joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942, at the age of 18. Transferring to the navy in 1944, he became a pioneering naval aviator. His exceptional skills as a pilot led to his assignment to the first Royal Canadian Navy flight demonstration team, an early cousin of our revered Snowbirds.

He also led the first squadron to fly Banshee fighter jets on HMCS Bonaventure, a ship which he would later command. Landing a large, powerful jet like the Banshee on the small pitching deck of a light carrier, whether in daylight or the black of night, requires exceptional talent and nerve. Successfully teaching others to follow you is a feat of leadership that is unparalleled.

It is also important to note that as Commandant of the Canadian Forces Maritime Warfare School, Admiral Falls developed the doctrine and tactics to place large helicopters on small destroyers, a Canadian innovation that has since been emulated worldwide.

In addition to commanding both HMCS Chaudiere and HMCS Bonaventure, Admiral Falls eventually commanded our Atlantic fleet, and later our entire Armed Forces, serving as Chief of Defence Staff from 1977 to 1980. Always a pioneer, he was the first naval officer to serve in that role.

The exceptional career of Admiral Falls did not end with that achievement, for following his tenure as CDS, he became the first Canadian to serve as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, a post he filled with distinction from 1980 to 1983.

Following his retirement from the Canadian Forces, Admiral Falls continued to serve Canada as president of the Canadian Centre for Arms Control and Disarmament. Among his many accolades, a cadet corps in Victoria, B.C., bears his name. Each year, dozens of young Canadians learn about leadership, teamwork, respect and serving their community under the mantle of NLCC Admiral Falls. They simply could not have a finer role model.

Admiral Falls is survived by Isabelle, his wife of 63 years, and his three children, Robert, Janice and David. On this sad occasion, we mourn with them, but also thank them for their service to Canada. With so few days upon this earth, to miss so many with your husband and father as he was off making Canada, and indeed the world, a safer place is a sacrifice that we cherish.

I humbly offer condolences and the assurance that the contribution of Admiral Falls to our great nation has been, and will continue to be, deeply appreciated.


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Veterans Affairs

Veterans Ombudsman—2008-09 Annual Report Tabled

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2008-09 annual report of the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman.

Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on Current State and Future of Canada's Energy Sector—Thirteenth Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Grant Mitchell, Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, presented the following report:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

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

THIRTEENTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on Tuesday, June 4, 2009 to examine and report on the current state and future of Canada's energy sector (including alternative energy) respectfully requests funds for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010, and requests, for the purpose of such study, that it be empowered:

(a) to engage the services of such counsel, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary;

(b) to adjourn from place to place within Canada; and

(c) to travel inside Canada.

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,

GRANT MITCHELL
Deputy chair of the committee for W. David Angus, chair of the committee

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix A, p. 1497.)

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

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

[English]

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Budget—Study on Current Social Issues of Large Cities—Eleventh Report of Committee Presented

Hon. Art Eggleton, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, presented the following report:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has the honour to present its

ELEVENTH REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on February 24, 2009, to examine and report on current social issues pertaining to Canada's largest cities, 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 23, 2009. On April 28, 2009, the Senate approved the release of $236,843 to the committee.

Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the Senate Administrative Rules, the supplementary 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,

ART EGGLETON,
Chair

(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the Senate, Appendix B, p. 1507.)

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

Senator Eggleton: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule 58(1)(g), I move that the report be considered later this day.

I might add that it is a minor amount of money, but there is a time problem, so hopefully we can do that.

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

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, generally speaking, if there is something so urgent that we need to seek leave on items such as this, it is brought to our attention — either to the deputy leader on the other side or myself — and we can get more information on it and then recommend such items to all senators. In this instance, that was not the case. Had the issue been that important, I think we would have been advised. Therefore, I say no.

The Hon. the Speaker: Do I understand that it is moved by the Honourable Senator Eggleton, seconded by Honourable Senator Smith, that this report be placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure to adopt that motion?

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

(1400)

[Translation]

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—First Reading

The Hon. the Speaker informed the Senate that a message had been received from the House of Commons with Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code.

(Bill read first time.)

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

(On motion of Senator Comeau, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.)

[English]

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

Bilateral Visit to Cyprus and Malta, March 14-22, 2009—Report Tabled

Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association on the Bilateral Visit to Cyprus and Malta, held in Nicosia, Cyprus and Valetta, Malta, from March 14 to 22, 2009.

Conference of British Islands and Mediterranean Region, June 15-19, 2009—Report Tabled

Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to the Fortieth Conference of the British Islands and Mediterranean Region, held in St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands, from June 15 to 19, 2009.

Regional Conference of Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic, July 12-16, 2009—Report Tabled

Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to the Thirty-forth Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Regional Conference of the Caribbean, the Americas and the Atlantic, held in Guyana, from July 12 to 16, 2009.

Although I did not attend any of these conferences, I table the reports in my capacity as Vice-Chair of the Canadian Branch of the Canadian Parliamentary Association.

Social Affairs, Science and Technology

Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the Senate

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

That the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology have power to sit at 3:00 p.m., Wednesday, December 2, 2009, even though the Senate may then be sitting and, that rule 95(4) be suspended in relation thereto.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)


QUESTION PERIOD

Environment

United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, today Mr. Harper pretty much made it official: He is a follower on one of the most important issues that has faced this country since the Second World War. It took Mr. Obama, the President of the United States, and 65 other world leaders, to shame him into going to Copenhagen to represent Canada's interests. The question remains: How well will he do that when he is not committed deep down in his gut to the issue of climate change?

Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate please tell the house whether Mr. Harper and his government have a concrete climate change action plan so that he can negotiate from a position of strength with other world leaders in Copenhagen?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, the Prime Minister has said for quite some time that he would participate in the meetings in Copenhagen. As honourable senators may know — although the honourable senator probably does not know because he reads selectively — they had the discussion in Singapore at APEC. President Obama indicated to the Prime Minister that he would attend the meetings in Copenhagen on his way to Oslo, Norway, to collect his Nobel Peace Prize.

Other world leaders will attend at various times during the summit. The Prime Minister indicated that a number of world leaders discussed it at Singapore and will do so again at the Commonwealth summit in Trinidad and Tobago, where the Prime Minister is en route. The Prime Minister indicated that he will attend the meetings in Copenhagen. Details of his attendance times are contingent upon a time when all of the leaders are able to meet.

He also made it clear that he and his government have full confidence in the ability of the Minister of the Environment, the Honourable Jim Prentice, to represent properly Canada's position in Copenhagen. Minister Prentice was there recently.

Senator Mitchell: Minister Prentice does not carry the weight of Mr. Obama, nor does Mr. Harper for that matter. I guess the leader's answer is no, because she has not answered my question, which is: Does the government have a determined, concrete, strong, thoughtful climate change action plan upon which Mr. Harper may negotiate from strength with Mr. Obama and the other world leaders who indicated, first, that they would attend and thereby initiated Mr. Harper's "followership" to attend in Copenhagen?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, only in the last few days did President Obama indicate that he would attend the meeting in Copenhagen on his way to Oslo. Interestingly, President Obama has set U.S. targets at 17 per cent by 2020 based on 2005 levels, which is almost identical to the targets put forward by this government of 20 per cent based on 2006 levels.

Senator Mitchell: Will the leader not admit that there is a fundamental difference? We might share targets, or be close, but Mr. Obama has a concrete 600-page piece of legislation with all-party support in the Senate of the United States of America. Mr. Harper has nothing but a few statements about objectives, which have not been backed up by concrete, written, definitive plans. Again, I ask: Has the Prime Minister anything like that to take to Copenhagen so that he may represent and protect Canadians' interests in this important negotiation? What does it take for the government to make a commitment?

Senator LeBreton: I have been watching carefully the situation in the United States. The honourable senator's characterization of the status of these documents before the U.S. Congress is a little optimistic, if I may say.

I will answer the honourable senator's question in a serious way. There is no doubt the negotiations will be difficult. However, Canada is committed to working constructively and to seeking a binding, global agreement that will include all major emitters. Canada needs to balance environmental protection with the protection of our economy and our jobs. The agreement this government signs will be good for Canada and will be an agreement that we intend to support and respect, unlike the previous government.

Minister Prentice met yesterday with provincial and territorial environmental ministers to discuss Canada's participation at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Minister Prentice has always valued their input through the consultative process.

In case the honourable senator is not aware, both Canada and the United States share the same environmental space. In case the honourable senator has not noticed, 90 per cent of the Canadian population lives within 100 miles of the U.S. border. We share the same environmental space and our shared economies and industries require a North American approach. As I said, yesterday President Obama confirmed U.S. targets that are similar to Canadian targets. The Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment have been clear that we cannot undertake to enter into an agreement that does not include the major emitters in the world: China, India, Brazil and, of course, the United States.

(1410)

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, my understanding is that Minister Prentice has invited the critic for the Liberal Party, the NDP and the Bloc to accompany him to the Copenhagen summit. I think that is a very good thing.

Has the same invitation been extended to a Liberal and a Conservative senator?

Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator for her question. The Minister of the Environment, as the lead of the Canadian delegation, can invite to Copenhagen whomever he wishes.

Honourable senators, I understand that Minister Prentice has invited the Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.

Senator Cordy: Has Senator Mitchell, the Deputy Chair, been invited?

Senator LeBreton: I do not believe that Senator Mitchell has been invited and if people were listening to Senator Mitchell's exchanges in this place, I am certain they would understand why he has not received an invitation.

Foreign Affairs

Release of Nigel Brennan and Amanda Lindhout

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: Honourable senators, it is too bad the Leader of the Government in the Senate is so sensitive today. Perhaps, she should get someone to tape Question Period down the hall, if she thinks this is rough. This is child's play.

Honourable senators, 15 months after being abducted by gunmen in Somalia, Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan are now free from torture. It has been reported that a ransom was paid to secure their release. It has been reported that Amanda Lindhout's parents had to remortgage their home to make this payment.

What would any parent do in similar circumstances? I am fully aware of the government's position of not paying ransom in these circumstances, or negotiating with terrorists. However, I assume that other means of securing Canadian citizens' freedom from torture are employed.

What did Canada do for this young lady? It appears the government did nothing, but I am willing to hear what the leader has to say. Can the leader assure us that the Government of Canada did everything in its power to help secure this Canadian's freedom?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, like all Canadians, I am sure all of us, no matter what side of the political spectrum we sit on, are absolutely relieved that Ms. Lindhout, as well her Australian colleague, have been freed by their captors.

The government ensured, through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, that Ms. Lindhout is receiving all available consular support and assistance. As the honourable senator has indicated, the government, for obvious and valid reasons, does not enter into agreements to pay ransom. I believe this is a long-standing policy of all governments.

I know the member of Parliament from Ms. Lindhout's riding was involved in this case from the time Ms. Lindhout was taken hostage. The member of Parliament was and is a close friend of her family. Although we do not have all the details, I believe he indicated this morning that our officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade did everything they could possibly do to secure her release. Thank goodness that was the outcome.

Amanda Lindhout's family has apparently requested privacy so that she can return to as normal a life as possible. However, under the circumstances, it is hard to imagine how one could use those terms, because her life will never be the same again.

Senator Mercer: We are all pleased that she is back in Canada; however, the minister talks about the government having done everything possible. We are not sure what "everything possible" is.

When it comes to protecting its citizens abroad, this government's reputation is dismal. We need only think of Omar Khadr, who is sitting in a jail in Cuba and has been left to the mercy of the Americans. Even the Americans want him to come back to Canada, but this government says "no."

It also appears this government may have been complicit in the torture of innocent human beings, as we have been hearing.

This is the resilience of a strong-willed Canadian. Ms. Lindhout said:

I think human beings have an enormous capacity to adjust to trying circumstances and it was the idea of coming home, of a reunion with my family, that kept me going in that darkness.

What a brave young woman.

Honourable senators, thoughts of Canada kept Ms. Lindhout going. However, it has been reported that only after her family hired a private firm three months ago did any progress occur.

What did the Government of Canada do to help this young woman secure her freedom as they worked for Mr. Robert Fowler's return a few months ago? Why was this young lady subjected to 15 months of torture?

(1420)

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, it is a sad day when a senator asks a question such as that.

We have Foreign Affairs officials and people working in various embassies and consulates around the world dealing with extremely difficult situations and putting their own lives in danger. Obviously, people working in difficult situations, such as in Somalia, will not go out — nor should they for security reasons — to "tell their side of the story." They would put themselves and their future ability to deal with such situations in jeopardy.

Every year Canadian officials deal with thousands of cases of Canadians abroad. Every once in a while, one of these cases will get media attention. Obviously, this young woman, who lived through this horrendous experience for 15 or 16 months, would not know, and could not know, what officials were doing. I am sure that was also the case for Robert Fowler. When someone is in that situation — and I am sure we would all be the same — they would wonder who was out there trying to help them, having no knowledge of who in fact it was.

For the honourable senator to bring Omar Khadr and Taliban prisoners into the discussion and roll them into an allegation that the government is not protecting Canadian citizens is absolutely shameful.

Senator Comeau: It is embarrassing.

Senator LeBreton: It is a very sad day when the honourable senator or any of us would not be totally sympathetic with our public servants — the diplomats and people serving in difficult foreign missions abroad. The honourable senator seems to think that these people would be sitting there and not doing everything humanly possible to help this young woman. How could the honourable senator possibly think that? That is a horrible thing to think.

Canadians obviously would know that we have people working in our foreign service. They are not just sitting there; they are dealing with dangerous situations. None of us could imagine a situation where they would be sitting there doing nothing. That is ludicrous to the extreme.

Senator Mercer: Honourable senators, it is amazing that we have obviously struck a nerve. At no time did I say anything against public servants. I have a great deal of respect for them. I expect they were doing their job, and doing it to the best of their ability.

I am talking about the political leadership at the top of the public service of this country — the cabinet, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, et cetera.

This government has a dismal record for protecting Canadians who are troubled abroad. They have had difficulty time and again in securing the release of people all around the world.

The leader should not lecture me about my respect or lack of respect for the public service. I come from a family of public servants. Every member of my family has been a public servant of this country or of the Province of Nova Scotia. I do not need a lecture from her, thank you very much.

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, when I refer to the government, we have a Minister of Foreign Affairs who obviously works closely with the officials. I do not know how the honourable senator can separate them.

I strenuously disagree with the honourable senator's contention. All of these cases have been addressed by our officials in various posts abroad and the government absolutely supports them in their work. I am quite sure that these people are good public servants. To suggest that any of them, in any position, would not be doing everything possible to assist Canadians is inappropriate, no matter who the government is. This is their job and they do it well. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

[Translation]

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The cases of Amanda Lindhout, Omar Khadr and the Taliban prisoners can all be grouped together, because they are all directly related to human rights and how the government makes its decisions regarding human rights abuses. I have no doubt that our diplomats work tirelessly to try to resolve these problems, but does the Leader of the Government not believe that the massive cutbacks to the foreign service made by the government are creating international problems when it comes to addressing these issues?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I do not know what cuts Senator Dallaire is referring to. The government and anyone who represents the government — most often represented abroad by our diplomatic corps and our military — respects the rule of law and do everything they can to uphold fully Canada's record on human rights. Our government and military officials in Afghanistan and diplomatic officials in our embassies always uphold the law and take action immediately on any reports of abuse.

The government has acted. I believe that Foreign Affairs and military officials are working under extremely difficult circumstances. They are a great credit to Canada and to the government. All of us should be proud of the work of our military and public servants in Afghanistan and our public service members working in various postings around the world.

Health

Mental Health Commission

Hon. Kelvin Kenneth Ogilvie: Honourable senators, in cities across our country, people are living with mental illness who also find themselves living on the streets. This is a long-standing problem. Innovative ways of looking for solutions are clearly and greatly needed.

Could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us how the Conservative government is helping the Mental Health Commission of Canada to assist these homeless Canadians?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): Honourable senators, our government committed $110 million over five years in Budget 2008 to the Mental Health Commission of Canada for research projects to determine the best ways to provide housing and services to homeless Canadians living with mental illness. This uses a "housing first" approach.

On Monday, the Mental Health Commission officially launched the At Home project. Five urban centres across Canada are participating in this project: Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Moncton. Each of these five sites will focus on a distinct group of homeless people living with mental illness. For example, it will focus on those living with substance abuse problems in Vancouver and on urban Aboriginals in Winnipeg.

As is well known in this chamber, the Mental Health Commission was created in Budget 2007. It grew out of a recommendation of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, of which I was deputy chair at one point and a proud member.

(1430)

All honourable senators are rightly proud of its report, as Senator Cordy mentioned earlier, Out of the Shadows at Last, and the Senate's role and history and the formation of the Mental Health Commission. It took a Conservative government to do this. I am sure each and every one of us is proud that the first chair of that commission was the chair of the Senate committee, the Honourable Michael Kirby. Of course we saw the former senator — and now the chair of the Mental Health Commission — in the media this week launching this very important project.

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: I have a supplementary question.

Without making a comment on the adequacy or inadequacy of the answers the Leader of the Government in the Senate just gave my colleague from Nova Scotia, would the Leader of the Government in the Senate do us a favour? Take that answer, put it in an envelope, address it to the member of Parliament for South Shore—St. Margaret's. Maybe he will get the message and leave the poor people on the streets of the city of Halifax alone.

Senator LeBreton: Senator Mercer does not seem to follow what goes on in this place. Yesterday his colleague raised this issue. I reported that the member of Parliament in question apologized for his remarks. He apologized in Parliament.

Honourable senators, Senator Mercer has mentioned New Brunswick. Perhaps he can ask his colleague, Senator Robichaud, what he said a few years ago about a former member of Parliament, Angela Vautour.

Senator Robichaud: That is false; I never said that.

Some Hon. Senators: Oh, oh!

Senator LeBreton: People say things I am sure they regret. As I indicated yesterday, the member of Parliament in question apologized profusely. It is incumbent upon us to accept his apology.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Economic Recovery Bill (stimulus)

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Gerstein, seconded by the Honourable Senator Eaton, for the second reading of Bill C-51, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and to implement other measures.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, it is my pleasure to join in the debate on Bill C-51. Honourable senators will be looking in their desks for this particular bill and I remind them it is the second budget implementation bill for Budget 2009.

Honourable senators, I would like first to compliment the Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance for his very fine speech in introducing this particular bill as the sponsor. Apart from the odd political jab, I found most of his comments to be comments with which I can agree.

Honourable senators will recall, however, that the honourable senator referred primarily to two or three aspects of this bill. I thought, therefore, that I would spend my time in bringing to the attention of honourable senators just what is in this particular Bill C-51, budget implementation.

The best place to start, honourable senators, is to read to you again the description of Bill C-51:

An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and to implement other measures.

Honourable senators ". . . and to implement other measures," means that it is like all those other bills we have seen in the past that pretend to be budget implementation measures. They contain one or two particular aspects that look quite attractive, they sometimes have time restraints, and there are always many other aspects. I do not suggest a conspiracy here, but it is an attempt to get some small items off the plate by adding them to this bill.

Honourable senators, in the past we have made the mistake of focusing, as my honourable colleague did in presenting this bill, on the good and avoiding the bad and the ugly. It is important to look at the entire bill and understand what it contains.

At second reading, honourable senators, we look at the bill in principle. I will not be delving into the specific clauses that appear in the bill, but rather dealing with the overview and how that might impact on our regions and the people we represent.

The first point I would like to make is with respect to the Home Renovation Tax Credit. From all reports that we have read, this appears to be quite an attractive initiative. It ends, as honourable senators will know, at the end of January of next year, in just over two months. The funds must have been expended and the goods or services received. It is important to advise your constituents that the renovations cannot be in the form of a contract that is to be executed beyond January, 2010.

My concern with respect to the Home Renovation Tax Credit is that although it has been extensively advertised, we will not know how much take-up there has been until people file their income tax next April. However, the very extensive advertising is for a government initiative that could have been brought to Parliament much sooner than it has. This is the second budget implementation bill.

I ask rhetorically why this would not have been included in the earlier legislation. Why are we only seeing this now as legislation when it has been advertised for nine months? They have been telling the public you must do this before a certain date. There are only two months left within which they can do take advantage of the program. The conservative individual will say he or she cannot commit under that program until Parliament says this is the law.

We did not vote on the budget. We vote on budget implementation in this chamber. This is the second bill. I ask myself, what would happen if we, the Senate, rejected that particular clause? Think about that. You and I know that would cause some considerable upheaval.

Are we even expected to look at this thing? Why are we here when the government has advertised a fiscal measure that requires Senate approval, advertised it so extensively that we can not possibly do anything but pass it? That, honourable senators, is my first concern with respect to the process in relation to this particular measure.

When we look at this in the next fiscal year, I suspect we will find that it has been fairly heavily subscribed. There may well be those who would like to see it extended for another year, assuming we are not seeing the recovery that we would like to see. Is this one of those measures that should be extended for a further period of time?

(1440)

I remind honourable senators that this time last year there were 450,000 more people working in Canada than there are today, and the government's projections are that over the next year 200,000 more people will be unemployed. That is 650,000 homes that do not have the earned income they had in the past.

We may well, honourable senators, be looking at a prolonged recession that requires other activities. Goodness knows how some of these initiatives are going to work. All of that is for us to review in the future.

One other initiative, honourable senators, is for first-time home buyers. Nothing need be said further about that. It is another initiative that focuses on a particular segment of society. This government decided in its wisdom that a $750 tax credit to first-time home buyers would help stimulate the economy.

Working Income Tax Benefits, honourable senators, is another area that really does not need a lot of explanation. Individuals earning an income at the very lower levels now have a larger tax credit so that they do not have to pay quite the same level of tax. This measure is worth considering.

Honourable senators, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation appears in this bill. Honourable senators will understand that the CBC, a public broadcaster, performs a very important service, I would say particularly for rural Canada, where it may be the only broadcaster. You will know that the revenue normally generated by the CBC has been significantly reduced by virtue of the recession. The automobile industry has suffered the same reduction in revenue as a result of the recession.

CBC went to the government and said, "Help us the way you have helped other industries. We need help during the recessionary period." The government has refused any help other than to allow CBC to borrow more money. Their only alternative is to go out and borrow more money, and the result is that they are just putting off the problem to a later day when some government will have to deal with the problem. This particular legislation increases the borrowing authority of the CBC from $25 million to $220 million.

Honourable senators, the next item I wish to bring to your attention is the multilateral debt relief. This is for Third World countries that have borrowed funds and are not in a position to pay the interest on that borrowed money. Several years ago, Canada, along with a number of our countries, began to forgive these debts. This has been continued, and that is also a good initiative.

However, something appears in this particular bill that is quite interesting, honourable senators. The government, in this bill, is asking us for authority to spend $200 million a year on debt reduction, but it is not asking just for this year, not just next year, not just the next five years, but for authority to spend $200 million a year until 2054. We are approving, in this particular bill, expenditure of $200 million a year until 2054. The good news is that there is an upper limit of $2.5 billion. We will all be here to review this, I am sure.

I wanted honourable senators to know that. We were surprised one time when we found in the Main Estimates authority being given to certain departments for expenditures for two years. Put this one beside the two-year authority expenditure.

Next, I will bring to the attention of honourable senators the Nova Scotia offshore payment. Senator Murray brought that point up by way of a question to Senator Gerstein, the sponsor of the bill. I understand from Senator Murray's comment more recently that he now understands what is in the bill.

I want to point out to honourable senators that, in addition to the payment of $174 million to Nova Scotia for two years of compensation by virtue of profits made on the offshore of Nova Scotia, there is a schedule for further payments. Again, we will not be seeing those payments in the future because we are giving authority for regulations to be set up for the payments to be made automatically, so that we will not be reminded in Parliament of what we had approved back in the fall of 2009.

That, honourable senators, is how things are happening. I pointed out to you two measures. One is a payment with respect to the reduction of debt for Third World countries. They are each good policy initiatives but each takes away scrutiny, oversight and the reminder to Parliament of activity not by just the particular government that happens to be in power now but by the civil service which will continue this policy on behalf of future governments.

Honourable senators, the next item I wish to bring to your attention is the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act amendments. It is stated here that they are housekeeping measures. This is another one that has just been stuck in here. We look at home builders tax credit and we say that that is much more interesting; let us ignore this Bretton Woods side of things. However, Bretton Woods amendments are quite interesting. The comment by the government is that this is to implement the International Monetary Fund articles of agreement. They say that the International Monetary Fund countries agreed to this in April, 2008. The amendments will come into force internationally once enough countries ratify it. This is a request by Canada to ratify.

This is the part; sit on the edge of your seats for this one, honourable senators, because it says that Parliament saw and had the opportunity to comment on the treaty amendments in March of 2009 when they were tabled in the House of Commons prior to ratification.

Honourable senators, I checked with the Senate to find out if we had an opportunity to see these documents that were filed in the House of Commons. We did not. The only way we would know about them is if we had someone monitoring the table in the House of Commons.

That is another aspect of the regard in which this chamber is held by the government. It is important for honourable senators to understand just what is happening here.

(1450)

Honourable senators will remember that $2 billion was set aside for quick action. That was in our first Budget Implementation Act, Bill C-10, in April. We wanted to get things going and the Minister of Industry received $1 billion for quick action with respect to universities and institutes of higher learning. If they did not spend the $1 billion before the end of June, the money would go into the normal infrastructure project.

We now have before us, honourable senators, a bill that is asking to change the rules with respect to that money that was spent up to the end of June. Changing the rules after the fact, honourable senators, is what we are being asked to do. I asked myself, if the rules were clear at the time and $1 billion was being spent, what kinds of promises were being made that the rules would be changed later on? Otherwise, why would they be back changing rules now with respect to money that was supposed to be out and spent and working to revive the economy back before the end of June? That is another question that we will have to pursue, honourable senators, when we have the opportunity to have the Minister of Industry before us when we deal with this in committee.

Honourable senators, there are changes to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Honourable senators will know that there have been many calls for changes to that act. If there can be some changes, why not others? The people who worked for Northern Telecom have been asking for changes to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act so that their pensions would be protected. That is not in this bill. However, there are other amendments to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. Someone was focusing on the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and said, "This is a change that I think should happen; forget about the other ones." That is unfortunate, honourable senators.

Next, the farmers who raise livestock for breeding purposes and sell their livestock received help with respect to drought. This bill expands that group of society; that is, farmers, who have breeding stock. They can have a drought or a flood now, and, if they have to sell their livestock by virtue of the farm not working well, they will be able to hold on to their money as long as they reinvest it during the year. It is narrow application, but it is important for a certain constituency. I wanted to point out to honourable senators that it is important for a limited of number of individuals.

Honourable senators, next are the changes to the earlier Budget Implementation Act. Some changes had to be made with the earlier legislation and these are technical changes to it.

Next, we have the Canadian Council for Private-Public Partnerships. That company was created about two years ago. I remember giving them quite a bit of money to get started. They are now back to ask that their employees be considered public employees so that they can fit under the program for pensions and that type of thing.

Honourable senators, those are just a few of the items that expand on the points made by Senator Gerstein when he introduced this particular bill. Let me end with the changes to the Financial Administration Act.

The proposed Financial Administration Act amendments are changes that reflect a request made by Senator Segal in his bill that we debated. It went to our committee, passed this chamber and then went to the other house in the last session. That was for quarterly reporting of financial information from various government departments to keep both honourable senators and members in the other place informed about what departments are doing on a quarterly basis rather than the after-the-fact public accounts that we get six, eight, 10 months after the fiscal year. It was a good initiative, and it received a lot of bipartisan support in this chamber. That is being implemented, honourable senators, but, in its wisdom, the government decided to put a restriction on this. The restriction is that they can determine to which departments it applies and therefore, Treasury Board will make the decision. We will ask them, of course, what the parameters are and why they would exclude a particular department or agency from this rule, which should be a general rule. My hope, honourable senators, is that if this is not amended; and if this restriction continues, it will be used very sparingly and we will see quarterly reporting from all the departments when it is implemented in a few years.

Honourable senators can see that we have a number of items to deal with in this particular bill. I presume that it will be going to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance for consideration. I can assure honourable senators that these points will be the matter of discussion with Department of Finance and others during that period of time.

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Would the Honourable Senator Day accept a question?

Senator Day: Yes.

Senator Carstairs: Honourable senators, I think all of us are appreciative of debt reduction to underdeveloped countries. That is a laudable goal and one that is easily supported. However, I was quite surprised when the honourable senator indicated that this would go on until 2054 — that is, for 45 years — during which time there would not be any parliamentary scrutiny.

In the Honourable Senator Day's years of experience, both as a member and as the Chair of the National Finance Committee, has he ever seen any other example of the removal of parliamentary scrutiny for a period of 45 years?

An Hon. Senator: Unbelievable. It is a dictatorship.

Senator Day: I thank the honourable senator for her question. I highlighted this point for that very reason. That is, it seems to be absolutely incredible that it would go to 2054. The honourable senator does, indeed, have the year correct. It is found in this bill at clause 18, Part 2, under Miscellaneous Payments. I have the section in front of me. It says:

18.(1) . . . the aggregate $200 million in each fiscal year. . . . No more than a total of $2.5 billion may be paid out under this subsection.

Those are the two upper limits, if that gives the honourable senator any comfort.

Senator Carstairs: I remember a number of discussions while the honourable senator was a member of this chamber about the grave concern of those on the other side with respect to foundations of any kind being established by the government. Their principal objection was the lack of scrutiny of the politicians in both the House of Commons and the Senate of any kind of analysis of these foundations despite the fact that these foundations were issuing yearly reports.

Does this particular piece of legislation envisage that each year there will be an annual report to tell parliamentarians exactly what debt reduction has been eliminated and for what countries?

Senator Day: If there is an annual report, I hope that it will not be like the International Monetary Fund report that is filed in the other place and never comes to our attention.

As I read this section, honourable senators, the money that will be paid out by the Minister of Finance will be paid to a third party organization that will decide how to reduce the debts to various countries that are within the list of countries that are deserving of debt reduction. Whether or not there will be a report from that third party that will be passed on to us is a question that we will have to pursue at committee.

(1500)

Hon. Jerahmiel S. Grafstein: I am delighted that the honourable senator brought to our attention the amendments to the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act, sections 21 and 22.

On reading those sections, which the honourable senator brought to my attention some time ago, it is fair to say — and perhaps he will agree — that they are the most massive reforms to our relationship with the International Monetary Fund since the Second World War. It opens the door, if I read these amendments correctly, for that International Monetary Fund to make investments of any sort, without any restriction, which is a massive change. It affects the question of gold, and it goes indirectly to the question of the dollar.

Could the honourable senator tell me how much time was spent in the other place on debating this issue, which is the most intrusive and profound reform, I believe, to the International Monetary Fund since the Second World War?

Senator Day: I thank the honourable senator for his question. In reviewing the various transcripts of the debate, I have read nothing in debate on this particular matter. This is the area where we had a chance to comment, according to the government, because they filed a document explaining this in the other place in April. We never saw it.

We will be asking questions on this in committee, and hopefully I will have some answers when we get to third reading on this particular matter.

Senator Grafstein: I have a short supplementary question. We have seen profound amendments to the Bank of Canada Act whisked through the Senate and through the house, the likes of which we have not seen since the Bank of Canada Act was organized. Again, we had tabled in this place, as the honourable senator will recall, 47 reforms that the ministers of finance had agreed to, and we have had no accountability, certainly not to the Senate, for any of those reforms.

Does the committee intend to look at that question, as well, to see what impact it may have on the economy, and the fiscal and monetary powers of the Bank of Canada?

Senator Day: I do not like to speak for the steering committee, but I can tell the honourable senator that regarding the issue with respect to the Bank of Canada, we missed a clause in one of these bills in the past that allowed the government and, therefore, the Bank of Canada, to borrow without coming back to Parliament, and I confess to missing that.

In the past, all borrowing by the government was scrutinized by Parliament. Then there was a clause that said they could borrow without the necessity of parliamentary approval. As my honourable colleague Senator Banks has pointed out, now this approval to be able to spend until 2054 means they can borrow without approval or scrutiny, and they can spend without scrutiny, so why do we not just go home?

[Translation]

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, I have a related question. This brings to mind some of the important bills that are often studied very quickly. Do honourable senators not agree that certain elements of this appear to run counter to former Bill C-2, that addressed the accountability and transparency the government has been advocating for the past few years?

The government wanted to impose a system of governance in both houses.

Senator Day: Honourable senators, I cannot say that any particular section goes directly against a section of Bill C-2. However, I can say that generally speaking, it is clear that it goes against the spirit of Bill C-2 regarding accountability. When we have a bill like this before us, one with so many issues to discuss, and we have only a short time to study it, it is very difficult for us to properly understand it.

After studying such bills, will we be able to say whether we want to vote in favour of the bill?

Senator Dallaire: Does that mean that the government, once in power, lost all notions of transparency and accountability, and therefore believes itself to be above the rules that it wants to impose?

Senator Day: Thank you. Your comments are well taken.

[English]

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, I apologize that I will rant and ramble a little here. I want to say to the new members among us who have not heard me on this before that I am a rank amateur when it comes to these questions by comparison with other members here, particularly Senator Day. I thank Senator Day for his exquisite explanation of what is going on here and what we are doing. He has been preceded by others who have pointed the same things out to us, most notably Senator Murray, from whom I learned what little I know about these things when I first had the honour of joining that committee when he was chair. He was saying then many of the same things that Senator Day has just spoken about and that Senator Dallaire has just referred to.

The aspect that concerns me about this is the following: the continuum of forms of governance in the world. If you are over here, a totalitarian dictatorship is an efficient form of government. It does not require a whole lot of talking; very few people or someone decides what will happen, and that is it. Over here, at the other end, is the most inefficient form of government on the face of the earth — parliamentary democracy. It is inefficient. The reason that it is inefficient is that it stems from a time at Runnymede when some people went to the king and said: "You can no longer just tell us how much tax you will collect, and you can no longer just tell us how you will spend it. You have to ask us. You have to talk to us and you have to obtain our consent." Parlez à moi! Speak to us! Parliament — that is what this is all about.

Constitutional parliamentary democracy has to do only, in its beginnings and in its fundamentals, with purse strings: How will you collect taxes and how will you spend the money that you get?

Members opposite do not know this, but I want to assure you that Senator Murray, his successors and I, in my amateurish way, have been railing about this to this government, to the government before that and, in my case, to the government before that and, in other cases, to governments before that. It is very efficient for governments — Liberal governments, Progressive Conservative governments and Conservative governments — to find ways to get around having to have detailed parliamentary authority. When we in Parliament give the authority to the government to do things, they are always acting properly, because we have given them the authority to do that.

Senator Day referred to that. Last January 29, we passed a budget bill, and we did not catch it, but ever since Confederation, governments, whatever colour they were, have had to come to Parliament and say: Here is how much money we want to borrow, and here is why. I cannot remember whether it was annually or during sessions or during the life of a parliament, but parliaments always had to be asked that and always, by convention, had to give that authority to the government to borrow money, and to spend it as well in implementation bills.

(1510)

Last January 29, no one in the other place caught it, and no one here caught it until after we had done it. We gave this government and the one after that and the one after that, unless we change it as has been proposed in the bill that Senator Murray presently has before us, the authority to go out and borrow however much money they want, without explaining anything to anyone, without saying why or for what purpose or from whom or at what rate it is being borrowed.

I will give you two more small examples of the fact that Parliament is being asked, bit by bit, to give up its authority to successive governments. Liberal governments did this too, and Progressive Conservative governments before that. Parliament is losing its authority. We have to remember, honourable senators — I hope we will somehow come to remember some day — that the government is a function of Parliament, not the other way around. The government does not wield Parliament. The government, the Crown, is accountable to Parliament. That is what we are here for. If we do not do that, and if we do not insist upon doing it, and if we do not regain some of the ground that has been lost over the decades, we might as well, as Senator Day said, all go home, because we will have given away all of our parliamentary authority.

We are being asked in this bill — it is astonishing — to approve expenditures for 45 years into the future. I suppose that that is binding on successive governments and parliaments. I do not know. It is an interesting legal question. We are being asked after the fact to say, "You know this program we have been advertising about home improvement grants? We would like you to approve it now." What? How could any enterprise embark upon an undertaking that is a fait accompli and then come back later to someone and say, "By the way, we need some money for this." It is astonishing.

The Bretton Woods amendments are further measures in which we are being asked to give away. We are being asked to divest ourselves of authority. The most efficient thing will be that nine or ten people will run the country, and it is not that far off if this continues as it has continued for a long time before I or any of us got here.

I hope, honourable senators, that we will take the time in committee to examine this question. I urge the committee chair to ask for extra time. If we do not examine these questions, we will do once again, in this implementation bill, what we did last January 29. We will give away another part of the store. We will give away parliamentary authority, as we have done in the past. It does not make any difference what colour or political stripe we are. The red guys did it, and the blue guys did it. We have to stop it, because if we want to have parliamentary democracy, we must make it function. We are losing the capacity to make it function.

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Honourable senators, I have been a member of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance for quite a number of years now. The point that my honourable colleague Senator Day has raised is interesting, and I want to do more research on this before I continue debate. Therefore, I move the adjournment of the debate.

(On motion of Senator Ringuette, debate adjourned.)

Canada Elections Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator MacDonald, seconded by the Honourable Senator Greene, for the second reading of Bill S-6, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (accountability with respect to political loans).

Hon. David P. Smith: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to this important piece of legislation. With this legislation, the government claims that the intended goals are to increase transparency and accountability in political financing in Canada. That, in theory, is a reasonable goal. However, I think it is fair to point out some background on this bill.

In the last ten years, the Liberals did trail-blazing work in respect to increasing accountability in the Canadian political system. We certainly showed our commitment to transparency with our past initiatives, and we intend to continue our commitment to transparency. Quite frankly, it was difficult for candidates and campaign managers. I had to listen to primal screams from many of them, but I think we moved in the right direction.

The government may argue that Bill S-6 is intended to stop the undue influence of wealthy contributors who were supposedly skirting the Canada Elections Act donation limits through the use of personal loans. I think there is a touch of fear mongering in that position, because the truth is that under the current law, the details of all those loans, including amounts and names of lenders and guarantors, must be publicly disclosed. This information is easily accessible via Elections Canada.

I also think it would lend more credibility, because this also includes such things as leadership costs, to the Conservative arguments if their leader finally disclosed what he spent on his leadership campaign and where the money came from. We still have not heard that, and we all know the saying, "You can't talk the talk unless you walk the walk."

It will also be interesting to see the decision of the court on the in-and-out issue. Admittedly, this was not something that we pursued. Elections Canada pursued that matter. They did not view those actions as being in the transparency category. I am a firm believer in due process. The Conservative Party challenged it, and they have every right to do that. I have been following it in the papers. There was a story in the Citizen today. It will be interesting to see what the court concludes. I am not trying to be partisan here. I am just saying it will be interesting to see what they conclude.

Let me first raise the subject of financial institutions, because for many individuals who wish to enter politics, one key issue has, and will always be, access to funds. Financing a campaign right from the nomination race through to election day can be a difficult and stressful undertaking. The government argues that this bill will level the playing field by limiting who can make loans, essentially making financial institutions the only substantive loan provider. However, the reality may be that it actually decreases options for individuals wishing to seek public office.

This measure will force financial institutions to almost become partners on the street with political campaigns. This is something I do not think the banks have ever really wanted to do, and it is not easy for them to do. How do you force a bank manager in a particular riding to say, "Okay, we will finance the Liberals but not the Conservatives or the NDP?" Then they have to get into the track record of the credit of the various candidates. That is a swamp.

(1520)

What does this bill do for people with bad credit or people who are not wealthy or well-to-do? Essentially, this bill provides the banks with influence over who can run — not control, but influence.

Financial institutions will have significant decision making power on the amount of financial support any given candidate can receive for his or her campaign. Is that really a responsibility we want to place entirely in the hands of financial institutions?

I suppose, if you love this bill, you might argue that the banks will be okay because after a certain period of time under the bill, if a loan is not paid, then it becomes the responsibility of the local riding association. However, there are many questions here. I am not trying to be a killjoy, but what about smaller political parties? They are an important part of our democratic process. Will all Canadians have equal access to loans by financial institutions? Obviously, not all candidates for elected office will have equal opportunities to win elections or even have a vote high enough to get funding under the act. Will financial institutions take into account a candidate's relative chance of winning an election and their chance of attaining enough votes to receive a rebate from Elections Canada under the Canada Elections Act before deciding whether to extend credit to smaller parties or independent candidates? These are problems.

Are there constitutional implications of this bill perhaps under the Charter? Does it unduly target less-resourced candidates and parties from participating in the political process?

Impact on women is a valid concern. Canada has 68 women in Parliament, which is just over 22 per cent of MPs. We ranked forty-sixth in the world on the Inter-Parliamentary Union's list of women in national parliaments. Canada has fewer women in Parliament than most of Europe and many other countries in the world, just over 22 per cent. Why?

There are a number of reasons, but I can tell you that one reason is financing. The 1992 Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing, or the Lortie commission, as it was known, identified the financing of political campaigns as a significant obstacle for women entering politics. This continues to be a problem. Whether we like it or not, on average, women earn less money than their male counterparts. That difference is shrinking but they still do, and in many cases, they do not have adequate credit history and/or assets to satisfy bank requirements for loans and under this legislation, only financial institutions can do the loaning.

Getting more women into politics has always been a personal concern of mine. Going back to Mr. Chrétien's first campaign, which was in 1993, there were not as many women involved as I thought we should have, and at our 1991 convention — and I was chairing the campaign then too — we made amendments to the constitution that gave the campaign committee control over who was running in certain circumstances. It gave the leader the prerogative to appoint a certain number of candidates.

I remember in Toronto, in the 1993 campaign, there were 23 seats in Toronto proper. We had nominated 21, and 21 out of 21 were men. I had not let the last two ridings go ahead because a couple of hard-line pro-life groupers, sort of a one-string violin, had taken over the riding associations and were going to nominate two more men.

I said to Mr. Chrétien this is a case where you have to do the right thing, appoint a couple of women and send out a message that we are serious and committed to getting more women in Parliament.

An Hon. Senator: How many seats did we win in Ontario?

Senator Smith: We won 98 out of 99 seats with Jean Augustine and Maria Minna. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet if you want to do the right thing.

We have had quite a good record ever since. In the 2006 election, 27.6 per cent of our candidates were women. The Conservatives had 12.3 per cent, so we were more than double. I am not trying to be partisan. In the 2008 election, we got the figure up to 113 women candidates, which was a record. I was proud of that number. It was 36.7 percent, and I was chairing that one too. The Conservatives went up too, to 63 women candidates. They had 20.9 per cent. The NDP were at 33 per cent. We were well ahead of them. The Bloc had 20 women out of 75 candidates.

I do not have the figures. I am not trying to be partisan. It is important for all parties to get more women into Parliament. We were doing our best, and for us to have had 36.7 per cent women was an achievement.

The point I am trying to make is that I think some of the restrictions in the bill will affect women more negatively than it will men. This is a reality, regardless of what party they represent. The full implications of this bill on political parties and local electoral districts are not clear.

The bill places a high level of liability to repay loans on riding associations. What happens when the candidate defaults on the loan? It is common for that loan to revert to the association. Is the riding executive responsible? It is not clear. Is the association considered a corporate entity? What are the ramifications for these volunteers?

I am concerned that one of the unintended consequences of this bill will be to impose financial fear upon volunteers from all political parties, and it will be one more factor that weighs in to discourage people from entering the public arena.

Another question, it is not clear about spouses or joint bank accounts and they can only contribute to the $1,100. I think it is a problem.

Another issue is the partners in the process, campaign suppliers and service providers. The bill stipulates that in the event a candidate or a riding association is unable to repay a campaign expense within 18 months, then the expense is deemed to become a contribution. Given that the law currently prohibits corporate contributions, does this inadvertently — I do not think this would have been intentional — end up creating a situation where a company or a supplier breaks the law, through no fault of his or her own, because the bill was not paid and is then regarded as a contribution after 18 months. This bill could put undue pressures on suppliers and service providers.

We all support transparency and accountability. I am not trying to be partisan. I think we want our system to work for all parties and be a level playing field and although, that may be the case with this bill, I believe there are many questions that honourable senators will want to consider thoroughly.

We all want an electoral system that is more accountable and more transparent, but what is important is that this system of electoral accountability not limit access to different candidates, perhaps because of gender and their unlevel financial playing field, or smaller parties that may not be able to persuade the banks to finance their campaigns.

It is not clear to me that the type of accountability proposed in the bill is equitable, fair and democratic accessibility. When this bill goes to the committee, I think these are some of the questions that will have to be looked at. There is a lot of work to do on this bill, and those are my thoughts as of today.

(1530)

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I confess that I have not really made up my mind about this bill, but I shall do so in time to vote on it when the time comes.

I am moved to intervene very briefly by the speech we have just heard from our friend, Senator Smith, who has managed campaigns more recently than I have. I do not even have a political party any longer.

I begin by saying that I supported, quite strongly — perhaps too strongly — the initiatives that were taken by the government that he supported with regard to election finance. Since then, I have had all kinds of reasons for second thoughts, not just on those particular initiatives but on the direction that we may be going with our election law in this country. My friend used the term "swamp." Let me tell you that the "swamp" is that we have bureaucratized and nationalized the electoral system to such an extent that people are turning away from participating in it. We have complained a lot over the years about the low turnouts at elections. No one ever seems to point to the declining influence and strength of political parties at the constituency level as one of the reasons for that low turnout. Political parties used to get the vote out. Perhaps they are not doing that any longer. Why are they not doing it? Perhaps because there are not enough people taking part.

There are many reasons for that, but I believe one of the reasons has been what I have called the bureaucratization and nationalization of the system. Elections Canada has become a vast empire. They are now into party leadership races and all the rest of it, areas where they have never been before and where I say, with the greatest of respect because I know how professional and dedicated they are, they do not know beans about it. I think we have made some serious mistakes and gone too far.

There was the Lortie Commission some years ago under the Mulroney government. Our friend, Senator Oliver, was a member of it for a while, as well as Senator Pépin. They did do a very coherent and close examination of election law and I thought came up with recommendations that have stood the test of time. They set out good arguments as to why they made certain recommendations and why they rejected some other proposals that had been made with regard to financing and all the rest of it.

Someday soon, someone will have to take a fresh look at all of this before the whole political and electoral system becomes completely bogged down.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

(On motion of Senator Mercer, debate adjourned.)

[Translation]

Aboriginal Languages of Canada Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Robichaud, P.C., for the second reading of Bill S-237, An Act for the advancement of the aboriginal languages of Canada and to recognize and respect aboriginal language rights.

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, this is the fourteenth day of debate on this bill. I have not quite finished writing my notes on the points I would like to raise. I would therefore like to adjourn the debate in my name.

(On motion of Senator Comeau, debate adjourned.)

Scientific Research

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Cowan calling the attention of the Senate to the critical importance of scientific research to the future of Canada and to the well-being of Canadians.

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, Senator Day told me that he would like the debate to stand in his name.

Honourable senators, scientific research and, consequently, post-secondary education are very important to Canadians. A recent Ipsos Reid poll estimates that 78 per cent of Canadians believe that post-secondary education is necessary to advance in the work world.

According to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada:

Developing the best-educated, most skilled workforce possible and unleashing Canadians' capacity for ideas, innovation and inventiveness are the surest means to promote long-term productivity, economic growth and prosperity.

Honourable colleagues, this depends in large measure on investments in scientific research.

The research conducted by our Canadian researchers benefits our communities. If we take a moment to think about Canadian scientific achievements, we realize that we have much to be proud of. Where would we be if Banting and Best had not discovered insulin, if the research by Dr. Tak Wah Mak of the University of Toronto had not led to a better understanding of our immune system, or if John Alexander Hopps, who is known the world over as the inventor of the first cardiac pacemaker and the "father of Canadian biomedical engineering", had not been able to conduct his research? The country where we live would not be the same. In fact, the world as we know it would not likely be the same.

Through scientific research, we can help Canadians. Honourable senators, that is why I am speaking today to Senator Cowan's inquiry calling the attention of the Senate to the critical importance of scientific research to the future of Canada and to the well-being of Canadians.

(1540)

[English]

As my colleague Senator Cowan indicated in his inquiry on March 31, the fundamental question is: "What is our vision of Canada for the 21st century? Do we want to be a nation that pushes the frontiers of knowledge where Canadians are encouraged to think big and imagine new solutions?" To do so, we need to invest massively in the post-secondary system, in innovation and scientific research.

[Translation]

I would like to be able to tell you that all is well in the world of scientific research. Unfortunately, my meetings with a number of researchers have lead me to believe that this is not so. Funding for scientific research in Canada does not match researchers' needs.

At a critical juncture in our history, when the economy requires investments of billions of dollars, this government, which says it is listening to Canadians, does not seem to be listening to the concerns of our scientists.

[English]

The United States surpasses Canada in terms of general research funding. According to Dr. John Hylton, Canada spends "1.9 per cent of its GDP on science funding," whereas President Obama announced in 2009 that under his administration the U.S. would "devote more than 3 per cent of GDP to research and development," and he was referring to its current GDP. President Obama seems to be harmonizing the scientific research funding goals of the U.S. with those set out by the European Union in what is known as the "Lisbon target," the objective of which is to make R&D expenditure 3 per cent of GDP.

What effects will insufficient funding have on scientific research in this country? Honourable senators, it will discourage scientific research and prevent Canada from taking its place among the world's scientific leaders. Without proper funding, Canada's research and innovation capacity will continue to fall behind that of other countries. According to the OECD, "In 1995 Canada and China's total expenditures on R&D were at virtually the same level, and Canada invested more than twice as much in university research. By 2007, China was spending more than four times as much as Canada overall, and had surpassed Canada in funding university research."

Based on a recent study by Thompson Reteurs, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada estimates that by 2020 India's research productivity will have surpassed that of the G8 countries. The AUCC further notes that, "India's government increased its higher education budget by 40 percent this year." If Canada wants to be a scientific research leader it must act now.

While preparing my research for this inquiry, I had the privilege of meeting with several established researchers as well as new researchers in the field of medical research at the University of Alberta. The purpose of our meeting was to discuss the state of research funding in Canada, and more particularly scientific and medical research funding. These researchers indicated their grave concerns with the current state of research funding.

They indicated that the structure to create a vibrant and important research and development sector in Canada currently exists. However, without proper funding and support, the framework cannot operate to its full potential.

Insufficient support for scientific research has a negative effect on our young researchers, who are tempted to further their academic studies and conduct their research in other countries where funding is more abundant. The insufficient funding of our scientific research community will make it difficult for us to keep the best and the brightest of these students, who will instead wish to pursue their research in another country where funding is more readily available.

Referring to graduate students in a recent article in The Hill Times, Arvind Gupta notes:

. . . lack of R&D industrial investments limits opportunities for graduate students who want to stay in Canada. We have a classic chicken and egg problem: Fewer R&D jobs means students are not incented to pursue graduate work. Those who persevere, too often, leave the country in search of better opportunities.

Insufficient funding not only affects our young researchers but also affects international students who decide to pursue their academic studies in our country. In a press release issued on October 28, 2009, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade evaluated the economic contributions of foreign students in Canada at $6.5 billion. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada notes that the students "who remain in Canada help provide the skilled graduates needed to enhance our economic performance and address the upcoming demographic crunch." These students contribute immensely to our scientific research community, and we should do everything in our power to attract a greater number of them.

Insufficient funding also affects our performance on the world stage in terms of the number of academics and researchers our country produces. A recent article in The Gateway, the University of Alberta's official student newspaper, reminds us that, "Canada produces the fewest Ph.D's per capita of almost all our OECD peers." In fact, the Canadian Council on Learning notes in its 2008-09 report that, "Canada ranked twentieth out of 30 OECD countries in the proportion of science and engineering degrees relative to all new degrees. Canada also ranked twentieth in the proportion of Ph.D graduates in science and engineering."

[Translation]

In its 2009 budget, the government gave priority to funding for the physical infrastructure of our post-secondary institutions. In recent months, there has been a proliferation of press releases from the Minister of State for Science and Technology on investments in science and technology faculties at universities.

Although this government focussed on investments in knowledge infrastructure in the 2009 budget, to build new laboratories and renovate research facilities, there is not enough money to fund the staff required to do research in these laboratories.

[English]

As Senator Cowan noted, "Our job as policy-makers is to build and maintain a strong foundation that allows this research to thrive. This requires modern physical infrastructure, but it also demands funding for the research itself. It makes no sense to build state-of-the-art laboratories at the expense of funding research that is to take place within them."

[Translation]

The three major research councils have the same problem. A few weeks ago, the Leader of the Government in the Senate informed us that her government had increased the number of student scholarships. According to the Canadian Federation of Students, the 2009 budget cut $148 million from the three major research councils. A University of Alberta researcher said that researchers find themselves in a vicious circle. The increase in scholarships has resulted in more students applying for research positions but, given that the government has cut funding for the research councils, the researchers do not have the funds required to continue their work.

(1550)

[English]

In the words of one of the researchers I met at the University of Alberta,

. . . it appears that they —

— the government —

— are using a "rob Peter to pay Paul" approach.

He notes that:

. . . the funds for the scholarships and CFI, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, programs will be obtained by "streamlining" budgets for NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada), CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research), and SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council).

Compared to our American and West European colleagues, funding for these agencies is already too low. For CIHR at least, the success rates for the Open Grants Program are below 22 per cent.

That used to be at 30 per cent. That means there are a full 8 to 10 per cent of candidates, very meritorious candidates, who are not being funded for their applications for their research programs.

This is unsustainable and will lead to a decline in the quality of research. By eroding the base budgets for NSERC, CIHR and SSCHRC, there will be less funding available for scholarship students to carry out their research projects. In addition, much of the CFI-funded equipment and other infrastructure will sit unused because of a lack of operating funds to carry out experiments.

These are the words of researchers who are involved in the projects now. That is why, in the pre-budgetary consultations submission given to the Minister of Finance, the Honourable James Flaherty, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, AUCC, recommended to:

. . . significantly increase investments in university research through the three federal research granting agencies. Increases of $400 million in each of the next two years should be followed by increases of $228 million, $249 million and $270 million in the subsequent three years. . . .

[Translation]

What is more, the government seems to be focussed more on funding programs related to business and management than any other university program.

Honourable senators, may I have five more minutes?

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, do you wish to grant Senator Tardif another five minutes?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Tardif: At least, that is what it says in a message from the president of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences dated January 28, 2009.

[English]

In a March 2 article in The Globe and Mail, Dr. Andrew Weaver is quoted as saying that governments have always had a say in research, but this is getting down to micromanagement.

He further notes that now the government is cutting the basic research funding system and also stipulating what they can do. The government seems to be ordering more and more the direction of research in this country.

Another problem with the funding of scientific research in Canada is the way through which research funding is allocated. In fact, the government should look at the approach taken by other G8 countries, more particularly at how other countries deal with the indirect costs of research funding.

For example, in the United Kingdom and the European Union, indirect research funding costs are covered at a 40 to 60 per cent level by the national government. Closer to home, our neighbour to the south seems to agree with the European approach.

According to the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, CARL:

. . . the U.S. level of funding through its indirect costs support is evaluated at 40% to 70% of the value of the direct research funding costs.

Canadian investments in indirect research funding are embarrassingly low when compared to those in the United States. It is partly for this reason that the Canadian Association of Research Libraries recommends that:

. . . the federal government increase funding for the indirect costs of research from the current 23.3 per cent of direct research funding, to 40 per cent.

If this government implemented CARL's recommendation, the state of scientific research in Canada would greatly improve.

One example of indirect research funding is investments in specialized research libraries such as the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information, CISTI. Part of the National Research Council of Canada, CISTI provides access to up-to-date information for scientists and medical researchers across the country. CISTI is known nationally as a library of last resort for high-quality scientific research data. Unfortunately, proposed cuts to this pillar of science would jeopardize this important organization's role in scientific research.

The government was well aware of the negative impact that these cuts would have on scientific research in Canada. In March 2009, Leslie Weir, then president of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, wrote to the Prime Minister that the National Research Council's Canada Institute for Scientific and Technological Information was:

. . . expecting cuts of up to 50% of its current budget, with an additional 20% removed from cost-recovery programs.

Mr. Weir was pleading in defense of CISTI, a specialized research library which has been our national science library for the last 50 years. The president of the Canadian Association of Research Libraries further noted that the budgetary compressions at CISTI would have serious consequences on its ability to support Canada's researchers.

What was more alarming was Mr. Weir's warning against the possibility of Canada becoming a scientific and technological "branch plant" to the United States and Europe because of the poor state of investments in scientific research.

The term "branch plant" was first brought to the attention of Canadian researchers 40 years ago. As Heather Munroe-Blum, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, notes, the term defined an:

. . . economic situation in which Canada provided raw materials for industries around the world to use to their advantage . . .

— and where —

. . . research and development, the "high-end" work, was done closer to the "home office" — usually in another country.

Without proper scientific research funding, Canada risks becoming a branch plant.

[Translation]

In conclusion, honourable senators, scientific research in Canada is more than a matter of funding. We must also consider the lack of coherence at the post-secondary education level in Canada.

[English]

The former national science adviser, Dr. Paul Carty, noted that:

. . . the Conservative government has put a lot of money into science infrastructure, but its overall approach to research is something of "a puzzle."

[Translation]

Dr. Paul Cappon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Council on Learning, recently told the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology that Canada's problem is its lack of a national strategy on post-secondary education.

As I said a few months ago, "more than one third of research conducted in Canada takes place at Canadian universities. In other words, this is a critical sector, fundamental to maintaining and building the Canada we all want — a Canada that is at the forefront of innovation, creativity and productivity in the world."

(On motion of Senator Tardif, for Senator Day, debate adjourned.)

(1600)

[English]

Rules of the Senate

Motion to Amend Rule 28(3.1)—Order Withdrawn

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Banks, seconded by the Honourable Senator Day:

That Rule 28(3.1) of the Rules of the Senate be amended as follows:

That after the words "tables a document proposing a user fee," the words "or the increase or extension of a user fee," be added; and

That after the words "designated in the Senate for the purpose by the Leader of the Government in the Senate or the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate", the words ", provided that the respective committee has been properly constituted under the authority of the Senate, and" be added.

Hon. Tommy Banks: Honourable senators, this item will fall off the Order Paper next week. I have discussed this with Senator Day, who holds the adjournment, and with Senator Di Nino.

Things have intervened since I introduced this motion. We are working with people in His Honour's office to try to find a resolution to the problem. With the permission of honourable senators and the seconder of the motion, I ask that the motion be withdrawn from the Order Paper.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, is it agreed that the item be withdrawn from the Order Paper?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Order withdrawn.)

The Senate

Motion to Authorize Select Committees to Meet within Approved Meeting Times for Remainder of Session—Order Stands

On Motion No. 101, by the Honourable Senator Tkachuk:

That, for the remainder of this session, select committees shall only meet within their approved meeting times as determined by the Government and Opposition Whips unless:

(a) both whips agree to a variation from this schedule,

(b) there is an order of the Senate authorizing the committee to meet at a different time, or

(c) during the course of a meeting all committee members present agree to an extension of the meeting beyond the end of the approved meeting time.

[Translation]

Hon. Marcel Prud'homme: Honourable senators, despite my great friendship for Senator Tkachuk, I am not about to begin debate on this motion.

For the sake of history, so that I can tell my family that I was here until the last second of the last hour of the last day, I want to say farewell once again to all of you.

[English]

I have adored my life in this place. I know that it is not proper, but I was told that I could say at least this.

To His Honour, in a cool, less emotional way than I said it yesterday, I say, please thank your wife Anne.

I thank the pages, the staff, the Clerk of the Senate and everyone whom I might have forgotten. I am happy. I was here and healthy until the last moment. I am looking for a new enterprise, but I do not know what God has in mind for me. Thank you.

Hon. Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, that this item remain in the name of Senator Tkachuk?

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Order stands.)

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, before I call upon Senator Comeau for the adjournment motion, I call your attention to rule 17 of the Rules of the Senate. It speaks to the circumstance in which, should there be a requirement for the Senate to return prior to the date that the adjournment motion sets, the Speaker is authorized by the rules to send notice to all honourable senators. I call that rule to the attention of honourable senators in case such an eventuality presents.

[Translation]

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 Tuesday, December 1, 2009, at 2 p.m.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, December 1, 2009, at 2 p.m.)