Skip to Content
Download as PDF

Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 11

Thursday, March 25, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker


THE SENATE

Thursday, March 25, 2010

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

Prayers.

[Translation]

SENATORS' STATEMENTS

Violence and the Illegal Drug Trade

Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin: Honourable senators, I will continue the speech I started yesterday.

As police use increasingly sophisticated methods to disrupt drug distribution networks, levels of drug-related violence are rising.

The report's findings are also significant in the context of former Bill C-15, which introduced mandatory minimum sentences for drug convictions.

Research shows that similar sentencing policies in the United States have been ineffective in curbing the drug trade and have imposed a staggering tax burden through the escalating costs of incarceration.

Despite renewed emphasis on law enforcement in Canada's new National Anti-Drug Strategy and the proposed implementation of mandatory minimum sentences for drug law violations, the evidence base to support these measures has not yet been articulated.

Dr. Kerr noted that:

In the era of evidence-based public policy, it is remarkable that the federal government is proposing extremely costly interventions, such as mandatory minimum sentences, without any discussion of their costs or likely impacts on crime.

This review clearly demonstrates that while these interventions will place an enormous burden on the taxpayer, they are unlikely to reduce crime and may actually increase violence in our communities.

The report recommends that alternative models of drug control be considered if drug supply and drug-related violence are to be reduced.

The report was externally peer-reviewed by economists, including Professor Stephen Easton, a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, and Harvard's Jeffrey Miron.

Honourable senators, I think that we should allow these results to guide our future deliberations.

[English]

Maternal Health

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: I rise today to ask all honourable senators in this chamber to advise the government how to provide resources for maternal health to the most marginalized women in the world.

A number of years ago, I was in Lokichokio, Kenya, in the emergency ward of the hospital when I smelled the most awful odour. I cannot describe to you how strong the smell was. I looked up and I saw a 16-year-old Masai girl with the most beautiful face I have ever seen, but I am embarrassed to tell you that I gagged on the smell of her odour and had to leave the hospital.

A few months later, when I returned to Lokichokio hospital, I met this young Masai girl. Her name was Lapasha. Lapasha was married at the age of 14 and became pregnant. When she went into labour, she was asked to get out of bed and squat. All that day Lapasha squatted, straining in agony, and with each passing contraction the baby did not arrive. One day passed and then a second day passed. Lapasha continued to deal with her contractions, squatting in agony. The baby did not arrive. Lapasha was weak. Her legs were stiff from the hours of harsh labour she endured. On the morning of the third day, the child inside her died. Through a fourth and fifth day, her contractions continued. On day six, the poor girl gave birth to a dead fetus and then slept with exhaustion.

Honourable senators, when she woke up, the bed was wet. With alarm, she realized that she was suffering from a fistula. A fistula occurs because of a complicated birth, and a woman is left with a hole in her bladder or rectum, or both. Lapasha had large holes in her bladder and rectum. Sick and without help, this girl was then thrown out of her house by her husband. She lived in a hut far away, all on her own. She was shunned by her family and by other women in the village. Nobody wanted to come near her because of the smell emanating from her.

Two years later, Lapasha was brought to the Lokichokio hospital by her father. He had walked for days with her. He transported her to the hospital in a wheelbarrow. After two agonizing years, at long last she received the help she so desperately needed.

Honourable senators, when we speak about maternal health, we speak about women such as Lapasha. There are simply too many Lapashas in the world.

Let us work together to help Lapasha, and other marginalized women. As a country, Canada has an ability to provide dignity to women like Lapasha and that is what we need to do. This is my understanding of the help necessary for marginalized women on issues of maternal health.

Aboriginal Achievement Awards

Hon. Gerry St. Germain: Honourable senators, the seventeenth annual Aboriginal Achievement Awards will be held tomorrow evening in Regina. The evening, hosted by the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, will celebrate and recognize the outstanding career and lifetime achievements made by First Nation, Inuit and Metis people.

The awards also act as a channel to promote pride and self- esteem among Aboriginal Canadians, particularly young Aboriginals. Investing in the future of young Aboriginal people has been a top priority for the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. Through scholarships and mentoring programs, such as Rivers to Success, Blueprint for the Future and Industry in the Classroom, the foundation is reaching out and providing educational and career-training support to hundreds of young Aboriginals across Canada.

In 2009, the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation disbursed over $4.6 million to some 1,300 Aboriginal students who seek higher education across Canada. This is a landmark achievement for the foundation.

Leading the vision of the foundation on the path of success is Chief Executive Officer Roberta Jamieson. Ms. Jamieson is a pioneer in Aboriginal education, being the first woman from a First Nation in Canada to hold a law degree. She has also been the recipient of 14 honorary law degrees. Good careers are founded upon good, accessible education.

Honourable senators, we are all here today enjoying the bounty of Canada and contributing in our individual way to make Canada an even better place for our children's children. This situation is possible because of the generosity of the Aboriginal people, who alone occupied this great land before the arrival of our forefathers, but the time has come for Canada and its governments to be as generous to the Aboriginal people as they have been to newcomers.

Canada must seek out and commit to making appropriate investments in education so that the future hopes and opportunities of young Aboriginal people are equitable to non- Aboriginals.

(1410)

[Translation]

Maternal Health

Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, I applaud the Prime Minister's decision to make maternal and child health the focus of the G8 agenda. This decision will help lower maternal mortality rates.

Every year, half a million women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Many others suffer serious, lifelong consequences.

A large number of maternal deaths result from hemorrhaging, non-medical abortions, high blood pressure, complications during birth and infection.

If we, as Canadians, wish to save the lives of mothers around the world, we need to focus our actions on the underlying causes of these deaths. In the developing world, women die because they are too young to be pregnant, because their pregnancies are too close together, or because they give birth in unsafe conditions.

According to a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute, every year, 75 million women in developing countries experience an unintended pregnancy. According to that institute's predictions, averting 50 million of these pregnancies would prevent 22 million abortions, 7 million miscarriages, 1.4 million infant deaths and 142,000 maternal deaths resulting from unsafe deliveries and abortions. Thus, half a million children would not lose their mothers.

Any effective strategy to improve maternal heath must involve birth control and a commitment to meeting the contraceptive needs of women.

Family planning must be more than just an option on the table. Birth control must be a key component of any plan to save the lives of mothers. Canada's message to our G8 partners must focus on prevention.

Canada could also lead by example by restoring funding to development organizations like International Planned Parenthood, which help underprivileged women in rural areas access pre-natal counselling and obstetric care.

We have reliable, proven solutions for saving the lives of mothers. This is not about being pro-choice, pro-life or anti- choice. Canada cannot do everything on its own, but we can make a difference by directing G8 action toward priority issues. I hope that the government will keep that in mind in April when Minister Oda announces details of the plan to implement this laudable initiative.


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

Plans and Priorities 2010-11

Reports Tabled

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Reports on Plans and Priorities, Main Estimates, 2010-11.

The Estimates 2010-11

Main Estimates—Third Report of National Finance Committee Presented

Hon. Joseph A. Day, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, presented the following report:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has the honour to present its

THIRD REPORT

Your committee, to which were referred the 2010-2011 Estimates, has, in obedience to the order of reference of Tuesday, March 9, 2010, examined the said Estimates and herewith presents its first interim report.

Respectfully submitted,

JOSEPH A. DAY
Chair

(For text of report, see today's Journals of the Senate, p. 172.)

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

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

[English]

Scrutiny of Regulations

First Report of Joint Committee Presented

Hon. Yonah Martin, Joint Chair of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations, presented the following report:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations has the honour to present its

FIRST REPORT

Your committee reports that in relation to its permanent reference, section 19 of the Statutory Instruments Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. S-22, the committee was previously empowered "to study the means by which Parliament can better oversee the government regulatory process and in particular to enquire into and report upon:

1. the appropriate principles and practices to be observed

(a) in the drafting of powers enabling delegates of Parliament to make subordinate laws;

(b) in the enactment of statutory instruments;

(c) in the use of executive regulation - including delegated powers and subordinate laws;

and the manner in which Parliamentary control should be effected in respect of the same;

2. the role, functions and powers of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations."

Your committee recommends that the same order of reference, together with the evidence adduced thereon during previous sessions, be again referred to it.

Your committee informs both Houses of Parliament that the criteria it will use for the review and scrutiny of statutory instruments are the following:

Whether any regulation or other statutory instrument within its terms of reference, in the judgment of the committee:

1. is not authorized by the terms of the enabling legislation or has not complied with any condition set forth in the legislation;

2. is not in conformity with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Canadian Bill of Rights;

3. purports to have retroactive effect without express authority having been provided for in the enabling legislation;

4. imposes a charge on the public revenues or requires payment to be made to the Crown or to any other authority, or prescribes the amount of any such charge or payment, without express authority having been provided for in the enabling legislation;

5. imposes a fine, imprisonment or other penalty without express authority having been provided for in the enabling legislation;

6. tends directly or indirectly to exclude the jurisdiction of the courts without express authority having been provided for in the enabling legislation;

7. has not complied with the Statutory Instruments Act with respect to transmission, registration or publication;

8. appears for any reason to infringe the rule of law;

9. trespasses unduly on rights and liberties;

10. makes the rights and liberties of the person unduly dependent on administrative discretion or is not consistent with the rules of natural justice;

11. makes some unusual or unexpected use of the powers conferred by the enabling legislation;

12. amounts to the exercise of a substantive legislative power properly the subject of direct parliamentary enactment; or

13. is defective in its drafting or for any other reason requires elucidation as to its form or purport.

Your committee recommends that its quorum be fixed at four members, provided that both houses are represented whenever a vote, resolution or other decision is taken, and that the joint chairs be authorized to hold meetings to receive evidence and authorize the printing thereof so long as three members are present, provided that both houses are represented; and, that your committee have power to engage the services of such expert staff, and such stenographic and clerical staff as may be required.

Your committee further recommends to the Senate that it be empowered to sit during sittings and adjournments of the Senate.

Your committee, which was also authorized by the Senate to incur expenses in connection with its permanent reference relating to the review and scrutiny of statutory instruments, reports, pursuant to rule 104(2) of the Rules of the Senate, that the expenses of your committee (Senate portion) during the Second Session of the Fortieth Parliament are as follows:

Professional and Other Services   $      595
Transport and Communications   13,128
All other expenditures   1,052
Witness Expenses  
TOTAL   $ 14,766

In addition to the expenses for the examination of legislation as set out above, your committee also incurred general postal charges in the amount of $803.

A copy of the relevant Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence (Issue No. 1, Second Session, Fortieth Parliament) is tabled in the House of Commons.

Respectfully submitted,

YONAH MARTIN
Joint Chair

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

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

[Translation]

Speech from the Throne

Address in Reply—Conclusion of Debate on April 14, 2010—Notice of Motion

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 the proceedings on the Order of the Day for resuming the debate on the motion for the Address in reply to Her Excellency the Governor General's Speech from the Throne addressed to both Houses of Parliament be concluded no later than Wednesday, April 14, 2010.

[English]

Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act

Bill to Amend—First Reading

Hon. Art Eggleton presented Bill S-216, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors and Arrangement Act in order to protect beneficiaries of long- term disability benefits plans.

(Bill read first time.)

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

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

[Translation]

L'Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie

Bureau meeting, February 2-4, 2010—Report Tabled

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian parliamentary delegation of the Canadian branch of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie to the bureau meeting of the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, held in N'Djamena, Chad, from February 2 to 4, 2010.

[English]

Erosion of Freedom of Speech

Notice of Inquiry

Hon. Doug Finley: Honourable senators, I give notice that, two days hence:

I will call the attention of the Senate to the issue of the erosion of freedom of speech in our country.


QUESTION PERIOD

Finance

Pension Reform

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. This government pretends that pension reform is a priority, but more than four years after forming a government, instead of action, the Minister of Finance has announced yet more consultations.

Is this another delay tactic? When will Canadians see this government take concrete action to protect and improve the Canadian pension regime for pensioners and workers?

(1420)

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. The government has been working on the issue of pensions for a considerable period of time. We doubled the time required for solvency payments for federally regulated plans. We introduced important pension reforms to help protect pensioners by requiring companies to fully fund benefits on plan termination, to make pensions more stable, to give pensioners more negotiating powers and to modernize investment rules for pensions.

This reform that we have already announced is but one step in a much larger process. As the honourable senator knows, it is absolutely crucial to work with the provinces due to the fact that most pensions are provincially regulated. Only 10 per cent of pensions are federally regulated.

Over the past few months, Minister Flaherty has met with the ministers of finance from the provinces and territories, and they agreed collectively to review all options to improve this situation going forward.

We will convene a summit of finance ministers again in May to continue the work that was done at the meeting in December. There are many stakeholders involved and, as we are working toward the next meeting in May, the government wants solid input from all stakeholders so that we can come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with this complex issue.

Treasury Board

Public Service Pension Benefits

Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, the minister responsible for the Treasury Board appears to have opened the door to a two-tier pension system for civil servants, promising only that he will not go after the benefits of existing federal employees. Will the leader assure this chamber that the government will not tackle its deficit on the backs of workers by gutting the pension plan for new hires?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for that question. The global economic crisis forced Canadian families to look at their own expenses, set priorities and make choices. They expect their elected officials, and I guess in our case non-elected officials, to do the same. Given the freeze on operating budgets, it is more important than ever for the government to take a hard look at this issue and to assess how it can do better.

We want to ensure that public service compensation is competitive, fair to workers and fair to taxpayers. The President of the Treasury Board met with the heads of various unions and will be seeking their input as we move forward. He is asking for the cooperation of us all in ensuring that Canada's economic future continues along the present path of recovery from the world economic downturn.

Veterans Affairs

Community War Memorial Program

Hon. Catherine S. Callbeck: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In the recent budget, $2 million was allocated over two years for a new community war memorials program to assist communities to build cenotaphs and monuments.

Last week, the Minister of Veterans Affairs stated that he would have sole responsibility for approving this funding.

We already have an external review committee with representatives from the veterans' organizations and experts in monuments, and they approve applications now under the Cenotaph/Monument Restoration Program.

With the expertise that this committee has in monuments and cenotaphs, why can it not approve that funding, as it is doing under the present program, rather than the minister?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. To be perfectly honest, I was not aware of the comments of the minister to which she referred. Therefore, I will have to seek clarification and more information, and so I will take the question as notice.

Senator Callbeck: I thank the leader for taking the question as notice. Certainly building cenotaphs and memorials to those who have served and continue to serve this country so bravely is an excellent way to honour their sacrifices. However, since there is a committee that already has expertise in the areas of cenotaphs and memorials, would the leader impress upon the minister the importance of that existing committee making decisions regarding this new program so that we can ensure that the process is fair and transparent?

Senator LeBreton: We agree with the premise of honouring our soldiers who have served the country so valiantly in the world wars, the Korean conflict, peacekeeping missions and now in Afghanistan and Haiti. No government has sought more than this government to redress some of the lack of attention given to this group. We support memorializing these individuals and their service, and that was why the subject was addressed in the Throne Speech.

With regard to the specific question about this body, as I said in my first answer, I will take the question as notice.

[Translation]

Status of Women

Violence against Women

Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, the Speech from the Throne announced the government's intention to reduce violence against women.

Can the Leader of the Government tell us what prevention measures are included in its plan?

[English]

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank the honourable senator for the question. Obviously violence against women should not and will not be tolerated. The government has already undertaken a long list of initiatives, including, as was mentioned in the Throne Speech, the many Aboriginal women who are missing or have been murdered, as well as the support of the Sisters in Spirit movement.

There is a long list, honourable senators, and I will be happy to provide Senator Tardif with a list not only of our intentions going forward but also of many of the good things that have been done in the past. The issue of violence against women is not a political or partisan one. It is the social responsibility of all of us, men and women, and all levels of government. It is a situation that must not be tolerated.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

[Translation]

Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, violence against women and handicapped women continues to increase. In Canada, there are 1.9 million women with a functional limitation.

I would like to know what specific measures are going to be put in place to prevent violence against handicapped women.

[English]

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, it is totally disgusting that people are being taken advantage of because of any type of physical or mental incapacity.

As the honourable senator knows, a number of things have been done to assist disabled people through HRSDC and through tax measures to enhance their living standards. With regard to the issue of violence, I am quite certain, honourable senators, that the RCMP, Public Safety, and the Department of Justice all have measures and, hopefully, penalties in place to deal with people who commit these types of crimes. All forms of violence are to be abhorred, especially that which is directed toward people who cannot defend themselves.

(1430)

Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, I was asking specifically what was in the government's plan and not what the police were to do.

However, when introducing funds for Young Women: Learning and Leading for Change that was set to promote the participation in leadership and decision-making roles of girls and young women, the leader's colleague, the Minister of State for the Status of Women, announced on March 19 that:

The project specifically targets marginalized young women in British Columbia, Yukon, Quebec, the Northwest Territories and Ontario and helps deliver the leadership skills they need to address issues of violence prevention, economic security, civic engagement and demographic participation.

While I welcome projects helping women raise their voices to prevent violence against women, I am concerned that the burden of violence prevention relies solely on women. Violence against women affects everyone in society, not only women.

Can the leader tell us what measures are taken to get men involved in the prevention of violence against women?

Senator LeBreton: The honourable senator asked for the government response and I mentioned the Departments of Justice and Public Safety and the police. Although the police are not, by definition, members of the government, they serve the public and are employed by government in the larger sense.

Honourable senators, the responsibility and funding for this issue are through the Minister of State for the Status of Women. I dare say, and I hope that Senator Tardif agrees with me, that there are as many men as women who participate fully in this matter of prevention of violence against women.

I want to put on the record, honourable senators, that in highlighting these issues, our government increased the budget of the women's program at Status of Women Canada to its highest level ever. Investments are given directly to those who need it through program spending and not into the operational overhead costs of Status of Women. Funding has been increased to grassroots organizations that directly benefit women. The number of individual projects funded has increased by 69 per cent, and 47 per cent of groups are receiving funding for the first time.

Last fiscal year alone, Status of Women Canada provided over $7 million in funding to projects to improve women's economic security. Since 2007, through Status of Women Canada — and this is only Status of Women and not programs in the other departments I mentioned — we have invested over $26 million and supported over 117 projects directly to address the issue of violence against women.

Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Innu Land Claims Agreement

Hon. Bill Rompkey: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. While I have given her notice and I do not expect to have a full answer today, I wanted to bring an issue to the leader's attention involving the Innu First Nation of Labrador.

Recently, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador came to an agreement in principle with the Innu regarding issues that fall within provincial jurisdiction. Clearly, the Innu are negotiating with both levels of government. I want to ask the minister to intercede with the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs to see how far along the negotiations are with the Innu and the federal officials, and when we might expect a resolution of the federal issue so we may proceed with a comprehensive land claim agreement.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I thank Senator Rompkey and appreciate being given notice of the question so I was able to obtain at least some information.

The settlement of the Labrador Innu claim remains, as we all know, a high priority for all of us and particularly for the government. We are pleased to see that the Innu and the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador have reached an agreement regarding the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project and on bilateral issues in the land claim negotiations. We continue to negotiate with the Innu and the province to address other outstanding issues. We are committed to moving quickly towards a tripartite agreement in principle.

As Senator Rompkey would know, details of the negotiations remain confidential, as agreed by all three parties. I am sure honourable senators fully appreciate, understand and support that. We are hopeful with the progress thus far, but I appreciate the question and that Senator Rompkey gave me an opportunity to obtain as much information as is available at the moment.

Senator Rompkey: Honourable senators, I understand the confidentiality and the necessity for it. I happened to receive my information from Twitter. Although I am not a tweeter myself, this has come to my attention through Twitter.

In all seriousness, I wanted simply to re-emphasize with the minister the necessity to act on this sooner rather than later.

There is both bad and good news within the Innu community. Honourable senators will have heard about the controversy regarding the alcohol ban in Natuashish. On the other hand, about a week ago I had a chance to tour the new school in Sheshatshiu. It is by far the best school in our province. I was heartened by the school and the way it is run. I am confident about the future of the younger generation.

However, the Innu will need a comprehensive land claims agreement that involves self-government if they are to gain control of their lives and their future. I hope the minister supports that and will support it with the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs.

Senator LeBreton: I have heard reports similar to what the honourable senator has indicated. Many serious issues still must be addressed. However, we have made great progress in many areas as well.

On the land claims issue, the honourable senator is correct. The minister will continue to work hard on this particular issue. Other issues, as honourable senators know, are strictly between the Innu and the provincial government. The federal government is not party to them, but is interested in the outcome. I will indicate to my colleague, the Honourable Chuck Strahl, the honourable senator's interest and the necessity to move these land claim negotiations forward.

[Translation]

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I have the honour to present delayed answers to two oral questions. The first was raised by the Honourable Senator Banks on March 10, 2010, concerning Sport, 2010 Arctic Winter Games—Funding, and the second by the Honourable Senator Carstairs on March 11, 2010, concerning Sport, participation and seniors.

Sport

2010 Arctic Winter Games—Funding

(Response to question raised by Hon. Tommy Banks on March 10, 2010)

The federal government was proud to support the 2010 Arctic Winter Games, which were held March 6-13, 2010 in Grande Prairie, Alberta.

The 2010 Arctic Winter Games Host Society funding request was assessed against the Terms and Conditions of Sport Canada's Hosting Program and within its available resources. A contribution in the amount of $400,000 was approved.

Since 2000, the federal government's funding contribution towards the Arctic Winter Games has increased by 100%, from $200,000 to $400,000.

The 2010 Arctic Winter Games Host Society has been successful in staging the Games with the allocated resources.

Seniors

Strategy for Aging—Budget 2010

(Response to question raised by Hon. Sharon Carstairs on March 11, 2010)

ParticipACTION was revitalized by the Government of Canada in 2006 as part of its efforts to address the looming physical inactivity and obesity crisis — one of the leading public health issues in recent years — that faces Canada, in particular amongst children and youth where the need is most urgent.

The Government of Canada, through Canadian Heritage (Sport Canada) and the Public Health Agency of Canada, has committed $11.8M since 2006 towards ParticipACTION's national public communication strategy to increase physical activity and sport participation levels in all segments of the population, but with particular emphasis on children and youth, Aboriginal peoples, Canadians with disabilities and older adults.

ParticipACTION is also building strong multi-sector partnerships with the corporate sector and the sport community. Through a tour of 31 cities across Canada last summer, the Inspire the nation campaign raised awareness about the need for moving more and to encourage Canadians of all ages to become more physically active. ParticipACTION also promotes the Physical Activity and Women Aged 55 to 70 project in partnership with the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity.

ParticipACTION is also consulting with non-governmental organizations such as Active Living Coalition for Older Adults, Arthritis Society, Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, and other national, provincial and territorial governments, sport, recreation and physical activity organizations. As a result of those consultations, ParticipACTION has built a resource library for Canadians, which includes materials on healthy living, physical activity and sport participation for older adults.


[English]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Question of Privilege

Speaker's Ruling

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, on March 17, 2010, Senator Wallace rose on a question of privilege under rule 59(10) respecting Senator Lavigne's attendance earlier that day. Senator Wallace explained that Senator Lavigne is currently on leave of absence and, having already attended the Senate once this session, rule 136(5) prohibits him from attending again. Senator Wallace referred to Maingot to argue that disobedience to the Rules constitutes contempt. He also indicated that he was ready to move that the matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament should the Speaker find a prima facie question of privilege.

Senator Cools then questioned the process being followed. She argued that when invoking rule 59(10) Senator Wallace should have moved a motion, not asked the Speaker to determine whether there was a prima facie question of privilege.

[Translation]

Before turning to the substance of Senator Wallace's complaint, I will address the process used. A question of privilege can be brought before the Senate in at least five ways. First, and most frequently, there is the process under rules 43 and 44, requiring written and oral notice.

(1440)

Second, a motion moved on notice can be used. Third, Appendix III of the Rules outlines a process in cases involving a disclosure of confidential committee documents. Fourth, a committee can bring a possible issue of privilege to the Senate's attention by presenting a report. Finally, rule 59(10) provides that no notice is required to raise a question of privilege.

[English]

It was this fifth process that Senator Wallace invoked. I would draw honourable senators' attention to a series of three rulings given during March and April of 2009. They were raised under rule 59(10), and were all assessed by the Speaker in light of the criteria usually used to determine a prima facie question of privilege. In the third ruling, given on April 21, it was noted that:

. . . rule 43 details a process for written and oral notice to properly raise a question of privilege. All of these are imperative, and are meant to be used. Unless the Senate makes a deliberate decision to change rule 43, rule 59(10) will only remain available for questions of privilege that arise out of circumstances that prevent a senator from providing the notices required under rule 43. To do otherwise would render the rule meaningless. Such a reversal of the clear obligations contained in the rules requires a deliberate and positive decision of the Senate.

With respect to the substantive matter of the question of privilege, the Speaker's role is to review the case and determine whether there is a prima facie case for a question of privilege, guided, inter alia, by the four criteria identified in rule 43(1).

[Translation]

The process used by Senator Wallace, who raised an issue that had occurred during the course of the sitting, thus respected current Senate practices. As has been noted in previous rulings, the Senate would benefit if the Rules Committee were to consider the processes for raising questions of privilege.

[English]

The specific matter at issue is largely based on rule 136(5), which states:

A Senator on leave of absence, or suspended under rule 141, for more than a full session may nonetheless make an appearance in the Senate once every session to avoid disqualification, but only on the sixth day the Senate sits after the Clerk lays upon the Table a notice of the Senator's intention to be present, signed by the Senator.

[Translation]

By way of background, Senator Lavigne is currently on a mandatory leave of absence. On March 3, 2010, he sent a letter to the Clerk indicating that he would take advantage of his right to be present. Once the letter had been tabled and recorded in the Journals of the Senate, the Clerk wrote to Senator Lavigne advising him that, if the Senate sat on dates identified in the letter, which reflected the normal pattern of sittings, the senator could attend on March 17, expected to be the sixth sitting day following the tabling of his letter. This date would, of course, change if the Senate varied from its normal pattern of sittings, a fact that was noted.

Despite receiving this information, Senator Lavigne attended the Senate on March 10, earlier than allowed, since it was only the third sitting day after the letter was tabled. This led to a point of order on March 11, on which I ruled. Senator Lavigne then wrote to the Clerk seeking clarification. As part of his response the Clerk noted the provision in rule 136(5) that stipulates attendance is allowed "once every session."

In the event, on March 17, Senator Lavigne was again present at his desk. The question of privilege was raised as a result of this second attendance.

[English]

At this stage, the Speaker's role is to take into account the four criteria of rule 43(1). It is clear that the matter was raised at the earliest opportunity, satisfying the first criterion. It is also clear that Senator Wallace is willing to offer a remedy, referral to the Rules Committee, thereby satisfying the third criterion.

The second and fourth criteria can perhaps be best addressed together. They require that ". . . a matter directly concern the privileges of the Senate . . ." and that it "be raised to correct a grave and serious breach." Rule 136(5) only allows a senator on leave of absence or who is suspended to attend a sitting once in a session, and only on the sixth sitting day following the tabling of a notice. This notice requirement is useful for the planning of house business and votes.

[Translation]

In this case, Senator Lavigne was correctly informed of the requirements of rule 136(5). While neither of his appearances respected the rule, it is not clear that this constitutes a contempt, an action tending to obstruct or impede the Senate or to offend against its authority or dignity. Instead, it appears to be an unfortunate misunderstanding. The fact that Senator Lavigne withdrew once it became apparent that his presence was a cause of concern supports this conclusion. A breach of the Rules certainly occurred, as addressed in the ruling of March 11, but there is insufficient evidence to determine wilful contempt to the authority of the Senate.

[English]

Before concluding, I would like to clarify any confusion that may have arisen about the use of the term "stranger." Since he is on a mandatory leave of absence, Senator Lavigne is not authorized to be on the floor while the Senate is sitting, except in the very narrow circumstances provided under rule 136(5). As such, the word "stranger" was used as a means to challenge his presence in the chamber. The term is relevant inasmuch as it provides a framework for dealing with the awkward situation in which a senator who is prohibited from being present is nevertheless in the chamber.

To return to the case at issue, the ruling is that no prima facie case of privilege has been established. There was, instead, a breach of order, which, as noted in the earlier ruling, is now a matter of record.

Hon. John D. Wallace: Your Honour, in view of your ruling, I wonder if it is appropriate to refer this matter to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.

Some Hon. Senators: There is no matter.

The Hon. the Speaker: I do not think so. I think if the honourable senator wants to raise such a matter, the proper course of action is to bring in a notice of motion and have it dealt with by the chamber. The chamber is in control of the business of the chamber.

Tax Conventions Implementation Bill, 2010

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Stephen Greene moved second reading of Bill S-3, An Act to implement conventions and protocols concluded between Canada and Colombia, Greece and Turkey for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

He said: I rise today to speak at second reading of the 2010 tax conventions implementation bill. This bill relates to Canada's continuing efforts to update and modernize its income tax treaties with other countries. At present, Canada has tax treaties in place with over 80 countries. This bill implements three new treaties that Canada has signed with Colombia, Greece and Turkey.

(1450)

The bill is exactly the same as the bill that was adopted by this chamber in the last session of Parliament. This bill was passed expeditiously by the Senate during that session. In fact, the bill received first reading on November 18 and third reading on December 15.

First, I want to make it clear that this bill does not represent any new or significant change in policy. In fact, the tax treaties covered by the bill, like their predecessors, are patterned on the OECD Model Tax Convention, which is accepted by most countries around the world.

Honourable senators, the tax treaties in this bill have two goals: avoiding double taxation; and preventing international tax avoidance and evasion. Both of these goals are laudable objectives. Before discussing the specifics of the bill, I will make a couple of general points on the nature of tax treaties and their role in contributing to a competitive tax system.

In 1971, the federal government undertook a review and overhaul of Canada's tax system. Among other initiatives, this review involved the expansion of Canada's network of tax treaties with other countries. Our government continues to work hard to keep our tax system up to date and competitive. By doing so, Canada will remain an active and leading participant in the global economy.

Honourable senators, these tax treaties have met with a great deal of success, and there is no reason to think that the ones before us today will be any exception. This success, of course, depends on the countries involved completing their legislative requirements as well. Indications are, however, that the three countries — Colombia, Greece and Turkey — are anxious to ratify these conventions as soon as possible.

Honourable senators, tax treaties contribute to a competitive tax system. The government has an important role to play in creating an environment that enables Canada's visionaries to excel, and that does not stand in the way of their success.

As honourable senators know, the world is beginning a tentative recovery from a serious global economic downturn. In these uncertain times, our Conservative government is staying the course and continuing to implement Canada's Economic Action Plan to ensure that the fragile recovery is not lost.

It is important to remind honourable senators that while we have been impacted by a global recession, Canada has weathered the recession better than other countries and we are well placed going into a recovery. Our fiscal standing is the healthiest in the G7; our housing markets avoided the problems seen in other countries; and our banks and financial system are the strongest in the world.

As the International Monetary Fund declared:

Canada's large fiscal stimulus package and unprecedented monetary easing are supporting domestic demand. In this context, and with household and financial institution balance sheets stronger than in many countries, Canada's economy is well positioned to resume expansion.

Indeed, we have seen encouraging signs of growth and recovery. Some projections show that the economy may even be growing more than we expected.

Another key element of a competitive tax system is lower taxes — not only for individual Canadians, but for businesses too. The tax reductions are an integral part of the government's effort to stimulate the economy and to create or maintain jobs. Lower taxes ease the financial pressure on individuals, families and businesses, and build a solid foundation for economic growth.

By achieving a low-tax, business-friendly environment, Canadians can compete with the best the world has to offer. We are now one of most attractive countries in the world in which to invest because of our tax laws.

A good example of the benefits of low business taxes is today's announcement by the Prime Minister about Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, a Norwegian company, which is making a substantial investment in London, Ontario.

Honourable senators, tax treaties are an important part of our government's overall approach to improve the system. Tax treaties like the ones before us directly affect international trade in goods and services, which, in turn, impacts Canada's domestic economic performance.

Forty per cent of Canada's annual gross domestic product can be attributed to exports. Moreover, Canada's economic health and wealth depends on foreign direct investment, as well as on inflows of information, capital, technology, dividends and interest.

In other words, the tax treaties contained in this bill will benefit Canadian businesses and individuals with operations and investments in the three countries within the legislation. Taxpayers will know that a treaty rate of taxation cannot be increased without substantial advance notice.

The mere existence of these treaties will foster an atmosphere of certainty and stability for investors and traders that can only enhance our economic relationship with each of these countries. The complexity in the operation of the tax system will be reduced, and a mechanism to settle problems encountered by taxpayers will encourage more international economic activity. This bill can only have a favourable effect on our economy.

These new treaties will provide individuals and businesses in Canada and the other countries with predictable and equitable tax results in their cross-border dealings. As we are well aware, Canada's economy is becoming increasingly intertwined with the global economy. Eliminating administrative difficulties and unnecessary tax impediments with respect to cross-border dealings will remain an important priority.

For the sake of fairness, no Canadian should ever find himself or herself subject to double taxation. It would also be equally unfair for those who owe taxes not to have to pay them. As the full title of this bill implies, this unfairness is exactly what tax treaties work to implement.

However, what do we mean by double taxation? Double taxation arises as a result of the imposition of comparable taxes in two or more states on the same taxable income, in the hands of the same person, and for the same period of time.

Tax treaties, like the ones included in this bill, prevent double taxation by establishing rules that clearly lay out taxation jurisdictions according to the taxpayer's country of residence and the country where the income originates.

Honourable senators, while overtaxation is clearly unfair and economically damaging, tax evasion and avoidance are also bad. The loss of revenue resulting from tax avoidance and evasion has the potential to affect adversely the efforts of governments in reaching important policy objectives; but more important, tax evasion places more of a burden on honest taxpayers.

We all recognize the best defence against international tax avoidance and evasion is through improved and expanded mechanisms for international cooperation and information sharing. To facilitate that goal, treaties like those found in this bill permit the exchange of information between revenue authorities, and help them identify cases of malfeasance and act on them.

In conclusion, honourable senators, this bill deals with important treaties that comply with international norms. The bill has already been speedily passed by the Senate, and there is little doubt its benefits are clear.

The treaties covered in this proposed legislation will provide equitable treatment to the various taxation issues between Canada and Colombia, Canada and Greece, and Canada and Turkey. Moreover, these treaties will help bolster Canada's position in the increasingly competitive world of international trade and investment.

I therefore urge all honourable senators to pass this bill quickly.

(On motion of Senator Tardif, debate adjourned.)

Appropriation Bill No. 5, 2009-10

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Irving Gerstein moved second reading of Bill C-6, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2010.

He said: Honourable senators, the playwright Henry Miller once stated:

The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

With that in mind, I invite honourable senators to give close attention to Appropriation Act No. 5, 2009-10, which provides for the release of supply in accordance with Supplementary Estimates (C) 2009-10, which were tabled in the Senate on March 4, 2010.

These estimates are the third and final supplementary estimates for the fiscal year that ends on March 31, 2010. Supplementary Estimates (A) were approved in June 2009, and Supplementary Estimates (B) were approved in December.

With these Supplementary Estimates (C), the government seeks Parliament's approval for $1.8 billion of expenditures for purposes that were not sufficiently developed or known at the time those previous estimates were tabled. These supplementary estimates also describe increases to projected statutory spending totalling $4.3 billion, for a net supplementary estimates requirement of $6.1 billion.

(1500)

The major budgetary items in these estimates include $449.5 million to forgive a debt owed by the Government of Pakistan as agreed to in 2001 in return for a commitment that an equivalent amount will be invested in that country's public education system; $196.4 million for Treasury Board Secretariat to transfer to departments and agencies for salary adjustments under collective agreements; $100 million for paylist requirements that include transfers to departments, agencies and Crown corporations for things like maternity and parental allowances, as well as severance and vacation pay for departing employees; $120.5 million to compensate claims in accordance with the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement; $110 million to complete the refurbishment of CANDU reactors; $72 million for the return to service of the National Research Universal Reactor in Chalk River; and $72 million for the cost of membership in international organizations on behalf of the Government of Canada.

There are also several major horizontal initiatives — those that affect more than one organization. They include $179.4 million for security planning and pre-event operations relating to the upcoming G8 and G20 summits; $176.1 million for Canada's initial response to the earthquake in Haiti; $86.6 million to mitigate and respond to the second wave of the H1N1 influenza pandemic; and $83.6 million for policing and security at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

These supplementary estimates also indicate, for information only, a net increase of $4.3 billion in budgetary statutory spending. This amount is mainly attributable to $5.5 billion in the forecast for the consolidated specified purpose accounts; $192 million more for Old Age Security benefits; and $228 million less for Guaranteed Income Supplements, both based on updated population and average monthly rate forecasts; $125 million for the AgriInsurance program based on higher crop values and an increase in the number of acres covered; $78 million for the AgriStability program driven primarily by declining grain and oil seed prices in 2009, which affected the value of inventories; $465.3 million for Newfoundland and Labrador in the form of fiscal equalization offset payments; a decrease of $640.8 million in payments to the Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Resource Revenue Fund due to a decline in crude oil prices, increased costs and a temporary reduction in production levels associated with the expansion of the White Rose project; and a total decrease of $1.4 billion to projected infrastructure payments under various initiatives, including the communities component of the Building Canada Fund, the establishment of the Green Infrastructure Fund, provincial-territorial infrastructure-based funding, and funding to support the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.

While I am on the subject of the infrastructure funding, I note that the President of the Treasury Board assured the National Finance Committee that the provinces and municipalities are eagerly applying for the infrastructure funding that has been committed as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan. It is expected that the entire amount committed for stimulus funding, including the infrastructure component, will be delivered in the coming fiscal year.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Gerstein: Returning to the Supplementary Estimates (C), statutory non-budgetary spending is expected to increase by $242.5 million largely due to increased net disbursement of loans under the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act.

In summary, honourable senators, Appropriation Bill No. 5, 2009-10, seeks Parliament's approval to spend $1.8 billion in voted expenditures in accordance with Supplementary Estimates (C), 2009-10. I assure honourable senators that these supplementary estimates are fully consistent with the overall planned spending level of $272.5 billion for the fiscal year as set out in the September 2009 Economic and Fiscal Update.

Honourable senators, few matters that come before this place are as meaningful as appropriation bills. The numbers they contain are the lifeblood of health care and education. They represent success and safety for our troops and the prosperity of our economy. Without these numbers, there can be no law and order and no infrastructure. Therefore, honourable senators, if my speech has failed to engage your full interest, I ask you to blame not the vital numbers that I have been given the honour of communicating to you but the words with which I have surrounded them.

I will end my remarks. I am a strong believer that speech- making is much like prospecting for oil. If you do not strike oil after the first ten minutes, you should stop boring. However, if honourable senators require additional information, I will do my utmost to provide it.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear! More, more!

Hon. Joseph A. Day: I thank the honourable senator for that interesting and vigorous presentation. Unfortunately, once he mentioned Newfoundland and Labrador, honourable senators might not have heard the rest of the comment. Will the honourable senator confirm for the record that there is an increase of $465.3 million to Newfoundland and Labrador in the fiscal equalization offset payments but a decrease of $640.8 million?

Senator Gerstein: Honourable senators, I believe that is exactly what I said.

Senator Mercer: You owe us money!

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, it must have been an enthusiastic speech for me to rise to ask a question about finances.

The honourable senator talked about Canada's Economic Action Plan. What was the cost of advertising Canada's Economic Action Plan overall and, more specifically, what was the cost of advertising it during the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games?

Senator Gerstein: The main thing to remember about advertising or anything else is that it is the end results that count. Canadians are so proud of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games that we recently hosted that they were delighted to hear every word of advertising.

Senator Cordy: It may well be that we are all extremely excited. Being from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, I am delighted that Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal but, having said that, I am interested in knowing the cost to Canadian taxpayers, in particular during these economic times, of advertising Canada's Economic Action Plan. More specifically, I want to know the cost of advertising during the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Senator Gerstein: I greatly appreciate the honourable senator's questions because it is so clear that the Olympics had such a net benefit to all Canadians, including monetary benefit. It is all part of the big package, and the package was marvellous for Canada and Canadians.

Senator Day: Honourable senators, permit me at this stage to thank the Honourable Deputy Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance for his wonderful presentation, outdone only by his fiery hyperbole that seemed to be fired by the burning of grass at the beginning of his statement.

The honourable senator seems to have learned from his colleagues how to answer these various questions.

Senator Cordy: Do you mean by not answering?

Senator Day: Precisely. In any event, I thank him and all members of the Finance committee for their work on this set of supply bills — the last for this fiscal year being the Supplementary Estimates (C). I will study the remarks of the honourable senator before I comment and, therefore, move the adjournment of the debate.

(On motion of Senator Day, debate adjourned.)

(1510)

Appropriation Bill No. 1, 2010-11

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Irving Gerstein moved second reading of Bill C-7, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2011.

He said: Honourable senators, it is my honour to speak to you this afternoon about Appropriation Act No. 1, 2010-11, which provides for the release of interim supply in accordance with the Main Estimates that were tabled in the Senate on March 4, 2010.

King Charles II once asked the Bishop of Worcester why he always read his sermons when he preached at court but spoke without notes elsewhere. The bishop explained that he was so in awe of the king that he feared he would forget his sermon, so he used notes when addressing royalty. The bishop then asked the king why he always read his speeches to Parliament. After all, it could not be the case that the king was in awe of mere parliamentarians. The king answered, "I have asked them so often and for so much money that I am ashamed to look them in the face."

As I stand in my place to give my second of three speeches in a single day, one on supplementary estimates and two on appropriations acts, you might suppose that I must feel as King Charles did, yet I am not ashamed. I have no difficulty meeting the gaze of my honourable colleagues because I know that the money the government is requesting in these bills will be wisely and responsibly managed for the good of all Canadians.

I mark a personal milestone today, honourable senators: The completion of my first full supply cycle as deputy chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. I particularly want to thank my experienced colleague, Senator Day, the chair of our committee, for his cooperation and willingness to share his expertise over this past year.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Gerstein: What a difference, honourable senators, a fiscal year makes. Last year at about this time, I spoke on the Main Estimates for the fiscal year that is now ending. I commented on the urgency of the economic crisis facing Canada and the necessity to kickstart the Canadian economy with a vital stimulus boost.

The tenor of my remarks today will be quite different, as the nation's fiscal situation is itself quite different. Having unveiled a massive two-year economic stimulus package in Budget 2009, the government is now committed to holding a course for the second year of that plan while laying the groundwork for the belt tightening that must inevitably follow.

To that end, in Budget 2010, the government committed to the continuation or establishment of a number of review processes aimed at reducing costs and improving efficiency.

First, there are ongoing strategic reviews conducted by all departments that aim to identify the lowest performing and lowest priority 5 per cent of programs; second, the government announced in Budget 2010 a comprehensive review of government administration and overhead; and, third, there was an ongoing corporate asset management review, which was announced in Budget 2009. All of these review processes are geared towards ensuring the effectiveness of government spending, and I think they will all be very productive.

With that said, there is a difference between making every drop count and turning off the tap all together. The economic recovery, while showing recent signs of strength, is still in its early stages. The government remains committed to delivering the remainder of the economic stimulus measures announced last year. We are also committed to balancing the budget in the medium term without sacrificing essential services to Canadians like health care, education and national defence. We will continue to invest wisely in meeting the priorities of Canadians.

The 2010-11 Main Estimates were prepared well in advance of the announcement in Budget 2010, so they do not include expenditures for new initiatives contained in the budget. However, all of the items announced in earlier budgets or fiscal updates are included.

The 2010-11 Main Estimates totalled $259 billion. This includes $96.2 billion in voted budgetary expenditures, those that require Parliament's approval. It also includes $165 billion for statutory budgetary items, those that already have parliamentary approval, which are described in the estimates for information purposes only.

Non-budgetary items are those that represent changes in the composition of the financial assets of the Government of Canada, such as loans, investments and advances. The Main Estimates 2010-11 indicate a net decrease of $2.2 billion in non-budgetary expenditures, consisting of an increase of $100 million in voted items and a decrease of $2.3 billion in statutory items.

Honourable senators may find Part I of the Main Estimates 2010-11 especially useful as it includes a detailed comparison with the previous year's Main Estimates. Some of the notable increases in forecast statutory expenditures include a $5.4 billion increase in Employment Insurance benefits, including enhancement of those benefits to help those Canadians hardest hit by the global recession, and an increase in benefits to elderly Canadians of $1.7 billion.

Significant changes in voted expenditures include $822 million for the Afghanistan mission to ensure the safety and operational effectiveness of Canadian troops; $298 million for the military's medium- to heavy-lift helicopter project; $650 million for the Pulp and Paper Green Transformation Program; $500 million for the Knowledge Infrastructure Program in addition to the $500 million in statutory funding for this purpose; and $289 million for First Nations housing, school construction and water and wastewater projects.

Total voted spending authorities in these Main Estimates total $96.3 billion, of which $27.2 billion is sought through Appropriation Act No. 1, 2010-11. The balance will be sought through Appropriation Act No. 2, 2010-11, in June of this year.

Honourable senators, these expenditures will be subject to the oversight and transparency that Canadians are entitled to expect from their government. As honourable senators are aware, the Main Estimates are before our committee for the balance of the year, even after Parliament passes the supply bill.

I conclude by thanking our witnesses for their help with understanding these Main Estimates and for the comprehensive answers they gave to the committee.

(On motion of Senator Day, debate adjourned.)

The Estimates, 2009-10

Supplementary Estimates (C)—Second Report of National Finance Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (supplementary estimates (C), 2009-2010), presented in the Senate on March 24, 2010.

Hon. Joseph A. Day: Honourable senators, I think it would be helpful if we look at this particular report. It is a report of the Supplementary Estimates (C) for 2009-10. That is for the fiscal period ending next week, and this is the final supplementary estimate that we will see for this particular fiscal year.

You have just heard Senator Gerstein speak of the coming fiscal year and the interim funding that the government seeks to the end of June. Before the end of June, the rest of the Main Estimates for that particular year will happen, and for us the fiscal year starts April 1.

As Senator Gerstein has indicated, it might become necessary to adjust the Main Estimates to meet changing requirements, and one in particular is that the Main Estimates were prepared before the budget was forthcoming. Therefore, we should anticipate fairly quickly in the new fiscal year — I would anticipate in late April — Supplementary Estimates (A), which will be the primary document adjusting the government's fiscal plan for the year to take into account those items that appear in the budget that were not reflected in the Main Estimates.

(1520)

What we are doing now is just finishing up last fiscal year, and this report provides a summary of what our committee has done over the past while since the Supplementary Estimates (C) were referred to us by this chamber. Honourable senators will know that Supplementary Estimates (C) is an extensive document. It reflects, I believe fairly nicely, a number of the requests that the National Finance Committee has made over time to try to make these particular estimates clearer to understand for someone who is not working in this particular area all the time, as the Treasury Board Secretariat personnel are. Treasury Board was responsive to our requests.

Senator Gerstein spoke about horizontal items. Basically, that means a reflection of the whole of government. All the various government departments that might be involved in a certain activity spend some money on that activity. We will see some of that later on in this report.

For example, planning for G8, G20 and the Olympics involved not just National Defence or the RCMP. There were many different departments involved. We had a horizontal view, across all the different departments, of how much each department spent on that subject matter all gathered together so we could understand what the total costs were. That was a request by the National Finance Committee to Treasury Board, to which they have responded quite nicely.

Honourable senators, the Treasury Board Secretariat personnel are always our first witnesses with respect to these particular matters. We would like to thank Messrs. Smith and Pagan for appearing before our committee and for being so forthright in answering honourable senators' questions.

At this stage, I would also like to thank all the members of the National Finance Committee, many of whom are new to this particular committee, as well as my deputy chair, Senator Gerstein, for their understanding. We received these documents very late this year because of prorogation. As a result, we had less time than normal to deal with these particular documents, since the new fiscal year comes irrespective of when we receive the documents. We have moved ahead very quickly, and it is a credit to the committee. We met during all our regularly scheduled times, plus on two other occasions, in order to move these matters forward.

I know that my deputy chair and all the members of the committee would like to join with me in thanking Lydia Scratch and Sylvain Fleury, the two analysts with the Library of Parliament, who have done a noble job in helping to draw all of our material together and put it into a form that we were able to accept in this report on Supplementary Estimates (C) and the other report that I filed earlier today on the Main Estimates for the coming fiscal year. Finally, I would like to thank to Adam Thompson, our clerk, who directed all of this. All of the staff are deserving of our thanks for helping us to look a lot better than we deserve.

Honourable senators, I will mention just a few of the items that we looked into on your behalf, some of which prompted interest by honourable senators and will result in further investigation.

One of the items we looked into was the government's response to the earthquake in Haiti. Another item was debt relief in Pakistan, which I will expand on further. We brought in witnesses from the Canadian International Development Agency, the Department of National Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs. We also had a panel of witnesses from the RCMP, the Canadian Border Security Agency and CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Agency. We also heard from Mr. Ward Alcock, who was for several years the head of CSIS but who is now in the Privy Council Office. He has been designated as a coordinator for the 2010 Olympics and for the G8 and G20, working out of the Privy Council Office.

These witnesses all appeared before us, in addition, honourable senators, to the Treasury Board Secretariat personnel. We obtained a good background on quite a number of items that will be of interest to honourable senators when you have a chance to review the report.

One of the points that must be clarified in looking at these documents is that they are divided into voted items and statutory items. With statutory items, we have previously given approval in this chamber and in the other place to spend money on certain initiatives. All the other items, the voted items, are the ones that honourable senators are being asked to approve right now.

In the voted appropriations, there is $1.8 billion. That is made up of budgetary and non-budgetary items. Honourable Senator Gerstein referred to those non-budgetary items and it is perhaps easier to think in terms of loans. That is the way, in my mind, that I can separate them. Budgetary items are the items that will be spent. For non-budgetary items, the money is actually going out, but it is intended that it will come back at some time in the future. That is important this time more than ever. If one thinks in terms of loans and operational and capital costs, the loans are intended to come back at some time.

We entered into an extensive debate — and maybe this is a good time for us to look at this — with respect to the issue of debt to Pakistan. We were told that there is a debt to Pakistan — all of the debts were brought in — of $450 million, in round figures. We were told that this was booked as a loan, but that we are now going to forgive it. I said that it is Parliament who votes for the expenditure of money. Forgiveness, or using the money for the development of schools or whatever, is a parliamentary privilege.

Honourable senators, we had an extensive debate on that issue because they said, "Oh, no. It has already been provided for. We did not think it was coming back anyway. Besides, it did not have to be paid for many years in the future, and we are just saying, `Do not bother paying it back."'

Treasury Board listened to us. Treasury Board went to the Department of Justice and got a legal opinion and came back and said, "You, National Finance Committee in the Senate, are absolutely right. That money cannot be spent without Parliament voting approval."

Therefore, there was a quick change over in the House of Commons and they deemed certain activity to take place. In looking at the schedule to the supplementary estimates, honourable senators will see that the $450 million is no longer under non-budgetary, under a loan and that the $450 million has been moved in this bill, Bill C-6.

Honourable senators will recall that one of the things we always do is to compare the schedule in the estimates to the schedule in the bill.

I am giving honourable senators due notice that the schedules are not the same in that regard this time because of the due diligence that was done by our committee on National Finance.

It is not necessary for us to pass the same motion that was passed in the other place, deeming a change, because we do not adopt the Main Estimates. We do not pass a motion to adopt the budget. We do not have this dichotomy. All we have is that the schedules are different. As long as the record is clear on this matter, I can tell you that the bill has now been rectified.

(1530)

Honourable senators will recall that our committee found an error in the numbers a few years ago as well. I think I am becoming an accountant because I am excited about finding things like this. It is not an apology, but an interesting change of events.

Honourable Senator Gerstein has mentioned the various major expenditures and features; I do not think it is necessary to go over those expenditures again. However, I want to mention one item to honourable senators, and that is with respect to infrastructure. We have heard a lot of discussion about infrastructure and whether the money has been spent. One must bear in mind that infrastructure programs were in place — and, continue to be in place — before the stimulus package came along. If we look at the stimulus package only, roughly $5 billion for the last fiscal year and this fiscal year have been provided for in infrastructure. However, honourable senators, $1.4 billion of the stimulus package in infrastructure for last year was not used. We could say we will roll that money forward and spend it in this coming fiscal year. That amount would be $5 billion plus $1.4 billion. The total is $6.4 billion, when all we were able to spend last fiscal year was $3.6 billion, if I have my math correct. We should think about this situation, honourable senators. I do not want to take infrastructure money back from any community. However, if $3.6 billion was sufficient last year to help bring the economy around, and, since we already have all these other infrastructure programs in place that are not getting all the money out, if we said, Let us spend the same this fiscal year coming as we spent last fiscal year, that is $2.8 billion that we take right off our deficit right now. The question is, why not?

We hope to have the Minister of Finance appear before our committee to discuss that question and many other issues later on. That question is important, honourable senators. That $2.8 billion is a lot of money when we are running a deficit. The deficit anticipated for next fiscal year is not far off the $55 billion deficit that we experienced this year. If we can find places to save $3 billion from the deficit, and one of them is right there, honourable senators, I think that saving is worth talking about.

There was a reduction in the amount of money available for the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Some honourable senators asked questions about that decrease. It was suggested that, because the old age pension cheque is going up, maybe fewer people will need as much of the Guaranteed Income Supplement because people who receive the GIS are the lower income level people who need extra help. I think we will want to take a close look at that suggestion, honourable senators, because a decrease of $228 million in GIS to the most vulnerable in our society is something worth keeping a close watch on.

Honourable senators, there are several comments with respect to the work of Canada and Canadians in many different departments with respect to Canada's response to the earthquake in Haiti. On behalf of all honourable senators, we want to thank all those people from the many different departments who participated in that response for their tremendous work. Many were from the Canadian Forces, but certainly not exclusively from the Canadian Forces.

Honourable senators, a number of other items are worth looking at. Regarding the Olympics, there were some interesting charges. We looked at the costs of the Olympics on a horizon basis.

The Hon. the Speaker: The Honourable Senator Day's time is up.

Senator Day: Honourable senators, can I have a short while longer?

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): My impression was that, given that this item was a bill and that Senator Day is the critic on the bill, he had 45 minutes.

Senator Day: I am speaking on the report and not on the bill.

Senator Comeau: A further five minutes, please.

Senator Day: Now that I have a further five minutes, honourable senators, I can talk on a number of different items. There are many items, as honourable senators may guess, in one of these documents. We are only touching the surface.

Many of the points are ongoing. We will continue on some of these points in the next fiscal year. We have the mandate to continue this study throughout the year and we will do so on behalf of honourable senators.

There were costs for border services at the Olympics. There were significant millions of dollars in costs for Canada Post at the Olympics. We asked questions in that regard. Canada Post had to hire equipment to test packages that were sent. There are things that we do not think about. The organizers did a wonderful job, and I think they deserve to be recognized by all honourable senators.

Senator Cordy: What about advertising?

Senator Day: Absolutely. The government set aside in its forecast an amount of $900 million for security for the Olympics — almost $1 billion. As of these supplementary estimates, namely, as of the end of March, $847 million has been requested and will be approved, assuming we accept this particular supply bill. The amount comes close to the amount anticipated in that regard.

I think honourable senators should keep one other point in mind. When we see these supply bills, we see a transfer from one place to another. We have seen transfers in the Department of National Defence, from operating to capital; and from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, from its operating budget to capital. CBC then had to take funds that normally would be used to pay employees to put up towers or to buy equipment because the corporation had a finite amount of money to spend to continue operating. CBC needed the equipment, so where did they get it from? Those transfers are hidden away in here and it is important for us to keep an eye on those transfers from "operating" to "capital" and from "capital" to "operating." When they start stealing from their infrastructure repairs and from their equipment to pay for their employees, it does not take long before the equipment costs much more to repair than it did in the past. We find those items tucked away in this bill, honourable senators. We will keep an eye on them on your behalf.

Honourable senators, this report is a summary of what appears in Supplementary Estimates (A). I believe the report fairly represents the major features of what appears in this bill. I commend honourable senators to read the report and, hopefully, to accept it in due course.

[Translation]

Hon. Rose-Marie Losier-Cool: Would the honourable senator take a question?

My question refers to pages 5 and 6 of the report and concerns the funds for Haiti. You said the assistance funds amount to roughly $270 million. When witnesses appear before the Standing Committee on National Finance to discuss this budget, could you ask them how that money is being allocated?

(1540)

Is money being allocated to health or to justice? Are these issues being considered?

Senator Day: All the issues are being considered. On page 5, we can see that the amount requested in these Supplementary Estimates is $176 million. Part of that money will go to doubling the donations made by Canadians to Haiti. We have only estimated $270 million. The amount provided by Canadians was $135 million. In the span of one month, the government doubled that amount.

The question now is whether that is it, because not all of the requests have been verified yet. That amount represents what is being spent by the governments of Canada and Haiti. Members of our government have checked to ensure that the money is being well spent.

[English]

Hon. Irving Gerstein: Honourable senators, it is my honour to address the second report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance on Supplementary Estimates (C) for the fiscal year 2009-10.

I can assure you that the committee worked together in a very effective and non-partisan manner in its examination of these estimates. Under the able leadership of our chair, Senator Day, it could scarcely have been otherwise.

Senator Day reminds all committee members by his own conduct that we on the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance share a calling far greater than the interests of our respective parties. The calling to which I refer, honourable senators, is the diligent oversight of funds entrusted to Parliament by the hard-working taxpayers of Canada. This responsibility is always vital to the proper functioning of our economy and indeed our democracy, but in times of economic hardship or fragility its importance is greatly magnified.

The spirit of non-partisanship was especially evident in the National Finance Committee's discussion of the government's response to the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in January. The cost of this response, totalling $176.1 million, is the second largest voted budgetary item in these estimates, surpassed only by the augmentation of public service salaries in accordance with collective agreements that amount to $196 million.

Our discussion of the government's action in Haiti began with some very gracious comments by Senator Eggleton, in which he stated:

I have to say congratulations to the Prime Minister and government for their very quick and decisive move with respect to the crisis in Haiti, and to all of the people who serve us in the various departments that responded very quickly in a very efficient and effective way.

Committee members were in fact unanimous in their praise of the departments involved in the Haiti earthquake response, including the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, Foreign Affairs, the RCMP, and National Defence. However, this unanimous sentiment did not prevent honourable senators from asking some very specific questions regarding the mechanisms by which the government funded its actions in Haiti.

The committee learned a great deal about a fund called the International Assistance Envelope Crisis Pool, a recent creation that apparently served very well in the response to the Haiti earthquake.

We also heard that further amounts in relation to Canada's assistance to Haiti will be requested in future estimates, as the government allocates at least $135 million in funds to match the extremely generous donations of individual Canadians in the month following the earthquake.

Honourable senators, it is truly a testament to the compassion of Canadians from coast to coast to coast that they have opened their wallets for the people of Haiti, even in the midst of a global economic crisis that has forced many Canadian families to tighten their own belts to make ends meet.

The next largest additional expense in these supplementary estimates, at $83.6 million, is for security for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The total appropriated for security at the games to date, including the amount in these supplementary estimates, is still within the $900 million budgeted for that purpose.

Brian Williams, the anchor of the NBC Nightly News in the United States, lavished praise on Canada's performance as host of the Olympic Games. He thanked Canada for, among other things, our courtesy, our sportsmanship and our friendship, and he paid particular tribute to our success in:

. . . securing this massive event without choking security, and without publicly displaying a single automatic weapon.

Security planning and pre-event operations related to the upcoming G8 and G20 summits account for $179.4 million in these estimates. The risks and challenges associated with these summits are quite different from those associated with the Olympic Games. I know all the relevant agencies and departments are working hard to meet those challenges, including the RCMP, CSIS, Public Safety, National Defence, the Canadian Border Services Agency and Privy Council Office; all of whom appeared before our committee.

These estimates also include the forgiving of $449.5 million of debt owed by Pakistan. The Government of Canada and the Government of Pakistan have negotiated an agreement whereby this debt will be written off over the next five years, as the Government of Pakistan invests an equivalent amount in its public education system.

These supplementary estimates indicate this measure as a non- budgetary item. The National Finance Committee questioned this correctly, as Senator Day has pointed out, observing that although a loan is a non-budgetary item as long as it is expected to be repaid, it becomes a budgetary item when it is forgiven since it then affects the government's bottom line as an expenditure. The imminent appropriation act will correct the way in which this item is categorized. Members of the National Finance Committee are to be congratulated for identifying this issue.

The conversion of Pakistan's debt into funding for education, if properly implemented, could be very beneficial to the future economy and stability of Pakistan and serve Canada's interest in that troubled part of the globe.

Notwithstanding the noble purpose of this transaction, the National Finance Committee takes very seriously its role in scrutinizing the expenditure of taxpayers' money to ensure it is efficient and effective. For that reason, the committee has requested further details about the process for forgiving Pakistan's debt and the mechanisms for ensuring that equivalent funds are invested effectively and appropriately in Pakistan's public school system.

In particular, the committee has requested a copy of the original memorandum of understanding signed by the Government of Canada and the Government of Pakistan in 2001, in which it was agreed that the debt would be forgiven, as well as a subsequent agreement in 2006 that requires the funds to be invested in education.

Honourable senators, I have touched on just a few of the most significant expenditures described in these supplementary estimates. Other matters explored by the National Finance Committee included the government's pandemic planning and response to the H1N1 outbreak; the establishment of a permanent staff headquarters for Canada's diplomatic personnel in Kabul; adjustments to the estimated cost of programs for seniors such as Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement; costs associated with the repair of the Chalk River nuclear reactor and the refurbishment of various CANDU reactors; and savings associated with the ongoing strategic review in various departments.

I assure honourable senators that the Committee on National Finance has made very pertinent inquires into these and other expenditures. In closing, I would like to thank the officials who appeared before the committee both for the insights they have provided and for the information they have committed to provide to the committee.

(1550)

Hon. Anne C. Cools: Honourable senators, I rise to congratulate Senator Gerstein and Senator Day for their excellent work on the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. I was tempted to ask Senator Day where he learned so much on these matters.

I especially want to thank Senator Gerstein because the subject matter with which he is dealing is not easily and readily understood by new senators. Senator Gerstein has been busy, especially at this time of year with the coming together of a collection of reports and supply bills in a very short timeline.

Honourable senators, I want to say to Senator Gerstein that I appreciate the time and the effort he has put into mastering and learning this process and the enthusiasm that he brings to a job that many people would think is boring and tedious.

As a person who knows how difficult these processes are and how complex that supply cycle system is, I want Senator Gerstein to know that I appreciate what he is doing.

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

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Fisheries and Oceans

Committee Authorized to Study Issues Relating to Federal Government's Current and Evolving Policy Framework for Managing Fisheries and Oceans and Refer Papers and Evidence Since First Session of Thirty-ninth Parliament

Hon. Bill Rompkey pursuant to notice of March 24, 2010, moved:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans be authorized to examine and to report on issues relating to the federal government's current and evolving policy framework for managing Canada's fisheries and oceans;

That the papers and evidence received and taken and work accomplished by the committee on this subject since the beginning of the First Session of the Thirty-ninth Parliament be referred to the committee; and

That the committee report from time to time to the Senate but no later than June 30, 2011, and that the Committee retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings until December 31, 2011.

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

(Motion agreed to.)

[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 Monday, March 29, 2010, at 8 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 Monday, March 29, 2010, at 8 p.m.)