Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 20
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Senate met at 1:30 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I rise to pay
tribute to two events that occurred April 16, the first involving one of our
Canadian Coast Guard ships, the Leonard J. Cowley, and the other
involving a great Canadian, the Honourable William H. Rompkey. Both the
Cowley and Senator Rompkey were formally recognized by the Navy League of
Canada for what the Navy League terms their "auspicious contribution to maritime
The Leonard J. Cowley, a fisheries patrol vessel
built in Vancouver in 1984 but which now operates out of St. John's, is named
after a Newfoundland biologist, the late Len Cowley, who later became the
assistant deputy minister of Fisheries and Oceans. Although normally deployed to
monitor fishery activity in fulfillment of Canada's commitment to the North
Atlantic Fisheries Organization, the Cowley is also equipped to carry out
search and rescue.
It was in this capacity that, on February 22, 2009, the
Cowley heard a distress call from the stricken Spanish fishing vessel, the
Monte Galineiro, some 200 nautical miles east of St. John's. The Monte
Galineiro was on fire and sinking. Its crew of 22 fishermen had abandoned
ship — some on life rafts, others directly into the frigid water. Fortunately,
the Cowley, then under the command of Captain Derek LeRiche, was nearby
and quickly responded to the call. Despite difficult conditions, wind and cold,
the crew of the Cowley demonstrated their professionalism as seamen
rescue specialists in treating the Monte Galineiro's crew for hypothermia
and other injuries.
In recognition of this courageous rescue just over a year
ago, the crew of the CCGS Leonard J. Cowley was awarded the prestigious
J.J. Kinley Award by the Navy League of Canada.
Well known and highly respected in this chamber, Senator
William Rompkey served as a member of the House of Commons between 1972 and 1995
and as Senator of Newfoundland and Labrador since 1995. An author and editor of
several books, the most recent being St. John's and the Battle of the
Atlantic, Senator Rompkey has been an avid and long-time supporter of the
goals of the Navy League of Canada in maritime affairs and youth development. He
has given exceptional lifetime service to Canada's maritime interests, including
having served as regional minister for Newfoundland and Labrador, Chair of the
House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence, Veterans Affairs,
Co-Chair of the Special Joint Committee on Canada's Defence Policy, Deputy
Leader of the Government in the Senate, and is currently Chair of the Standing
Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
Senator Rompkey was involved for more than a decade with
both the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association and the North Atlantic
Assembly. He is a former UNTD officer cadet and a former lieutenant in the Naval
Reserve and has been a driving force behind the University Naval Training
Division veterans' community. He was the first parliamentary sponsor of Navy
Appreciation Day on Parliament Hill.
As any of us who have attended that day know, Senator
Rompkey is held in great regard. I am honoured today to pay tribute to the crew
of a great ship and a great Canadian who received the Robert I. Hendy Award for
his service to our maritime interests Senator William H. Rompkey, who joined
Canada when he was 13.
Hon. Rod A. A. Zimmer: Honourable senators, on
Sunday April 25, 2010, the world celebrates World Malaria Day. Malaria is a
disease of the blood, which is transmitted from certain types of mosquitoes
which carry a one-cell parasite called plasmodium.
This disease is most fatal in countries of sub-Saharan
Africa, especially amongst the children of those countries whose immature immune
systems make them even more vulnerable. To give you an idea of how vulnerable
they are, it is reported that every 30 seconds a child dies of malaria.
This disease is 100 per cent controllable and treatable.
However, many of the affected countries lack the necessary resources required to
control and treat malaria.
Many Canadian organizations such as the Spread the Net
campaign, founded by the Honourable Belinda Stronach and Rick Mercer, under the
umbrella of the Belinda Stronach Foundation, of which I am a board member, have
been doing an excellent job of raising awareness about malaria and raising funds
to provide families with insecticide-treated bed nets. These bed nets have been
shown to reduce malaria transmissions by more than 50 per cent or more.
Honourable senators, the United Nations Special Envoy for
Malaria was established in 2008 to ensure the global community was on track to
achieve the goal of universal coverage by 2010. Universal coverage means that
every man, woman and child in Africa whose beds need a net have one by December
The UN special envoy estimates that 348 million nets are
needed to achieve universal coverage. While 192 million nets have been
delivered, 159 million more are needed.
Earlier this week, an all-party malaria caucus, co-chaired
by our colleague Senator Jaffer, organized an excellent performance on malaria
by a group of students ranging from the age of six to sixteen called the Not So
Amateur Amateurs. It is extremely enlightening to know that the youth of our
country are doing their part to spread awareness of malaria.
It is extremely important that we continue our efforts to
support this fight. The public and private sectors must work together to provide
effective and accessible preventions and treatments so all children will have
the chance to reach their full potential.
Honourable senators, the world's efforts to combat this
disease have been effective, and we have seen the decrease in fatalities, but
more can still be done and needs to be done. Please offer your support to save
the lives of these vulnerable children.
Hon. Larry W. Campbell: Honourable senators, on
Tuesday, Conservative Member of Parliament Garry Breitkreuz published a news
release denouncing supporters of the gun registry, including the Canadian
Association of Chiefs of Police.
The release claimed that supporters of the gun registry
Like a cult that is led by organizations of police
chiefs who pretend the registry helps them do their jobs. They should be
The release goes on to allege that police associations are
politically motivated lobby groups that derive financial support from
These comments are unacceptable and these statements are a
malicious attack on the Canadian Police Association based solely on the fact
that they do not support the Conservative standpoint on gun control.
Needless to say, over the years, as a police officer,
coroner and mayor, I have not always agreed with the chiefs of police or the
Canadian Police Association. However, I would never ever describe them as "a
cult" and I would never describe the police associations as being "on the take."
According to the Canadian Firearms Registry in 2009, the
long- gun registry was consulted by police 11,000 times per day. The registry is
a tool used by police officers on a daily basis in their efforts to protect our
The majority of police officers killed in the recent past
have died as a result of being shot by long guns, not by handguns. Canadians
want an effective gun-control policy. Changes can and should be made to the
registry to improve its efficiency and address the concerns of rural Canadians.
Attacking and intimidating those who support the gun registry is not an
effective way to deal with this issue.
Our Canadian Police Associations represent the Canadian
police forces who work tirelessly to protect and serve Canadians, always with
the thought in the back of their minds that their lives are on the line. They
deserve the support and aid of the government, not contempt in the name of a
Hon. Nicole Eaton: Honourable senators, I rise
because of some recent disturbing events in British Columbia and Ontario, events
that have the potential to jeopardize our values of equality and freedom.
As a result, the member of Parliament for the riding of
Vancouver South, Ujjal Dosanjh, has called for a national debate on
multiculturalism and its role in our Canadian identity. I remind honourable
senators that when I made my maiden speech over a year ago, I did the same and
went one step further to call for a thorough examination of the benefits of
Canadians create a reinforcing power when they invest
themselves in their country. They not only put themselves in a better position
to reap all the benefits that come with being Canadian, but they also help our
country realize its true promise. We must always search for ways to strengthen
the force that draws us together as a people — our collective identity, the
identity that we widely acknowledge and accept as our own, the identity by which
we are known internationally.
Canadian governments at all levels, as well as public and
private organizations, play a vital role in fostering and advancing that
collective identity. Immigrants and refugees to this country choose — yes,
choose — Canada in times of atrocious political upheaval, deep economic distress
or catastrophic environmental consequences. However, we must always remember
that they are not just running away from something. They are running to
something, and the reason they choose Canada is precisely because of our values,
Many new Canadians have been raised and educated in
systems that created the ideologies they are trying to escape. They or their
families come to Canada hoping to connect to their new community. Sadly, lack of
a guiding hand has left some Canadians struggling to find their proper place and
realize their true promise as citizens. If we continue to do nothing, new
Canadians will slowly begin to recreate the very organizations, institutions and
communities they left behind, and any hope of a strong and lasting connectivity
will be lost.
Do honourable senators want to be framed in an image of
the values of another country by default? I commend the individuals and small
groups who have recently tried to level sharp attention on our shared identity
and values, but alone they are not strong enough. Now is the time and this is
the place to lead that effort. No institution is more ideally suited to give
Canadians the fullest possible opportunity to consider, analyze and act than the
Senate of Canada. No people are more ideally suited to give these questions the
thoughtful, balanced treatment they demand than the women and men of this
institution. Honourable senators, we must be the guiding hand that defines our
Hon. Gerry St. Germain, Chair of the Standing
Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, presented the following report:
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples
has the honour to present its
Your committee, which was authorized by the Senate on
Tuesday, March 16, 2010, to examine and report on the federal government's
constitutional, treaty, political and legal responsibilities to First
Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples and other matters generally relating to the
Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, respectfully requests funds for the fiscal
year ending March 31, 2011, and requests, for the purpose of such study,
that it be empowered to engage the services of such counsel, technical,
clerical and other personnel as may be necessary.
Pursuant to Chapter 3:06, section 2(1)(c) of the
Senate Administrative Rules, the budget submitted to the Standing
Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the report
thereon of that committee are appended to this report.
GERRY ST. GERMAIN
(For text of budget, see today's Journals of the
Senate, Appendix, p. 268.)
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when
shall this report be taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator St. Germain, report placed on the
orders of the day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. W. David Angus, Chair of the Standing Senate
Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, presented the
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the
Environment and Natural Resources has the honour to present its
Your committee, to which was referred Bill S-210, An
Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act and the Auditor General
Act (involvement of Parliament), has, in obedience to the order of reference
of Thursday, March 18, 2010, examined the said bill and now reports the same
W. DAVID ANGUS
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when
shall this bill be read the third time?
(On motion of Senator Angus, bill placed on the Orders of
the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Hugh Segal: Honourable senators, I have the
honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian NATO
Parliamentary Association respecting its participation in the Visit of the
Political Committee Sub-Committee on NATO Partnerships, held in Washington,
D.C., United States, from October 14 to 16, 2009.
Hon. Irving Gerstein: Honourable senators, I give
notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:
That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance
be authorized to examine and report on the costs and benefits of Canada's
one-cent coin to Canadian taxpayers and the overall Canadian economy;
That in conducting such study, the committee take
particular note of:
(a) The recent cost-saving changes to
Canada's currency system announced by the Royal Canadian Mint;
(b) The direct cost to taxpayers of
producing and distributing one-cent coins in relation to their actual
(c) The costs and productivity implications
for Canadian businesses in light of the counting, handling and
redistribution requirements of the coin; and
(d) International experiences with
eliminating low- denomination coins; and
That the committee submit its final report to the
Senate no later than December 31, 2010, and that the committee retain all
powers necessary to publicize its findings for 180 days after the tabling of
the final report.
Leave having been given to revert to Presentation of
Reports from Standing or Special Committees:
Hon. David Tkachuk, Chair of the Standing Senate
Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, presented the
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets
and Administration has the honour to present its
Your Committee recommends that the following funds be
released for fiscal year 2010-2011.
Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Legislation)
|Professional and Other Services
|Transportation and Communications
|All Other Expenditures
Scrutiny of Regulations (Joint Committee)
|Professional and Other
|All Other Expenditures
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when
shall this report be taken into consideration?
(On motion of Senator Tkachuk, report placed on Orders of
the Day for consideration at the next sitting of the Senate.)
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators,
my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. For days,
Conservative members such as your cabinet colleague Jean- Pierre Blackburn; your
former cabinet colleague Maxime Bernier; and Quebec Member of Parliament Jacques
Gourde have been repeating — to anyone who cares to listen, on any of Canada's
media outlets — their resentment of the progressive modern philosophy that is at
the heart of Quebec's spirit. This prompted comments from Premier Jean Charest
because it went so far as to make it sound as though Canada's growing debt under
the Harper government is Quebec's fault.
Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us
whether her government agrees with her colleagues that Quebecers are spoiled
children who keep asking for more and that Quebec lives so far beyond its means
that we, meaning Canada, are getting further into debt, and that it will
continue to take money out of the pockets of the rest of Canada's citizens?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, the views of my colleague, the Honourable Maxime Bernier,
were most interesting and, of course, widely reported, but they have nothing to
do with government policy.
Senator Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators, that
certainly is good news and I gather from your response that you do not share
these views. You may wish to discuss this with your colleagues because these
divisions among Quebecers and the vision of Canada held by those Quebecers have
a huge impact on us.
The government recently introduced Bill C-12, which would
affect the democratic representation of Quebec, and is causing concern among all
our constituents. In light of last evening's vote, I simply want to remind
honourable senators that the Liberal Party does not support the legislation as
such and thinks that we must discuss this in order to avoid falling into the
trap set by our friends in the Bloc Québécois, who do not believe in Canada.
Can this government guarantee that Quebec will maintain
its fair and historic weight within our Parliament? Can it reassure Quebecers
that the government appreciates Quebec's contributions to the democratic,
cultural and economic life of the country and that Quebec will have a number of
seats, in keeping with tradition?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I believe
that our government absolutely values and supports the many contributions that
are made by Quebec to the country and, in fact, beyond the borders of the
country, to Canada's solid reputation in the world. Quebecers add a great deal
to the overall character and mosaic of the country. Many things the government
has done have underscored and encouraged that support for the province of
With regard to the representation of Quebec in the
Parliament of Canada, there are certain constitutional guarantees, but there is
also a bill in the other place to deal with the redistribution of seats based on
the democratic premise of representation by population.
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette: Honourable senators,
in the same vein, and considering that the government appreciates Quebecers so
much, I would like the Leader of the Government in the Senate to assure us that
she and her colleagues are doing a thorough review of the issue of harmonized
sales tax in Quebec and the need to compensate Quebec, which was the first
province to harmonize its tax.
Quebec adopted a rule that was practical and good for
Quebecers and has served as an example for other provinces that must now resolve
Can the leader assure us that Quebec's specific situation
with respect to harmonization will be respected and that Quebec will be
compensated the way the government is compensating Ontario and British Columbia
for this sales tax harmonization?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, as I have indicated previously, the situation is somewhat
more complicated because of the tax collection system, as you know. However, I
did report previously, and it is still the case, that discussions around this
particular issue have been ongoing for some time and have been cordial, although
a resolution has not yet been settled on.
Hon. Pierre De Bané: Honourable senators, my
question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last week, the
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable John
Baird, said in the other place that he would soon be introducing a bill to
ensure Air Canada's compliance with the Official Languages Act.
Could you tell the Senate when this bill, announced by the
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, will be introduced in the
House of Commons?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I cannot comment. The honourable senator understands,
because he was in this position. I cannot divulge information that may be
covered by cabinet confidentiality. I can only report to the honourable senator
that I am aware of this issue, but, at this moment, I cannot provide a
definitive time as to when any such legislation will be forthcoming.
Hon. Pierre De Bané: Honourable senators, today I
received an invitation to a ceremony. It was sent by the office of the Minister
of State for Sport, the Honourable Garry Lunn, to all French- speaking
parliamentarians, in these words:
Malheureusement, cet éventement est ouvert à députées
et senateurs seulement.
This invitation contains a considerable number of serious
mistakes. It is obvious that there were no francophones in his office who could
write an invitation in proper French.
We know that the Constitution of this country, the supreme
law, states that French and English are the official languages of Canada.
I cannot believe that the term "event" was translated into
French by "éventement," a completely ridiculous word. There are a number of
errors in this invitation, which was received by all francophone
I wanted to tell you how disappointed I was by this.
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, I cannot speak to the particular wording in an invitation.
If it is improperly worded, that is regrettable, although it in no way takes
away from the warmth of the invitation extended for the event this afternoon,
which I am sure most parliamentarians will want to attend.
I will make inquiries as to the improper translation. It
is unfortunate, but I do not know what else to say. Not being an expert in the
area, I read the invitation but did not notice the improper wording. I thank the
honourable senator for informing the house of the error
Hon. Claudette Tardif (Deputy Leader of the
Opposition): Honourable senators, it is regrettable that Statistics Canada
sent a letter to French-language health care facilities written in poor-quality
French. Whether it was done by a computer or a public servant, the translation
was incoherent and badly needed revision.
When will the Government of Canada take the importance of
proper translation services seriously? When will the Government of Canada ensure
the equality of official languages by providing services of equal quality?
Senator LeBreton: Senator Comeau has handed me a
copy of the invitation extended to senators by the Honourable Gary Lunn. He has
pointed out that, according to him, this invitation has been properly
With regard to the official languages policy of the
government, the government writ large adheres to all the requirements of a
bilingual country by recognizing its two official languages.
Rather than rise in Parliament to point out errors in
translation made by a department of government, which is the honourable
senator's right, it would be helpful if, in the future, when such an example
occurs, the honourable senator takes measures to draw this error to the
attention of the department responsible. I do not think anyone expects me to
speak with any knowledge on the proper choice of English or French. I see many
examples of poorly written English emanating from government departments.
Perhaps the people responsible for this work in some departments are not as
qualified. It is unfortunate, but I do not think anyone would want to score
points on this situation. It is regrettable that these things happen, and it
would be helpful if errors were drawn to our attention so we can correct them.
Senator Tardif: I have two points of clarification
before moving on to my supplementary question. I was not referring to Senator De
Bané's example. Rather, I have an example of a letter sent out by Statistics
Canada. I know that errors can be made, but we are talking about the face of
government before the people. The government has an obligation to put forward
its best face. My question to that end is, what is the government doing to
ensure the provision of equal service and equal quality in both official
Senator LeBreton: The government is doing exactly
what any government has done since the coming into force of the Official
Languages Act. I suggest grievances such as those expressed by the honourable
senators be referred to the Commissioner of Official Languages, who is an
officer of Parliament and responsible for investigating such complaints, as he
did when such concerns arose before and during the Vancouver Olympics. Even
though there were problems with the opening ceremony, Mr. Fraser reported that
all other activities of the Olympics were extremely well done and met the
requirements of the Official Languages Act. I do not think this problem has
anything to do with this or the previous government. Policies of governments of
all political stripes through the years adhere to the obligations of the
Official Languages Act. If a public servant at Statistics Canada lacks a
specific skill or if there is a systemic problem throughout Statistics Canada,
then it is only proper to draw the matter to the attention of the Commissioner
of Official Languages.
Hon. Lucie Pépin: Honourable senators, my question
is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Government of Canada
officially apologized to former students of Indian residential schools, and we
were glad to see this recognition of the injustices and abuses these victims had
But we were disappointed to learn in committee that the
cancellation of funding for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation still stands. This
foundation provided healing services for the survivors, their families and their
Could the leader tell us whether the federal government
plans to restore funding for this foundation, which was doing a very good job of
helping Aboriginal victims get over the trauma they suffered in the residential
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
Honourable senators, the government appreciated the work of the Aboriginal
Healing Foundation for its dedication in providing healing programs and services
to address the experiences of survivors of the Indian residential schools and
their families and communities. Twelve healing centres will continue to provide
services until the end of March 2012. The government is fulfilling its
commitment to provide emotional and mental health support to former residential
school students and their families. Budget 2010 announced an additional $199
million over the next two fiscal years. This additional funding will enable
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Service Canada and Health Canada to meet the
needs of former Indian residential school students. This is a different program.
Senator Pépin: It is a very good thing that the
government is continuing to help the Indians. The foundation served Aboriginal
families and their communities but, unfortunately, its funding was cut. At a
meeting of the Committee against the Sexual Exploitation of Children, witnesses
reminded us that there is a connection between the problems Aboriginal children
experience and the violence their grandparents suffered in the past and that
this agency will no longer provide services for the Aboriginal population.
Can the leader tell us when the government will act and
restore funding to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation so that Aboriginal people
are served by members of their communities?
Senator LeBreton: I said in answer to the
honourable senator's first question that 12 of these healing centres will
continue to provide services for another two years. In addition, $199 million
was set aside in the last budget to work with Health Canada, Service Canada and
the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and Aboriginal groups to meet the
needs of former victims of abuse in the residential schools.
The fact is that the government apologized. This
particular problem, this tragedy, went on over many years. Our government
apologized to the victims and we have taken action.
The healing centres have been working; there are still 12
in operation and we have committed another $199 million. Therefore, how on earth
can the honourable senator say we have cut off funding?
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: The fact that only 12
centres are operating when the demand is so much greater is the type of response
we often get. We have done so much, but the delta is even bigger, yet we never
hear about the delta.
The change in policy means moving that $100-and-some-odd
million into other departments and programs and stopping one program for a
period of time.
My question is this: How long will it take until these
other departments that have not been involved and that will require a long
learning curve will be functional and able to accomplish the missions that they
have picked up because we have crashed this other program?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, I repeat, we
did not "crash" the other program. We were the ones who apologized to these
victims. We are the ones who have taken action. We were the ones who have funded
the healing centres. We are the ones who are keeping the healing centres going
for another two years; and we are the ones who put another $199 million into the
budget to help these people.
Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!
Hon. Sandra Lovelace Nicholas: How many of these
centres have been closed and how many remain open?
Senator LeBreton: I already said that 12 centres
will continue to operate for two more years. Obviously, the minister and the
departmental officials are working with the various leaders in the Aboriginal
community. As the honourable senator knows, as part of the independent
assessment program, people could go back and access additional sums for healing
if their claims were not sufficient.
The government has done everything possible to address
this serious, sad situation, which no government before did, period.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: I do not believe the
minister answered the honourable senator's question. Senator Lovelace Nicholas
was asking how many of the healing centres have closed. In particular, how many
have closed after the end of March 31 of this year?
Senator LeBreton: I thank the honourable senator
for the question. There are 12 centres still operating. I will have to find out,
by written response, where they are, and the reasons behind the closures of the
others. Perhaps they have combined services. I have no direct knowledge about
the closures, but I will certainly get that information.
However, again, $199 million more have been added to this
particular area in the last budget, which I think most people who are trying to
address this serious situation appreciate.
Senator Dyck: Could the Leader of the Government in
the Senate, in her search for the answers, find out whether the Nechi Institute
and the healing centres on the Tsuu T'ina First Nation and the Kainai First
Nation in Alberta are still operational after the end of March of this year?
Senator LeBreton: Certainly.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, the
Minister of the Environment has been saying recently — I want to say
"encouraging things," but I have yet to have it confirmed that they are actually
encouraging — "We are prepared for a cap and trade system; we have done the
analytics and we are set to go."
Just so this does not end up being a hypothetical
question, could the Leader of the Government in the Senate tell us about these
analytics and table in the Senate any documentation that outlines them?
Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): I
appreciate that the honourable senator has accurately reported something the
minister said, for a change. Of course, if the honourable senator had continued,
he would have known that the minister also talked about our need to have
continental or especially Canada-U.S. cooperation.
However, I will certainly take the question as notice. I
am sure Minister Prentice will complete what the honourable senator started and
finish what he was saying on that particular issue.
Senator Mitchell: It is interesting that the leader
would say that Minister Prentice refers to the need for a continental solution.
That may or may not be the case, but let us take it at face value.
If there is to be a continental solution and the U.S.
decides that it will introduce a carbon tax, is the leader saying we will have a
carbon tax on a continental basis, or can the leader assure Canadians that her
government will not bring in a carbon tax?
Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, Senator
Mitchell is a great environmentalist and a great recycler obviously because that
is exactly the question he asked of the minister.
I do believe Minister Prentice told the honourable senator
that there will be no carbon tax.
Senator Mitchell: It is interesting, if we want to
talk about recycling, I have to compliment the leader, too, because she picks up
the same cards and reads the same answers to any number of different questions
all the time.
On the subject of the analytics, if it is not such a big
job, could I get the leader to give us just one piece of them? Could she tell us
whether the minister has established the year in which he feels emissions of
carbon will peak in Canada — 2012, 2015, 2016 or something like that?
Senator LeBreton: As the honourable senator knows,
emissions went down last year. Hopefully that trend will continue as more people
take the environment more seriously, and when the new standards kick in for the
automotive companies. I think that we have every reason to be hopeful that
emissions will continue to decline.
Senator Mitchell: Emissions went down because the
government did not get its stimulus package in soon enough to stimulate the
economy and keep it growing. That is why they went down. That is actually true.
Finally, I will not go back and ask the leader to give us
the estimate on peak emissions, given that her answer bore no relationship to
that question. Could she tell us what price range these analytics would dictate
for a ton of carbon in Canada?
Senator LeBreton: That is a nice try by Senator
Mitchell. I will take the question as notice.
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable
Senator Finley calling the attention of the Senate to the issue of the
erosion of Freedom of Speech in our country.
Hon. Grant Mitchell: Honourable senators, I want to
address the erosion of the freedom of speech inquiry that was presented by a
number of our colleagues on the other side. I will begin by saying that it was
eloquently presented; there were excellent speeches and great research. At one
point, Voltaire was quoted. That is heady stuff. It gives an important issue a
significant philosophical, high-minded ring.
However, I am not buying that this freedom of speech
inquiry comes from where it seems to come from. There are a number of reasons
for that doubt. First, I am not even certain that anyone's freedom of speech has
been offended. If one listens to the debate and reads what is happening in the
media, it all seems to come down to the "fact" that somehow the right to freedom
of speech of Ann Coulter was offended because of a letter written by the provost
of the University of Ottawa.
In reading that letter, there is little in it that in any
way, shape or form can be construed as limiting someone's right to freedom of
speech. The provost is not a police officer. He did not threaten to throw her in
jail. The provost is not some powerful official of the Conservative government
who can threaten to throw her out or stop her from coming in. The provost did
not cancel the booking of the room.
The university and the city supplied people to protect
her. Ultimately, it was not the provost, the university or the police who made
the call to cancel the speech; Ann Coulter and her organizers did.
It was perfect politics for her. She is famous for being
famous. How much more famous can you become than to be shut down on a speech, if
you can somehow construe it that way?
I look at that letter and ask how, in any way, shape or
form, did the provost curtail her freedom of speech? She could have spoken if
she had wanted to. Then the argument was that students were yelling at her, and
they were doing so, said someone, because the provost's speech inflamed them.
Did honourable senators read the letter? The provost uses calming language,
unlike Ann Coulter's language, which is not calming at all. Might they have been
yelling about her language in anticipation of hearing more of it? Of course,
I am not buying that there is any threat to freedom of
speech. I think we have a straw person happening over here and I wanted to know
exactly what that is so I began to analyze it, and there is more to this issue.
If this government was worried about freedom of speech,
let us look at all the ways in which freedom of speech has been offended by this
government relatively recently, as has been pointed out by senators on this
For example, let us talk about Linda Keen. She was right
about the nuclear safety issues at Chalk River. She was right, and what happened
to her? She was fired. The man who was wrong — the minister — kept his job. The
woman who was right was fired because she would have told us the truth about
something that was critical for our safety. It turns out she has been
vindicated. It was shown that she was right. That example is the first one.
Why did this government shut down Linda Keen? I guess the
difference is that the government did not agree with what she wanted to say.
However, freedom of speech means she is able to say what she wants to, even if
others do not agree with it.
The second example is those organizations that have taken
positions the government does not like. I am thinking of KAIROS. KAIROS is a
classic example of a perfectly legitimate non-governmental organization talking
about perfectly legitimate issues, working with perfectly legitimate groups. The
government does not like them, so the government shut them down. That act is a
curtailment of speech. That act was not a letter from the provost; the
government shut down an organization in critical ways. The acts are
fundamentally different, and fundamentally way worse.
Third, we have Richard Colvin.
Some Hon Senators: Oh, oh.
Senator Mitchell: See? They are trying to shut down
my freedom of speech. Look at the one doing it: Senator Tkachuk. Am I surprised?
No, I read his speech.
Richard Colvin did what he was supposed to do. He was a
whistle-blower, which Conservatives wanted to support in their legislation. The
man has great courage. The government attacked him when he came out with what is
becoming more and more obvious as the truth and which the government knows is
the truth, because the government can read the documents and no one else can —
which brings me to my next point. Richard Colvin is also having trouble having
his legal fees paid. I can go on. That example is the third.
Then we have Environment Canada public servants. Climate
change is one of the most important issues facing this country, if not the most
important. Suddenly, the amount of times that Environment Canada personnel,
scientists, are able to speak has dropped 80 per cent since the Conservatives
have been in government. The government has shut down the scientists in
Environment Canada, scientists who were always allowed to speak before to help
explain research to Canadians, Canadians who pay their salaries.
The next example is the redacted information on the
detainees, one of the most important pieces of information that we have seen,
and one of the most important issues facing us in terms of human rights. This
issue affects our status in the world as a country that does things as they
should be done and treats people as Canadians do. The government shut down the
information. Under the concept of freedom of speech, Parliament should get that
information, but not according to the concept of freedom of speech under this
particular government because it has a limited view of what freedom of speech
Again, it is okay to have freedom of speech if the speaker
agrees with the government but not if the speaker does not.
Then we have the rights of Parliament. We have had
Parliament shut down in an unprecedented way, both historically at a national
and international level. There have been two prorogations. These houses are the
symbols of free speech. The symbols of free speech were shut down and jammed
because information was about to be revealed that the government did not want to
hear because it was embarrassing.
Then there is George Galloway. Mr. Galloway wanted to talk
about his anti-war views. They were not consistent with the government's agenda,
perhaps, but he had a right to speak them. Not so: he was not allowed to speak
and prevented from entering the country.
These issues are not about a letter from a university
provost, who has no authority to do anything by way of throwing someone out,
shutting them down or telling them to stop. These are examples where freedom of
speech has been curtailed by a powerful government that has husbanded power and
exercised it in a way that many Canadians have never seen before — ruthlessly,
in many cases. That is what happened in these examples.
On one side, we have a government that is not fussy about
freedom of speech when it comes to talking about nuclear safety in Canada; when
it comes to talking about Middle East issues with groups that work on them; when
it comes to artistic expression because they did not want to fund films because
they had not seem them; when it comes to public servants saying something the
government might not like them to say, although what they are saying happens to
be based on science; or when it comes to hearing what Parliament has to say if
it can possibly be avoided. The government does not want to hear all those
discussions, so they shut them down.
On the other hand, Ann Coulter's freedom of speech is
promoted. She has a right to speak, but let us see where this government lines
up. It jumped on her bandwagon to help make her famous for being famous. What
did Ann Coulter have to say? This statement bothers me because I am from
Alberta. In Calgary, she said Alberta should be the fifty-first state. The
government supports her, but does not support KAIROS, Linda Keen or Richard
Colvin. Ms. Coulter also told a Muslim person in the crowd not to fly; that if
this person cannot get on a camel, then she should use a magic carpet. That is
If Ms. Coulter had said something like that about Israel,
the Jewish people, Chinese people or any other group, do honourable senators
think the government would have promoted her freedom of expression? No, it would
not have. I know that for a fact.
This government has the worst record on access to
information. It is appallingly bad.
An Hon. Senator: And on the Court Challenges
Program or the Status of Women.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, I have to
take a deep breath; the list is too long.
I do not think Ann Coulter's rights to free speech were
offended in any way, shape or form. It became loud and a little difficult for
her, but she brings that on herself and it makes money for her. I am sure she
was happy for the attention.
I do not think this government has defended freedom of
speech in the way they say they have. That fact is evident.
Why is the government defending Ann Coulter? I do not
impugn the government's motives, but I think the reason is pure political
tactics. This government wants to create spin. The government has a terrible
record on freedom of speech and now drapes itself in the freedom-of-speech flag
on something totally extraneous. It then leaps from that issue to pursuing our
human rights commissions.
Honourable senators, I want an inquiry. However, that
inquiry must call Linda Keen, Richard Colvin, Professor Ned Franks and George
Galloway. Let us work on freedom of speech in a way that will make this
government feel uncomfortable because that work shows we actually care about
freedom of speech.
Hon. Yonah Martin: Honourable senators, I rise
today to add my voice to this important inquiry into the erosion of freedom of
speech in Canada.
I thank the Honourable Doug Finley for drawing the
attention of the chamber to this matter and those senators, including Senator
Mitchell, who have taken the time to reflect and speak on this inquiry. It is
only through the exercise of free speech and the full participation of all
honourable senators that we can have a meaningful and robust debate.
Honourable senators, freedom of expression is the
cornerstone of a functioning democracy. Other than words purposefully or
directly to incite hate, there is nothing that can be spoken or written, simply
as opinion, that cannot be expressed in a truly democratic country like ours.
Every citizen has the right to express his or her opinions.
Freedom of speech is a right that must be guarded in
Canada and elsewhere in the world. It is an essential value that our Armed
Forces fought to protect in Canada and continue to fight for abroad. We must
protect this right against all else.
As Canadians, we cannot afford to take our freedom of
expression for granted. We cannot silence those who exercise this right out of
fear they might merely offend someone who may or may not be listening.
As our society increasingly becomes more politically
correct, we deny younger people an atmosphere of open dialogue and debate.
Children and young people are taught what is publically deemed to be polite and
socially acceptable rather than exploring and developing their own opinions. Our
leaders of tomorrow are discouraged from standing up for their own ideas,
especially if they are unpopular.
Universities have long been upheld as bastions of free
thought and speech. It is because freedom of speech has been so strictly
protected on campus that ideas that have changed our country and our world were
able to gain solid footing.
Many honourable senators detailed the events that took
place at the University of Ottawa surrounding Ann Coulter. It is my sincere hope
that this incident does not speak to a growing trend in our country where young
academics are denied their right to speak freely for fear of serious
repercussions. This fear would be a travesty.
I remind honourable senators of an incident that took
place at Queen's University in November 2008. In an effort to promote
"sanctioned" diversity and quash "offensive" material, the university hired six
graduate students to act as dialogue facilitators. These facilitators were hired
to encourage discussion on university-sanctioned topics and with university-
sanctioned points of view. They were also hired to step in when they overheard
conversations deemed to be offensive. Each facilitator underwent 11 days of
training and was granted free room and board, as well as an annual stipend
The dialogue facilitators quickly gained national
attention and were dubbed speech or thought police by students, faculty and
alumni. Critics were quick to question what constitutes offensive language and
who decides. The speech police were hired to quash free speech and freedom of
thought if it was not in line with the view of university administrations of
Only after immense pressure from alumni and a well-
orchestrated online campaign against the university, was the program scrapped.
Honourable senators, the incident at Queen's University
demonstrates an emerging pattern across this country. The general public is
becoming more concerned with what they view as "the right not to be offended"
rather than protecting our constitutionally enshrined right to freedom of
Free and open public debate is replaced increasingly with
a set of well-rehearsed, socially-accepted opinions clouded by political
correctness in an effort not to offend. Young adults and school- aged children
face increased pressure to do and say what is socially acceptable rather than
challenging the status quo in an effort to explore and develop their own ideas;
ideas that will lead this country forward.
Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and all the
freedoms inherent in a free and democratic society are what I have known, and
what my daughter, thankfully, has inherited by the blessed fact that she was
born and lives in one of the most democratic countries in the world, Canada.
Exercising my right to stand today and add my voice to
this debate, to share my opinion and to articulate my feelings is a privilege I
will never take for granted. How easy it can be to take all we have for granted,
to experience historic amnesia about how our freedoms today were not always
handed over to the next generation on a silver platter. These freedoms were hard
fought and won at the cost of thousands of lives in World War I, World War II,
the Korean War and Afghanistan.
For my parents and for generations of Koreans before them,
millions of Koreans sacrificed their lives to be free: free of 35 years of
occupation by Japanese imperialism; free to speak their mother tongue, not
forced and beaten to speak their oppressor's language at school, in the
playground, in the streets and anywhere other than the pseudo-privacy of their
home; free to call each other by their own name given to them at birth by their
parents, not an alien name they were forced to wear by the foreign rulers; and
free to march peacefully in the streets in protest of every freedom that was
pillaged, crushed and stripped from them.
I am told my grandfather, whom I had known only as a
gentle white-bearded man, marched thousands of miles for his freedom and the
freedom of the Korean people.
On March 1, 1919, one of Korea's most beloved national
heroes stood on the front line, risking his own life to protect the peaceful
demonstrations as the only Caucasian among the throng of protesters. He is the
only foreigner to be buried in the national cemetery. He is a Canadian and
revered national hero of Korea, Dr. Frank Schofield.
As a result of the occupation, my father's generation are
all fluent in Japanese. An honourable man of few words, my father never spoke
about the freedoms he lost during that unimaginable ordeal. He chose instead to
study English, chose to study in North America and chose to build a better life
for me and my siblings in a country he cherished, a country in which he is now
Honourable senators, we are privileged to rise every day
in this chamber to speak freely without fear of repercussion. I honour my father
and all those whose sacrifices gave us the freedoms we enjoy today.
Let us stand up for our constitutionally enshrined right
to freedom of expression and speech. Let us encourage those Canadians who face
public pressure to speak their minds, whether or not we like what they say. Let
us guard the freedoms we have today that were hard fought and won.
Hon. Roméo Antonius Dallaire: Would the honourable
senator take a question?
Senator Martin: Yes.
Senator Dallaire: I am honoured, like everyone
here, that freedom of expression has been defended in institutions like the
Senate, as well as on battle fields over the years.
You mentioned the First World War, the Second World War,
the Korean War and Afghanistan. If you are talking about the lives lost over the
years, your discourse should also include the fact that during the Cold War, we
lost at least 60 members of the Canadian Forces, often pilots who were flying
outdated planes that the government left for us in Germany. Also, during 50
years of peacekeeping in Afghanistan and in Suez in 1956, we lost over 110
military personnel, and many others were injured.
If you refer to the military aspect, please give a
complete history. All of these individuals, throughout our entire military
history, have paid the same price. They all died for the same cause.
Senator Martin: I thank the honourable senator for
completing that list. I was remiss in not adding the others as I was focused on
the stories I had heard of my parents' journey. Thank you very much for adding
those to our debate today.
Senator Mitchell: Honourable senators, I am
starting to get concerned for a reason that had not struck me five minutes ago.
The honourable senator mentioned Queen's University. I happen to be a graduate
of Queen's and it is a great school. She focused on Queen's as an example of
where freedom of speech has been offended, but the core example is the
University of Ottawa. I did not see any other real examples that she used where
freedom of speech has been offended.
Therefore, I ask myself if the honourable senator, in
defending this initiative, is focusing on the universities as doing something
she does not like. If she felt that somehow the provost at the University of
Ottawa had done something that he should not have done, would the remedy be to
have him charged? Would the honourable senator bring in legislation to allow
that? Would she fine him, or is there some law that does not yet exist that she
will bring in? At Queen's, what would she do with these monitors?
Does the honourable senator have some examples other than
Queen's and the University of Ottawa, and could she comment on the examples that
Senator Martin: Honourable senators, I included the
example of Queen's University, the honourable senator's alma mater, because it
was another university and it does relate in terms of it being a post-secondary
institution. Also, in conversation with my special assistant, who is a recent
graduate, this example came up.
In terms of finding solutions, that is why Senator Finley
has brought this inquiry. That is why we are standing to add our voices and
ideas. Together, the solution is there. We know that in a country like ours,
that is truly democratic and free, these are the freedoms we must guard.
I was listening to the examples Senator Mitchell gave
today. I look forward to hearing other senators responding and adding to this
Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, there was the
instance at Concordia University when there was so much violence on the campus
that Prime Minister Netanyahu was not able to speak. As well, two years ago at
York University, the Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes had to speak off campus
because of threats of violence. Would those be examples at other campuses where
freedom of speech has been shut down in Canada?
Senator Martin: This is the very reason why I
encourage all senators to rise and add to this debate — to cite other examples.
As I mentioned in my statement, I hope this is not a
growing trend. I hope our fine institutions are truly an open and democratic
ground for our future leaders to exercise their freedom of speech and
expression. I thank the honourable senator for drawing our attention to those
Hon. Anne C. Cools: Will the honourable senator
take another question?
The Hon. the Speaker: The question is from Senator
Cools. Senator Martin, will you take another question?
Senator Martin: Yes.
Senator Cools: Honourable senators, there is a
process in this place called Senate debate on bills. There is a custom that a
sponsor of a bill speaks at second reading, then other senators speak, and those
senators who speak usually have an expectation that the questions that they
raise will be answered by the sponsor of the bill in what we call their reply.
Yesterday, I spoke on Bill C-268, as have other senators,
in debate. When I spoke, I had the expectation that the honourable senator, as
the sponsor of the bill, would respond to the concerns I had raised. That is
what we call debate — raising questions and answering questions.
Yesterday, she short-circuited that process by not
speaking and then moving a motion to send the bill not to the committee it
should have gone to, which is the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and
Constitutional Affairs, which our rules tell us it should be, but to a different
committee. The important thing is that she deprived senators like myself of her
answer and responses to the questions we raised in our speeches. Does the
honourable senator consider that a violation of freedom of speech?
Senator Martin: I thank the honourable senator for
the question. It was never my intention to deny any senator the opportunity to
be a part of the debate on Bill C-268, to which she is referring. Yes, I am the
sponsor of that bill. In terms of not having fully responded to all of the
honourable senator's concerns, I moved it to committee so that some of those
concerns could be addressed by experts who would be brought in as witnesses
during the committee hearings.
The bill did end up going to a committee of which I am a
member — as is the critic of the bill, Senator Dyck — the Standing Senate
Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. We had a steering committee
meeting today to look at the timeline for this bill.
I invite the honourable senator to be a part of that
process. Other senators, as we know, are also free to do that. I thank the
honourable senator for bringing that up today so that I have had a chance to add
closure to that debate.
The Hon. the Speaker: I am sorry to interrupt, but
I must advise that the honourable senator's time has expired.
Senator Cools, on a point of order.
Senator Cools: On a point of order.
Honourable senators, the system in the Senate comes from a
long tradition of dialogue and debate between senators. There is a long
tradition in this place that we work hard and we raise questions to each other
with the expectation of an answer; not from an expert somewhere; not from a
witness in a committee; but from the sponsor in debate here in this place who is
asking us to vote on the bill.
Committee study is not a substitute for debate in this
place when asking for our vote. It has become a habit now in this place that
senators introducing bills give 5-minute speeches, 10-minute speeches, and many
senators have not read the bill at all. In fact, the record is pretty meagre
when one looks to see what the debate is about.
I am saying that debate means speaking and responding when
asked, and it also means answering the questions that are raised and that your
freedom of speech allows you to speak to. If one can speak, then others can
inquire and the right to speak includes the duty to answer. It is what is called
Honourable senators, there is an old practice in this
place that we treat new senators with affection and that we do not ask of them
I would ask the table officers to find for me the rule
about standing committees, which lists and describes Senate committees. This may
not seem important to some, but, in December, I also gave a speech on Bill C-268
in which I raised questions that were never answered by the sponsor of the bill.
Honourable senators, I was handed rule 86.(1).
Yesterday, I gave another speech on Bill C-268 that the
sponsor did not answer. Maybe some people believe that the word "ignore" or
"dismiss" equals answer, but there is no way that in any committee meeting
anyone can answer for her what I asked in this place. The sponsor must answer
here, on the floor.
I am sure Senator Martin knows that I do not need an
invitation from her to be able to go to a committee meeting. I have a right to
do that. I appreciate the gesture but it is unnecessary. However, when the
Honourable Senator Martin first spoke in this place, I did not ask her any
questions because I thought she was too new at the process to have been able to
answer them. I am sure she remembers I told her that. However, it is now a few
months later, especially when she has stood on the floor insisting the bill be
I wish to say that I was very disappointed yesterday,
honourable senators, that a bill with all the hallmarks of a bill that should
have been referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs ended up being sent to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs,
Science and Technology.
The proceedings yesterday were so rushed and unusual that
this rule was not put on the record. For future reference, perhaps, we should be
reminded that according to our rule 86(1)(k):
The Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional
Affairs, composed of 12 members . . . to which shall be referred . . . a
motion to that effect, bills, messages, petitions, inquiries, papers and
other matters relating to legal and constitutional matters generally,
(i) federal-provincial relations;
(ii) administration of justice, law reform and all
matters related thereto;
(iii) the judiciary;
(iv) all essentially juridical matters; and
(v) private bills not otherwise specifically
assigned to another committee, including those related to marriage and
Obviously, Senator Martin does not think what I am saying
is important because she is not listening; however, the fact of the matter is
that the bill yesterday fits all the criteria for referral to the Legal Affairs
Committee. I am not saying or arguing, honourable senators, that exceptions
cannot be made and a bill cannot be sent to another committee for very good
reasons. I am saying that it is in order that if honourable senators wish to
send a bill to a different committee, they should rise on the floor and explain
why. I have no doubt that if Senator Martin had risen on this floor, having
answered our concerns about the bill, or having answered the questions that were
raised, and suggested or discussed with us the possibility of referring the
order of reference to a different committee, the issue would have been debated
and voted on by senators.
That is what I am talking about, honourable senators,
about freedom of speech. Whether that bill should have been sent to a different
committee is a matter of the exercise of free speech here in this house; that
some of us have an opinion and some of us want to be heard on that matter. If
the reasons for sending the bill to the Social Affairs Committee were good and
valid reasons, then they should have been put to this house and on the floor for
debate. The proponents of that idea might have got a surprise and found some
agreement. However, it is the fact of moving things without explanation and
debate in a surprise way, to my mind, that violates greatly the notion of
freedom of speech.
Honourable senators, I am not asking His Honour Senator
Kinsella to rule on that point. It is just, you know, I love you. He knows how I
feel about him.
An Hon. Senator: Order.
Senator Cools: This is quite in order. What I can
say is we are all joined together as members of the Senate and the most
important element of freedom of speech is that we respect our duty to speak, our
duty to answer and, most important of all, our duty to make reasoned, rational
explanations put before us for the actions that we ask of this place by vote.
Whenever the Senate is asked to vote on an issue there is a duty of free speech
to put the issues clearly before the house.
The Hon. the Speaker: I thank the honourable
senator and I will review the matter so I will take it under consideration.
Senator Cools: I withdraw the point of order, Your
The Hon. the Speaker: The honourable senator is
withdrawing the point of order.
(On motion of Senator Andreychuk, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable
Senator Raine calling the attention of the Senate to the success of the 2010
Olympic Winter Games held in Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler from February
12 to 28 and, in particular, to how the performance of the Canadian athletes
at the Olympic and Paralympic Games can inspire and motivate Canadians and
especially children to become more fit and healthy.
Hon. Richard Neufeld: Honourable senators, with the
indulgence of Senator Munson, I have just a few words to say before we proceed
with the adjournment motion of Senator Munson.
Honourable senators, first, I would like to take this
opportunity to praise my colleague Senator Raine for bringing this initiative
forward. I support it enthusiastically.
I would also like to congratulate her on her role as our
ambassador to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. Senator Raine was a fine choice
as a representative. I thank her for all her hard work and tireless efforts. I
also thank all the volunteers, organizers and our athletes for making it both
memorable and a great success, and for placing both Canada and beautiful British
Columbia on the world stage.
The continued spirit of the 2010 Olympic Games is very
much still alive. We have certainly raised the bar for the next hosts. As my
colleague mentioned, now is the time to take advantage of this spirit across our
nation and engage our fellow Canadians. No matter one's age, it is important for
everyone to engage themselves in healthy living, a healthy diet and increased
exercise. Healthy food choices and physical activity can reduce the risk of
illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, as well as defend against
depression, among other complications. The statistics on obesity among adults,
children and youth over the past several years have become rather alarming. Now
is the time to raise awareness.
In relation to this, honourable senators, this past
Tuesday, April 20, a remarkable golden athlete, Mr. Denny Morrison, was welcomed
home to my community in Fort St. John, B.C. I was not able to join the
homecoming celebrations; however, I would like to take this opportunity to
congratulate him on his gold medal win in Vancouver, making this his second
Olympic medal. I would also like to take this opportunity to recognize some of
his previous achievements in world championships, one being named Canada's long
track speed skater of the year four times. Canada set an outright record for
most gold medals won 14 — in Olympic Winter Games and we are most proud that
Denny Morrison of Fort St. John was among those who won gold.
Mr. Morrison's stellar performance in the Vancouver 2010
Winter Olympics was truly inspiring, not only on a national level but also on
the world stage. The commitment, dedication, spirit and success of his team, our
athletes, inspired the nation and will undoubtedly motivate young Canadians to
follow in their footsteps. We are truly proud of him. Welcome home, Denny, from
Denny moves around the country so much, but today he is in
the parliamentary precinct here in Ottawa. I will be going over to see him
shortly, I hope.
(On motion of Senator Munson, debate adjourned.)
On the Order:
Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable
Senator Carstairs, P.C., calling the attention of the Senate to the Impact
of Dementia on the Canadian Society.
Hon. Elizabeth Hubley: Honourable senators, I
should like to express my appreciation to Senator Carstairs for bringing the
attention of this chamber to the impact of dementia on Canadian society.
The Alzheimer's Society of Canada has recently released a
report entitled Rising Tide: The Impact of Dementia on Canadian Society,
which clearly demonstrates how dementia will be an increasing burden on
individuals and on society as a whole. Their forecasts predict that, within a
generation, the number of cases of Alzheimer's or related dementias will more
than double. The hours that Canadians will spend caring for loved ones will
increase from 231 million hours per year to 756 million hours per year. The
emotional, physical and financial drain on these families is enormous. If
nothing is done, it will keep increasing.
Senator Carstairs presented a wonderful summary of the
report and recommended actions when she opened this debate a couple of weeks
ago. I will not review her points. Instead, today I would like to focus the
discussion on an extremely important segment of our society, namely, Aboriginal
The first recommendation of the Rising Tide report
is an accelerated investment in all areas of dementia research. Nowhere is this
more important than in our Aboriginal communities. It seems that, when it comes
to dementia, research into Aboriginal groups is lacking. There is a shortage of
even basic community- specific statistics on the incidence and impact of
dementia. As of now, even the most basic research has not been carried out in
The Rising Tide report has quantified the potential
increasing problem of dementia in the years to come. The number of people living
with dementia in Canada is expected to more than double by 2038 to over one
million Canadians. Honourable senators, this is the equivalent of the entire
population of Saskatchewan suffering from dementia. We cannot be too surprised
by this. We know that advancing age is the largest risk factor associated with
the onset of dementia and we know the population of Canada is aging. The number
of dementia cases can be expected to increase in parallel with this age-bubble
making its way through society.
Why, then, have we not heard much about dementia in
Aboriginal communities? The sad fact of the matter is that dementia is a
condition associated with age and Aboriginal Canadians simply do not live as
long as the rest of us. Therefore, they have less opportunity to develop
dementia. Does this mean there is less dementia in Aboriginal communities? Can
we account for it by this difference in life expectancy? We do not know, because
no one has yet done that research.
Another theory that has been forwarded in relation to
dementia to our native population concerns the culture itself. In some
Aboriginal populations, dementia is considered to be a normal part of aging.
Those of us with a western outlook on medicine view dementia as a disease and
something to be fought against. In some Aboriginal communities, dementia is
simply viewed as one more step in the normal life cycle. This results in the
under- reporting of dementia cases in these communities. If it is not viewed as
a treatable disease, then why call in a doctor?
Honourable senators, these realities have only masked a
problem that will grow in Aboriginal communities. In fact, the Rising Tide
report points out that the incidence of dementia cases in the overall population
will be growing over the next generation. For Aboriginal communities, this
problem will be magnified.
We know that the single largest risk factor for the onset
of dementia is age. Aboriginal peoples have been shielded somewhat from this
problem because of their lower life expectancy, but that is changing. According
to Statistics Canada, in 1975, there was a gap of over 11 years between native
and non-native males in this country. By 2000, this gap had closed to 7.4 years.
A 2008 study showed it had closed to under five years. For females, it has
improved from almost 12 years' difference in 1975 to about six years'
difference. The life expectancy gap is improving. Aboriginals are catching up to
the rest of the country, but along with this progress comes the increasing
problem of dementia. What may have been a rare affliction before — simply
because of the life expectancy gap — will become more common.
What else can we surmise from what we know about
Aboriginal conditions? Progress is being made on the life expectancy gap, but we
know that there are different health profiles between Aboriginals and
non-Aboriginals. We know that Aboriginal Canadians suffer from more
cardiovascular problems. We know that the incidence of diabetes is higher in the
Aboriginal community. Arthritis affects Aboriginal peoples more than the rest of
the population, and rates of obesity have been observed to be higher in
Aboriginal communities. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and obesity,
then, are four problems that affect Aboriginal communities more than the general
population of Canada. These same four conditions are identified risk factors for
Honourable senators, you can understand why, as Aboriginal
life expectancy creeps up to the national level, there is concern that dementia
will grow to be an even larger problem within Aboriginal communities than in the
rest of Canada. Many of the significant risk indicators of dementia are more
prevalent among the Aboriginal community than the rest of Canada. However,
because of a lack of research into the prevalence of dementia and Alzheimer's
disease within our Aboriginal communities, we do not know the current extent of
However, the Alzheimer's Society of Canada has recognized
this knowledge gap and has created the Aboriginal Access Advisory Group. Their
aim is to advance the knowledge of the impact of dementia among Aboriginal
peoples by trying to bring together the pieces of research and work currently
being conducted and to give some direction to future research in this area. I
look forward to seeing the results of their work.
In closing, I would like to again thank Senator Carstairs
for bringing this important issue to the floor of this chamber.
(On motion of Senator Keon, debate adjourned.)
Hon. Wilbert J. Keon rose pursuant to notice of
April 20, 2010:
That he will call the attention of the Senate to
health human resources policies in Canada.
He said: Honourable senators, I rise today to draw your
attention to an important topic on health human resource policies and practices,
a new approach to health human resources, or HHR, policy and practices in Canada
based on what are — or, in my view, should be — the health and health care goals
of Canada and what we have learned about improving population health and making
health care better.
How we educate and deploy the health care workforce has
not kept pace with these new understandings. We instinctively tend to define
health problems in terms of diseases — cancer, heart ailments, degenerative
conditions, et cetera. However, the biggest health problem in Canada is health
disparities. Not only are there gaps between those at the top and those at the
bottom, but there are differences all the way up and down the socio-economic
There is no greater moral imperative than to reduce these
disparities. However, there is also a powerful economic motivation. The cost of
persisting disparities in terms of lost productivity and avoidable health care
is in the tens of billions of dollars annually.
Just as important, health care has to get better. The most
highly educated health care workforce in history, supported by a remarkable
arsenal of new technologies, does not routinely deliver safe, high-quality care,
and some of the failures are elementary, for instance, the widespread neglect of
handwashing in hospitals.
HHR policy features prominently in discussions and debates
about how to improve the system. For most of the past decade, the discussion has
centred on shortages — not enough doctors and nurses — with dire predictions
that the situation will only get worse.
The response has been dramatic. The medical school
entering class of 2009 is 68 per cent bigger than in 1999. Nursing enrolment is
up 50 per cent. On top of this, we have opened our doors to more international
graduates. However, thus far the payoff has been limited. We have not solved the
problems of access, quality or workforce morale. Money alone was never the
problem and numbers alone are not the solution.
Why has this enormous investment in both HHR production
and health care spending, which is up 60 per cent in real terms in the last
decade, not achieved the fix for a generation that we were promised by a
previous prime minister?
First, we have ignored the lesson that excellence has much
to do with credentials and with how the system is designed and how the workplace
is organized. The keys are teamwork, inter-professional collaboration, lifelong
learning, measurement, transparency, feedback and accountability. Yet, the main
activity has been to increase credentials — nursing from diploma to degree
entry, an extra year of family medicine, master's degree entry for therapists,
and now the contemplated DPharm. Smart people working in dumb systems cannot
deliver quality care, even if all of them have doctorate degrees.
Second, Canada invests hugely in repairing the health
damage that arises from disadvantage but invests too little in addressing the
root causes. Over 600,000 Canadian children grow up in poverty. The increasing
cost of post-secondary education creates barriers to prosperous and healthy life
for disadvantaged populations. Health care practitioners are, as a rule,
narrowly focused on medical interventions and insensitive to the broader context
of ill health.
Third, the workplace remains too rigid and hierarchical,
leading to widespread frustration among those unable to use all their talents.
As disciplines increase the length of training programs and develop more
distinct theories, fragmentation may become hard-wired into new graduates,
despite pleas for integration and teamwork.
Fourth, the centre of the system should be an expansive
concept of primary health care that includes community development and
inter-sectoral action to reduce disparities. We are nowhere near achieving the
inspired vision of Alma Ata — health for all — and other landmark declarations.
There are few comprehensive polyclinics, health problems
are still highly medicalized, and 50 per cent of the disease that is treated in
the health care delivery system is preventable. People with mental health
problems, multiple chronic conditions and frail elderly are ill-served by a
system geared to episodic care.
Now we are about to unleash a large new cohort of
clinicians into a fiscal environment that promises to be much more constrained.
What is to be done? Success demands a willingness to re-examine long-held
assumption and jettison obsolete practices.
First, the situation is not only about numbers. There is
no relationship internationally between the number of doctors and nurses per
capita and the health of a population, and any intelligent discussion about
numbers must begin with a discussion of what practitioners ought to be doing. We
erred in increasing enrolments prior to having this conversation. Late is still
better than never.
Second, we need to ensure that professionals are educated,
both to work collaboratively and to be citizens of their communities. Health is
as much about distributive justice as it is about technical excellence in health
care. Health care workers should be engaged in redressing the imbalance between
spending on the care of individuals and investing in communities. It is no more
effective to think in silos than to practise in silos.
Third, governments have to coordinate their health human
resources policies. A few too many graduates is better than not enough. There
must be some control over where doctors practise and in what numbers. There is
no avoiding health care federalism, but surely, with goodwill and thoughtful
strategy, we can put an end to unconstructive bidding wars, and recognize the
folly of isolated planning and policy.
The past decade will be remembered as a lost opportunity.
We did not buy much change with the 60-per-cent increase in spending. It is time
to learn from our follies and chart a new course. We may not be able to undo our
errors, but at least we can avoid repeating them.
As for my own profession, a profession which I love dearly
— I never wanted to be anything but a doctor — we must become socially engaged.
We must do much more than practise medicine.
Hon. Hugh Segal: Will the honourable senator take a
Senator Keon: With great trepidation, but yes.
Senator Segal: I intend to speak on this inquiry,
but I wanted to ask about the remarkable population health study that Senator
Keon chaired, and which is so fundamental in terms of the recommendations he
made with others on the committee who served with him on the Subcommittee on
Population Health. I understand that work involved a careful and focused study
of some of the practices in Cuba, which is not as wealthy as Canada, but where
on critical issues — diabetes, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS — the country had made
While what they call a physician might not meet the
technical standards of what we might call a physician, Cuba has a higher
percentage of physicians per population than we have now in the province of
Ontario, for example. Is there anything from that particular study that was part
of the population health effort that might help the government on human resource
Senator Keon: That is an excellent question.
Implicit in what I was saying is that we have to start thinking in that
direction. The people educated in the polyclinics can provide excellent care.
They do not need the sophisticated medical education the students receive at the
Latin American Medical School in Havana. We have to start thinking in those
terms. We have to turn out health professionals with practical knowledge who can
exist in larger numbers and not be such a drain.
The other great thing that came out of the study was the
maternal child health outcomes, which I looked at carefully. This issue was on
the bottom of the platform in the population health diagram. I was absolutely
twitterpated that the Prime Minister latched on to this issue — I do not know
whose influence it was, but he latched on to it — because this issue is the very
pillar of success, I think, in health.
I must say the world is charmed by this initiative. I had
an opportunity on an international stage recently to talk about it, and people
are enthused about what Canada is doing.
Hon. Fred J. Dickson: I was impressed with Senator
Keon's remarks and I sincerely compliment him for the good work he has done in
the Senate, particularly with regard to the Kirby- LeBreton report.
Upon reflection of all the recommendations made there, is
there one that stands out in the honourable senator's mind that they should have
acted on, or partially acted on, and should have put more effort into delivering
on? Which one is it in particular, if so?
Senator Keon: Senator LeBreton reminded me that we
are not investing adequately in prevention.
Senator Raine will have all honourable senators running.
This activity will be after I leave. She will run all the disease out of you.
Hon. Percy E. Downe: Will Senator Keon take one
In the area of prevention, the level of trans fats and
amounts of salt in our food is an ongoing concern. I saw today in the media that
the federal minister indicated that voluntary compliance has not worked and that
levels of trans fats are still too high. My concern is that the study about the
level of salt, ongoing for two- plus years, in all likelihood will come to the
same conclusion. I say that because of the examples in Finland and the U.K.
Is it the view of Senator Keon that the government should
skip over the voluntary rules and move right to regulations forcing the industry
to lower the levels of trans fat and salt? One reason I ask that is Canadians,
for example, are exposed to the same company making the same foods in the United
States and Canada. Canada in many cases has much higher levels of salts in those
foods. In the honourable senator's opinion, should government move in this area
as soon as possible to reduce those levels?
Senator Keon: The answer is yes and I think the
government will. People from the hypertensive society were in my office about a
month ago and asked if I would approach the minister about implementing in
Canada the traffic light warning for salt that exists in England, for example. A
red light means salt content is way too high, yellow means it is lower and green
means the product is within acceptable levels.
I mentioned the warning system to the minister, and I have
also mentioned it to the deputy minister, and I believe they will implement it.
They are busy with other issues now, but I think they will go ahead and
implement that system.
(On motion of Senator Segal, debate adjourned.)
Leave having been given to revert to Government Notices of
Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the
Government): Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and
notwithstanding rule 58(1)(h), I move:
That when the Senate adjourns today, it do stand
adjourned until Tuesday, April 27, 2010, at 2 p.m.
Hon. Percy Mockler (The Hon. the Acting Speaker):
Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?
Hon. Senators: Agreed.
(The Senate adjourned until Tuesday, April 27, 2010, at 2