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
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
The report recommends that alternative models of drug
control be considered if drug supply and drug-related violence are to be
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
Any effective strategy to improve maternal heath must
involve birth control and a commitment to meeting the contraceptive needs of
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
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
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
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
JOSEPH A. DAY
(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.)
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
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
(a) in the drafting of powers enabling
delegates of Parliament to make subordinate laws;
(b) in the enactment of statutory
(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
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
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
8. appears for any reason to infringe the rule of
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
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
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
Transport and Communications
All other expenditures
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.
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.)
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.
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
(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.)
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
With regard to the specific question about this body, as I
said in my first answer, I will take the question as notice.
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?
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!
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.
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
Senator Tardif: Honourable senators, I was asking
specifically what was in the government's plan and not what the police were to
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
(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,
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.
(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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Indeed, we have seen encouraging signs of growth and
recovery. Some projections show that the economy may even be growing more than
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
I conclude by thanking our witnesses for their help with
understanding these Main Estimates and for the comprehensive answers they gave
to the committee.
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.
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'
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
. . . 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
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.
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
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. Bill Rompkey pursuant to notice of March 24,
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
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?