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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 3

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


THE SENATE

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.

Prayers.

Haiti—Victims of Earthquake

Silent Tribute

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I would ask senators to rise and observe one minute of silence in memory of all those, including those Canadians, who died in the tragic earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12, 2010

Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.


SENATORS' STATEMENTS

The Late Hon. James Gladstone

Hon. Nicole Eaton: Honourable senators, the right to vote, the right to freely and openly choose those who govern us, is a fundamental right that Canadians cherish. This fundamental right was long denied to many Aboriginal people in our country until 50 years ago this month. On March 15, 1960, Senator James Gladstone, Canada's first Aboriginal senator, and a member of the Blood Tribe of southern Alberta, rose in this chamber to lead debate on bills to amend the Indian Act and the Canada Elections Act. When adopted two weeks later, the new laws extended the right to vote in federal elections to all status Indians.

In spearheading this change, Senator Gladstone faced a dual challenge. His first challenge was to convince First Nations men and women that, in gaining the right to vote, they would not be robbed of other rights in the future. His second challenge was to win over key government officials who believed First Nations peoples were wards of the state who were unprepared and unwilling to assume responsibility for their own lives let alone play a role in the life of their country.

Senator Gladstone triumphed because those in Parliament and in First Nations communities throughout the country trusted him. It was a trust he earned through his patience, his willingness to listen, and his innate ability to forge consensus where none seemingly existed. It was a trust he used to persuade First Nations leaders to organize and unify so their voices and influence could be stronger. He persuaded First Nations men and women to prepare themselves to face both exciting and troubling challenges and persuaded all Canadians, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike, to embrace their shared future in a spirit of understanding and compassion.

Honourable senators, what did Senator Gladstone see in this future? He saw a future in which Aboriginal men and women would be empowered by education and skills training to pursue meaningful careers and enjoy fulfilling lives. He saw a future in which First Nations communities would be free to build strong, prosperous economies of their own. He saw a future in which Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians would be able to reconcile their differences, settle their disagreements, and forgive each other their misdeeds.

Honourable senators, we have not fully realized Senator Gladstone's vision but we have moved a good measure closer, still inspired by the quiet leadership, dogged determination and common touch of this gentle persuader.

Windfields Farm

Hon. Francis William Mahovlich: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to what is surely the end of an era in the Canadian horse breeding industry. That is, of course, the recent closure of Windfields Farm.

Founded in 1936 by E.P. Taylor, in Oshawa, Ontario, Windfields Farm was once the number one thoroughbred horse breeding farm in North America and the birthplace of the great racing champion, Northern Dancer.

[Translation]

The farm was very successful in breeding horses. Many of the champions were descendants of Northern Dancer. I should also point out that $1 million per mating does not in any way guarantee a colt.

[English]

Many of the horses bred and owned by Windfields Farm have won numerous important racing championships, including the Queen's Plate, the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.

Despite these tremendous claims to fame, following the death of its founder in 1989, Windfields Farm has slowly been selling off parts of its six square kilometre compound to make way for the subdivisions in the ever-growing city of Oshawa.

Honourable senators, it is said that all good things must come to an end. Sadly, after nearly 60 years of filling winners' circles, the legend of this farm and the tremendous creatures that it helped to create has finally met its end.

I have no doubt that Windfields Farm will hold a special place in the memory of many Canadians who marvelled at the speed of those majestic horses and felt privileged to be part of history in this sport of kings.

The Late Constable Vu Pham

Hon. Bob Runciman: Honourable senators, it is with deep sadness that I rise today to note the death of Constable Vu Pham, of the Ontario Provincial Police, who lost his life in a confrontation near London, Ontario, on Monday morning.

As the father of two daughters who are Ontario Provincial Police officers, and the father-in-law of another, I understand the risks that police officers take each and every day. The risk is there even on a lonely country road in rural Huron County in the bright sunshine of a March morning.

Constable Pham was the epitome of the Canadian dream. His father, an officer in the South Vietnamese army, was killed in the Vietnam War. Vu Pham was adopted by a Canadian clergyman and grew up in rural Ontario. He went on to build a career as a police officer. A devoted family man and churchgoer, he coached soccer and was involved in the minor hockey league. This 15-year OPP veteran leaves behind a wife and three young children.

As Solicitor General in Ontario, I established a $5 million Survivor's Tuition Fund to aid the families of police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. My most fervent hope has always been that such a fund would not be needed, that the men and women in uniform could perform their duties and go home each and every night to their families. Sadly, all too often, that is not the case. As I speak today, the trial is ongoing in the case of RCMP Constable Doug Scott, a young officer who grew up near my hometown of Brockville who was shot to death while on duty in Nunavut in November 2007.

(1410)

Like Constable Scott, Vu Pham devoted his life to ensuring that we are able to go about our lives safely and securely. I offer my condolences today to Constable Pham's wife Heather and his sons Tyler, 12; Jordan, 10; and Joshua, 7. To the men and women in uniform across this country, each of whom feels a personal loss when one of their brothers or sisters falls in the line of duty, I offer my support and my sympathy.

The Hon. Marcel Prud'homme, P.C.

Hon. Rod A. A. Zimmer: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay homage to the Honourable Marcel Prud'homme for 46 years of public service to Canada. If you will indulge for me a few moments, I will use iambic pentameter and the theme from Dr. Seuss. It is called "An Ode to Marcel.''

Prud'homme is his name, and French by fame, Politics in life, always his game.
Liberal to the bone, and committed like stone, Thinking out of the box, always to hone.
Lean and nice, he had little vice, Learned to skate on political thin ice.
Elected nine times, as a champion of his riding, Appointed to the Privy Council for service in guiding.
His vision was always to reach for the stars And he abhorred mediocrity, and raised up the bar.
"Persistence is golden,'' he would often say, It guides him strongly, to this very day.
As he said, you don't have to be wealthy, for good work to do, You can start a delegation, or start with just you.
You'll learn how our freedoms and rights came to be, You'll meet all of our heroes, and then you will see.
Our reputation will soar, opportunities surge, The pride of our country, will boldly emerge.
And stop complaining about winter right now, If we lived in Moscow, we'd be having a cow.
Fires and earthquakes, who needs any of that? All you need to survive is a warm coat and fur hat.
And I'll let you in on a secret, if you swear not to tell, It's freezing in Calgary, St. John's as well.
And Winnipeg has mosquitoes, Regina does too! From Russia to Lebanon . . . really who knew?
Next time someone berates us for those little stingers, Let's collectively turn, and give them the fingers!
Don't dis the Chamber, then leave it discouraged, It takes lots of folks, with hearts full of courage.
Now speaking of Marcel, it's reported of late, That he's going through adventurous times, so let's not debate.
A lot of big factors, have contributed to it, We'll turn it around, I know Marcel can do it.
It's a watershed moment, as the economy slows, As regulation oppresses us, as we're kept on our toes.
But our country is strong, it's a great happy story, With hard work and commitment, we'll return to past glory.
And that brings me to the last point this day, Never, never give up the fight, this sunny day.
If what you believe in has value, has merit, Then follow your dream, and you'll achieve it, I swear it!
Honourable senators, be proud of this chamber, And of this city, be an oasis, we need no pity.
Marcel says, count your blessings, and spread good cheer,
And the world will be, because we were all here.

International Women's Week

Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, today I rise to commemorate the courage, dignity and perseverance of those women who paved the way so I can rise freely in this chamber and celebrate their accomplishments.

Majestic and resilient women like Kye Soon Kim, my mother, who taught me to live with intention, grab hold of opportunities and do all the things she could only dream of doing within the confines of imperialism, then civil war. "Do all the things I never had the chance to do,'' is her mantra.

This week, women across Canada and around the world are joining together to celebrate International Women's Week. As we celebrate our accomplishments, we must also highlight the key challenges that women face today, especially those women living in developing and war-torn countries. We must focus on future steps to achieving equality for all women.

Across this country, women are developing new models for achieving success and equality in our increasingly interconnected world.

Realizing that within the old patriarchal models, women may not have come close to gaining the representation that reflects our population in the high-level decision-making roles of government and business, some Canadian women are saying, "Why do I have to be a leader within the old model? I can be a builder of a new model; one where the responsibilities of women personally and professionally can fit better, harnessing our collective power in new ways.'' These women are aptly called builders.

Barb Stegemann is one of those builders of a new model. She is the author of the Canadian bestseller, The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen: A woman's guide to living and leading in an illogical world. On March 8, 2010, in honour of International Women's Week, she celebrated with us the launch of her long- time vision, a perfume called "Afghanistan Orange Blossom Eau de Parfum.'' The launch of this incredible scent is the thesis in her book come to life: harnessing women's buying power to make change in ways that empower them. Barb was inspired by her best friend, Captain Trevor Greene, and his mission to empower the people of Afghanistan.

Barb is harnessing the power she knows, women's buying power. She purchased the delicate orange blossom oil made from the licit crops of farmers in Afghanistan to make her perfume. She has brought other buyers to purchase the licit crops, and is on a mission to bring enough buyers to create a tipping point where farmers will not want to grow the illicit poppy crops of the Taliban.

I honour my friend, Barb Stegemann, and the strong women gracing our chamber today — Stephanie Chung, Michele Kim and Lorraine Brett — my honourable colleagues, and all the women around the world. What a blessing to live in a just and peaceful nation as Canada is, and have the power to live authentically.

Girl Guides of Canada

Congratulations on One-Hundredth Anniversary

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, later today, in Room 200 in West Block, a celebration is set to take place. The celebration, "100 on the Hill,'' will commemorate the one- hundredth anniversary of Girl Guides in Canada and around the world.

When Guiding first began, it was not like anything seen before. In 1909, Lord Baden-Powell organized a Boy Scout rally at the Crystal Palace in London. To everyone's great surprise, a large number of girls also showed up, and they were intent on joining the fun.

As we might imagine, in 1909, this participation was not what was expected of young ladies — their place was in the home doing women's activities. People were shocked to see them outside, wearing backpacks and Scout hats, and doing all the things that Scouts were doing.

However, their determination paid off. Lord Baden-Powell was impressed. He asked his sister, Agnes, to create a program just for girls.

The movement quickly spread to Canada, and the first unit was formed in St. Catharines, Ontario in January 1910. By 1917, an Act of Parliament was passed to approve the constitution of the Canadian Girl Guides Association.

In my home province of Prince Edward Island, the first group began in 1913 in Charlottetown and, in 1934, the Girl Guides of Prince Edward Island was formally established. Today, more than 400 girls and women across my province are members of the Girl Guides.

The world has changed over the years, and Guiding has changed with it. Guiding continues to be extraordinary, and encourages girls and women to be their best. Members participate in challenges and community service projects, and they learn essential life skills like leadership and teamwork. Indoors, outdoors and all around our home communities, Guiding members make a difference. Adult members are mentors and role models, and the girls learn from that experience to speak up and be leaders in their own communities and schools.

With about 10 million members, Girl Guides is one of the largest girl-focused organizations in the world. Over the past 100 years, members have continued to change the lives of the people around them through community action, peer education and service to others. I commend the Girl Guides and their leaders for their contributions and wish them all the best in continuing that service well into the future. I hope to see everyone later today in room 200, West Block, to celebrate the centennial of this outstanding organization.

Commonwealth Day

Hon. Michael L. MacDonald: Honourable senators, on Monday past, Canada officially marked Commonwealth Day. The day is a celebration not only of our institutional heritage but, of equal importance, of the vital role that the Commonwealth plays on the world stage as an eloquent force for the principles of democracy, peace and equal rights for all citizens.

All Canadians will recall when Prime Minister John Diefenbaker stood as a leader in the Commonwealth and became the driving force in the anti-apartheid movement that eventually resulted in South Africa's expulsion from the association. As the prime minister responsible for Canada's Bill of Rights, Mr. Diefenbaker made Canada proud of moving this file forward, a fact that many years later was recalled with great fondness by Nelson Mandela.

(1420)

Today the Commonwealth is an association of independent nations, comprising about a quarter of the world's population, spanning all continents and forming a bridge between rich and poor. It enables people to discuss common problems and to work together in finding solutions. Regardless of their form of government, all Commonwealth countries regard Queen Elizabeth II as their head and as a symbol of the association united by a common set of values and ideals.

The theme for Commonwealth Day this year is "Science, Technology and Society.'' It highlights the important role of science in the lives of people around the world, and the role technology can play in development of green energy, health care and food security — issues that are a concern to all of the world's citizens.

Honourable senators, please join me in marking Commonwealth Day.

International Women's Week

Hon. Vivienne Poy: Honourable senators, I rise today to recognize International Women's Week, which began on Sunday and continues until March 13. The Government of Canada's theme for 2010 is "Strong Women. Strong Canada. Strong World.''

We have recently witnessed the strength of Canada's women as they led the medal count at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. As the press noted, women, who represented 43 per cent of Team Canada, outperformed men at the recent Olympics. The most motivational story of the games was that of Joannie Rochette, who showed tremendous strength under pressure and triumphed in figure skating despite the sudden passing of her mother. Today I salute the strong women who have made Canada proud through their athletic performance, inspiring a generation of young girls to excel in sports.

In the political arena, we need more women like these athletes so that young girls can follow in their footsteps. The reality is that women continue to make up only about one quarter of Canadian legislators. This number has remained virtually unchanged for more than a decade, even though we make up about 52 per cent of the population.

According to a recent submission to the United Nations by the Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, women are losing ground in Canada. In 2004, Canada ranked seventh in terms of the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Index. Last year we had slipped to twenty- fifth place. Even among 22 OECD nations, Canada lags behind in measurement of gender gap in wages, in fifth place behind the United States. This situation exists despite the fact that women now make up the majority of students graduating from universities.

According to the report, the closure of 12 of Canada's 16 Status of Women offices, the end of funding for women's advocacy and the loss of the national child care program put in place by Paul Martin have all contributed to a steady erosion of the quality of life for Canadian women since 2004.

International Women's Week is a good time to remind our government that a United Nations indictment of Canada's record of women's status could cast an embarrassing shadow during the G8 and G20 conferences in Ontario this summer.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Lorraine Brett, resident and community activitist of New Westminster, B.C.; Michele Kim, resident and attorney of Vancouver, B.C.; and Mrs. Stephanie Chung, Director of the Vancouver Opera Society, Conductor/Artistic Director of the Zion Women's Choir and resident of Vancouver, B.C. They are guests of the Honourable Senator Martin.

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


[Translation]

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Budget 2010

Document Tabled

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the 2010 budget entitled, Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Aboriginal Healing Foundation—2009 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 2009 annual report of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

Transport and Communications

Report Pursuant to Rule 104 Tabled

Hon. Dennis Dawson: Honourable senators, pursuant to rule 104 of the Rules of the Senate, I have the honour to table the first report of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, which deals with the expenses incurred by the committee during the Second Session of the Fortieth Parliament.

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 47.)

Criminal Code

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette presented Bill S-204, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children).

(Bill read first time.)

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

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

Governance of Canadians Businesses Emergency Bill

First Reading

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette presented Bill S-205, An Act to provide the means to rationalize the governance of Canadian businesses during the period of national emergency resulting from the global financial crisis that is undermining Canada's economic stability.

(Bill read first time.)

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

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

Board of Directors Gender Parity Bill

First Reading

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette presented Bill S-206, An Act to establish gender parity on the board of directors of certain corporations, financial institutions and parent Crown corporations.

(Bill read first time.)

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

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

Fisheries Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Mac Harb presented Bill S-207, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act (commercial seal fishing).

(Bill read first time.)

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

Senator Harb: Honourable senators, I move that the bill be placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading two days hence.

(1430)

[English]

The Hon. the Speaker: Is there a seconder for this motion?

Some Hon. Senators: No.

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, I have seen, in various houses of parliament, situations similar to what we are facing today and I have never seen it fail that a member of Parliament would have a seconder for a motion, however much the seconder might disagree with the motion. I, therefore, will second his motion.

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Harb, seconded by the Honourable Senator Murray, that this bill be placed on the Orders of the Day for consideration at second reading two days hence.

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

Some Hon. Senators: No.

The Hon. the Speaker: Those in favour of the motion will signify by saying "yea.''

Those opposed to the motion will signify by saying "nay.''

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker: The motion is defeated.

[Translation]

Conflict of Interest Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Joseph A. Day presented Bill S-208, An Act to amend the Conflict of Interest Act (gifts).

(Bill read first time.)

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

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

[English]

National Day of Service Bill

First Reading

Hon. Pamela Wallin presented Bill S-209, An Act respecting a national day of service to honour the courage and sacrifice of Canadians in the face of terrorism, particularly the events of September 11, 2001.

(Bill read first time.)

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

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

Federal Sustainable Development Act and Auditor General Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Tommy Banks presented Bill S-210, An Act to Amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Auditor General Act (involvement of Parliament).

(Bill read first time.)

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

(On motion of Senator Banks, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for second reading one week hence.)

[Translation]

Business of the Senate

Notice of Motion to Engage Services OF All Select Committees for Remainder of Current Session

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, pursuant to section 1(2) of chapter 3:06 of the Senate Administrative Rules, all select committees have power, for the remainder of the current session, to engage the services of such counsel and technical, clerical, and other personnel as may be necessary for the purpose of their examination and consideration of such bills, subject matters of bills and estimates as are referred to them.

Notice of Motion to Permit Electronic Coverage of All Select and Joint Committees for Remainder of Current Session

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, for the remainder of the current session, all select and joint committees be authorized to permit coverage by electronic media of their public proceedings with the least possible disruption of their hearings.

Notice of Motion to Authorize Human Rights, Official Languages and National Defence Committees to Meet ON Mondays for Remainder of Current Session

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That, pursuant to rule 95(3), for the remainder of this session, the Standing Senate Committees on Human Rights, Official Languages, and National Security and Defence be authorized to meet at their approved meeting times as determined by the Government and Opposition Whips on any Monday which immediately precedes a Tuesday when the Senate is scheduled to sit, even though the Senate may then be adjourned for a period exceeding a week.

[English]

Transport and Communications

Notice of Motion to Authorize Committee to Study Issues Related to Communications Mandate and Refer Papers and Evidence from Previous Session

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

That the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications be authorized to examine and report on emerging issues related to its communications mandate and on the wireless sector, including issues such as access to high-speed Internet, the supply of bandwidth, the nation- building role of wireless, the pace of the adoption of innovations, the financial aspects associated with possible changes to the sector, and Canada's development of the sector in comparison to the performance in other countries.

That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by the committee on this subject since the beginning of the Second Session of the Fortieth Parliament be referred to the committee; and

That the committee report to the Senate from time to time, with a final report no later than June 22, 2010 and that the committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

Impact of Dementia on Society

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Sharon Carstairs: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the Impact of Dementia on the Canadian Society.

[Translation]

Budget 2010

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence, on behalf of the government:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the budget entitled, Leading the Way on Jobs and Growth, tabled in the House of Commons on March 4, 2010, by the Minister of Finance, the Honourable James M. Flaherty, P.C., M.P., and in the Senate on March 9, 2010.

[English]

Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Offences Involving Trafficking of Persons under the Age of 18

Presentation of Petition

Hon. Donald Neil Plett: Honourable senators, it is my privilege to present to this chamber a petition that has been signed by 8,338 Canadians asking that the upper chamber does not delay the passage of Bill C-268, legislation that will create mandatory minimum sentencing for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of 18.


(1440)

[Translation]

QUESTION PERIOD

Human Resources and Skills Development

Parental Leave—Employment Insurance

Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government. As everyone knows, Canadian women who lose their jobs after being on parental leave for a year are not entitled to employment insurance benefits. The law states that to be entitled to benefits, a claimant must have worked a certain number of hours during the preceding year.

In the context of the current crisis, which has caused so many job losses, this section of the act penalizes mothers in particular. It also interferes with work-family balance.

Does the federal government plan to rectify this injustice, which has a negative impact on many Canadian women returning from maternity leave?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for her question. The government has taken many measures to improve the Employment Insurance system, which is of benefit to all Canadian families and women. It is interesting to note that the unemployment figures show that women generally fared better than men during the global economic downturn.

The government has taken a number of measures that directly benefit women. The extra five weeks of Employment Insurance benefits has helped over 500,000 Canadians, a great many of them women. Enhanced work-sharing is currently protecting the jobs of over 150,000 Canadians, a significant number of whom are women. Our government froze EI premiums, which has helped employers to maintain and create jobs. We have made unprecedented investments in training for Canadians, regardless of whether they qualify for EI. There is an additional $60 million in the targeted initiative for older workers, which affects a great many women. We have made investments to ensure that Canadians receive benefits in a timely manner.

Honourable senators are aware that our government has brought in measures to extend special benefits to self-employed Canadians and small business owners, the vast majority of whom are women.

[Translation]

Senator Pépin: The government did nothing for women on maternity leave. Women who go on maternity leave contribute to Employment Insurance before they get pregnant. They should be entitled to financial support when they lose their jobs.

The federal government can and should rectify this discriminatory measure by amending the Employment Insurance Act. The act already includes a number of exceptions for certain types of wage-earners. Can the government leader tell us how the federal government plans to improve the EI benefits calculation so that pregnant women who lose their jobs can collect EI?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: As honourable senators are aware, under the Employment Insurance program, maternity and paternity benefits are available for up to one year. I know that Senator Pépin is referring to women who are unemployed during their pregnancy.

I reiterate that the government has taken many measures in support of women and families through the Employment Insurance system.

I will be happy to make my colleague, the minister of HRSDC, aware of the honourable senator's specific concerns.

Science and Technology

Gender Parity

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last week, the Finance Minister released this government's budget, which included science, technology and research. Yesterday, we celebrated International Women's Day. Across our nation, there exists a major gender gap between men and women in the science, engineering and technology fields. This gap not only excludes women from achieving economic and social independence but is detrimental to a diverse work environment in these critical fields of innovation.

Research chairs and scientists in both the private and public sectors, as well as full-time tenured professors in said fields, are still predominantly male. In many European countries, women account for nearly 40 per cent of active scientists — almost parity — while in Canada women account for 20 per cent of active scientists. Canada is lagging behind the world not only in science innovation but also in the advancement of women in science.

Since the government has made significant budget commitments in science and technology for the upcoming years with regard to fostering greater research capabilities, can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell this house if the government has any concrete plans to help women scientists overcome persistent barriers and encourage their participation in science, engineering and technology research, or will women once again be ignored in these non-traditional science and technology fields?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question, which is similar to the question she asked previously.

As the honourable senator pointed out, the government has made significant contributions to science and technology. The government believes in the full participation of women in Canada's economic, social and democratic life.

Senator Dyck referred to the sciences. The situation with regard to various post-secondary education institutions attracting women into their science programs is perhaps not what we would like to see. Having said that, I think Senator Dyck will agree that there has been vast improvement in this area. One need only look at the enrolment in the various university medical schools to see that there are many women now entering scientific and medical fields.

The government has provided an incredible sum of money for science and technology. I am pleased that the reports on the budget from our universities and other post-secondary education institutions and the scientific community have been universally positive. Of course, it is to be hoped that the various universities and the various provincial governments, who are primarily responsible for education, will do everything possible to put forward initiatives to attract more women into the sciences, which I believe is happening.

As we have discussed, women have a wide range of career choices. We hope that they will consider the sciences as a career choice and that universities and other post-secondary education institutions will provide programs that will attract and keep women involved in their various science programs.

[Translation]

Status of Women

Representation of Women on Boards of Directors

Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Yesterday, on the occasion of International Women's Day, a number of North American newspapers, including The New York Times and La Presse, published articles on women's representation on corporate boards.

The numbers for both Canada and the United States are disappointing: women account for approximately 17 per cent of corporate board members. This figure lags far behind that of several European countries, especially Norway and Spain, which have passed legislation on this subject and where women now represent roughly 40 per cent of directors of corporations listed on the stock exchange. France passed similar legislation in January.

Can the Leader of the Government tell us what plans the government has, other than changing one word in the national anthem, to help Canadian women take their place in society and exercise their influence, especially in economic and financial circles, where the mindset really needs to be changed?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I thank the senator for the question. I speak from experience on the actions of the government. Certainly the private sector and corporations should be encouraged to seek out and attract more women to serve on their boards of directors. One need only look at the business pages of The Globe and Mail to realize that this is still a predominantly male profession.

(1450)

Honourable senators, in the previous Conservative government, I had the opportunity to attract women into government onto major boards and commissions. I am proud that the then government increased the number of women on major boards and commissions from less than 15 per cent to 33 per cent. Women held important positions in the Export Development Corporation, the Civil Aviation Tribunal, and positions in the court, and, more importantly, on boards. This government is following that desire and making every effort to attract women onto boards.

In a free and democratic society, governments cannot dictate to private enterprises whom they should have on their boards. Where government is able to act, government is acting. All we can hope for is that people in the private sector follow suit. I think there are some promising signs, although it is still not perhaps what we would like.

Senator Hervieux-Payette: I congratulate the leader for her past initiatives. I hope that when she can intervene directly, she will intervene to have at least 50 per cent of these positions filled by women. I must remind the leader that the Quebec government introduced legislation to have women make up 50 per cent of their boards over a certain number of years. I believe we are moving well in that direction.

[Translation]

I believe this issue warrants in-depth study. We should consult our colleagues in the province of Quebec, representatives of European countries and our trading partners, as well as Canadian business people.

With regard to voluntary action, I must unfortunately report that Norway tried that route and, after a number of years, came to the conclusion that corporations were not complying and that legislation was required.

I would remind the minister that in the last international financial crisis, Norwegian corporations came through just fine. Given the global economic situation where the majority of board members are men, I believe that women could have done a little better.

Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree with the idea of striking a working committee to study this matter and to make recommendations to the Senate?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: I do not think the honourable senator was suggesting that the Government of Quebec was legislating a figure of 50 per cent for private corporations. I think the honourable senator meant within the government. As I said a moment ago, in a free and democratic society where we are trying to encourage the private sector to engage in the economy and employ Canadians, we hope that they consider appointing women to their boards of directors. There are some segments of the corporate world that are doing quite well; others are not.

The honourable senator mentioned the volunteer sector. I believe that in the volunteer area and in charitable associations, women are represented more on the boards than perhaps in corporations.

I dare say to the honourable senator that, other than encouragement, it is not the responsibility of government to have Parliament mandate any company to place on its board of directors people whom it does not wish to have. Therefore, I personally would not support a committee looking into this issue.

There are many areas in the government and within Parliament where we can advance the role of women. This chamber represents a good start in terms of the representation of women.

Honourable senators, we could not successfully study this subject because of the complexities involved in provinces, territories and individual companies, both Canadian and foreign-owned. The best way to approach this issue is to have women collectively, and men who are supportive of such an endeavour, use their influence with the various organizations to ensure they consider women for the various boards of directors.

Gender-Based Analysis Protocols

Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, it came as a surprise to many Canadians when Helena Guergis, the minister responsible for women's issues, said in New York that the consistent use of gender-based analysis protocols is one of her government's great achievements on women's equality. That would come as news to the Auditor General who, less than a year ago, said that the government was not doing any gender-based analysis that she could find and, if it were, it was not having any impact on policy whatsoever.

Perhaps, to clear the air, the Leader of the Government in the Senate could inform this house of those gender-based analysis protocols, how they were applied and to what effect on the current budget. Perhaps the leader could table something in the house.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I can tell the honourable senator that when we came into government there was nothing in place.

When we were elected in 2006, no process was in place for gender-based analysis. Since 2007, in order to obtain funding, Treasury Board submissions require evidence of gender-based analysis. In 2008, we took action to ensure all memoranda to cabinet include gender-based analysis.

In response to the honourable senator's question, I would be happy to provide him with a further answer by written notice.

Senator Mitchell: I would appreciate an itemized account to see the specific protocols and their specific impact. Could the leader also look at what protocols and what process will be applied to the budget cuts that are much vaunted by her government? As we know, so often this kind of thing is borne disproportionately by women.

Senator LeBreton: I believe that if Senator Mitchell were to look at the senior levels of the public service and go through the various ADMs and directors general, he would find a significant number of women, many of whom were promoted under our government. When one looks at the male-to-female population in the public service, females outnumber males.

The government changes do not have to do with women specifically; we are asking all departments to manage themselves within their own departments. Many of these departments are managed by women. I dare say to Senator Mitchell that when these department heads manage their own departments, they will be doing so in a prudent and responsible manner.

Senator Mitchell: If, as the leader specifically said, her government implemented protocols in 2007-08 requiring that cabinet minutes be subjected to gender-based analysis, why did the Auditor General say that the government had not done any, and if the government had — she could not find it — it was having no impact on policy? Can the minister give us some explanation?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, as a result of the Auditor General's concerns, the government is acting.

[Translation]

International Cooperation

Maternal and Infant Health in Developing Countries

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): On January 27, 2010, the honourable leader's government announced that it would call the attention of the G8 and G20 countries to maternal and child health in some of the poorest countries in the world. It reiterated this commitment in the Speech from the Throne.

However, the government has also announced that it is freezing international assistance budgets. How does the government plan to improve maternal and child health in developing countries by freezing budgets and without cutting the aid programs in place?

(1500)

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I believe the government can manage its foreign aid in a more responsible way, and that was exactly what Minister Oda put in place well over a year ago, if not two years ago.

As president of the G8 in 2010, Canada is championing a major initiative, as the honourable senator has just stated, to improve the health of women and children in the world's poorest regions. I believe that when these meetings are held in June, Senator Tardif will find — and this is Canada taking the lead on this matter — the other G8 ministers will be fully supportive.

The honourable senator may have caught the announcement that Minister Oda is chairing a special meeting in April in Halifax to lay out the working documents for how the government envisages this support will take place.

[Translation]

Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, there appears to be some contradictions in the government's statements and policies. The International Planned Parenthood Federation provides programs designed to improve maternal health. The Government of Canada has been supporting it since the 1980s. Yet the foundation is still waiting for its funding of $18 million for the next three years to be renewed. Why is the government no longer renewing such funding?

[English]

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I believe I answered that question in my last answer. A meeting will be held in Halifax in April, where the documents will be presented as to how the government envisages taking leadership on this issue. What is important is that the government, as the host of the G8, has a simple objective and that is to save the lives of vulnerable children and mothers in Third World countries.

I invite senators to await the meeting next month, which is coming up quickly, and I do not see a contradiction at all. Minister Oda has taken many steps as the minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency to properly target funds to areas where we can make a real difference. There has been considerable success.

As honourable senators know, Minister Oda untied food and food is now delivered more directly. Minister Oda has taken many good initiatives. I think the honourable senator will agree that she has received some credit, although not a lot; she does not expect a lot, but she has received some credit for the good work she has done as the minister responsible for CIDA.


ORDERS OF THE DAY

Speech from the Throne

Motion for Address in Reply—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Poirier, seconded by the Honourable Senator Runciman:

That the following Address be presented to Her Excellency the Governor General of Canada:

To Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada.

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY:

We, Her Majesty's most loyal and dutiful subjects, the Senate of Canada in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Excellency for the gracious Speech which Your Excellency has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.

Hon. Lowell Murray: Honourable senators, the rules forbid us from reflecting on votes that have been taken in the Senate, and I shall not do so. However, I begin in a general way by saying that it is almost unheard of in a parliamentary body to prevent a bill going from presentation and first reading to the debate at second reading. It is traditional, no matter how strongly one might disagree with a particular initiative, for someone to act as a seconder, if only as a courtesy.

I did so some years ago to our old friend and former colleague Senator Prud'homme, who brought in a bill the purport of which I cannot recall, but I am sure I was against it, whatever it was; that is as much as I remember, and I did act as a seconder for him. I believe I am correct in recalling that, at some time in the dim and distant past, no less a person than the Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson gave a second to an initiative by the Honourable Douglas Harkness in the House of Commons, when that honourable gentleman could not find a seconder from his own ranks.

For the further consideration of honourable senators at some time in the future, I put on the record a citation from Beauchesne's sixth edition, citation number 646(1):

The purpose of first reading is to allow any bill to be introduced, printed and distributed so as to give Members an opportunity to study it. There are procedures under which that process can be stopped and can be voted against if necessary. However, the fact that that occurs only in the most extreme and rare circumstances is an indication that regardless of the content of any legislation, no matter how controversial it may be, it is the undoubted right of any Member, whether a government Member or a private Member of the House, at least to put views and opinions before the house in the form of a bill. It is also the right of the Member to have the bill printed and distributed in order to ensure that all Members will have an opportunity to examine and study it and therefore discuss it in an intelligent way. That process should not be stopped except on the clearest possible grounds. . . .

A bit later, citation 649(2):

It is the custom of the Chair to indicate a seconder for a bill, and the seconder at first reading always supports the principle of introduction of any bill but is not necessarily in agreement with the subject-matter.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, I want to congratulate Senators Poirier and Runciman on their maiden speeches in this chamber and to cordially welcome all our new colleagues. Four of our new senators have considerable experience on the municipal and provincial scenes. This experience will be quite useful in our deliberations because it is often municipal and provincial authorities that have to apply and enforce the laws and policies that we pass here in the federal Parliament when it comes to health, immigration, criminal law or agriculture. During our debates, in our committees in particular, their knowledge will be invaluable.

I am also pleased to note that our new colleagues, who will be sitting on important committees, will make good use of their talents and experience.

Honourable senators, my last speech in this chamber before Christmas was on the energy agreement of October 2009 between the governments of New Brunswick and Quebec concerning the acquisition by Hydro-Québec of NB Power. More recently, these two governments have negotiated a contract that is not as broad, but that does have a potential impact on the six provinces in Eastern Canada and the neighbouring states in New England. Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to discuss the matter with friends and experts from a number of Canadian provinces and the United States. The modified agreement will be reviewed by a committee of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly and finally by the Assembly. If I correctly understand the statements of the ministers involved, the Government of New Brunswick intends to implement the agreement at the end of May.

(1510)

Although federal parliamentarians must refrain from interfering in debates that fall under provincial jurisdiction, I wonder if we should not examine what is being proposed in the context of the federal government's energy policy, considering its potential impact on the transmission of electricity between provinces and across international borders. I would like to hear that our Department of Natural Resources is keeping up with these developments and that it will analyze the aspects that affect us.

I urge one of our committees, as well as government and opposition leaders, to examine the issue and to take action.

[English]

Honourable senators, when we returned here on March 3, Parliament had not sat for six of the previous nine months. It was this parliamentary lockout that upset so many Canadians, and justifiably so. The process, unfortunately, gave prorogation a bad name. Prorogation is a time-honoured, legitimate and useful part of the parliamentary process.

For my part, I would like to see annual prorogations; that is, annual sessions of Parliament. This practice is followed in most of our provinces, I believe, and it was the practice in Canada's Parliament until the 1980s. As Casey Stengel said, "You can look it up.'' I did, and I found, as honourable senators will if they look it up, that from the twentieth Parliament, which sat from 1945 to 1949, to the thirtieth Parliament, which sat from 1974 to 1979, in every Parliament where a majority government was present, there were at least four, and sometimes five and six, sessions of that Parliament, four or five Speeches from the Throne, and four or five prorogations. I think honourable senators will find this practice still in the provinces. It was only during the 1980s that we went into this habit of interminable sessions interrupted occasionally by prorogations.

Honourable senators, there are many advantages to regular prorogations and to what I would advocate as annual sessions of Parliament. I will mention four advantages. First, the practice focuses the attention of Parliament on a concrete program, usually a legislative program, to be dealt with by Parliament within a specific time frame. Second, the practice gives the government and Parliament the opportunity to recalibrate, if that is the word the government wants — but I would say, adjust — to changing needs and conditions in the country and the world. The new Throne Speech that follows will reflect those new circumstances and conditions. It will do so in a much more public and open way and therefore will have, I believe, an important education aspect. Third, the practice will force the government party and the opposition parties to choose their priorities. What do we really want to get through Parliament during this session, and what are we prepared to see die on the Order Paper and take responsibility for its death? Fourth, the practice might even lessen or lighten legislative overload, which has been, and remains, a problem in Canada's Parliament.

I am aware that Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Layton seek to curb the authority of the Prime Minister to advise prorogation. Honourable senators have heard me on this issue before; forgive me if I return to it. I believe that the solution to the problems of Parliament, particularly the House of Commons, to its weakness and to its near irrelevance, does not lie in chipping away at the prerogatives of the executive government. Leave those prerogatives where they are. The executive prerogatives are there for both a reason and a purpose. The solution to the problem is for Parliament to reclaim the prerogatives of Parliament that they have allowed to erode over a period of 40 years or more.

Senator Cools: Let us begin today!

Senator Murray: Bring back the committee of supply. Make ministers of the Crown sweat for their estimates.

Bring back the borrowing authority, as my friend Senator Banks says. He brought to my attention the fact that they sneaked through an omnibus bill a provision doing away with Parliament's authority to approve government borrowings. I will reintroduce my private member's bill and we can have a talk about that at a later date.

Put some tension back into the system. Throw out the fixed calendar. Create a situation in which the government and the opposition have to negotiate everything. Give members of Parliament the statutory holidays. Apart from those holidays, if they want a week in their constituency or if they want Christmas Eve and Boxing Day off, let them negotiate it.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Murray: I am serious about that issue. Perhaps Christmas Eve and Boxing Day are a bit extreme, but make them negotiate for them.

Supporters of the government will object that this kind of regime will put the government at the mercy of the opposition. Members of the opposition will object that this regime will enable the government to employ legislation-by-exhaustion, but neither is true. "Mutually Assured Destruction'' did not bring about nuclear war; a good argument can be made that it prevented it. I think more of what they call a level playing field, but a better balance between private members, wherever they sit in the House of Commons, and the executive will contribute a great deal to the better functioning of Parliament.

Parliamentarians are not automatons. The House of Commons should not be programmed to the convenience of the executive government or to the party caucuses. There is a need for more spontaneity and more freedom for members of Parliament. They should place a premium on negotiation among parties to restore a sense of shared responsibility for the institution, for the process, and for what we call today the outcomes of the parliamentary process.

Mr. Ignatieff says that he will make a motion to change the standing orders with regard to prorogation. Let him go ahead and propose changes to the standing orders — not regarding prorogation, but to reclaim and restore the prerogatives of Parliament, starting with the power of the purse. This Parliament is the third minority Parliament that we have had since 2004. The Conservatives were the chief opposition party between 2004 and 2006; the Liberals have been the chief opposition party since then. The opposition parties have had it in their power at any time to make these changes — that is, to change the standing orders, to redress the balance between the executive and the members of Parliament and to make the executive more accountable. Why should they not do it now? I am sure that members of the House of Commons will take these suggestions in the constructive spirit in which they are put forward.

Hon. Hugh Segal: Will Senator Murray accept a question?

Senator Murray: Yes; of course.

Senator Segal: The question relates to the powers of Parliament with respect to —

The Hon. the Speaker: Does the house agree to extend Senator Murray's time?

Hon, Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Five minutes.

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Cools: Twenty minutes more.

Senator Segal: Thank you. This question relates to the powers surrendered by the official opposition when, in a minority circumstance, the Trudeau administration asked that, rather than have estimates reviewed by committee and not sent back to the House of Commons until they were approved by the appropriate standing committee of the house, the deemed rule be put in place. That is, if estimates were not passed by a certain date, they were then deemed to have been forwarded to the House of Commons for approval. In return for this, the opposition — and I think the honourable senator may have been on the staff of the Leader of the Opposition at the time, I am not sure, but I would hold him blameless nonetheless — agreed to that change in return for the government's offer of a longer Question Period, more resources for the research office, et cetera.

(1520)

Would Senator Murray, in his recommendations that he has shared with us today, be in favour of doing away with the deemed rule and going back to the old system as a way of slowing spending? There would then be no automaticity about when departmental expenditures are approved and Parliament would be exercising its Magna Carta rights, which is what Parliament is supposed to be all about.

Senator Murray: Honourable senators, for the record, I was not in Mr. Stanfield's office during those years. The trade-off was not so much between the deemed rule, more resources, a longer Question Period and so forth. The trade-off was between the deemed rule and what became the practice of having opposition days in the House of Commons, on which the opposition would be free to present motions, including motions of non-confidence against the government. The opposition would also be free to bring forward any set of estimates that they wished.

However, this has not happened. Virtually all of the estimates, although sent to committees, are deemed to have been studied and approved, without the book ever being opened on them.

The previous system had flaws. The principal flaw was that at the last possible minute a dozen departments were rammed through the House of Commons. However, before that happened there would be a number of departments that the opposition decided they wanted to concentrate on. The minister in question was brought in with two officials and they kept him or her there until they were satisfied that their questions were answered.

The new system has simply not worked in any sense of improving, or even of permitting, adequate examination of the spending plans of government. Yes, I think the old system was an improvement on the present system.

[Translation]

Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Honourable senators, in the debate over energy transmission between provinces, is the federal government making sure that transmission is being carried out fairly and responsibly across Canada? Was the honourable senator also interested in energy production and changes in the industry across the country?

We are hearing more and more about nuclear power, and I think it is very important to be well informed about the issue. It is one thing to talk about hydroelectricity and put parts of the country under water, but it is another to build nuclear power plants that could blow up and wreak havoc on the whole country.

I think that we need to pay even closer attention to this matter. The problem is not just with transmission, but with production.

Senator Murray: Honourable senators, no one is challenging the federal government's jurisdiction over the production of nuclear power. That is not at issue.

(On motion of Senator Cowan, debate adjourned.)

The Estimates, 2009-10

National Finance Committee Authorized to Study Supplementary Estimates (C)

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to notice of March 4, 2010, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in Supplementary Estimates (C) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010.

(Motion agreed to.)

The Estimates, 2010-11

National Finance Committee Authorized to Study Main Estimates

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to notice of March 4, 2010, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011, with the exception of Parliament Vote 10.

(Motion agreed to.)

Standing Joint Committee of Library of Parliament Authorized to Study Vote 10 of the Main Estimates

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government), pursuant to notice of March 4, 2010, moved:

That the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in Parliament Vote 10 of the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House accordingly.

(Motion agreed to.)

(The Senate adjourned until tmorrow, at 2 p.m.)